I want to say that the stove is still “surprisingly hot,” for this time of the year, but with literally none of the top ten or so free agents signing somewhere yet, I suppose it makes plenty of sense.
And the lack of signings at the top isn’t just impacting downstream free agents. The trade market has been somewhat stagnant, despite some heavily-rumored options out there, and that might not clear up until free agency gets going in full force.
- Earlier today, a brand new wrench may have been thrown into everything:
Source : JT Realmuto has requested a trade from the Marlins.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) December 18, 2017
- Well, then. There are so many impacts here, so let me try to unpack it a bit for you. *If the Marlins trade catcher J.T. Realmuto* it’ll take at least one team looking for a starting catcher out of the Alex Avila market, with which the Cubs have been loosely involved. Avila is a borderline starter, but if one of the more aggressive teams finds a quality option elsewhere (Realmuto), he’s less likely to get that sort of deal and, thus, slightly more likely to take a backup role with the Cubs (I just love his fit with this team).
- In addition, *if the Marlins trade Realmuto* they’ll be more likely to trade outfielder Christian Yelich, which puts yet another extremely interesting trade target on the market – one the Cubs may not be targeting. That, in turn, could slightly increase the Cubs’ own trade efforts if they happened to be competing with a team for a pitcher, and that team also happens to really like Realmuto/Yelich, deciding to spend their prospect currency that way.
- In case he hasn’t been on your radar, Realmuto has been a 3+ WAR guy the last two years, is just 26, and is only now arbitration-eligible for the first time. He’d be an extremely attractive trade target for teams out there. And a pricey one. But note, just because he wants to be traded doesn’t mean he will be.
- Next up: Manny Machado, non-Cubs-debate edition. According to Dan Connolly (Baltimore Baseball), “the sense around the Orioles organization is that a Manny Machado trade will get done” this offseason. To whom? When? And for how much? Well, all of that remains annoyingly unclear, as up to ten or more teams have been connected at one point or another. Such is life when a 25-year-old, perennial MVP candidate (who can play shortstop) is made available.
- A few thing have become clear, though: The Orioles seem to be looking for a starting pitcher with multiple years of control in return (big league or prospect, not entirely clear), and that owner Peter Angelos will likely be involved with the final deal. Apparently, he shot down a Zach Britton deal at the deadline last year because he felt it wasn’t an appropriate return, and some fear the same might happen this winter with Machado. So here’s your reminder to applaud every time Tom Ricketts leaves that kind of baseball decision up to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
- Meanwhile, the Cardinals are doing what they can to maximize the two years of control they have on Marcell Ozuna (and, to a lesser extent, recent free-agent signings Luke Gregerson and Miles Mikolas). Combined with the aging of stars like Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina, these next two years can be somewhat of a “window” for them. And, naturally, that makes going after players like Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson make all the more sense. But maybe the Cardinals aren’t willing to be quite as aggressive on those fronts:
Mozeliak, talking trade strategy on KMOX: "If you're trading away 2-3 prospects that have a combined 18 years of control… for one [year]? That doesn't sit well with me."
— Tom Ackerman (@Ackerman1120) December 18, 2017
- Cardinals President John Mozeliak doesn’t seem too interested in trading away multiple big-league caliber prospects in exchange for one year of a player, even if that player happens to be a big star and fit into this window. Probably wise.
- On Friday, the Phillies signed outfielder Carlos Santana, which means they think they’re ready to dial things back up again. Not unlike the Cubs before the 2015 season, the Phillies – and their big market spending ability – remerging can shift the landscape of the National League and add another serious landing spot for big-time free agents in future seasons.
- But don’t get comfortable, because they can disrupt the Cubs plans for sooner than that. With Santana in the fold, Rhys Hoskins has been pushed into the outfield mix, where a combination of Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr, and Nick Williams have already succeeded (to a degree). So Matt Gelb and Matt Breen are now wondering if one of those four might be included as part of a broader deal for a cost-controlled starting pitcher (get outta here, Phillies!). Apparently three different sources said that the Phillies have asked on “just about every young starter that could be traded this winter,” including Danny Duffy, Chris Archer, and Marcus Stroman. The Phillies have prospects and young Major League talent, which presents a rival for the Cubs’ efforts to land a starter in the same way.
- The one Major League starter on whom the Cubs probably won’t be focusing their efforts is Pittsburgh’s Gerrit Cole. The Yankees, however, have been pushing hard all offseason and have apparently conceded to giving up former top prospect Clint Frazier. The Pirates, however, have their sights set on a bigger treasure:
Pirates have wanted Gleyber Torres in a Gerrit Cole deal. Can’t see yanks giving GT up. Frazier a more likely centerpiece, but would need to be more than 1 for 1. Perhaps andujar or Adams could be 2nd piece. Still negotiating.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 16, 2017
- Please don’t make us play against Gleyber Torres, please. Did I say please?
- Lastly, Bruce Levine was on The Score today, and Luis was listening:
Listening to @MLBBruceLevine on @Spiegel_Parkins. Says Cubs are still working on replacing Arrieta with a 1 or a 2. Believes the Darvish stuff is predicated on Cubs souring on the Cobb situation/rising price.
— Luis M. (@lcm1986) December 18, 2017
- Brett: That’s in reference to a couple Levine reports from this weekend, which we discussed here and here. The short version would be something like, if Cobb’s camp is seeking a really huge price, it would only make sense that the Cubs would keep in touch with Darvish if he’s only going to cost a little bit more in AAV. (When all is said and done, let me surmise that Darvish is going to get a ton more than Cobb, for what it’s worth.)
- And on Arrieta, himself, nothing to report:
As for whether or not Arrieta coming back is a thing? Levine says he hasn't heard a thing. Then again, it's been a slow season for Scott Boras' clients so far this winter.
— Luis M. (@lcm1986) December 18, 2017