Lukewarm Stove: Fowler Options, Ethier, De Aza, Gomes, Orioles Trade, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Fowler Options, Ethier, De Aza, Gomes, Orioles Trade, More

Chicago Cubs

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Pitchers and catchers report in just over two weeks and there is still a lively Lukewarm Stove to share. I don’t know many more ways to shake it: the amount of legitimate free agents and active trade rumors is pretty insane. Everything will come to a peak soon, but we’re still not there quite yet.

  • According to GM Rick Hahn (via Bruce Levine), the White Sox aren’t done making moves this offseason. Despite being just a few weeks out from Spring Training (squeal), the Sox are still looking to improve in their outfield and the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier might be the target, per Levine. If you recall, the White Sox are also one of the rumored likely landing spots for former Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler, so this report is consistent with their apparent needs. Of course, acquiring either one of these two players would then pull them out of discussions with the other. The Dodgers are, of course, looking to compete in 2016, but Ethier is due $18 million in 2016, $17.5 million in 2017, and has a $17.5 million vesting option for 2018, and he is arguably superfluous in the Los Angeles outfield. So, moving that contract could be something the Dodgers look to do, to significantly cut payroll.
  • But, of course, like all rumors, there’s a counter report, and Bob Nightengale hears that, although the White Sox would like an offensive upgrade, and the Dodgers would like to trade Ethier, there doesn’t appear to be a match.
  • One last piece of note from Levine’s article is the White Sox’s interest in the (formerly) available Rockies outfielders – including recently traded Corey Dickerson. Their involvement in those discussions might have been slowing down the Dexter Fowler market, so perhaps we’ll see a resolution on all fronts sooner than later.
  • The White Sox aren’t the only team that will be interested in Fowler, though. As a recent story by Evan Grant notes, the Rangers might have both the interest and the need to go after someone like Fowler, but may come up short on money. The Rangers reportedly have a strict budget that won’t allow them to make any more significant moves this offseason.
  • The truth is, despite some seemingly obvious fits around the league, Fowler still hasn’t found that landing spot, just yet. Maybe the Orioles will get creative:

  • In Baltimore, Fowler could fit in as regular, but a marriage becomes less likely if they are looking – solely – for lefty-platoon bat (both because he’s more of a regular, and because he hits better against lefties than righties). His chances of returning to the Cubs remain low, but possible.
  • Meanwhile, the Orioles have made a trade, picking up righty Odrisamer Despaigne from the Padres for pitching prospect Jean Cosme. Despaigne is cheap, controlled for a long time, and not yet 29, but he also hasn’t been terribly effective over the entire length of his time in the big leagues, especially 2015.
  • Back to the Dodgers’ crowded outfield for a moment, in case you were wondering: Bob Nightengale reports that Yasiel Puig is not available. You may recall that, after last year’s troubles and some potential clubhouse disharmony, there were rumors that the Dodgers would be trying to unload Puig. Not so, apparently.
  • The New York Mets’ GM suggests there’s a chance they could trade Alejandro De Aza after re-signing Yoeneis Cespedes. That would be, well, weird, because the Mets just signed De Aza back in December. Indeed, they can’t even trade De Aza before June without his permission. Perhaps, if the right deal and team came along, De Aza would approve a trade in order to get more playing time elsewhere. With the Cubs current set of starters (and bench players), of course, there is no chance the Cubs will be involved. It is just an interesting story to follow.
  • Jonny Gomes is headed to Japan in 2016 to play for the Rakuten Golden Eagles (the former team of Hisashi Iwakuma and Masahiro Tanaka). Gomes, 35, said he grew tired of waiting for a deal to come in, so he pulled the trigger on a $2 million (plus $1 million in incentives) deal with the Eagles. He probably won’t wear this.
  • We already know how the qualifying offer system can hurt free agents – just ask Dexter Fowler – but is it also negatively affecting small market teams? Small market teams, Ken Rosenthal’s theory goes, are less likely to sacrifice their first-round picks and accompanying bonus-pool money, because they are much more dependent on young, cost controlled players than big market clubs. If the qualifying offer issue was not certain to be discussed in the upcoming CBA negotiations before, it is extremely likely now after yet another offseason of troubles.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

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Author: Michael Cerami

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