After an extremely quiet week, I had convinced myself that today would come and go without any rumors (let alone transactions) with things getting started back up, in earnest, after the New Year. I was wrong. Which is nice.
Already, this morning, the Rockies signed former Cubs closer Wade Davis to the biggest AAV contract for a reliever ever, there were some more details on Manny Machado’s trade market (including who would be in the Cubs offer), the Yankees in on Yu Darvish, and even some additional Bryce Harper-to-the-Cubs smoke.
AND there’s still a bunch more to get into with this Lukewarm Stove. So let’s get into it.
- Jon Heyman (FanRag) discusses the four potential landing spots for Pirates second baseman and trade candidate Josh Harrison, with the Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays and Rockies among the suitors. Although the Cubs are pretty clearly not going to trade for Harrison, the situation could have a direct Cubs impact. If, for example, the Pirates were to move Harrison, they’d also be more likely to get a deal done for Gerrit Cole, which could shake open the starting pitcher trade market or, if he goes to the Yankees as expected, push the Yankees out of the Yu Darvish market, which could move his (and others’) free agency along.
- It’s not always as linear as that – it’s more like a web of interconnectedness – but you get the picture. Interestingly, Heyman wonders if the Yankees might try to make Harrison and Cole into a package deal and get them both in the same trade – at that point, perhaps Gleyber Torres could re-enter the picture as the centerpiece of a package, but maybe that would still just be Pirate wishful thinking.
- Well, this was just a matter of time, wasn’t it?
Sources: #Marlins engaged in “active trade discussions” with multiple teams regarding both Christian Yelich and J.T. Realmuto. Asking price on both players remains high; a trade is not imminent. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 28, 2017
- Mark Polishuk connects all the rumors on both Marlins at MLB Trade Rumors, though the gist is that the Marlins are not only open to trading both, but are actively discussing potential deals. Notably, Jamal Collier reports that the Nationals asked about Realmuto during the Winter Meetings, but, apparently, he was not available at the time. The Nationals haven’t made any moves to suggest that they’d no longer be in on Realmuto since, so I guess you can probably assume they’re involved.
- As for the Cubs, you could certainly see how Yelich would be an attractive target (especially given how he could lead off for a Cubs team left with only square-shaped pegs for that round hole), but that would be true of almost any team hoping to contend in the next three years. Moreover, in their prior trades, the Marlins seem to have angled toward a long-term rebuild by focusing on true prospect returns – and in a deal like that, the Cubs would lag behind the competition. But if the Marlins wanted cost-controlled big league talent, plus minor league pitching – spread out the talent a bit, and also let someone else pay Yelich’s contract – then maybe there would be a fit. After the Machado rumors, I’m not immediately ruling the Cubs out on position players.
- Relatedly, the Astros are apparently in the hunt for a long-term catcher and would obviously love to add someone like Realmuto, HOWEVA, the prospect price, according to Heyman, is probably not something they’re willing to give into. The Astros, despite a relatively big market, have not yet been big spenders under their current ownership, so maintaining a steady and consistent flow of young cheap players is always a big part of their calculus. Similarly, the Diamondbacks could be a potential place to watch for Yelich, as they prepare for the impending free agent exit of A.J. Pollock next season.
- Speaking of the Diamondbacks, they’re trying to balance their desire to contend again in 2018 with the probably prudent decision to trade Zack Greinke and the rest of his expensive contract after a huge season. In a weird way, according to Nick Piecoro (AZ Central), the D-Backs would be in a better position had they won fewer games last year, because trading away Greinke after his big bounce back would’ve been a no-brainer. The question now is will Greinke be good again in 2018 … and will the rest of the team be good enough to justify his presence (vis a vis whatever return they could get)? In case you’re wondering, I doubt the Cubs would have any interest in Greinke, unless the D-Backs ate a TON of that contract (and at that point, many more teams would be involved).
- On those Colorado bullpen additions, this …. seems like dicey idea:
Among Wade Davis, Jake McGee and Bryan Shaw, the Rockies now have guaranteed $106M to relief pitchers this winter. Add in Mike Dunn and Adam Ottavino, and they may have the most expensive bullpen in baseball history — upward of $50M this season.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 29, 2017
- The pendulum of “don’t spend too much on your bullpen!”/”spend more on your bullpen!” has swung back and forth irrationally the past few seasons, but this is probably an example of spending too much. It’s not like, individually, any of the pieces are too risky to bet on, it’s just that the compounding risk of many tens of millions in the bullpen seems reckless (and, more importantly, unnecessary given how every team tends to have a surprise contributor at least once a year). I suppose the counterargument would be that, because of their ballpark, the Rockies simply have to do things differently, and having a stellar bullpen could help their starting pitchers limit their exposure to opposing lineups (to the extent that disproportionately negatively impacts the Rockies). Eno Sarris puts it this way:
Starting pitchers won’t take their $, position players are more expensive. Relieving isn’t an easy life anyway & Rockies can offer a little more there to entice them without going to more than 3-4 years. Can extricate themselves easily from this strategy. Might as well try it. https://t.co/Af2fuM09f2
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) December 29, 2017
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.