Lukewarm Stove: Fowler, Rodney, Ozuna, Maeda, Upton, Span, Lazarito, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Fowler, Rodney, Ozuna, Maeda, Upton, Span, Lazarito, More

Chicago Cubs

old stove featureVarious rumors from around baseball …

  • The Cubs’ bullpen is starting to look relatively full, with all of Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Justin Grimm, Travis Wood, Clayton Richard, Trevor Cahill, and Adam Warren looking like locks, plus a whole lot of depth behind them, but the fear of inevitable injury could also lead to more bullpen additions. One option still connected to the Cubs? Fernando Rodney. In addition to the Cubs, Chris Cotillo reports that the Padres, Blue Jays and Diamondbacks are all keeping tabs on the 38-year old reliever. Rodney pitched quite well after a late-season trade to the Cubs, and there were rumors of interest of a reunion back in December.
  • After Dexter Fowler was sighted at a Warriors game in the San Francisco area a few nights ago, rumblings amassed. Specifically, rumblings connecting Fowler to the Giants – where he would make a lot of sense. However, Andrew Baggarly, who originally reported Fowler’s presence in the Bay Area, is now hearing that there is “nothing cooking” between Fowler and the Giants, right now. (UPDATE: Indeed, see the final bullet point, below.) Fowler could still make some sense for the Cubs, but that would probably require so many moving parts that it’s ultimately unlikely. Brett recapped how Fowler signing elsewhere will impact the Cubs, here.
  • Now that Alex Gordon has re-signed – what I would call – an extremely reasonable deal (four years, $72M) with the Kansas City Royals, the outfield market might finally break open. Specifically, Jon Morosi is hearing that the markets for Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes should become more defined. Fowler and Denard Span may sign soon as well, but they could be viewed as fall-back options to the former, meaning that their market is slightly more dependent.
  • There were a flurry of Marcell Ozuna rumors traveling around baseball, too. Rumors of the Rangers being particularly interested, if unable to make a deal; rumors of a “West coast team” being involved, but it’s hard to discern the sincerity or intensity of those talks. Ozuna, 24, hit 23 home runs as the Marlins’ center fielder in 2014 (3.7 WAR), before taking a small step backwards in 2015 (1.1 WAR). He did finish strong last year, after returning from AAA, and would like command good value in a trade. [Brett: Ozuna also hit one of the most unheraldedly incredible homers in 2015.]
  • After the Dodgers inked international free agent Kenta Maeda to a deal over a week ago, there were many questions regarding the low overall commitment (only $25M guaranteed over 8 years) of the contract. As it turns out, the low commitment is reportedly due to “lots of red flags” with Maeda’s health and ultimate durability, specifically with regard to his elbow. Interestingly, Maeda can earn up to $10M per season based on games started, which is a huge sum and changes the nature of the deal all together. An additional $80M dollars can make the deal swing from “steal” to “relatively pricey.” But only if he makes his starts, so maybe it won’t be pricey either way.
  • Jon Heyman drops an interesting addition to what was ultimately the failed pursuit of David Price. Specifically, a new number, we hadn’t yet heard. After his contract with Boston was signed, we heard that the Cubs offered Price $165M, and that they’d finished far behind the Red Sox and Cardinals. While that isn’t chump change, it did feel light, compared to what he was likely to receive. Heyman, though, hints that the Cubs were willing to go as high as $175M if it meant getting a deal done. That number feels far closer to a legitimate effort, and creates a few additional questions. Were the Cubs still planning on going after Jason Heyward if they got Price for that amount? Were they artificially limiting their Price budget so that they could go after one or both of Heyward/Ben Zobrist regardless? We’ll never know, but these sort of much-later-reveals are why you can’t necessarily rely on the “number” reports say your favorite team offered.
  • The Nationals are attempting to improve at catcher, working on “multiple fronts” on a trade for a backstop. They still have incumbent Wilson Ramos, who was solid behind the plate, but less impressive standing at it, as well as back-up Jose Lobaton and prospect Pedro Severino, 22, who was a September call-up last season. There’s not likely any connection to the Cubs, who would suffer without Miguel Montero. David Ross isn’t a starting catcher and there hasn’t been any indication that either of Kyle Schwarber or Willson Contreras is ready to assume full-time responsibilities. Still, the Nationals can stand to improve at the position and, if successful, that could have an ultimate impact on the playoff race.
  • Lazaro Armenteros (Lazarito) has his first open showcase at the Padres academy in the Dominican Republic tomorrow. If you’re dying to see more video on the intriguing 16-year-old, Baseball America has you covered with a Lazarito highlight video from last year’s 15U World Cup.
  • And, as Jon Morosi expected, the Justin Upton chatter has begun to heat up, but with an interesting twist …

  • If Upton has to settle for a one-year deal, that would come as a relative shock, but such is free agency in an oversaturated market in January.
  • More from the outfield free-agent rumor mill, Jon Heyman is hearing that the Orioles are holding out at seven years and just over $150M for Chris Davis, but aren’t quite open to aggressively pursuing Upton or Cespedes, otherwise. [Brett: Take the offer, man. I just can’t fathom him getter a better one.]
  • Lastly, Cotillo is hearing that the market could move fast on Denard Span, presumably now that he’s proven that he’s healthy, but many teams remain in the race. Like Fowler, there would have to be many moving parts for Span to wind up with the Cubs, but I suppose it isn’t an entirely impossible connection. Despite the many outfield options, though, I’d still wager Span lands a multi-year deal, likely pricing himself out of what makes sense for the Cubs at this point. (UPDATE: Right on both counts, Michael – Span gets a three-year deal from the Giants.)

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami