Lukewarm Stove: Cubs and Rays, Upton, Fowler, Rodney, Chen, Lazarito, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Cubs and Rays, Upton, Fowler, Rodney, Chen, Lazarito, More

Chicago Cubs

old stove featureIt’s pretty interesting to see the Lukewarm Stove continue to be so “hot” this late into the offseason. The huge group of free agents operating at the same positions (a lot of outfielders and a lot of starters) is probably the reason for the delay. What that means for your favorite team might vary, but for us, it means a lot of rumory goodness …

  • While many believed this would be the offseason where the Cubs finally move one of their young positional talents for an equally young and talented starting pitcher, that has not yet occurred. Still, rumors have persisted, and with one team in particular:

  • Although there is clearly a lot of smoke right now – and throughout the offseason – between these two teams, don’t forget that we’ve heard this story before. Over the past two seasons, we’ve been bombarded with rumors and reports about the obvious fits between the Cubs and the Mets, but it has, to date, been much ado about nothing. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t believe these rumors/reports – the talk with the Mets, for example, was real, even if nothing was ever consummated – but it serves to remind you that discussions are just that: discussions. For what it’s worth, Mark Gonzales is also reporting that the Rays are an attractive target/potential match for the Cubs.
  • Also in that Gonzales report, the potential for the Cubs to come to terms on a two-year deal with Jake Arrieta, to cover his two remaining seasons (of arbitration) with the Cubs. With arbitration figures due this Friday, this might become something you hear about sooner rather than later. Note, however, that this wouldn’t be an extension of control (a true contract extension), but instead merely cost certainty for both parties involved over the already-existing two years left of team control.
  • Nick Cafardo (Boston Globe) reports that the Red Sox might be interested in free agent outfielder Justin Upton. Adding Upton to an already crowded outfield might not make a ton of sense, but it’s possible that he can open up an avenue for the Red Sox to trade one of the remaining players. Brett has discussed the possibility of targeting a young, defensively oriented center fielder (like Jackie Bradley Jr.) in the past; and, perhaps, landing Upton could open up a path.
  • Also in the Cafardo report: more on the Cubs potentially opportunistic run at a starting pitcher like Yovani Gallardo, which Brett discussed in detail, here.
  • Also also in the Cafardo report (really there is a ton in it), talks of Dexter Fowler’s continued free agency. Cafardo, for example, believes that Fowler might be the biggest bargain in free agency, expecting Fowler to get less than the 3 year/$31M deal that Denard Span got from the Giants. I find it hard to believe that Fowler will get less than Span (the FanGraphs crowdsourcing project had him at 4 year $56M), but the market was loaded with similar players and it’s the middle of January.
  • I wouldn’t expect a reunion with the Cubs, given what we know of their plans, but it isn’t impossible to imagine. The biggest hurdle, however, might not be the money or years, it might be his place on the team. I doubt, sincerely, that Fowler would sign on to be a fourth outfielder, but with all of Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber and Jason Heyward healthy and penciled in for right, left and center, that might be where he’s at.
  • The market for Fernando Rodney (which we’ve heard includes the Cubs) is beginning to shrink. One report (Today’s Knuckleball) indicates that the Diamondbacks don’t believe there’s a fit and another (Dennis Lin) indicates that the Padres are not the favorites to land the 38-year-old reliever, either. Still, both indicate that multiple teams are interested, so the Cubs might not be able to steal him on the cheap.
  • If you recall, the previous reports indicated that the Cubs were interested in Rodney, along with the Diamondbacks, Padres and Blue Jays. Given that the Blue Jays just acquired reliever Drew Storen, they might not be a fit, either.
  • Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Marlins are a possible destination for free agent starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen – who is the best remaining starter on the market. The Cubs were tied to Chen much earlier in the offseason, but certainly not recently, after the John Lackey and Adam Warren additions. The potential to jump on a lingering, late-offseason free agent is always a possibility, I suppose. In 2015, Chen, 30, finished with a 3.34 ERA, but a much less inspiring 4.16 FIP.
  • Ken Rosenthal also reports that the Nationals Gio Gonzalez might be available, having almost been traded to the Braves for Ender Inciarte. Washington is apparently looking for help in the outfield, from the left side and possibly in center field, in exchange for the solid starter.
  • If the Cubs were interested, which is not being reported, they wouldn’t necessarily have the right fit for a trade. You could imagine scenarios, though, where a fit could be developed. Gonzalez, 30, finished 2015 with 3.7 WAR in just 175.2 innings pitched. His FIP (3.05) was a good deal better than his ERA 3.79, and he has $12M guaranteed for 2016, as well as two options for the same price in ’17 and ’18.
  • As Brett wrote earlier, it sounds like Lazaro Armenteros will be available to sign soon. But, like with Eddy Julio Martinez before him, the very early reviews on Cuban prospect Lazarito are coming in lower than the (admittedly sky-high) expectations:

  • Lazarito is still so young that projection is difficult and imprecise, but without the ability to even project him in center field, the price tag might come down quite a bit.
  • Also, fellow Cuban prospect Randy Arozarena is now a free agent.
  • Well this is interesting to hear, even if it doesn’t mean anything specific:

  • Jeff Blair is hearing that the Blue Jays could deal R.A. Dickey, 41, who hasn’t been anything like he was with the Mets in his three years in Toronto. Almost by definition, Dickey can provide a ton of innings, even at his age, but his effectiveness has waned. He’ll make $12 million in 2016.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

Author: Michael Cerami

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