Winter Meetings Monday Morning: Run on Relievers, Cardinals Aggressive, Archer, Marlins, McCutchen, More

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Winter Meetings Monday Morning: Run on Relievers, Cardinals Aggressive, Archer, Marlins, McCutchen, More

Chicago Cubs

Welcome to the first day of the Winter Meetings!

They go until Thursday, and end in the Rule 5 Draft … but before then a WHOLE LOT is (probably) going to happen. So, in addition to obsessively covering all the most important deals and rumors in the Chicago Cubs world over the next week, we’ll also be delivering these rumor-filled Winter Meetings updates through the day from now until Thursday. Think of them like a special version of the Lukewarm Stove.

There’s already a lot to get to …

  • Although the Cubs got some of their heavy lifting out of the way, adding Tyler Chatwood to the back of the rotation and Brandon Morrow to the back of the bullpen, you can probably expect them to add at least another starting pitcher and back-end type reliever before the winter is through. And on that second one, things might move quickly:

  • With guys like Morrow, Luke Gregerson, and Mike Minor already flying off the board with some of the biggest deck chairs cleared, agents believe there could be a run on relievers. I believe the Cubs will be heavily involved with some of the names listed above. In recent weeks alone, they’ve been connected to Wade Davis, Greg Holland, and Jake McGee (free agent profile coming soon), but if you stretched far enough, you can make a case for almost any of those arms.
  • The real question for the Cubs, now, is just how significant will the second relief arm be? Will they dip back into the top tier so that Morrow doesn’t have as much pressure to be “the guy” after an injury-riddled first chunk of his career? Or will they roll the dice on his health and take a less costly, upside-type option instead? From where I stand, Addison Reed and Jake McGee are slightly more attractive options than Greg Holland and Wade Davis, given the expected price tags, but both are slightly less “certain” options.
  • Of course, the Cubs don’t necessarily *have* to use free agency to address their bullpen needs this offseason. General talks of a trade (Zach Britton, Alex Colome) continue to circulate, and Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times), writes that Colome is, in fact, the most likely Rays pitcher to be on the move this week. Interestingly, Topkin also suggests that the Cubs (and Cardinals) will both still have interest in Colome, even after their bullpen additions this week. We mostly knew that, but a layer of added reporting out of Tampa Bay is always helpful confirmation. That said, we aren’t huge fans of the Cubs targeting Colome unless the return is bupkis.
  • In addition to everything above, Topkin confirms that, while the Rays prefer to move starter Jake Odorizzi, they’ll just as quickly move Chris Archer if the right deal presents itself (i.e., a package even greater than what they got from the Cubs for Matt Garza, which included four legitimate prospects, including two top 50 types (one of whom was Archer, himself)). I won’t linger on Archer – we’ve done that a lot – but, just sayin’ he’s available.
  • At FanRag, Jon Heyman discusses the Cardinals’ plans now that they’ve missed out on Giancarlo Stanton, and apparently those plans include literally anyone who can hit a baseball. Via free agency, the Cardinals are interested in J.D. Martinez, and perhaps more so, Eric Hosmer, and in trade they might ask about Manny Machado, Evan Longoria, or Josh Donaldson. The two free agent bats would take $120M+ contracts, and the latter three names would require fairly significant returns (less so Longoria), but given their failed pursuit of Stanton, we know they have both. Be prepared for the Cardinals to add a significant bat this winter, it’s going to happen.

  • The Cardinals are also interested in other Marlins outfielder, but:

  • When the Cardinals were in talks with the Marlins, some reports suggested that their negotiations could serve as a framework for later deals on Marcell Ozuna (27 years old, 4.8 fWAR in 2017) or Christian Yelich (26 years old, 4.5 fWAR in 2017). Given how inexpensive and talented both of those players are, I almost would hate their addition to the Cardinals more than Stanton (depending on the return). Let’s put a pin in this for now, but, remember: the Cardinals don’t yet need to be desperate. There are so many options.
  • Yankees rumor time: Heyman reports that the Yankees might be willing to pay up to $34M of the $68M they owe Jacoby Ellsbury to facilitate a trade, but will likely struggle to get him to waive his no-trade clause. As for why a team would really want Ellsbury right now anyway, Rosenthal adds an important part of the story:

  • I don’t see the Cubs getting involved here (unless they want to give Gleyber Torres back! (I joke, but, I mean, I suppose the Yankees do have some serious pitching prospect depth)), but you can see why a rebuilding team with some cash and a Major League position to fill might come calling.
  • As the Cubs continue to search for another starter, their competition grows ever more fierce:

  • A huge number of teams are looking for starters right now, and while there are plenty of options out there, competition in the market is not something you actively root for. The Orioles have previously been attached to reported Cubs top target Alex Cobb.
  • But to that end, Heyman writes that the Orioles might be interested in adding the Mets’ Matt Harvey, who, after another disappointing season in New York following thoracic outlet syndrome surgery, might never rediscover his former self. Still, he’s just 28 years old, and on the right deal … woo that’d be an interesting arm to collect. Unfortunately, absent any indication of what the Mets are looking for in return (given his health, you think very little), there’s really no way to pick this rumor apart from a Cubs perspective. Ultimately, I’m guessing Harvey, who’s a free agent at season’s end, could wind up with a team that could even look to flip him at the deadline.
  • Despite conflicting feelings in Pittsburgh (i.e. the fans), it remains likely that the team will try to move Andrew McCutchen this winter. Also, given the reality of his bounce back (3.7 WAR), impending free agency (after 2018), and the NL Central (Pirates are behind the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals right now), how can you blame them? Moving Cutch is probably the right move. The team’s GM spoke about McCutchen’s likely-very-short-term future with the team here.
  • And, finally, I’m acknowledging this rumor, because it’s out there and a little too significant to ignore (especially in light of yesterday’s report connecting the Red Sox to Kyle Schwarber), but I’m adding the caveats that the fit is not obvious, and Nightengale has had some very notable misses lately:

  • Why the Cubs would shop a power bat (presumably Kyle Schwarber, whom the Red Sox supposedly have interest in) for another, lighter-hitting, quality defensive outfielder – with Albert Almora, Jr. already in the fold – doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Don’t get me wrong, Bradley is an intriguing, talented player with a great glove and a 5.0 WAR season (2016) already under his belt, but he posted a 90 wRC+ last summer with a .323 OBP (so it’s not like you’d be swapping a slugging outfielder for a clear leadoff solution).

Author: Michael Cerami

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