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Winter Meetings Thursday Night: Cubs on Japanese Reliever? Machado Offers, the Quiet Week

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

It’s over. The Winter Meetings are over. And they were … eh. There were a lot of good rumors, and some story line changes around the game, but the actual activity was shockingly light.


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Consider that, as of a week ago, everything was understandably being held up in large part by the Shohei Ohtani pursuit and the Giancarlo Stanton trade talks. That’s not just me extrapolating – teams admitted that it kinda ground things to a halt. Then, on Friday and Saturday, the road cleared! Both pursuits wrapped up! Just in time for the Winter Meetings! Hello deluge of transactions!

… it did not happen. As of tonight, with the Winter Meetings over – a late Winter Meetings, mind you, that has extended to December 14 – the largest free agent contract signed was when the Cubs inked Tyler Chatwood last week to a three-year, $38 million deal. In the average year, if that was the largest contract signed before Thanksgiving I’d call it a surprise.

I’m sure the Ohtani/Stanton pursuits set things back, but clearly, there’s more to it than that. Whether it’s the massive free agent class coming next year, the first-offseason-adjustment to the new CBA’s luxury tax penalties, a lack of trade movement because teams value players so similarly now, or a combination of those things (and about 10 other things), the fact is that the market has behaved fundamentally differently this year than in years past.


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And yet! The Cubs have managed to address nearly all of their needs already, with two quality relievers signed (Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek), one quality starting pitcher signed (Chatwood), and another high-upside future play signed (Drew Smyly). They aren’t finished, but if they absolutely *had* to be finished right now, they’d have a perfectly playoff-contender-y roster. How many other teams can say that right now?

So, weird Winter Meetings over. We’ll see what happens now. I won’t even try to predict anything. Well, outside of the fact that when I’m seeing ‘The Last Jedi’ tomorrow, about 50 trades and signings will break out.

Let’s take one last Winter Meetings look at the rumor mill …

  • This is a fun report, though I’ll caution you that translations are tough, and it doesn’t say that the Cubs *are* the team that made the offer:

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  • Hirano, 33, has posted minuscule ERAs in Japan in six of his eight seasons as a reliever, including the last two. He limited homers, didn’t walk anyone, and struck a ton of guys out … until those most recent two seasons. The results were very good, but his strikeout rate has plummeted. I don’t know what’s up with that, but we’ll dig in more if this goes somewhere.
  • This feels bogus given the Nationals’ existing overload of bats, including in the outfield, but obviously it’s true that Harper might depart for a better, bluer team:

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  • Any time the Nationals are connected surprisingly to a major free agent, this bears mentioning: Martinez is a Scott Boras client. He has worked directly with the Nationals’ owners before, so you never know.
  • The Cubs’ reported deal for Steve Cishek is for two years and $12 to $14 million, for what it’s worth, and I’m not sure I wouldn’t rather have Cishek even if they were at the same price:

  • On the Manny Machado front, Bob Nightengale reports (I know, caveat) that the Orioles have 10(!) legitimate offers in hand for Machado, and one of them was *not* from the Cardinals, who Nightengale says want a negotiating window to talk about an extension. So you’ve got at least 11 teams that are serious enough to want to trade for Machado that they’re making offers (or, in the Cardinals case, they want an extension window). That sure seems like a lot of teams putting together actual offers for one year of Machado. Don’t get me wrong, Machado’s a stud whose presence would improve any team … but actually putting together an offer and accommodating the rest of your position players to make it happen? That just sounds like a lot of teams. I’m not so sure about that one.

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  • Also, Buster Olney says the Cardinals have made an offer:

  • Earlier, we broke down a rumor that Alex Cobb’s asking price is a whopping $20 million annually. I have questions.
  • Hey, you: thanks for keeping up with us this week. Even when it’s a “quiet” Winter Meetings, it’s still really nuts. So we appreciate you fine folks hanging out with us.

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.