Although I’ve come to terms with the Cubs’ budget this winter, one thing remains elusive: What happened to the Cubs trade rumors? I’m very much not rooting for a trade right now – especially any trade involving guys like Kyle Schwarber or Ian Happ, because I’m still high on each still – but it’s weird right? Especially as the trade market has been so ripe with transactions.
I suppose a busy market filled with alternative trade partners can lower the perceived/market prices of Cubs youngsters, but I still expected more noise than we’ve heard. And, sure, we’ve been warned of core-player trades for several years now without much action, but this winter really felt like it could be different. I’m not sure I’m bothered by it, because I like the Cubs core, but I do find it odd.
- Speaking of confusing winters … the Los Angeles Dodgers, who earlier traded outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig (plus starting pitcher Alex Wood) to the Reds, are apparently also now considering moving a third outfielder this offseason, Joc Pederson. The White Sox have come up among the interested parties, perhaps as a backup to missing out on Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but they’re not alone.
- One thing’s for sure, though: If the Dodgers are really trade away four big leaguers, including *three* outfielders in one offseason, they’re obviously going to turn their full attention to Bryce Harper, as expec… wut?
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 19, 2019
- I’m not saying A.J. Pollock isn’t a good player and doesn’t make sense for the Dodgers, but being right-handed does not make up for the fact that he’s nowhere close to the hitter Bryce Harper is. He’s also five years older with an even scarier injury history. I can’t understand why the Dodgers would be out on Harper, but in on Pollock, after clearing so much money off the books. Well, I mean, I *can* think of a reason why, but it’s pretty lame for a team with as much revenue as the Dodgers.
- Circling back to Joc Pederson, the Braves have also apparently checked in on the 26-year-old left-handed slugger, but they haven’t ruled out free agency either (Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez, Gerardo Parra, Nick Markakis, and others). Again, if there’s a trade out there for Pederson, there’s probably one for Ian Happ and/or Kyle Schwarber, but there may just be too many options out there for a trade partner to feel any upwards pressure on the acquisition cost. The Cubs may be best off holding onto these guys and hoping they play themselves into a higher tier of value (and they can always keep them, themselves). Moreover, what would the Cubs even target in trade right now with those guys, other than attaching them to a salary dump so that they could make some other move? So many moving parts, and you might not be all that much better for it in the end.
- Hey, remember when the Cardinals traded for one of the best players in baseball this winter? Yeah, well, they still intend on trying to extend Paul Goldschmidt beyond his one year of remaining team control and they’re not being shy about it. Owner Bill DeWitt Jr. and President John Mozeliak have both publicly signaled their intentions and are preparing a pitch. Although Goldschmidt could probably sign a deal at any time – after he learns more about the organization, for example – but they’ll probably want to get something done before the season starts. Because if they don’t, they can always flip him at the deadline if things go awry for the team.
- Relatedly, the Cardinals are no longer interested in trading Jose Martinez, who was displaced by the addition of Goldschmidt and re-commitment to Dexter Fowler. Martinez, 30, has been quite the offensive force in his three big league seasons (130 wRC+), but he’s extremely limited defensively, and might otherwise make more sense in the AL. Nonetheless, the Cardinals did not find appropriate value for him on the trade market, so it sounds like he’s sticking around. He’s not a bad insurance policy for Goldschmidt – in the short and long term – so that’s not a bad idea. Of course, if a great offer comes along from a DH-needy team, I wouldn’t count out a trade.
- The Cardinals are also in talks to extend starter Miles Mikolas, 30, who reclaimed his career after returning from Japan last season. According to Derrick Goold, Mikolas’ extension could be worth as much as Mike Leake’s 5-year, $80M deal with the Mariners, and if that is, indeed, the case, I’d be happy to watch them sink that money. Mikolas was legitimately good last season, but color me skeptical that he’ll repeat a 2.83 ERA, 3.28 FIP season again. Let’s see if the league adjusts back to a guy whom no one saw for four years before giving him $80M. Or, actually, never mind … it’s the Cardinals. Give him $100M.
- Yesterday, there was a random report floating around that the Pirates were actually the mystery team on Manny Machado. Jon Heyman has heard otherwise:
There are no legs to the Pirates rumors today. They are not trading Starling Marte to the Dodgers, and they are NOT the mystery team for Manny Machado (yes, that is apparently an actual twitter rumor).
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 21, 2019
- Although I can understand the theoretical positional fit and the theoretical availability of money considering a lack of other large commitments, the Pirates are just not going to drop that much money on Machado now (or maybe ever), and that’s without considering the already competitive NL Central.
- The Rangers are inking Asdrubal Cabrera to a cheap deal as they continue to grab possibly-flippable pieces:
#Rangers in agreement with free-agent IF Asdrubal Cabrera on a one-year contract, sources tell The Athletic. Deal will be for less than $5M. Pending physical. Cabrera will play third base.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 22, 2019
Free agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera and the Texas Rangers are in agreement on a one-year, $3.5 million deal, pending a physical, league sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 22, 2019
- I’m surprised the Brewers didn’t jump on that, given that they need a third baseman or a second baseman, and Cabrera can handle both with a solid stick. Makes you wonder if a re-up with Mike Moustakas is the preference.
- Speaking of which, Ken Rosenthal says the Padres and Phillies are interested, as well. Obviously, the Phillies interest might be contingent upon some other, bigger deals they have brewing at the moment, but it’s still unclear when any of that will resolve itself. The Phillies might also consider Josh Harrison, instead of Moustakas, if they miss out on Manny Machado, but, again, so much of this depends on what happens with the two big dogs.
- And unfortunately, there’s really been no update on either guy lately, other than, I don’t know, more confirmation the Cubs are legitimately out and the Dodgers’ continued lack of interest. The Phillies, it seems, have almost no big-market competition for Machado and I’m still suspicious about the Nationals’ interest in paying Bryce Harper, so there might not be too much competition on that front, either. Silence from the Cubs, Dodgers, and Yankees on Harper/Machado is making a record contract so very difficult for Harper and Machado to land.
- And finally, here’s a little more Harper talk to take us out:
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 21, 2019
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.