Lukewarm Stove: Outfield Questions, Samardzija, Shields, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Outfield Questions, Samardzija, Shields, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors

old stove featureA Lukewarm Stove on a football Sunday!? Enjoy the bounty.

  • The Yankees have re-signed outfielder Chris Young, who was abysmal for the Mets last year, and then very good (in a very small sample) for the Yankees late in the year. Young gets $2.5 million to be a reserve outfielder, which sounds about right for those types. The signing could set a ceiling for the kinds of guys the Cubs could consider in that role – Jonny Gomes or Chris Denorfia, for example – and also makes Justin Ruggiano (expected to get just about $2.5 million in arbitration) and Ryan Sweeney (makes $1.5 million in 2015) look like decent assets.
  • Speaking of Gomes and Denorfia, those are the two complementary outfield options Mark Gonzales mentions in his pre-GM Meetings write-up for the Cubs and White Sox. Denorfia, you may recall, has a history with Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, as the two were together in San Diego, where Denorfia played exceedingly well before really blowing up in 2013 (and then falling way back in 2014). Although pitching and catching get a disproportionate amount of interest right now in the Cubs’ world, and starting outfield trade options is right there behind in my eyes, the 4th/5th outfielder story for the Cubs is a fairly important one. With Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara, and Chris Coghlan nominally in starting roles, the Cubs have to figure out what they want to do with guys like Ruggiano, Sweeney, and Junior Lake (and figure out if/how Kris Bryant figures into the outfield mix), together with how they might add during the offseason.
  • As I’ve said before, the Cubs have a great collection of 4th/5th outfielder types already. I’d rather they focused on picking up a short-term starting outfielder in trade, given the particular desirability for the Cubs in doing so, and the very strong volume of available options (Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Denard Span, Alex Gordon, and more). If the Cubs add one of those guys – or maybe a flyer like Michael Saunders – then the 4th/5th outfielder situation clarifies itself a little by bumping Coghlan/Alcantara into something closer to reserve roles (at which they might excel, and provide excellent insurance against injury).
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is pretty open about the organization’s believe that Jon Lester would be willing to come back, and their willingness to sign him. Although there have been plenty of rumors and discussions out there that a reunion was unlikely, I don’t think it was ever safe to say the Red Sox were out on Lester. Clearly, they aren’t. And the Red Sox seem extremely likely, given the need and resources, to land at least one of the top arms this offseason.
  • Who threw the most pitches in 2014? James Shields. FanGraphs looks at what that could mean for the otherwise durable pitcher in 2015. Short version? You should expect a step back, but not necessarily because he was overworked. It’s just that guys who’ve thrown a ton of pitches in a season probably did so because they were good, and then guys tend to regress after seasons in which they were good. Instead, FanGraphs says to trust to the projections … which might not be good news for Shields or his next team, since he’s projected to be only slightly better than average by Steamer.
  • Bruce Levine strongly suggests that the A’s will trade Jeff Samardzija this offseason, with the White Sox a possible suitor. I’m not so sure the A’s will love the market for trades this offseason, given the large number of options available (especially if the Reds also shop some of their one-year starters like Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos). I’d expect Samardzija, instead, to be a potentially popular name at the Trade Deadline, even if the A’s are in contention.
  • Nick Cafardo agrees that Samardzija is a definite trade candidate this offseason, with the Red Sox also possibility having interest. Cafardo adds that the Astros are probably going to listen on catcher Jason Castro, as I’d previously speculated (not that I’m special – lots of folks did the same after the Astros picked up Hank Conger in trade). He also mentions Michael Cuddyer, who seems like a good bet to accept the Rockies’ qualifying offer tomorrow, could wind up with a team like the Cubs. The guy’s got a good bat, but a messy injury history and an even messier defensive history.
  • Joel Sherman puts 10 free agents in the 10 places he sees as the best fits, which leads to some … surprising results. James Shields to the White Sox? Max Scherzer to the Brewers? I’d so both are extraordinarily unlikely, and might “fit” if money weren’t an issue. But if money weren’t an issue, wouldn’t those guys fit with every team in baseball?
  • Ben Lindbergh takes an interesting look at five “name” free agents compared to five “generic brand” free agents, and how teams might be better off going the value route. Hiroki Kuroda gets some discussion as an alternative to James Shields, and Luke Gregerson gets a look as an option next to David Robertson.
  • A fun tweet from Buster Olney, which you could take in a ton of directions:


Author: 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.