Lukewarm Stove: Controllable Starters, McCutchen Rumors Reaching Fever Pitch, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Controllable Starters, McCutchen Rumors Reaching Fever Pitch, More

Chicago Cubs Rumors, MLB News and Rumors

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With the Collective Bargaining Agreement officially in place (have you caught the highlights of the new deal yet?), the rest of the offseason can continue without interruption.

Although, to be certain, it has felt like that for the past few days. Trades and signings have been going on, and they will continue (and increase) as the always-so-much-fun Winter Meetings approach next week.

  • According to ESPN, the market for free agent left-hander Rich Hill is heating up. Remember how Hill is the top starting pitcher on the free agent market? Each of the Astros, Yankees, Dodgers and Rangers are reportedly in “full-pursuit,” while the Red Sox and Orioles are also said to be in the mix. One thing’s for sure: if the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, and Red Sox are in on Hill, he’s gonna get paaaaaid. I’m still not sure what I think Hill, 36, will be next year. After a mediocre career that appeared to be over, he came back in a big way in 2016, but was injured throughout the season. I’m just not sure what the right price is.
  • As if you needed a reminder:

  • This, by the way, is why I thought giving up Adam Warren, who had the potential to start again, as part of the Aroldis Chapman deal, was not super awesome. Young, cost-controlled starters, even ones that aren’t that great (or may wind up in the pen), are just so valuable right now. The Cubs will continue searching for them.
  • These “the Pirates are going to trade Andrew McCutchen” rumors are reaching a fever pitch. I wouldn’t be surprised to see something happen at the Winter Meetings. The most recent update comes from Stephen J. Nesbitt of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and he’s suggesting that the Pirates have moved into the next phase of shopping McCutchen: pursuing specific teams in an effort to work out a trade. The Pirates’ aggressiveness (in regards to McCutchen) increased after Yoenis Cespedes signed his deal with the Mets. Even after a supremely down season, McCutchen may be the best available outfielder on the market. And, for what it’s worth, I think he’ll bounce back nicely in 2017. Although his defense took a HUGE step back (according to the metrics (the ones we know we can’t fully trust (especially in a one season sample (especially when we know the Pirates played with his defensive positioning)))), he was still an above average offensive performer while sporting a BABIP some .034 points lower than his career average. That said, he walked less, struck out more, created more soft contact, and less hard contact. A complete bounce back probably shouldn’t be expected.
  • To add just a bit more fire to the McCutchen flame, Bill Brink is hearing that the Pirates have already begun to ask teams about Major League outfielders (theoretically, to replace McCutchen), and Ken Rosenthal has heard the same. In fact, Rosenthal relays a specific rumor regarding the Pirates interest in Nationals outfield prospect Victor Robles (an interest they’ve apparently had since July).
  • This is updating, as I’m writing it: Now, Rosenthal is suggesting that the Nationals might also have a number of starting pitching prospects close to the Majors, which may be of interest to the Pirates (in addition to Robles). I will say, this rumor is starting to get a bit specific. Keep an eye out.
  • Brink also hearing that the Pirates are asking about relievers, because they may be willing to move left-handed reliever Tony Watson. Watson was fairly great from 2012-2015, but took something of a (home run/fly ball induced) step back in 2016. He’s 31 years old and a year away from free agency.
  • At MLB Trade Rumors, Jeff Todd writes a free agent profile for our old friend Dexter Fowler. He highlights his pros/strengths, his cons/weaknesses, and many other items. The notable rumor, however, is that he Fowler will not likely return to the Cubs, given the recent signing of Jon Jay (more on Jay soon, by the way). Todd does suggest that the Nationals, Cardinals, Rangers, and Indians might all be good fits for Fowler, because they all need help in the outfield.
  • The Mets are mentioned briefly as well, but some creativity would be needed to accommodate Fowler (I don’t see that happening with Cespedes (and his contract) now in the fold). The Giants, Mariners, Blue Jays, and Dodgers are mentioned as organizations who might also like to add Fowler’s usually excellent OBP into the lineup, but as a left fielder instead of center. In the end, MLB Trade Rumors is predicting a four-year, $64 million deal for Fowler, which sounds about right.
  • And speaking of the Mets (and that creativity), they have been rumored to be shopping some outfielders. Although Jay Bruce was the most frequently identified trade piece, Curtis Granderson has apparently been receiving more interest in talks so far. But by the sound of it, the Mets are simply most interested in reducing the glut of left-handed hitting corner outfielders by any means necessary.
  • In return, they’re looking for controllable bullpen pieces, especially now that Jeurys Familia will likely be facing a suspension for a domestic violence incident (those rules, by the way, have just been updated in the new CBA – the details are not out yet). Bruce is owed $13 million in 2017, Granderson is owed $15 million, and both are entering the final season of their respective contracts. And while Granderson, 35, was better than Bruce, 29, in 2016, he is also six years older.
  • As a random aside: Before signing Cespedes, according to Marc Craig, the Mets explored a trade for the Tigers’ J.D. Martinez. Those talks were said to fade once the Tigers asked for Michael Conforto in return, a price the Mets were not willing to pay. The Cubs won’t have interest in Martinez, of course (especially considering his suspect defense), but damn if that dude can’t hit: 154 wRC+ in 2014, 137 wRC+ in 2015, 142 wRC+ in 2016.
  • The Mariners are near a deal with left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski. [Brett: And we exhale, knowing that we won’t have to type that name all season.]
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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami.