Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureIt’s tough to catch up on a Lukewarm Stove when so much activity has happened. I started typing this one out about three days ago. And things are happening as I type these very sentences.

  • Add the Rays to the list of teams with controllable young pitching that are interested in controllable young hitting, and thus could be a trade partner for the Cubs. Marc Topkin mentions that here, and it’s a pretty obvious possible fit, what with the Rays having guys like Jake Odorizzi, Drew Smyly, Erasmo Ramirez, Alex Colome, and Tommy John bounce-back candidate Matt Moore theoretically available. (Don’t say Chris Archer, because, no, I don’t think there’s any chance in hell the Rays seriously consider moving him, and you wouldn’t even want to know what it would take if they did.) The Rays also have couple pricey relievers they might look to move (Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee) or an outfielder like Desmond Jennings (no, I don’t think Kevin Kiermaier would be moved).
  • Jayson Stark hears the same about the Rays’ non-Archer pitchers being available.
  • The Cardinals, having missed out on David Price and Jeff Samardzija, and now having lost John Lackey, figure to be particularly aggressive at the Winter Meetings. They’ve got plenty of money, and chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr., pretty much says in that article that the Cardinals intend on staying within the top 1/3 of baseball in terms of payroll. With payrolls rising rapidly, and with money coming off the books this and next year (Matt Holliday’s team-high contract ends after 2016), that means they’re going to spend. They just are. I’m preparing myself for it.
  • Among his pre-Winter Meetings thoughts, Jon Morosi mentions that Kenta Maeda’s posting is expected to begin this week. How the Japanese ace’s availability will impact the market is going to be very interesting to watch.
  • The Tigers made another pitcher signing, though a lesser tier than Jordan Zimmermann this time around: Mike Pelfrey, who is reportedly getting a couple years and $16 million. Pelfrey, 31, was an average starter two out of his three years in Minnesota, so you could make an argument that this is a fine deal for the Tigers. Still, it’s hard to look at $8 million per year over multiple years and not think that the price of poker truly is going up across the board.

  • Are the Nationals not going to get Darren O’Day? That’s the guess here after they’ve now reportedly signed Oliver Perez for two years and $7 million.

  • Oh, and sure enough, as I’m typing, Jon Heyman reports that it sounds like O’Day is going back to the Orioles for four years and $31 million. That’s not a ton of money for an elite reliever like O’Day, but, at 33, I can understand why other teams were reluctant. Plus, maybe he really wanted to stay in Baltimore. Also, sounds like the Nats thought they were going to get him until the Orioles went to four years. (Now that I think about it, though: that’s less total money than the Cubs gave John Lackey for two fewer years, plus a draft pick (and that has roundly been considered a good deal for the Cubs). I’m not sure O’Day won’t actually be worth quite a bit more to the Orioles than Lackey will be to the Cubs. I can’t help but think elite relievers remain undervalued.)
  • Speaking of the Nationals and the bullpen, will they still look to move Drew Storen? Sounds like it. Could he be the arm involved in the Cubs mystery bullpen rumor? Set to make upwards of $9 million next year, and currently in a potentially-untenable situation with his current team, it’s possible the Nats couldn’t demand a whole lot in return for Storen at this point. But, as I’ve said before, if the genesis of his issue there in Washington was the import of another closer, would he really be all that keen on joining a team that already has a solid closer?
  • That Cubs closer rumor was not just an isolated Jerry Crasnick thing, by the way – Bruce Levine hears the Cubs are looking for a closer, too. I still can’t help but wonder if it’s a little bit a matter of semantics. Hector Rondon is fantastic as a closer, and/or he could be fantastic as a “set-up” guy. Get another dynamite late-inning reliever, and use whoever whenever. I’m cool with that.
  • Ken Rosenthal drops a couple bits on Ben Zobrist, among which is a note that the Cardinals are not involved. On the one hand, good, I guess, since Zobrist is a valuable player. On the other hand, his price tag is reportedly escalating to such an extent that signing him might have put a dent in the Cardinals’ ability to otherwise go hard on, for one example, Jason Heyward. Even that dent, though, might not have impacted things too much. The Cardinals, I’ll remind you, have plenty of money to spend. I guess I already mentioned that.

  • The Marlins are not shopping Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna according to the Marlins. So. You know.
  • Korean outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim is receiving interest from MLB teams, which I just want to pass along in case his market develops in such a way as to impact the Cubs down the line. It’s hard to gauge right now without more information on the player and the involved teams. He appears to profile exclusively as a corner outfielder, so I don’t expect the Cubs to be involved.
  • Remember when the Cubs were rebuilding, and people would still try to make the argument that they should sign this or that big free agent? They’ll need that player eventually, the argument went. Well, the shoe’s on the other foot in this piece about the Phillies and Jason Heyward. Nope. Just ain’t happenin’, Phillies fans.
  • Meanwhile, don’t sleep on the Angels for Heyward.
  • If you missed this morning’s rumor on the Cubs and Alex Gordon.

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