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Lukewarm Stove: Soft Relief Market, Britton and Gausman, Stanton and the Dodgers, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

The rumor mill is churning, churning, churning here as the GM Meetings go on. My fingers are tingling just trying to keep up …


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  • Although the Cubs will stay in touch on top closer option Wade Davis, we do all have to keep in mind – as the Cubs will – that this year’s market for relievers is very strong in the not-quite-Davis tier, and there aren’t a ton of large market teams with elite reliever needs. Which means the Cubs may be able to be choosey *AND* the market might wind up being softer than expected for a guy like Davis:

  • To that end, Bruce Levine says the Cubs aren’t interested in going to four years and $60 million on Davis, which is believed to be the range he’ll seek. Instead, Levine confirms an earlier Jon Heyman rumor, that the Cubs have spoken to the Orioles about Zach Britton. Like I said when that rumor first emerged, the name is a great one, but there are issues:

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… just how much should a team like the Cubs actually be willing to part with for Britton, who comes with significant upside (his performance from 2014-16 was utterly absurd), but also significant risk? Consider that, when Britton was healthy enough to pitch in 2017, he posted a 2.89 ERA (good, but nowhere near the elite tier of closers), a 72.6% groundball rate (super elite, but down from 2016 and 2015), an 11.2% walk rate (WAY up from his great years), an 18.0% strikeout rate (good God, WAY down from his great years), and contact rates that were far, far worse than his good years.

That is to say Britton was pretty bad in 2017 when he wasn’t injured. How much would you trade away to roll the dice that he can be a whole lot better in 2018, knowing that you’re going to pay $12-13 million for the privilege?

  • Where things get really interesting is if the Orioles decide they’re ready to move on from an option-less starter like Kevin Gausman, who is projected to make nearly $7 million in arbitration in 2018. Gausman, 26, comes with big-time pitching pedigree and has had intermittent success at the big league level, but he posted a 4.68 ERA last year, his walk and strikeout rates took steps back to around league average, and he posted his second straight season with a 1.40 HR/9. Would the Orioles be interested in swapping him out in a deal with Britton? Would the Cubs be interested in trying to reclaim and further develop another Orioles starter? Would the Orioles be gun-shy after what happened with Jake Arrieta?

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  • To be crystal clear: there are no rumors out there on Gausman’s availability right now, and a resurgence in the second half for Gausman has many writers in Baltimore presuming he’s now a key cog in their otherwise needy rotation. I’m just thinking out loud about fits and needs. When you talk about the Cubs’ young big league positional talent, I see no fit in a deal for Britton alone. That’s all I’m saying.
(Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
  • There have been a load of rumors in the last few days about where Giancarlo Stanton would or would not accept a trade, but, despite those rumors, it sounds like the Cardinals may press on in negotiations with Marlins hoping Stanton says yes. That, of course, sets up the delectable possibility that a trade is consummated, only to have Stanton reject the Cardinals.
  • Speaking of Stanton, although the Cardinals, Giants, Red Sox, and Phillies have gotten the bulk of the rumor attention so far, there could be as many as four other teams involved:

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  • The Dodgers make sense for Stanton insofar as he’s from L.A., they’re already well over the luxury tax limit, they have an abundance of big-league-ready talent they could send back to the Marlins (talent that would be squeezed out of playing time by Stanton anyway), and they love them some stars.
  • (No, we still don’t necessarily buy that the Cubs are a serious suitor for Stanton at this time, and I’d also add that, given the no-trade problem, the Marlins are incentivized to get the word out that TONS OF TEAMS are banging down the door to send them tons of prospects and eat the whole contract.)
  • Back to the Cardinals for a moment, as their president throws cold water (or misdirects?) on a previous report that they could be going after Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta:

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  • As I mentioned when addressing that prior report, it remains possible that the Cardinals are in on the big pitching names, but really only if they use some of their pitching depth (and outfield depth) to acquire a guy like Stanton … in which case it’ll be a really expensive winter for the Cardinals. But, hey, maybe they’ll go that route after two very disappointing years.
  • Speaking of Darvish, make sure you check out Michael’s free agent profile, which went up earlier today.
  • I can’t wait to see how JD Martinez’s market develops, and he definitely deserves a really significant contract (probably from an AL team, as usual, that can stash him at DH when it becomes necessary), but I’ve got thoughts on the rumors about the size of the deal:

  • It was absolutely crazy how the Tigers couldn’t get a market going for Martinez at midseason given his long track record of success, and the fact that he was absolutely destroying the ball. To go from that to trying to land a $200+ million contract in free agency simply doesn’t square. Don’t get me wrong: the market at midseason is limited to contenders, and the market now is limited only by the teams that want a serious upgrade in their lineup. But it would be pretty wild to see a swing like this. (Not unprecedented for Martinez, of course, because there was a time not that long ago that the Astros gave him up for nothing at all.)
  • The Twins voided the contract of their top IFA signing (worth $3 million) because of a reported medical issue, which conveniently means that they are now there with the Yankees and Rangers as the only teams that can offer Shohei Ohtani a bonus in excess of $3 million.
  • Jake Peavy, who struggled in 2016 and did not pitch in 2017, is trying to make a comeback at age 36:

  • If Peavy winds up settling for a minor league deal to come to camp and show what he’s got now that he’s rested up, I’d have no problem if that team were the Cubs. Unlikely it pays off, but there’s no risk, and you get another veteran presence in the door for Spring Training.
  • Ichiro still looking for work:


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.