What a crazy day around baseball. Divorce yourself, for a moment, from any Cubs-related disappointment you might feel, and admire everything that happened: the first big free agent went off the board in Russell Martin, the Cardinals and Braves hooked up on a big-time trade, the Marlins extended Giancarlo Stanton for more than $300 million, and there were plenty of rumors about one of the top arms on the market.
There was a lot of excitement today. Sooner or later, the Cubs will be among the teams doing things. You can bet on it. It’s November 17. You rarely see this much action in total in advance of Thanksgiving, let alone in one day. There’s plenty of time.
To that end, let’s check in on some of the latest rumors of note …
- We expected it as soon as Martin went off the board, and the other-Cubs-catching rumors ticked up immediately, including thoughts from Buster Olney and Patrick Mooney that the Cubs could next turn to Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero as an alternative. I’ll have much more on Montero, specifically, in the coming days, but, for now, I’ll rest on the piece I wrote a couple weeks ago on Montero as a possible option for the Cubs if they didn’t land Martin. Short version? I think he’s a really interesting platoon option with Welington Castillo, and I love his framing skills. I’m not sure he’s worth his contract at this point, but, I’ll confess that the size of Martin’s deal today could change that equation.
- Among the other possible catching options out there – aside from previously-discussed Jason Castro – is the Padres’ handsome collection of backstops, all of whom offer excellent defensive and receiving skills. Jon Heyman says that, in addition to listening on some of their arms, the Padres are listening on their catchers, which could include Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera. Grandal, 26, is probably more interesting than the 31-year-old Rivera (though he did break out with the bat last year, and his receiving skills are fantastic), but he’s very hard to value, coming off a PED suspension and an ACL injury in 2013. He had a good year with the bat in 2014, but his defensive ratings dipped (he gets high marks for pitch-framing, though). Grandal, who is a switch-hitter, has great numbers away from Petco Park, and isn’t even arbitration-eligible until 2016. I’d be lying if I said the PED suspension and the knee injury didn’t make me a little nervous (without knowing more about each), but there’s a whole lot to like about Grandal. I’d think the price would be quite steep, though.
- You can read more on the availability of Grandal and Rivera here at U-T San Diego.
- The Cubs don’t *have* to pick up a catcher this offseason, by the way. But, as discussed in this morning’s Bullets, there may be a huge, latent upgrade the Cubs could make back there, as much as we may like many of the things Welington Castillo does well.
- Speaking of the moves today, Phil Rogers suggests that Shelby Miller, whom the Braves got as the main piece for Jason Heyward, could be of interest to the Cubs now that he’s out of St. Louis. Miller has upside, but he also has the big flashing red flag of the Cardinals seemingly giving up on him as a contributor a couple times over the past few years, and then also their willingness to trade him for just one year of Heyward. I don’t know. He’s just 24, but he took some serious steps back in 2014. I wouldn’t come running.
- Nick Cafardo mentions that the Red Sox and Phillies could soon resume Cole Hamels trade talks (presumably after the Jon Lester situation is sorted out), as the Red Sox have already “shot down” a couple proposals from the Phillies. Also in that piece, Cafardo presciently questions that there are really six serious suitors out there for Lester (the Blue Jays were reportedly one of them, but are unwilling to go past five years – thus, not very serious). I’d probably throw the Royals into the mix of not-so-serious teams, despite a recent report that they’ve talked to his reps.
- Tony Blengino at FanGraphs writes a very interesting take on the potential problems looming for Max Scherzer down the road. In the past few weeks, it has become increasingly clear why teams like the Cubs and Red Sox appear to be targeting Lester first, even if Scherzer is the “better” pitcher “right now.”
- A source tells Jeff Blair that the team-du-jour, the Blue Jays, have been “very aggressive” in their courting of lefty Andrew Miller.
- Whatever management might want to do, John Fay says Reds owner Bob Castellini will not allow a fire sale, because he believes the team can win in 2015. I think the Reds can win in 2015 if they keep the entire band together – which they may well do – but then they’ll have some serious problems in the ensuing five or so years. If Fay is right, the Reds may not shop guys like Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos this offseason.
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