Ah, what the heck: one more Lukewarm Stove to close out the warmest stove’d month (year?) in recent memory.
- That Padres/Mariners trade happened, officially. The Mariners pick up outfielder Seth Smith – a perfect fit for them – in exchange for young pitcher Brandon Maurer, who may be a starter or a reliever down the road. It feels like the Padres could have gotten more, considering Smith’s steal of a contract, but, then again, Maurer was a top ten prospect with the Mariners for a long time, and did show effectiveness (and upside) out of the pen last year in Seattle. The Padres get him for five more years of control, too.
- With Smith off the board, the outfield market looks all the more ugly. The Orioles may be the outfield neediest team in baseball, and they may now turn to free agent Colby Rasmus (reports here and here). Each report suggests that Rasmus, 28, could be had on a one-year, $5 to $8 million deal, which, I mean, I don’t care what he’s like in the clubhouse, that’s the most obviously-worth-it roll of the dice I could think of. The Cubs were briefly connected to Rasmus a couple weeks ago before that was dismissed by Patrick Mooney. No, Rasmus is not a guy you want to commit multiple years to right now, and yes, there’s plenty of downside considering the escalation in strikeouts. But, man, one year? For such a small commitment? Sure feels like a great fit for the Cubs, because, the worst case there is that he stinks or is trouble, and the team is barely worse for the wear. Best case? He uses his platform year and looks like the guy who was a borderline superstar just two years ago (helping the Cubs compete in 2015), the Cubs make him a qualifying offer, which he declines, and they pick up a draft pick. I’ll wait to see what happens here before I pass judgment, but, as I’ve said before on him: if Rasmus signs on a one-year, cheap deal, and it’s not with the Cubs (and the Cubs didn’t try), I’ll be a little perturbed.
- Speaking of the Orioles, they’re now down a catcher, as Nick Hundley has reportedly signed with the Rockies for a couple years and $6 million. With a bunch of fringey back-up options and Matt Wieters returning from Tommy John surgery, sure seems like the O’s could use a solid catcher like, say, Welington Castillo.
- (As for the Rockies, by the way, the signing likely confirms their intent on dealing or moving Wilin Rosario, who is probably better suited in a position other than catcher.)
- With the Rays signing Asdrubal Cabrera, expecting the Ben Zobrist trade rumors to tick up considerably was only reasonable. Sure enough, it was pretty much all anyone could talk about after that signing. MLBTR even went so far as to look at every single team in baseball to see if there was a fit (the Cubs do show up, and they’re the only team discussed in the NL Central, along with the Reds). As you would expect with a guy like Zobrist, who can play anywhere, the number of teams that would make sense as a trade partner is plentiful. I’ll stick with what I said earlier this week when Zobrist popped up in connection to the Cubs: I’d love to see the Cubs get him, but I think there will be other teams more inclined to pay a steeper price because they can more obviously use him at a higher-order defensive position.
- Jeff Sullivan looked at other one-year player trades this offseason to gauge the expected return in a Zobrist trade. It’s tricky because of his unique value, but Sullivan seems Jason Heyward as the best comparison (remember, each is a free agent after this year, so the age difference is not necessarily a huge issue when comparing). Heyward, together with Jordan Walden, netted a young, cost-controlled big league pitcher (Shelby Miller) and a decent pitching prospect (Tyrell Jenkins). I’d point out that, unlike Zobrist, Heyward is a mortal lock to receive and decline a qualifying offer after the season, so there’s a bit of a valuation difference there. Still, the point stands: Zobrist would cost a lot.
- You should remain properly girded for the strong possibility that the Cubs’ only addition in the outfield from here on out is a complementary, veteran, right-handed bat like that of Jonny Gomes.