Despite the existence of an historic free agent class, this offseason has not been light on the trade market. Sure, Jerry Dipoto and the Mariners account for a majority of the moves (so far), but we’ve still got J.T. Realmuto, one of Kluber/Bauer/Carrasco, Paul Goldschmidt, Sonny Gray, and Zack Greinke (among others) primed to change teams this winter.
That’s a lot of potential movement and that makes things interesting.
- Buster Olney recently discussed the nature of this market with agents and executives, who implied that the many willing trade partners will create “fewer places to land in the winter game of FA musical chairs.” But that’s probably a good thing for a team like the Cubs – even if drives us crazy in the interim.
- Of course it’s good that the Cubs have access to a robust trade market, because more options is always better when you’re a buyer (and the Cubs, theoretically, should be buying). But in terms of free agency, that could mean there’ll be some valuable deals to be struck late in the offseason. Waiting might be mind-numbingly frustrating for us, but it could provide some real value in free agency. This is a strategy the Cubs have employed in the past, but now might be the best time to do it.
- Yesterday, the Nationals signed Patrick Corbin to a massive 6-year, $140M deal, and I opined that it should all but remove them from the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. However, several pundits pushed back against that and now Chelsea Janes, who’s very good with all things Nats, is joining the chorus:
(If, after exploring the market, Harper decides he wants to come back) https://t.co/qKTe1B4Sxf
— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) December 4, 2018
- I still really don’t buy it, though. Instead, it seems the Phillies are still in the lead, with the White Sox somewhere behind them and then a whole lot of confusion regarding potential interest from the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs (and others). Speaking of the Dodgers, it’s worth noting that Magic Johnson apparently did *not* join a Dodgers contingent sent to woo Harper, for whatever that’s worth. Their interest remains frustratingly unclear.
- Another free agent catcher, Bobby Wilson, comes off the board.
- I can’t tell if this makes me want to vomit or roll my eyes:
The #STLCards won't be granted a 72-hour window to sign Paul Goldschmidt to a contract extension in trade talks with the #Dbacks, , but Cards are confident that if Goldschmidt came to St. Louis, he'd fall in love with the place. The #Astros also are in play as potential suitors.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 5, 2018
- A Paul Goldschmidt trade to the Cardinals feels perfectly likely this winter – and would be an excellent move for St. Louis – but the chances he’ll sign an extension there – just one year removed from free agency – are far less certain. Luckily (and apparently), the D-Backs are not willing to grant the Cardinals the opportunity to find out first. They certainly have the money and need to get it done, but let’s just say I’m not as confident he’ll fall in love with *shuffles papers, adjusts glasses* St. Louis(?) as they are. MLB.com discusses how difficultly, but quickly trades can go down at the Winter Meetings using Paul Goldschmidt as the subject of the story.
- Speaking of the Diamondbacks, they just made a fairly interesting signing, perhaps in anticipation of moving Zack Greinke (though it has it’s merits, either way):
The 30-year-old Kelly has not pitched in the major leagues but thrived in the offense-happy Korean Baseball Organization the last four years. The interest in him was significant, and the Diamondbacks expect him to join their rotation. A minimal-risk, solid-upside move.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 4, 2018
- Just one year after holding up the market with Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna, the Marlins are at it again with J.T. Realmuto. Craig Mish has heard that the Phillies have entered the race (but are considered long-shots), while things have progressed a bit further with the Braves and Mets (both of whom have already exchanged specific names). Michael Conforto is probably the best big league name to pop up in loose connection to these talks – especially as the Marlins want big league ready talent (for some reason) – but the Braves may be willing to include a top-50 prospect like Austin Riley, who’s knocking on the door of the big leagues, anyway. Despite earlier reports to the contrary, it seems the NL East is a distinct possibility for Realmuto. Of course, he’s likely to have suitors everywhere.
- Meanwhile, the Rays were reportedly interested in trading for Noah Syndergaard, but the Mets GM has since squashed the likelihood of such a deal now they’re going for it. Remember, the Brewers figured to be a likely landing spot for Syndergaard, so this is a pretty good outcome for the Cubs. Not only will Thor not be in Milwaukee next season, the Brewers options just tightened by one, which could make the price of poker go up. And with Corbin signing with a team – the Nationals – who weren’t so obviously looking for starting pitching help, it’s kinda like two options were wiped off the board without any pitching-hungry teams participating.
- There are still so many options, though:
As soon as Patrick Corbin picks his team, the losers in his bidding could be in better position to focus more earnestly on the Indians' starting pitchers who are available — with some dollars attached…Cleveland might ask a team to take contract of Jason Kipnis as part any deal
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 4, 2018
- Each of Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and/or Trevor Bauer could pretty significantly transform a rotation. I wonder if the Brewers will step up – and I hope that they don’t. The need to take on Jason Kipnis (he’s owed at least $16.5M) in any deal could hurt the Brewers chances.
- There are cheaper options out there, though, both in salary and acquisition cost. Like, say, Sonny Gray. The Yankees have all but assured us they’ll be trading Gray this winter, and the Brewers could emerge as potential suitors. The Padres have already spoken with the Yankees regarding Gray, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see his market cast a bit wider than expected.
- Joel Sherman discusses more of the Patrick Corbin fallout from the perspective of the Yankees, who could now be willing to dump even more cash on Manny Machado and pivot their starting pitching needs to free agent J.A. Happ.