old stove featureI have been amazed this year by the frequency with which I’ve had to write a bunch of stuff before the Bullets in the morning, and the odd hours at which I’ve had to do a Lukewarm Stove just to keep up with the reasonably notable things going on and around. The Rumor Monster’s affection for the Cubs this year is certainly a huge piece of the puzzle, but it also seems like rumor season, on the whole, is just arriving much earlier than usual.

Case-in-point, the build-up of stuff in the past 12 to 16 hours, alone, has me writing this Lukewarm Stove in place of today’s Bullets. That’s the second time that’s happened in a week, and I’m not sure it had ever happened before.

Not that I’m complaining, and I doubt you are either. Folks love rumors and transaction stuff, and here’s a freaking boatload …

  • On the transaction side, the terms on the huge Giancarlo Stanton extension are out, and, predictably, the thing is heavily backloaded. So much so, in fact, that Stanton is getting just $30 million of the $325 million in the first three years. He’s got a full no-trade clause, though, so even if the Marlins are trying to pull a fast one, it’s going to be harder for them to dump Stanton after those three years, even if they wanted to. Stanton also has an opt-out after 2020, during which time he would have made just $107 million for the first six years of the deal. We’ll see if Stanton winds up believing he can top $218 million in guaranteed money starting with his age 31 season, in which case, he’ll opt out, and the Marlins will probably be tickled pink. If he’s injured or declining, however, the Marlins are on the hook.


  • Sources tell Ken Rosenthal that the Marlins are interested in James Shields, which would jive with the apparent reason Stanton took so little money in the first three years of his deal (so the Marlins could spend money to surround him with talent). I think it’s more likely that those sources are spreading that word for appearances, however, more than the chance that they actually sign a huge free agent deal.
  • The A’s have reportedly agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal with Billy Butler. It’s a lot of money to devote to a pure bat who has declined the last couple years, but Butler is still relatively young and could bounce back. I tend not to bet against Billy Beane on deals like this, but it sure makes me feel more comfortable about the Cubs’ young stockpile of offense.
  • Buster Olney says teams are still finding the Phillies’ players to be overpriced in trade, just as they were at mid-season. For a team that wants to rebuild and has very few valuable assets (especially at their current contract prices), the Phillies don’t yet seem to have a grasp on reality. If that doesn’t change before the season starts, it could be a multi-year slog for them – and without the upside of a rebuilt organization on deck. I still find Cole Hamels to be a very attractive fit for the Cubs, but they’re not going to give up multiple top prospects to take on Hamels and his contract. It just won’t happen.
  • Speaking of which, Jeff Sullivan takes a dispassionate look at what a trade for Hamels by the Red Sox should look like, and it doesn’t involve any elite guys.


  • Despite a report to the contrary, the New York Daily News is sticking to its guns on the whole Yankees-won’t-go-after-big-names thing, including Max Scherzer. I suppose now is a good time to remind folks that Scott Boras clients are frequently connected to the deepest pockets throughout the offseason, whether legit or not. I’m not even criticizing, by the way, because Boras clients almost always wind up getting paid.
  • The Cubs remain connected to outfielder Jonny Gomes (Rob Bradford). And Patrick Mooney says the same. We’ve discussed the decent fit that Gomes represents before.
  • If you were trying to put together a realistic blockbuster-ish deal for the Cubs this offseason, it would probably involve the Padres, who are considering offers for pitchers like Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, and Ian Kennedy, as well as catchers Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera. Ken Rosenthal indicates that they’re looking for offense, and, while I won’t play the “let’s imagine a trade” game, I will say that a Ross/Grandal combo coming to the Cubs sure would look mighty attractive for so many reasons. And worth a pretty penny in trade, too.
  • Dave Cameron lists five potential free agent bargains this year – though they’re all at least mid-tier names, so we’re not talking about cheap guys – and includes Brandon McCarthy, Francisco Liriano, and Jason Hammel (which is three for three on my list of the top second tier pitching options this offseason). The other two guys are Russell Martin (who wound up getting a fair bit more than Cameron/FanGraphs expected) and Chase Headley. I know Headley is not an idea fit for the Cubs, positionally speaking, but I can at least envision a scenario where the value is so strong that you kick the tires, and consider the possibility of Kris Bryant in the outfield, and one of the other infielders moved in a trade. There are so many moving parts to making Headley work that I’d acknowledge it’s incredibly unlikely. But I do think this front office has shown a willingness to get the guys they want, and figure out the rest later. And there are reasons to believe that they really do like Headley. (Just to be crystal clear: this is not the kind of thing with much of a chance at all of actually happening – I just think it’s interesting to think about.)


  • Japanese ace Chihiro Kaneko could be posted this offseason, and he’s just hired a new agent, which would seem to make it all the more possible. I haven’t had a chance to dig in on Kaneko as much as I would have liked to by now, but, suffice it to say, he’s a very interesting arm with front-end potential in the big leagues. If he’s posted, he’ll immediately become a fairly big story. You’ll see.
  • Mark Bowman says the Braves aren’t done making trades, and could still move both Justin Upton and Evan Gattis.
  • The Dodgers are “aggressively pursuing” Alexei Ramirez, according to Bob Nightengale. The shortstop market is worth following.



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