Here we are … the best week of the year.
Brett welcomed us all to the Winter Meetings last night and then kicked things off with a little educated dot-connecting regarding free agent reliever Zach Britton. In short, Britton wants to close next year and the Cubs are one of a few contenders (1) without an obvious closer at the moment, and (2) that could actually give a guy coming off his last two seasons a real shot to close. Given his former dominance and the Cubs past interest, it’s hard not to tie these guys together. But will it come to fruition this week? Ah, well, that’s the fun, isn’t it?
Let’s talk about some other warm rumors on this freezing cold Monday morning …
- One of the increasingly obvious non-Cubs rumors this winter is the Brewers’ desire to trade for a starting pitcher – and maybe a top-shelf one, at that. They had been connected to Noah Syndergaard, Trevor Bauer, and Corey Kluber, but I believe the first big rumor was for Madison Bumgarner. And that apparently hasn’t changed:
#SFGiants are *not* close to trading Madison Bumgarner as winter meetings begin, source says. #Phillies, #Brewers, #Yankees and #Braves among possible landing spots if Bumgarner is moved. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 10, 2018
- The Phillies, having missed out on Patrick Corbin, might be an “on the rise” type rumor, but the Yankees, Brewers, and Braves are just as obviously looking for another starter as any team out there. I still wonder if Bumgarner will actually be traded this winter, but with a new GM in place, anything is possible. And even though Bumgarner isn’t the pitcher he used to be, I would strongly prefer him not to end up in Milwaukee.
- If Bumgarner is traded, however, it might not be long until the Giants have a new left-hander in town:
First bonafide Winter Meetings factoid: Yusei Kikuchi really likes San Francisco as a potential landing spot. #sfgiants might be his first choice. From a good source not named Scott Boras.
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) December 10, 2018
- Kikuchi seems almost destined to end up on the West Coast. I wouldn’t have guessed the Giants, but they do make sense. Kikuchi is young for a free agent, has upside, and might want to be there – good guy to get into the fold at any stage of a competitive cycle.
- Ken Rosenthal seems to believe Scott Boras could stretch Bryce Harper’s free agent journey way out in order to set the contractual records (total dollars and AAV), though that’s not much of a surprise given his track record. Rosenthal also believes Boras will want Harper to wait until Many Machado signs, because it’ll help him in that endeavor.
- Relatedly, Rosenthal doesn’t see Machado signing particularly quickly, because although it’s been reported otherwise, the Phillies, White Sox, and Yankees are *not* the only teams in on the slugging shortstop: “At least three other teams are in the mix and will meet with Lozano [Machado’s agent] at the meetings” this week! Could the Cubs be one of those teams? Well, objectively, yes, they’ve had interest in the recent past (in trade) and have the need, but we know the broader narrative being spun here (Cubs ain’t paying), so right now the better presumption is that the Cubs are not one of those Mystery Teams.
- More on Machado:
Yankees like Manny Machado and will meet with Machado but source says they will not pay $300M for Machado. Phillies, Chisox and mystery teams(?) seen as main competitors.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 9, 2018
- If Machado really is going to get less than $300M, I’m reminded of my theoretical question before we heard the Cubs wouldn’t be spending:
If you could get Andrew McCutchen and Manny Machado for the same price as Bryce Harper … would you do it?
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) October 30, 2018
- If Machado winds up in the $275M range and McCutchen in the $40-50M range, you could very easily wind up with both guys instead of *just* Harper. Just sayin’. (Not that I’m sayin’ the Cubs are going to spend $300+ million this offseason …. )
- After Paul Goldschmidt was moved to the Cardinals, it felt like only a matter of time until the Diamondbacks did their best Seattle Mariners impression and traded everyone, including Zack Greinke. But while they remain open to dealing Greinke, they’re reportedly not actively pursuing that sort of full tear-down winter. And in other news, I totally wasn’t even trying to win that game, I was just, like, fooling around. If I really tried, I could’ve won easily. Believe me.
- Nationals owner Mark Lerner has seemingly all but given up hope on any sort of Harper reunion, because him doing so would be leaving money on the table. In his wake, however, they’re still looking for some back-end starting pitching help and possible a second baseman. GM Mike Rizzo has been in contact with potential Cubs target D.J. LeMahieu, though they’re not committed to adding a second baseman in free agency.
- Whenever I hear about a team in on the robust second base market, I find it tough to read. We sure think the Cubs are going to be in on second basemen, but it’s not a guarantee, since it’s now plausible the Cubs just wind up keeping Addison Russell. I suppose the ideal addition would be a quality bat who can play both second base AND shortstop, because then even if the Cubs keep Russell, at least you’ve landed a good utility infielder. But where are you gonna find a guy like that …
- *cough, transition, cough*: Rangers shortstop/second baseman Jurickson Profar is available this winter. As we’ve said in the past, the Cubs make a lot of sense for Profar, given his pedigree, versatility, upside, and the Cubs/Rangers love story. But the same could be said for a lot of teams. And if Evan Grant has it right, Profar won’t be traded until after Manny Machado signs, because the runners up will look at Profar as a consolation prize. Specifically, Grant mentions the Yankees, Phillies, and Brewers, but I really do believe the Cubs would be involved if those talks got serious. Problem is, the Rangers are probably looking for some young prospects, but the Cubs system, however better, is still limping.
- Even if Harper and Machado take longer to sign than we’d like, the relief market is expected to pick up steam this week. Specifically, interest in David Robertson has heated up (Mets, Red Sox, Dodgers) and Craig Kimbrel’s demands (something in the Aroldis Chapman/Kenley Jansen range of $75M) are coming out. The Cubs are extremely unlikely to go that distance for a closer/reliever, but fortunately there are a lot of options out there this year.
- The Padres are apparently genuinely interested in trading for J.T. Realmuto, perhaps sending a catcher back in return, but are put off by his expiring contract (only two more years of control). And because he probably wouldn’t be interested in signing an extension, they don’t see him lining up well enough with their competitive window. Fair enough. They will be looking for starting pitching help, however, but are no longer likely to land Nathan Eovaldi, Noah Syndergaard, or Yusei Kikuchi for various reasons. So they’ve turned their attention to a buy-low deal for Sonny Gray as well as one of the two available Cleveland starters, Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer.
- Meanwhile, Marwin Gonzalez, a potential Cubs (and everybody else) target, has caught their eye, but at this point, I’m starting to wonder whom the Padres are not “in” on. They’re connected to everybody, all the time. Sure, it matches with their M.O., but it’s exhausting to follow every thread. Perhaps that’s why the San Diego Tribune lead with this title: “Big plans, lower expectations for Padres at winter meetings.” Eloquently put.
- And finally, the Reds continue to drum up rumors, but it’s still tough to understand their plan – perhaps there’ll be four or five contending NL Central teams next year:
The most interesting thing I've noticed so far at the Winter Meetings is just how many people expect the #Reds to have a busy couple of days. I've heard they are talking to everyone
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) December 10, 2018
Today is just getting started, folks. Stay tuned.