Last night, the Royals, Dodgers, and White Sox pulled off a three-team, five-player trade, and despite boasting just one player of relative significance to the Cubs, it took hold of our attention.
Why? Because this stupid, no-good, dirty, rotten market is still stupid, no-good, dirty, and rotten. Sigh. We want whatever we can get.
- At least this trade may have had *some* market impact:
#Royals began day with payroll at about $120M. Want to get down to $100M to $105M, but presumably would make exception of some kind for Hosmer. Soria, heading to #WhiteSox, is first reduction – he is owed $9M this season with a $1M buyout on his 2019 option.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 5, 2018
- If the Royals really did save about $10 million total, nine of which would come this season, it’s at least conceivable that it might’ve been with Eric Hosmer in mind. The Royals are far from the only team connected to the free agent first baseman, and they’re not even the most competitive one, but the rumors seem to point towards a very serious pursuit (upwards of 7 years and $140M have been thrown around, but the validity is hard to confirm) and this could’ve definitely been part of that.
As a free agent, Alex Gordon looked around @MLB and came back to KC. He agreed to his contract almost exactly two years ago: Jan. 6, 2016. #Royals would love for Eric Hosmer to make a similar decision now. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 5, 2018
- Elsewhere, Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Pirates and Mets have discussed a trade for Andrew McCutchen, though, like everything else this winter, no deal is close. Apparently, the Mets are weighing a variety of moves and more inclined to dip into free agency than make a trade. If you recall, the Giants were connected to McCutchen in a similar fashion – with a similar caveat – just two days ago, so it’s fairly safe to say that the Pirates outfielder is firmly available. At this point, I won’t insult you by saying that if and when McCutchen gets moved things could loosen up (Team X lands McCutchen, so Team Y moves onto J.D. Martinez; Pirates move McCutchen, so then they move Cole; and so on), but it’s probably at least related to other moves. Just hang in there. Things’ll happen.
- … eventually. The Giants’ GM says he’s not really focused on the calendar, and will be patient to get the best options (San Francisco Chronicle). The Giants are actually a perfect example of this slow-moving market, as they *CLEARLY* have outfield needs, and there are tons of options available in trade and in free agency. Yet they are sitting back, hoping they can maneuver in a way to improve while also staying under the luxury tax cap.
- In Miami, the Marlins are still considering trades for outfielder Christian Yelich and catcher J.T. Realmuto, but are apparently *not* considering attaching the relatively pricey contracts of Starlin Castro or Martin Prado, per Ken Rosenthal:
#Marlins NOT seeking to attach Prado, Castro or any other high-salaried player to Yelich and/or Realmuto in trade talks, sources tell The Athletic. Financial pressure no longer as severe; payroll currently projects to $96.8M, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. MIA seeking best talent.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 5, 2018
- Castro is owed $21M over the next two years (plus a $16M club option/$1M buyout in 2020) and Prado is owed $28.5M, but the Marlins, after dumping the salaries of Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, and Marcell Ozuna, are probably getting close to their target payroll range. Even still, while Yelich’s contract looks great for a player of his caliber, he’s still due at least $44.5M over the next four season, which is not nothing to this Marlins’ ownership, if I had to guess. By contrast, Realmuto is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter and projected to make only about $4.2M.
- Yelich remains an exceedingly interesting target for the Chicago Cubs … and almost every team in baseball. He’s really good, plays center, can lead off, is young, and comes with five years of cost control. Just about every team would want a piece of him, and I’m willing to bet the offers have been pouring in. I remain confident that the Cubs *could* have the pieces to pull something off using their young, cost-controlled Major Leaguers (especially guys with the most,cheap control (Albert Almora and Ian Happ, for example)), but I question whether the Marlins might not prefer true prospects. On the one hand, getting real Major Leaguers back would probably better appease a pissed-off fan base, but on the other hand, multiple, higher upside prospects might be the better fit for the Marlins’ overall rebuild, especially when you consider that those are the types they’ve targeted in other deals. I wouldn’t hold your breath on the Cubs landing Yelich.
- Yesterday, we talked about a Ken Rosenthal report offering some more details on the Padres’ efforts to acquire Javy Baez from the Cubs back at the Winter Meetings. Dennis Lin adds a little more info, saying that the Cubs and Padres talked about lefty reliever Brad Hand at the time, so it’s possible (I’d say probable) that *IF* the Cubs were going to consider moving Baez, it was going to take the controlled young starting pitchers/prospects plus Hand to really catch the Cubs’ interest. Given that the Padres have long had an incredibly high asking price on Hand, there was probably little chance the sides could come to an agreement at the time.
- Hand, 27, has a couple years of cheap cost control left, and has been exceptionally successful and durable the last two years as a multi-inning, multi-role reliever. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cubs continue to have interest down the road if the Padres start selling again, or if the Padres consider taking a prospect package for Hand before the winter is up (for example, if they don’t land Eric Hosmer).
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.