I still don’t believe this year’s edition of the Winter Meetings will be anything like last year’s (that is to say, I do believe stuff will start to happen), but oh brother has it been slow.
Not on the rumor front, of course. When it comes to rumors, there has been an expectedly steady churn. But there hasn’t been a major Winter Meetings signing or trade yet (unless you count Tyson Ross to the Tigers), or even reports of this-is-coming-soon, and that’s pretty bonkers. No way this can hold up. No way.
Here’s the latest.
- The Corey Kluber trade saga continues with the Dodgers entering the fray as a serious suitor. And Jon Morosi suggests that the Indians have asked for outfielder Alex Verdugo, the Dodgers’ top prospect, in return, though it’s not clear if anything is actually close. Broadly speaking, the Indians are said to be searching for outfield help, and they almost certainly want young players with many years of cheap team control (as well as some obvious ceiling) to extend their competitive window. Maybe Ian Happ (plus more) would be along the right lines, but he probably wouldn’t be enough of a center piece to get something done *and* the Cubs still don’t have an obvious need in the rotation, even if Kluber would immediately slide into the top. So then, the Indians-trading-a-pitcher situation is very likely not a direct Cubs situation, and instead just a question of how the fallout might impact them.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters that he has had several conversations with Manny Machado’s agent, so you can continue to monitor there. The fit remains very obvious.
- The Diamondbacks are drawing trade interest on “virtually all their players,” according to Ken Rosenthal, which is not particularly surprising given their trade of Paul Goldschmidt. But what is surprising is their apparent reluctance to do much more of a tear down beyond him. Rosenthal said as much for the larger picture and Bob Nightengale echoed that report for Robbie Ray, specifically. I’m a little surprised the Diamondbacks wouldn’t sell out on the trade market, but there’s so much time left, a lot can change. And I pretty much do expect 1-2 more big pieces to be moved out of Arizona before the start of Spring Training (especially the very available Zack Greinke).
- When Sahadev Sharma ran down a flurry of potential Cubs relief targets this morning in a must-read rumor roundup from the Winter Meetings, he briefly mentioned Joe Kelly. Kelly, 30, isn’t among the elite tier relievers you first think of, but he has been pretty good lately, was dominant in the postseason, and is especially adept at getting left-handers out (.271 wOBA vs. lefties in 2018), which is something the Cubs are certainly targeting. The only problem is, so are a lot of teams …
Joe Kelly has interest from about 15 teams according to a major league source. Some teams are looking at him as a closer. Red Sox are still very much involved.
— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) December 10, 2018
- If Kelly is going to get “closer money,” I think he might price himself out of the Cubs range. Frankly, I don’t think he should get an unexpectedly big contract, but his 0.79 ERA during the playoffs will likely prop him up a bit more than it should (perhaps not unlike Brandon Morrow last offseason). For what it’s worth, MLBTR projected a three year, $27M deal, but now, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is forced to go to four years and $35-38M for him.
- For what it’s worth, Bruce Levine has heard that the Cubs and White Sox have had some overlapping bullpen interests, including Zach Britton and Andrew Miller. At this point, it feels safe to say that both are on the Cubs board.
- Related: earlier today, we learned that the Cubs have inquired about free agent reliever Joakim Soria.
- Also: The Phillies are apparently more interested in Manny Machado than Bryce Harper at the moment.
- The Yankees have basically come out and said that they’ll do whatever it takes to move Sonny Gray this winter, feeling that New York isn’t the right spot for him, and yet they asked the Reds for Taylor Trammell, the 17th best prospect in baseball for him. Which is just … wat? The Reds – obviously – said no, thanks. The Brewers and Padres are also known to be interested in Gray, who does have some obvious upside, but shouldn’t cost as much as the Yankees are apparently asking.
- Brewers have financial constraints, you say? Oh wow no way not possible:
Brewers have financial constraints. Would like a starting pitcher and to figure out 2B.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2018
- This is new and interesting:
Some teams have gotten the sense the Braves are willing to trade both Inciarte and Foltynewicz. Acuna's presence make Inciarte understandable. To move Folty, the Braves would likely need to fill multiple needs and/or have the confidence another deal would land a front-line SP
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) December 10, 2018
- Like every available starting pitcher, I can’t see the Cubs making much sense unless someone else moves out of the current starting five, but what about Ender Inciarte? He’s only 28 and he’s an excellent defensive center fielder (one of the best, really), but his bat is a liability and he’s left-handed. The Cubs already have two lefties (Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward) and two switch-hitters (Ben Zobrist, Ian Happ) penciled into the outfield picture next season, so unless Bryce Harper is walking through the door, they’d be better off targeting a righty in the outfield (if they add there).
- Speaking of which, this isn’t a surprise, but it is news:
SoxExecutive VP of baseball opts Ken Williams just told reporters ‘We have transitioned from a sell mode to a more aggressive look at the future’ The Sox have met with Bryce Harper and appear in on Manny Machado as well.
— Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 10, 2018
- Good for the White Sox … unless they prevent the Cubs from getting one or the other.
- Earlier today, the Rangers acquired infielder Carlos Asuaje on waivers from the Padres, so clearly they’re ready to trade Jurickson Profar to the Cubs … right? RIGHT?? I mean, all jokes aside, he is available and the Cubs make as much sense in terms of need as any team out there.
- The Phillies, who missed out on Patrick Corbin earlier this offseason, have been talking to J.A. Happ. The 36-year-old Happ is reportedly looking for a three-year deal, but the Yankees were said to be heavily involved with him, too, so maybe the competition will force his deal upwards. I still strongly believe the Phillies will be in aggressively on one of Machado/Harper, but the more money they spend elsewhere, the less they can realistically offer to them, no matter how “stupid” they said they’d be.
- Sussan Slusser, who’s very on top of all things related to Oakland, has heard that the A’s are talking to D.J. LeMahieu, as well as Jed Lowrie, both of whom could be targets of the Cubs at the right price. To be sure, Sharma’s earlier report indicated that LeMahieu might have already been priced out of the Cubs range, but we’ll see if that ends up being true or just an “as of now” type of thing. There are oh-so-many teams interested in the second base market this year, but fortunately, because so many teams lost second baseman to free agency and so many more are available in trade, I don’t expect it to be too hard to make most teams, including the Cubs, happy. (And that’s *if* they add a dedicated second baseman, which is not necessarily a lock if they’re going to try to stick things out with Addison Russell.)
- And finally, Joel Sherman has a useful thread on how the bullpen market is shaking out and what could happen next:
1/From talks with agts/execs sense of fr-agt relief mkt: 1 area there was some free agent splurge last yr was relief and most failed (Shaw/McGee/Swarzak/etc). So more cautious teams, plus market is saturated with options. So missing on 1 by waiting will not be debilitating
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 10, 2018
3/The sense is that once a significant domino falls — doesn't even have to be biggest fish, Kimbrel, but maybe Ottavino, Robertson, Miller, etc – that it will set a market and others will begin to go quickly. #Mets #Yankees among many teams taking pulse of this market.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 10, 2018