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Lukewarm Stove: Salazar As a Cubs Trade Target, Cardinals on Colome, Overlapping Interests, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

Captain’s Log:

It’s day 1,547 of isolation in space, and I’ve begun to consider waking the passengers from cryo-stasis. Perhaps at least one of them will be willing to sign a free agent, or trade with the Space Marlins, so that my shift at the helm of Starship X-342 can finally come to its willful end. 


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Signing Off,

Captain Mitchell Creamy

  • Yes, I was jealous of Brett’s clever intro to our last Lukewarm Stove, and, yes, the offseason continues to drag on without any semblance of movement. And in case you thought that Giancarlo Stanton domino was going to fall any time soon (and kickstart the transactions), think again:

  • Although we weren’t exactly holding out hope that the Marlins would set an artificially deadline, there was always the chance that they could, especially after word that they were basically dropping ultimatums on Stanton. According to Morosi’s source, however, there’s no such luck. Unfortunately, until Stanton gets moved, we may continue to see things progress slowly. “We’re just waiting for this to happen, like the rest of the industry, so we can get on with the offseason,” said one big-league executive (whose team is not in on Stanton) to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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  • But not everyone feels the same way about the reason for the cold stove. At Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan extracted the following … interesting quote from an unnamed MLB GM: “And I don’t really buy the Stanton thing. J.D. Martinez is the only guy on the market you can squint and see some effect there.” Does that GM really think Stanton’s presence on the trade market *ONLY* impacts free agents who are very similar to Stanton? Like, the gigantic contract that a team might have to absorb wouldn’t impact their other planning? Like other free agents might not be waiting on the resolution there to know if big spenders are going to have a lot of money to spend having missed out on Stanton? Like there’s not a trickling effect from there? I mean, sure, Stanton’s presence might have the most direct impact on Martinez, but to suggest that’s the only market-related impact of a Stanton trade is … shockingly off-base.
  • Interestingly, Passan also adds that some teams may be icing out free agents on purpose in an effort to drive down overall costs of the third and fourth-tier players who will be crunched at the end of the offseason. In any case, a different source guesses that 7-10 free agents (most from the relief market) will sign within the next week. I guess we’ll see.
  • Shohei Ohtani probably doesn’t create quite the same level of roadblock, because although every team is clearly and eagerly awaiting his decision, the financial commitment is so low (and his talent so high) that he can fit on any team at any point of the offseason with ease. It really shouldn’t be holding things up too much. That said, for the teams the deepest in on Ohtani, it’s not impossible to imagine that they could wait on spending big on a free agent starter if they think they can land Ohtani first.

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  • Bruce Levine discusses the interplay between Ohtani, Stanton, super-agent Scott Boras and the quiet offseason from the Cubs perspective here at CBS Chicago.
  • And nestled near the end of that post is further confirmation (from the Orioles GM) that the Cubs did in fact discuss a deal for closer Zach Britton at the trade deadline and that it could be revisited – as previously discussed – at some point this winter. Levine also adds that Lance Lynn (no thanks) and Yu Darvish (yes please) are “pitchers to watch” with the Cubs, in addition to Alex Cobb (discussed last night).
  • At MLB.com, Anthony Castrovince has a fun, mostly-subjective take on the top 10 potential starting pitchers who could be made available in trade this winter, including realistic landing spots for each. Among the Cubs-related bits, Castrovince considers Chris Archer, Gerrit Cole, Julio Teheran, Danny Salazar, and Jake Odorizzi as the best fits for Chicago. As you probably know, we’ve repeatedly discussed Archer, conceded that an intra-division trade for Cole is unlikely, have been waiting for a Teheran trade forever, and already looked into why Odorizzi isn’t the *best* fit performance-wise right now. But Danny Salazar isn’t a road we’ve gone too far down yet.

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(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
  • At just 27 years old and with five solid, but shortened seasons already under his belt, Danny Salazar is a tantalizing trade target for the Cubs. He managed just 103.0 innings in 2017, but posted a 33.0%(!) K rate, a 10.0% BB rate, and allowed 2 or fewer earned runs in 9 of his final 11 starts. Not only is he an extremely talented pitcher, he comes with three more seasons of team control and has only once made a trip through arbitration (needless to say, he fits in PERFECTLY with the Cubs’ core).
  • Why, then, would the Indians be willing to move on? After all, they are also in the middle of a highly-competitive window. Well, according to Castrovince, they’re going to need to replenish their offensive production, but won’t be willing/able to do so via free agency. Instead, they’ll need to target high-impact, cost-controlled bats – something the Cubs have in spades. To be sure, Salazar had some non-structural (but still scary) elbow and shoulder issues over the past two seasons, but not every Cubs player is perfect either. Perhaps there’s a fit here if the Cubs decide they can part with one of their young positional players.
  • But because there’s a yin to every yang, Jesse Rogers (ESPN Chicago) lays out the reasons why the Cubs should NOT make a blockbuster trade for a starting pitcher this winter, and, frankly, he’s at least a little convincing. And, in the end, there really are many interesting free agent options out there that would cost only money. (But, then, they probably don’t have as much upside, for example, as Salazar.)
  • The Cardinals have been connected to Rays closer Alex Colome a lot already this offseason, and it sounds like things could be progressing:

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  • You are reminded that Colome got decent results in 2017, but there were a number of uncomfortable signals in his peripherals, and he’s just now about to start making some money in arbitration.
  • If the Pirates decide to move Andrew McCutchen in his final year of team control, the Giants – who make obvious sense -are interested:

  • Like we’ve said before in the Gerrit Cole context, though, unless the Pirates are going to totally rebuild right now, they may as well start the season intact, see how the first half plays out, and then they could move McCutchen if it came to that.
  • And finally at the Denver Post, Patrick Saunders writes that the Rockies are likely shopping for a closer, a catcher, and a first baseman this winter. While the lattermost target won’t affect the Cubs, the former two certainly will. The Cubs are well-known to be searching for a closer (either in trade or free agency) and are looking for a veteran back-stop, as well. Fortunately, the Rockies appear to be looking for more of a starter behind the plate, but former Cubs back-up Alex Avila is mentioned among the options, and I was holding some outside hope that his market would develop slowly enough to make a reasonably-priced return to the Cubs a possibility. Perhaps that was always a pipe dream.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.


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Michael Cerami

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