Lukewarm Stove: Actually Active Day, Cubs Waiting, Reliever Market, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Actually Active Day, Cubs Waiting, Reliever Market, More

Chicago Cubs

Relative to the last month, today was an extremely active day in baseball! The Pirates traded Gerrit Cole to the Astros and the Twins signed Addison Reed. And there’s a little more to get into as you settle in for your Saturday night …

  • The Padres made a move today, too, inking top reliever Brad Hand to an extension:

  • The deal is particularly interesting given that Hand is the perpetual subject of trade rumors, including many times to the Cubs, who reportedly talked about him at the Winter Meetings. Hand, 27, had two years of arbitration left before reaching free agency, so the deal buys out a year of free agency and also gives the Padres an option on that fourth year. Having not liked the offers they got for him over the last two years, the Padres apparently opted instead to just marry up with Hand. (Which is not to say they could not turn around and trade him anyway, but you generally don’t see teams ink a guy to an extension and then trade him within six months. The last time I can think of a team doing that … actually, it was the Padres in 2014 with Seth Smith. He signed an extension in July before hitting free agency, and then they traded him in December. In their defense, that was after a management change.)
  • The Convention was full of talk about the offseason in general – Jed Hoyer said he couldn’t remember one as slow as this – but light on specific details, as you’d expect. On the Cubs’ lack of movement lately, Theo Epstein was frank ( “Look, we’d make a move tonight if we could, but it’s not there for us. We’ll be patient and keep working hard. We’ve made moves in Spring Training before if it comes to that. I hope for everyone’s sake things happen in an orderly fashion before Spring Training so players can settle. I’m done predicting this winter. It’s taken on a life of its own. We’ll see what happens.”
  • Epstein did say, of course, that the Cubs would like to add another starting pitcher if the right opportunity presents itself.
  • A couple quality lefty relievers are still on the market in Tony Watson and old friend Brian Duensing, and the A’s have reportedly been in on those two. As constructed right now, assuming the Cubs add another starting pitcher, the bullpen would include Brandon Morrow, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards Jr., Steve Cishek, Mike Montgomery, Justin Wilson, and one or two of Justin Grimm, Dario Alvarez, Randy Rosario, Dillon Maples, and Rob Zastryzny (among a few others). There is certainly a spot there for a Duensing or Watson if the Cubs are inclined, but if they weren’t interested in Addison Reed at just two years and $17 million, I can’t imagine they’ll want to commit much to an additional non-setup arm.
  • Adrian Gonzalez may wind up with the Mets:

  • Gonzalez, 36 in May, had an injury-filled disaster of a season in 2017, going to the disabled list multiple times after *not once* going on the DL from 2006 to 2016. Before 2017, he could still hit a bit, though his 111 wRC+ in 2016 was the lowest of his career at the time. If he’s healthy, it’s conceivable he can be a plus at the plate for the Mets – and he won’t cost them much, which is a priority – but this would not be a move that would make you any more nervous about the Mets as an NL contender.
  • About that Cole trade, the Pirates have generally been criticized for their return:

  • I think that’s fair; but I also think you can defend the Pirates going for a high volume of “good/fine” players to fill out roster spots on the cheap in the next few years, leaving open the possibility that they could spend aggressively next year and win in the near-term while they still have good young pitching, Starling Marte, Josh Bell, and Gregory Polanco. For that reason, going after the best possible prospects might not have been the right move for the Pirates. (I mean, I’m just saying that’s what the argument would be.)
  • Some additional counterarguments from Mike Petriello:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.