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Lukewarm Stove: Rays Will Trade a Pitcher, Free Agent Pitcher Battles, Stanton, Ohtani, Angels, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

Anyone else ready for something to, like, you know, happen?


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Even though we’re just days away from December, Doug Fister’s deal with the Rangers remains the most significant movement of the offseason (unless you’re counting Justin Upton re-signing with the Angels before the offseason really began … and I am not counting it, because I WANT THINGS).

On the bright side, I guess that means it’s all going to come down hard when things finally start shaking loose, but I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll have to wait until the Winter Meetings at this point. Sigh.

At least there’s no shortage of rumors …

  • At the Tampa Bay Times, Marc Topkin states plainly that the Rays are going to trade “at least a couple of their bigger-name, higher-salaried players” this offseason in an effort to cut payroll. And if you’re a Cubs fan, that should be music to your ears. As I’m sure you can recall, the Cubs and Rays have been connected for years, given the need for pitching on the North Side and the need for cost-controlled bats in Florida. But before you go buying your Chris Archer jersey, you should know that starter Jake Odorizzi ($6.5M projected in arbitration) and closer Alex Colome ($5.5M) are the two most likely to go first. And it’s only after those deals develop, Topkin writes, that the Rays will even consider moving Archer (and others). We’ll look into Odorizzi as a trade target soon. Stay tuned.
  • Nick Cafardo (The Boston Globe) believes that the Red Sox interest in Giancarlo Stanton is probably stronger than they’re letting on. After finishing the 2017 season with a team wRC+ in the bottom third of the league, they need some offense, and they’ll have to get it somewhere (and they certainly have the pieces to pull it off). Of course, as previously reported, Stanton prefers not to go to the Red Sox (or Cardinals), so maybe their hands will be tied. Though I’ll remind you that’s not necessarily a good thing – I’d rather see him go to the American League than somewhere a bit closer to home (in the standings). [UPDATE, via Brett: Looks like there might be a standoff happening, with Stanton waiting on the Dodgers.]

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  • Also in that Globe article, Cafardo lists the Cubs among the six most-often mentioned teams in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes (along with the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, Mariners, and Cardinals). But aside from, I’d guess, the Cardinals (on this list), the Cubs are probably the least likely to land the two-way superstar. There’s just so much working against them (no DH, no extensive recent history with Japanese players, bonus limited to $300K, etc.), but I suppose you never know.
  • And, hey, it’s not just Cafardo mentioning Chicago. At USA Today, Jorge Ortiz mentions the Cubs among the five teams who offer the best fit for Ohtani, citing a youthful core, a recent World Series championship, and a need in the rotation. On the other hand, Ortiz concedes that the Cubs would have to make some trades to open up space in the outfield and make room for Ohtani’s bat if/when he plays the field (if that’s a requirement for him). All things considered, don’t take this as more than just additional speculation. The Cubs will be involved and will 100% bid their max to get him, but so will every other team in baseball.
  • After posting a league-worst .601 OPS at second base in 2017, the Angels are looking for some help at the position before Opening Day. In addition, Ken Rosenthal writes that they’re looking for a right-handed platoon partner for Luis Valbuena at third base. Obviously, in Ian Happ and Javy Baez, the Cubs could have not one, but two answers to their needs, but I’m not quite sure the Angels are the best trade partners for the Cubs (fit-wise). I hear that Mike Trout guy is pretty good, though.

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  • Rosenthal’s piece also offers his take on the slow market – in addition to big pieces we’ve already long discussed (Stanton, Ohtani), Rosenthal thinks the glut of quality relievers in free agency is also a factor. Good year for the Cubs to have such extensive needs in the bullpen, at least.
  • Even after the Rangers landed Doug Fister in free agency, they’re still looking for more starters and their path could soon cross the Cubs:

  • Obviously, as I’ve previously written, the Cubs should/probably will have more interest in Alex Cobb than Lance Lynn, but both are realistic targets (depending on the price) and more competition is never a good thing for the buyer.
  • And potentially further driving up prices is the Minnesota Twins. According to Thad Levine (the Twins GM), the Twins are having active conversations with the agents of Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lynn, and Cobb. Given the somewhat barren free agent class from last winter, perhaps it’s no surprise to see multiple teams hanging around with their pocket books out. But still, more realistic alternatives doesn’t help the Cubs. And not for nothing, but the Twins have reportedly saved about $6.5 million by letting first baseman Byung-Ho Park out of his contract so that he can return to Korea. It’s not a substantial sum, but, again, it’s not nothing.
  • And finally at Baseball America, J.J. Cooper ranks the ex-Braves prospects who’ve been granted free agency, so you’ll want to give that a read. Given that the Cubs’ farm system has been recently depleted and that they can use next period’s IFA bonus pools, there’s a real chance they can get involved. The top name, as you may have already heard, is 17-year-old shortstop Kevin Maitan, though there are many interesting players to be had.

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Michael Cerami

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