The Winter Meetings are completely behind us now, but because of an extremely strange market, the meat of the offseason somehow still lies ahead of us. [UPDATE: No sooner than this stove went up, the Phillies signed Carlos Santana.] [UPDATE UPDATE: No sooner than I typed that last updated, the Angels signed Zack Cozart to a three-year deal.]
And, so, your regularly-scheduled Lukewarm Stoves continue in earnest …
- In our final Winter Meetings update, Japanese reliever Yoshihisa Hirano was connected to the Chicago Cubs, but, like Brett cautioned, it was impossible to tell if they were actually set to land him. And they’re not the only team involved:
Dodgers appear to be targeting Japanese right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano for bullpen help. 33-yr-old had a 2.67 ERA in 58 games for Orix last season.
— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) December 15, 2017
- I don’t know much about Hirano outside of scouting his stat line and reading what Brett wrote, but I do know that if the Cubs think he could help out – even in 2018, alone – he’d be an arm worth pursuing. Joe Maddon continues to lobby for a dominant bullpen, and since the Cubs have already loaded it with a fair amount of talent, it can’t hurt to add some depth.
- Speaking of the Cubs bullpen depth, did you see that Hector Rondon signed on with the Astros? He got a two-year deal there, too, so they’re probably planning on relying on him quite a bit. He was never going to be a big part of the Cubs’ 2018 bullpen plans, but, hey, if he bounced back he could’ve worked himself into the mix – there’s still plenty of upside there. Best of luck on the Astros.
- During the Winter Meetings, there were rumors that the Red Sox were not only interested in meeting with the top two free agent bats, J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer, but that they might even try to sign both of them! President Dave Dombrowski quickly shot down those rumors, but did meet with Martinez on Wednesday night. Obviously, given their needs and the aggressive movement of the Yankees, the Red Sox are likely to make a splash this winter, and Martinez could make as much sense as anyone (indeed their interest in him seems to be the hottest so far). With that said, a deal with Martinez might require the Red Sox to move one of their outfielders in a trade, so it’s fair to wonder if Hosmer might actually make more sense *as of right now*.
- Of course, the Diamondbacks are also interested in reuniting with Martinez, but may not be ready and willing to pony up the type of money it’ll take. And, to be sure, Martinez, who’s consistently rated as a pretty bad outfielder, makes more sense for an AL club.
- Now that Marcell Ozuna is officially a Cardinal and Giancarlo Stanton is officially a Yankee, Clark Spencer and Andre C. Fernandez ask whether Christian Yelich – the player with the most trade value of the bunch – is going to be out the door next. That’s been the question on everyone’s mind, as contradictory reports seem to surface every other day. At first, rumors pointed towards the Marlins holding onto Yelich and building around him, but many dispelled them as a potential leverage-grab. Later, reports indicated that the Marlins may have approached Yelich to ask about his preferences (i.e. stay and be the center of the rebuild, or leave and be traded somewhere out of his control).
- President Michael Hill recently suggested that there’s still a lot of offseason left and that the Marlins are not done exploring their options. My bet is that Yelich is out the door before Spring Training, but to whom? I have no idea.
- I’d like to point out that while, yes, Yelich is on a team-friendly contract, he’s not earning peanuts (at least, not by the Marlins’ standards). Over the next five years he’s due at least $44.5M, but if his 2022 option is picked up (which you have to believe it will be) that’ll actually be $58.25M. If the Marlins truly are dead-set on getting leaner, they may want to move Yelich sooner rather than later.
- On the Manny Machado trade front, rumors have been all over the place lately. Even the rebuilding Chicago White Sox have been connected at times, but given that Machado won’t likely sign an extension, that never really made much sense … unless of course they were going to spin him off to another team afterwords:
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 14, 2017
- Apparently, the Orioles are motivated to move Machado, but want to keep him out of Yankee pinstripes at all costs. And that means that they might not complete a trade with a non-Yankees team if they think that team will immediately flip him back into the AL East. According to Nightengale, that’s why the Cardinals remain the “front-runners” to an extent, and if Machado really is available, I’d say that sounds about right – the Cardinals have the need, the opportunity, and the prospects to get that sort of deal done.
- It sounds like the Padres may have landed the shortstop they’ve been looking for in a deal with the Phillies, picking up Freddy Galvis for pitching prospect Enyel De Los Santos. De Los Santos was the 13th best prospect in the Padres system the last time MLB Pipeline updated their rankings, and is coming off a pretty solid debut at the Double-A level (3.78 ERA, 3.64 FIP). Galvis, meanwhile, is projected to earn around $7.5M next season (his final trip through arbitration), before becoming a free agent at year’s end. Frankly, given Galvis’ ceiling, cost, and impending free agency, this seems like a good move for the Phillies. Your tangential Cubs impact here is that the Padres were loosely connected to the Cubs in their search for a shortstop earlier this winter, but those rumors are likely to die now. Perhaps this move will make the Padres more aggressive on another bat like Eric Hosmer? Would he sign there anyway? Hard to say. He’s visited with them, at a minimum. We’ll keep an eye on it though.