[UPDATE: The second I clicked publish on this post, the Cubs announced they’d signed Tyler Chatwood.]
With a tentative expectation that the Giancarlo Stanton trade saga could wrap up by the end of this week, with Shohei Ohtani having completed his meetings with the seven finalists for his services, and with the Winter Meetings starting on Monday, it’s very possible that this weekend could prove to be a rumor bonanza. Heck, a flurry of transactions wouldn’t surprise me at this point.
Stay tuned …
- Speaking of Stanton, a report from Jon Heyman indicates that the Giants’ aggressive pursuit of a trade is “driven at least in part” by team President/CEO/owner Larry Baer. Normally, I blanch when I hear about a team owner getting involved in a player pursuit, because the very best owners know that their role – as far as baseball operations go – is to hire the very best baseball operations people, and let them handle the baseball decisions. And when it’s an owner pushing a player acquisition, it’s almost always a bad baseball move. That said, as I understand it, Baer is slightly more involved on the baseball side than the typical owner (and has been for something like 20 years), and, perhaps more importantly, the Giants couldn’t acquire Stanton without committing to go way over the luxury tax cap for probably several years. Among other things, that would require a serious financial commitment from ownership, so Baer being involved more on this than other moves makes more sense in that way, too.
- As for the Cardinals, team president John Mozeliak brushed off the suggestion that Stanton (though not mentioned by name) is holding up their offseason, telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “I feel like the way we’re approaching our offseason there is more than one thing to accomplish, so it hasn’t affected our pace or timing. I’ve been doing this long enough to know there are always ways to improve. I think for us, patience and optimism are going to be our strength.” And, yeah, sure, but let’s not act like the financial commitment to Stanton might not impact other moves, or the presence of a huge bat might not change the team’s strategy on other fronts. They did just sign Miles Mikolas, so they’re not *totally* stilted. But, yeah, I mean, of course it’s holding them up.
- I still guess, when this is all said and done, that Stanton will wind up with the Giants, as I don’t think Stanton is going to accept a trade to the Cardinals, and I don’t think the Dodgers are ready to add so much more payroll in the outfield for as long as Stanton is under contract. I think they’re just happy to put the squeeze to their division rival in this process.
- Jon Heyman reports that the Orioles are receiving calls on Manny Machado and are open to dealing him, especially if they can’t get him signed to an extension. My gut says it is far more likely that he rides out his final season in Baltimore before hitting free agency after 2018. It would certainly be exciting if Machado were on the trade market right now, but he’s a superstar coming off a down season (though if you really dig in on his contact, it seems like he might have been obscenely unlucky) and would offer his new team just one year of control. That’s a tough trade.
- If the Orioles did decide to sell, there’s also Zach Britton, who is a free agent after this season. The Cubs have been in contact there, but, as we’ve discussed, the Orioles can’t rightly demand a lot in trade. I also like Kevin Gausman as a buy-lower-ish candidate for the Cubs, but, again, he only really comes into play if the Orioles are doing some kind of rebuild.
- On this day last year, the Cubs pulled off their Jorge Soler, Wade Davis swap. While Davis went on to be a critical part of the Cubs’ success in 2017, including their NLDS win over the Nationals, Soler lumbered through another injury-filled season, ultimately appearing in just 35 big league games for the Royals, and hitting a woeful .144/.245/.258 in the process. He raked when healthy at AAA, as we know he can, but it’s fair to wonder whether Soler, who turns 26 in February, is going to be a total bust.
- It’s wild to look back on the writeup for that trade, and now see confirmed what we feared was true: “Taking off your Cubs-loving-prospect goggles, you can see the clear risk in Soler, right? Offensive upside that hasn’t fully shown at the big league level, a litany of injuries (many of them repeat hamstring injuries), a contract that is already paying him $4-ish million per year PLUS the right to opt into arbitration if he breaks out, and no indication thus far that he’ll be anything more than a liability in the outfield. It’s easy, in these moments, to focus on what we believe the bat could be – and, I’m telling you, the conceivable upside in that bat is legitimately elite – but it’s not as if there aren’t serious, serious questions.”
- Clearly, the Cubs’ front office deserves a ton of credit for knowing their player very well, and appropriately assessing the risk. Something to keep in mind should they go down the trade-one-of-those-guys-we-love path again this offseason.
- Just gonna sliiiiiiiiiiide this into the Lukewarm Stove:
*Ahem* *cough* *ahem* *ahem* AHEMMMMMM pic.twitter.com/s4oFCB0efQ
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 6, 2017