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Lukewarm Stove: Stanton May Prefer L.A., Holland and the Cubs, Ohtani, Giants, Cuban Prospect

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

Although the “Japanese Babe Ruth’s” expected leap to MLB and journey through free agency comes alongside a number of unanswered questions, the biggest mystery – by far – has finally been solved:


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It’s “Ohtani,” with an “H,” not “Otani,” you know, without one. Naming conventions on players coming from other countries sometimes take a little time to settle into place, and now a consensus has formed on this one.

If you’re having trouble remembering, it’s kinda like George H.W. Bush has an “H,” but George H.W. Bus doesn’t. (Ba dum tssss)

  • Speaking of Ohtani, in case you missed it earlier, his team is expected to post him very soon, but because the posting agreement hasn’t technically been finalized yet, that hasn’t actually happened. More in the update here.

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  • Outside of Ohtani’s free agency, I think the biggest baseball-wide story of the winter will probably be Giancarlo Stanton’s impending trade. Yesterday, we discussed how his no-trade clause could play a role in his destination – specifically, where he did not want to go (a rebuilding club, and maaaaaybe St. Louis?) – but we didn’t have much clarity in where he might want to go, until today:

  • Although the Dodgers seem to have a limitless amount of money (and the Angels aren’t too penniless themselves), the most recent CBA made these decisions more difficult. Would either team risk inching nearer to (and/or exceeding, and/or exceeding the even higher tiers of) the luxury tax threshold ahead of the huge 2018-2019 free agent class? It’ll definitely be a consideration. (Also of note: Stanton is from the West coast.)

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  • I’m not sure what this tells us, but Stanton did just meet with Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill recently, but the content of that discussion remains unclear. If I were to venture a guess, it was a confirming signal that the Marlins were very likely to trade Stanton and they’d like to know where he was willing to go. Perhaps this conversation led to the Dodgers/Angels revelation.
  • And in case you just can’t get enough Stanton rumors, Jeff Todd has the ultimate “Assessing the trade market for Giancarlo Stanton” post at MLBTR. Todd gets into Stanton’s market in general, and then assesses the why a deal would work, why it wouldn’t work, and the immediate outlook of every conceivably interested team. Yes, the Cubs are included and although he can envision something working out, he sees Jason Heyward’s contract as a bit of a roadblock (not that the Cubs couldn’t carry both contracts, in isolation, but they do still want to make other moves). [Brett: I tend to agree in the sense that adding a 10-year, massive contract in the outfield for another 28-year-old player via trade doesn’t make the most sense right now. Eh hem. See the hedging in there?]
  • Among the many needs of the Chicago Cubs this winter, a closer (or similarly proven late-inning type like Addison Reed) is near the top of the list. Fortunately, there are a few options available in free agency, including someone they looked at last winter, Greg Holland. It sounds like the Rockies are making a play to extend their 2017 closer and he’s believed to love Colorado (said no pitcher ever). Although I know the Cubs have shown interest in Holland before, I have to say, I’m not enamored with what he brings to the table, particularly the high walk rate and SUPER high fly ball rate this past season in Colorado. Moreover, after a hot start, he posted a 6.38 ERA as batters went .232/.311/.432 on him in the second half. In short, there are other options I’d prioritize above Holland.

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Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
  • Here’s a potentially enormous market-swinger, via Alex Pavlovic at NBC Sports: “According to numbers compiled by Cot’s Contracts, the Giants already have a tax number of about $187 million when you account for arbitration-eligible players, the remainder of the 40-man roster and benefits that are included in the final tax number.” Which means they have, at most, about $10 million in wiggle room until they hit the luxury tax threshold for the fourth straight year (something they will be very reluctant to do). Because of this, you might see the Giants more heavily involved in trade talks than free agency this winter.
  • With that said, Giants President Brian Sabean recently suggested that the team is looking to upgrade center field, find an everyday third baseman and, most importantly, inject more power into the lineup. To that end, you could imagine trade fits with the Cubs, depending on the return. I know the Jeff Samardzija-Jason Heyward rumor was strongly shot down the other day, but that doesn’t mean the Cubs couldn’t still have interest in – for example – picking up Samardzija from the Giants. Perhaps moving Samardzija’s rather large $18M AAV hit for a more cost-effective player is something they might consider. All speculation, mind you, and it gets a little tricky when you start trying to pair an actual tradable piece of the Cubs.
  • And finally, yesterday’s Nations Baseball Showcase in the D.R. revealed a 15-year-old Cuban right-hander by the name of Osiel Rodriguez capable of throwing 96 MPH. From the sounds of it, Rodriguez will be available in the upcoming IFA class (joining another big-time Cuban prospect) when the Cubs are free from their signing restrictions. Expect them to get involved with some of the top talent.

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Michael Cerami

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