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Winter Meetings: Wood’s Return, Elite Closers Getting Close, Fowler, Ross, Rays, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

2016-winter-meetings

The Cubs made a fairly significant move this afternoon (last night?), trading Jorge Soler to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for dominant (but recently injured) closer Wade Davis.

You can read the full extent of the trade and subsequent fallout here, but I won’t get too into it here, given how much Brett (and others) have already discussed it. You can read a bit more about Davis here, though.

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  • According to Hoyer, the Cubs are still in contact with free agent Travis Wood, and a return has not yet been ruled out. Wood isn’t necessarily a late-inning reliever, but he is just 29 years old, did exceptionally well against lefties last season (.203 wOBA against), and is capable of eating up all kinds of innings (to say nothing of his defensive and offensive abilities). For the right price, I’d love to have Wood back on the Cubs.

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  • The Nationals aren’t giving up on trying to land a White Sox player with a solid contract:

  • Eaton’s defensive metrics erupted last year (and together with them his total value) upon his move to right field. It’s generally agreed that it was legit improvement, too, and not merely a phantom defensive metrics thing. He would be a significant addition to the Nationals.
  • Jeff Passan reports that there is a growing sense that the elite-closer free agent market (Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman) might soon be coming to a close. And to that end, I’d wager strongly that the Cubs will be out on both, given their acquisition of Davis. As to where each ends up, however, I’m not as certain. The Cubs (Davis) and the Giants (Mark Melancon) already got their closers, while the Dodgers, Yankees, Nationals, and Marlins seem like the most likely “other guys” waiting in the wind.
  • And according to Buster Olney (ESPN), the Yankees have already made offers to both Jansen and Chapman, possibly with the caveat of whoever accepts first will be pitching in New York. Similarly, Olney suggests that while the Dodgers have been involved in the closer market, adding a pricey contract (like the ones Chapman and Jansen are certain to get) will “push them way over the luxury tax threshold.” With their payroll already projected to exceed $200 million, adding Justin Turner and Jansen, as an example, might prove too costly (especially with the soon-to-be-harsher penalties from the new CBA).

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  • Those Dexter-Fowler-to-the-Cardinals rumors haven’t gone away yet, and Derrick Goold (St. Louis Post Dispatch) recently answered a bunch of fan questions on the matter. Therein, Goold suggested that Fowler will likely get $18 million, and could reach as high as $20 million, in average annual value. But despite the high cost, Goold doesn’t see money as the problem. Instead, he believes that length of contract, a potential opt-out, and Fowler’s age are the deciding factors. To that end, I’d argue that I’d be wholly surprised to see Fowler want an opt-out instead of more guaranteed money, especially considering the two loaded upcoming free agent classes. And, on his age, yes Fowler is 31 years old, but one of his best skill sets (discipline and on base ability) probably won’t decline as quickly … wait, what am I doing? You’re right, Cardinals fans, Fowler is a terrible investment. Feel free to move right along.
  • Goold also gets into the unlikelihood of the Cardinals trading for Andrew McCutchen, the return on Jaime Garcia, an extension for Seung Hwan Oh, whether or not they’ll trade Kolton Wong, and a whole lot more.

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  • The Tampa Bay Rays have agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos. Although the details haven’t been confirmed by the club, Ramos will get just two years and $12.5 million guaranteed, but it comes with incentives up to about $6 million more, based on playing time. Given his late-season ACL injury and October surgery, Ramos isn’t scheduled to return until after the season begins. With that said, if the Rays are confident in his abilities thereafter, they’ll likely not acquire another starting catcher beforehand.
  • Why does that matter? Well, some rumors had the Rays targeting catchers in trade with their cache of starting pitchers being used as bait. Given that the Cubs don’t really have any catchers of that type to trade (in fact, we’d argue they need to add some upper minors depth in that area), this could be potentially beneficial in their efforts to land one of those Rays starters.

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  • On the starting pitching front, I suspect the Cubs will continue to search for the (mythical, I’m pretty sure) cost-controlled starting pitcher they’ve been targeting for years. But if they can’t figure that sort of trade out, they can always dip into free agency. One such name we’ve heard them have some interest in before is non-tendered, partially-injured, but still very interesting right-hander Tyson Ross. And now, his previously unpredictable contract asks have come out:

  • $9-11 million is a lot to ask for, given the uncertainty of Ross’ future … but it could also be a steal for a guy who put up three consecutively great seasons in San Diego before being injured after his Opening Day start in 2016. Depending on the length of the deal he seeks, I’d love to see the Cubs go after Ross even at that price. For his part, Brett wonders if he’ll cost a bit less, given that $9ish million was already his estimated arbitration cost, which got him non-tendered:

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  • Brett: I’d also add that it’s possible Ross was always worth the risk at his projected arbitration price, but teams were leery about dealing with the Padres for a player with a significant medical issue, given what happened last year.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.


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Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.

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