While night may have felt like the opening of the flood gates – the Brewers added outfielders Christian Yelich (trade) and Lorenzo Cain (free agency) within a few minutes – we’ve since learned that might not necessarily be the case. Like at all. Like the free agents might start their own Spring Training. Joy.
But after the trade of Yelich, I started realizing something about the markets:
The free agent market might be ice cold this winter, but the trade market is very much alive.
Traded (WAR in '17):
Giancarlo Stanton (6.9)
Marcell Ozuna (4.8)
Christian Yelich (4.5)
Andrew McCutchen (3.7)
Dee Gordon (3.3)
Gerrit Cole (3.1)
Evan Longoria (2.5)
Ian Kinsler (2.4)
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) January 26, 2018
That’s a whole lot of fire power getting moved around this winter – and it’s not even close to the final list. Maybe we’ve underestimated the impact of the trade market on the ice-out of the free agent market. Teams are still adding players, they’re just going a different route.
- Speaking of trades, you may have heard that the Milwaukee Brewers have given Lorenzo Cain no-trade protection in his 5 year/$80M deal yesterday, but it’s not a straight-up, full no-trade clause. According to Jon Heyman, the clause begins with full no-trade protection, but gradually weakens (to fewer blockable teams) over time. That’s sort of brilliant, isn’t it (and not something I’ve heard of)? This way, Cain gets protection against getting flipped in a year if the rebuild fails (think multiple catastrophic injuries/under-performances (or just think about the Marlins a few years ago)) and the Brewers still get a fair shake at trading him four or five years from now, when they decide the Cubs are still too good to try to beat.
- Sticking with the Brewers for a beat (get comfortable), Andrew Baggarly made an educated guess of Giants GM Bobby Evans’ next move:
They have Yelich, Cain, Domingo Santana, Keon Broxton and Ryan Braun in their outfield. And Phillips major league ready, too. Pretty sure I can guess at Bobby Evans' recent call history. https://t.co/sRBXwM5TE3
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) January 26, 2018
- But before you go get worried about yet another Brewers trade, perhaps the teams aren’t such a good fit:
#SFGiants and #Brewers have an interesting dynamic. Santana is a big-power, high-strikeout, subpar defense RF. That's not what SF needs. Brett Phillips plays center, but the Giants appear to like Steven Duggar. Milwaukee is looking for starting pitching. Can the teams match up? https://t.co/IjeOZtOzWL
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 26, 2018
- With Andrew McCutchen in right field, Hunter Pence in left, Steven Duggar waiting in the wings at Triple-A, and Austin Jackson in the mix, the Giants shouldn’t be “desperate” to add an outfielder, but they do seem intent on doing so. However, their fit with the Brewers is tricky, because they are not exactly deep in pieces the Brewers might want for their outfielders.
- Though, to be sure, it does seem likely that the Brewers will eventually move one of their many outfielders for starting pitching. Fortunately for the Cubs, the Rays haven’t yet lost their minds:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 26, 2018
- First of all, if the Brewers would’ve pulled that deal off, they would’ve made me very angry, very impressed, and very confused. That’s essentially the kind of deal the Cubs have been trying to swing with the Rays for the better part of three seasons, I’d guess. And they’ve never had any luck. Second of all, I’m dying to see what the Brewers can get for Santana, because while he’s not a perfect proxy for the Cubs’ abundance of position players, he does have some similarities. He’s 25-years-old, has one solid season under his belt to go along with a few less-solid half seasons, and four more years of cheap team control. That’s not exactly Ian Happ, Albert Almora, or Kyle Schwarber, but it’s not like it’s not any of them yet either.
- At this point, I generally expect the Cubs to add their starter via free agency (i.e. not trade), but this can still set an important benchmark for a potential future trade.
- At The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal reports a somewhat different solution to the crowded Brewers outfield problem: Moving Ryan Braun to first base. Apparently, sources have told Rosenthal that mixing in Braun at first as part of broader rotation is a definite possibility. Interesting. We’ll circle back around to this article at the end of this stove.
- Moving on … As expected, the Brewers might not be the only team turning the corner, as Corey Seidman (NBS Sports Philly) writes that Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are “no longer unrealistic” for the Phillies. The Phillies rebuild has tracked alongside the Brewers in recent years (not unlike the Cubs and Astros coinciding efforts from 2012-2015), and they may be ready to pounce. To be fair, they have already added some big names this offseason, but most of us expected them to use their mighty financial resources next offseason when the bounties are even higher (or maybe that was just wishful thinking because I WANT DARVISH TO MYSELF, OK?!).
- In any case, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Phillies have been in contact with most of the high-profile free agents and while they aren’t likely to be the highest bidder, they are likely to stick around and see if anything makes sense.
- The Marlins may have already traded Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon, Christian Yelich, and Marcell Ozuna … but maybe they’re not done yet …
JT Realmuto now last man standing in Miami and he wants out!
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 25, 2018
- Okay, maybe he wants out, but does anyone even have any inter…
Source : The team most heavily engaged in trade discussions for JT Realmuto is the Washington Nationals.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) January 25, 2018
- Okay, then. The Nationals have apparently come calling about JT Realmuto, as their current crop of catchers – Matt Wieters, Pedro Severino, and Raudy Read – leave much to be desired. At the Washington Post, Jorge Castillo writes that the Nationals are very much interested in replacing Wieters with Realmuto, but they’re unwilling to include Anthony Rendon, Trea Turner, Victor Robles, or Juan Soto in any trade discussions … which might make things difficult to pull off (Realmuto carries *plenty* of trade value). According to Castillo, the Marlins have asked for Robles, in particular, who was recently ranked as the No. 5 prospect in baseball, but that’s led to a stalemate. If the Nationals are unable to land Realmuto, they might turn their attention to former Cubs catcher Alex Avila.
- The Royals have a deal with free agent shortstop Alcides Escobar. No terms yet, but it’ll be interesting if we start to see the squeeze on free agents in that lower tier.
- If you missed it earlier this morning, the Brewers might be out on Darvish now, and he might prefer the Cubs anyway.