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Lukewarm Stove: Cubs Prioritizing Cobb? Almora’s Trade Value, Stanton, Ohtani, Relievers, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

In case you missed the relatively big news earlier, the Giants and Marlins appear to be down the road a bit on a Giancarlo Stanton trade. In fact, names and dollar amounts have even begun trickling out, and it really feels like this is finally starting to boil over.


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The only remaining rub, however, is that Stanton has not given formal word to the Marlins about accepting a trade to the Giants, though “officials” remain optimistic that he would do so – given Stanton’s No. 1 preferred destination (Los Angeles), I can understand why they’re hopeful.

I know this may feel like a non-Cubs story, but given that Stanton is likely holding up the rest of the market (and because San Francisco is not located in St. Louis, Missouri), it is a big deal. We’ll keep ya posted.

  • By the way, even if the Cardinals do miss out on Giancarlo Stanton, that doesn’t mean they’ll not still go out and get themselves a big bat. HOWEVER, things will certainly get trickier as they’re not thought to be enamored with free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer. With that said, Jennifer Langosch (Cardinals.com) continues to confirm that they hope to add an impact bat this winter, so brace yourselves for some improvements via free agency.

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  • And to that end, Jeff Passan (Yahoo Sports) is maintaining the “2017 MLB Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker,” which ranks the top free agents and updates their individual bios as other players sign and/or are traded. It’s a good piece to keep handy throughout the offseason.
  • As to some specific Cubs rumors … Bruce Levine hears that that free agent starter Alex Cobb remains the Cubs’ primary target this winter and that they’d love to sign him *before* the Winter Meetings. They’re looking at a deal around four years and $50M, according to Levine. Of course, Cobb has just as much reason to wait until after/during the Winter Meetings to sign a deal, especially give the outside interest from a number of other teams (Yankees, Orioles, Phillies, and Blue Jays), but his affection for/familiarity with Jim Hickey and Joe Maddon is no secret. And let me make this clear: while anything can happen once the season begins, Alex Cobb on a four-year/$50 million deal would be a pretty fantastic outcome for Chicago given the need and the market.
  • At The Athletic, Sahadev Sharma continues his Chicago Cubs trade value series, this time looking at Albert Almora. First and foremost, this is an excellent overall profile on the Cubs young center fielder, including encouraging quotes from managers and front office members alike. But while I agree with Sharma’s overall take on Almora being an unfinished product at the plate, I have to disagree with his defensive assessment. I don’t want to get caught splitting hairs, but I can’t agree that Almora is “not the special defender once envisioned.” Is he a clear step down from Byron Buxton, Kevin Pillar, and Kevin Kiermaier, who are all 80-grade defenders in center? Yeah, sure, but isn’t there still a “special” tier just behind those three? If so, I think Almora would occupy it. Again: I’m probably splitting hairs.

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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
  • In fairness, Sharma has a far more direct line to recent and/or internal scouting takes, and, in terms of trade value, it doesn’t matter if I see more out of him than other teams/scouts do. What matters is his perception in the industry, and right now, he might not fetch as much in trade as he brings to the Cubs on the field. Frankly, I hope he stays put for at least another year, because I believe he can start hitting righties well (and soon).
  • The Rockies, as we know, continue to compete with the Cubs in the relief market (both trade and free agency):

  • While I expect the Rockies might ultimately turn back to Greg Holland (whom I don’t believe the Cubs will seriously target), overlapping interest in Wade Davis (free agency) and Zach Britton (trade) could drive up the price on both fronts.

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  • It’s been a while since we’ve checked back in on the Cubs’ first offseason darling, Brandon Morrow, but he continues to be a potential Cubs target this winter. At The Athletic, Peter Gammons discusses his sky-high (relief) potential, in relation to his history of injuries.
  • In the meantime, the relief market is maybe possibly picking up a bit:

  • Petit, 33, you may recall, was one of the best super utility pitchers with the Giants back in 2014 (117.0 IP, 12 starts, 27 relief appearances, 3.69 ERA, 2.78 FIP), before falling off in 2015 and 2016. But he bounced back in a big way last season with the Angels (2.76 ERA, 2.2 fWAR in 91.1 IP) and was rewarded for it in free agency. I’ll admit, he kinda fell off my radar, but could’ve been an interesting target for the Cubs.
  • Speaking of the Angels, they just made a trade for Braves reliever Jim Johnson … and also an additional $1.21 million in international pool space, perhaps for Shohei Ohtani. Now, the Angels can offer up to $1.315 million, which ranks about 7th most overall. Ohtani has said it’s not about the money, but the Angels are now one of just seven teams capable of offering more than $1M. (It would also help them with the newly-available Braves prospects, which would be kind funny, since they got the extra pool space from the Braves.)

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  • And speaking of Shohei Ohtani, Pirates GM Neil Huntington is making it clear that the Pirates interest is serious. Shrug. Everyone’s interest is serious, man. I know we’re not used to that being the case, but Ohtani literally fits on every single team in baseball (he’s an ace, a slugger, a lefty, young, and cheap). How could he not fit on any team? Good luck, Pittsburgh. (IMPORTANT NOTE: The Pirates’) $2,266,750 is the fourth highest bonus any team can offer (1 of 4 above $2M).
  • And finally, although it might not directly impact the Cubs, I thought it was worth mentioning that the Dodgers are willing to trade catcher Yasmani Grandal, thanks to the emergence of Austin Barnes. Yes, the Cubs have a need at backup catcher, but they’d never part with anything of significance (which is what it might take for Grandal) to get someone behind Contreras – there are just too many money-only options in free agency.

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Michael Cerami

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