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Lukewarm Stove: Cubs Ready to Deal, McCutchen on the Move, Relief Options, Archer Staying Put? More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

Busy Monday around the rumor mill, eh? That’s what happens when the GM Meetings get underway.


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Already, we’ve covered some talk regarding the Cardinals and Jake Arrieta/Yu Darvish (or a big-time trade), the continually developing market for Giancarlo Stanton, and even how much going both ways might matter to Shohei Ohtani in free agency.

And, again, all of this before the rest of the Lukewarm Stove! ‘Tis the season.

  • At NBC Sports Chicago, Patrick Mooney writes that “Theo Epstein’s front office sounds willing to make big changes that would shake up this team” this week at the GM meetings in Orlando. Oh my. And while no specific and/or new rumors emerge from the post, Mooney does include a few notable bit. Mainly, that the truly untouchables remain Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, and Willson Contreras, and that the Cubs are most likely not ready to break up the Addison Russell and Javy Baez double-play combo.
  • From there, Mooney extrapolates that Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber, and Albert Almora, although all front-office favorites, can reasonably be considered the guys the Cubs would be willing to dangle. I think we always knew this on some level, but now it’s been written down, so to speak.
  • At CBS Chicago, Bruce Levine mostly echoes that sentiment, noting that Alex Cobb, Brandon Morrow, and Jake McGee are the names who’ve already been attached to the Cubs this winter.

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  • And on that middle guy, Morrow, don’t think the relative silence on him since he was first connected to the Cubs indicates anything dying down. Back at NBC Sports Chicago, Mooney writes that the Cubs may try to find the next Brandon Morrow … or just sign the current one (or both!). Beyond him, however, Mooney mentions a couple other usual suspects on the relief market, including Addison Reed, Greg Holland, Bryan Shaw, Tony Watson, Steve Cishek, Pat Neshek, and Luke Gregerson. Each could make some sense, to one extent or another, but it’s worth pointing out that the Cubs have been relatively conservative in free agent deals for relievers in the current regime.
  • Although Rays GM Erick Neander is willing to hear teams out on any of his players, moving Chris Archer doesn’t sound particularly likely:

  • Basically, with four more (relatively) cheap years of team control on a 29-year-old pitcher, the Rays aren’t dying to move Archer’s contract. The “we need more guys like him” schtick may be generic and oft-employed, but in this case it could certainly be true. Archer is undoubtedly available – all Rays always are – but for how much remains to be seen (and, to be clear, is probably too much to be realistic).

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(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
  • Elsewhere in the NL Central, the Pirates might finally have to consider some tough moves. Andrew McCutchen bounced back from a brutal 2016 campaign, with a 122 wRC+ and 3.7 WAR in 2017, and has just one year remaining on his deal. The Pirates, then, might have to consider moving him and his reasonable remaining deal sooner rather than later. Similarly, Gerrit Cole (27 years old, 2 years left of team control) was worth more than 3.0 fWAR this year but could provide more value to the Pirates in a trade than on the field. As always, intra-divisional trades are difficult to pull off, but I’d guess the Cubs would at least call on someone like Cole if he were definitively made available.
  • Along the same line:

  • Raisel Iglesias was an excellent closer in 2017 (1.8 WR, 2.49 ERA, 30.1 K%), and could be made available this winter. The Cubs, once again, would probably love to have him, but would the Reds be willing to move him to Chicago? I’ll remind you that these teams have dealt with each other in recent-ish years (Travis Wood/Sean Marshall trade) so it’s not like it’s unheard of.

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  • The Mets are reportedly going to employ a new approach to their rotation, and thus may present some competition in the relief market:

  • If Mike Trout didn’t sign his 6 year/$144 million extension about four years ago, he would’ve been a free agent this offseason. And after yet another brilliant (albeit injury-shortened) season, Mike Axisa estimates that Trout’s bidding could’ve reached upwards of $600 million (I don’t think that’s outlandish for a 26-year-old best player in baseball). And if that’s not enough of a drool-worthy thought-experiment, consider that Axisa figures the Chicago Cubs, with their high-payroll, open center field job, and overall competitive team would have been among the most serious suitors. Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, and Mike Trout. In one lineup. OMG. Just, OMG.
  • At the Athletic, Ken Rosenthal hits on a few interesting (and prescient) offseason points (including the Padres potential interest in free agent Eric Hosmer and the Brewers’ desire to land a big-time starting pitcher in free agency), but one of the most interesting bits is that he believes the Marlins are prioritizing money (over the player return) in a deal for Giancarlo Stanton.

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  • As always, the Cardinals, Phillies, and Giants are mentioned among potential suitors (a team like the Cubs are not necessarily serious pursuers). With that said, Rosenthal does add that Stanton’s presently-looking “enormous” deal ($295M/10 years) could be dwarfed by whatever Manny Machado and Bryce Harper get next year. Maybe the Cubs, who we believe will be in on Harper, could at least consider their options. (Keep in mind, though, that at this time next year, upon reaching free agency, Harper will be two years younger than Stanton is now.)

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Michael Cerami

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