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Lukewarm Stove: O’s Want to Move Britton to Cut Payroll, Stanton, Dodgers, Ohtani, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

Just this morning, we were treated to the news that the San Francisco Giants have had “deeper discussions” with the Miami Marlins about slugger Giancarlo Stanton and could even be considered the favorites at this point.


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Given that the Giants aren’t the Cardinals, I could probably swallow such a deal.

Most of the rumors have Stanton heading to the National League anyway, so if the last place Giants, with the powerful Dodgers still ahead of them in the NL East, land Stanton, that’s not the worst outcome for the Cubs.

  • Of course, a less tasty outcome for the Cubs is Stanton winding up with the already-scary Dodgers. Fortunately – at least, so far – that hasn’t seemed likely. Even though L.A. has long been considered one of Stanton’s preferred destinations (it’s home), the Dodgers have seemed reluctant to blow past the luxury tax threshold and risk losing future draft picks. But maybe that will change: Buster Olney is reporting that if Stanton, who has a full no trade clause, wants to land with the Dodgers, he can make it happen. The Marlins are clearly quite determined to trade him and he can pretty much dictate where he ends up. He might “bug” the Marlins with an aggressive wielding of his no-trade clause, but, hey, he’s earned that right.

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  • On the Braves punishment front, the full word is expected today, but here’s your first trickle:

  • Maitan will become a free agent, but the expectation is he’ll be subject to IFA restrictions. Which means teams with solid bonus pools left will have to decide between being aggressive on Maitan, or saving funds for Ohtani. With the Cubs in the penalty box, they won’t have to worry about that (and will instead probably try to gobble up any other prospects who shake loose).
  • Last night, the Players Association extended their arbitrary deadline to come up with a new 2017-2018 MLB/NPB posting agreement by 24 hours. And the early-morning reports suggest a deal could be getting closer:

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  • In later tweets, Morosi reports that many of the NPB teams are on-board with the new “pull back” provision (details of which are very unclear), but a two-thirds majority needs to be reached. Still, the general sense (by Morosi’s account) is that this is all heading in the right direction.
  • But because nothing is ever easy, Joel Sherman is still hearing that there are “big hurdles” to overcome by 7:00 CT tonight. If no deal is reached by tonight (and no new extension is delivered), there’s a chance Ohtani will not play Major League Baseball next season (or possibly the season after).

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  • And maybe that’s not a bad thing for the Cubs, because, as you must know by now, they’re significantly limited in how much money they can offer Ohtani ($300,000 max), while other main suitors are adding as much as they can:

  • If you recall, the Yankees ($3,250,000) had the second-biggest remaining bonus pool behind the Rangers ($3,535,000), but they’ve now closed the gap. According to Jon Heyman, the addition $250,000 in cap space received from the Marlins would put them just $35,000 short of the Rangers for the biggest possible offer. Of course, given that Ohtani is forgoing a $200M+ contract by coming over this winter (instead of two years from now), it’s almost impossible to imagine that $35,000 (or the added $250,000) would make THE difference – and that’s without considering the differences in income tax and/or the potential extension he’d wink-wink-wink receive a year from now.
  • Without a sure-fire closer at the back of their bullpen heading into 2018, the Chicago Cubs were connected to the Orioles closer Zach Britton earlier this winter. And while the rumors on that front have been light (Britton’s expected salary in 2018 and health issues in 2017 have kept the interest mild), the Orioles may soon get more aggressive. According to Buster Olney, Britton is likely to make upwards of $15M via arbitration next season (his last year under team control) and the Orioles could really use that money to fill out their mostly vacant rotation. Olney calls it a “desperate need for payroll flexibility right now.”

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(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
  • If the Orioles are truly looking to dump all of that salary and are realistic about where Britton was when he returned to the mound late last season, the price tag might not be as painful as it would be in 2016 or at the 2018 deadline. And, again, while the Orioles would normally wait for the next deadline to deal Britton (when prices are at a premium), they might need the payroll space now. There’s a chance, given the Cubs financial flexibility and need for a closer, that a beautiful opportunity could present itself. Keep an eye on this one. [Brett: Just to amplify here – our perspective is still that Britton becomes an attractive trade target for the Cubs *ONLY* if the Orioles realize his trade value, given his expected arbitration cost and his injury/performance last year, is not significant.]
  • At FanRag, Jon Heyman writes that the Toronto Blue Jays could emerge as the dark horse favorites for J.D. Martinez. And while the Cubs would almost certainly not be involved his market, the down-stream impacts are non-zero. Consider, for example, what the Cardinals might do to their Marlins/Stanton offer if a star outfielder like Martinez is taken off the board (ditto the Giants). On the other hand, if the Cubs are looking to move one of their outfielders in trade, it could be a good thing if an unexpected team like the Blue Jays land a big-time outfielder, because it takes competition off the board without removing a potential trade partner. Basically Martinez is a big domino this offseason, and his choice could affect the Cubs (among many, many other teams and free agents).
  • Ken Rosenthal discusses the top five available free agents on MLB Network, and posits that Wade Davis will be the first to sign. After that, he can see the rest of the relievers following quickly after:

  • In 2013, the Houston Astros selected Mark Appel first overall and one spot ahead of the 2015 NL Rookie of the Year and 2016 NL MVP Kris Bryant. In 2015, after a couple disappointing years with the Astros, Appel was traded to the Phillies. And yesterday, he was designated for assignment. His name still carries a lot of weight, but most of that is because of his first overall pick status, and his relationship to Kris Bryant’s selection. It’s not really about his prospect status, which injuries and ineffectiveness have torpedoed. Given his pedigree, I’m sure he’ll pick up with some team soon (or he may well simply clear waivers and spend the next year with the Phillies on a minor league deal), but I just wanted to put it on your radar. Reminder, by some accounts, the Cubs had Appel above Bryant on their draft board at the time. Obviously, a lot has changed since then.

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Michael Cerami

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