Lukewarm Stove: Rays Engaging on Many Fronts, Lynn and Cardinals, Status Quo on Realmuto, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Rays Engaging on Many Fronts, Lynn and Cardinals, Status Quo on Realmuto, More

Chicago Cubs

Nine days.

That’s all we have until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. Which means, at this point, there’s almost no time logistically for all of the free agents to find their 2018 homes. Sure, some of the bigger names might come off the board before that reporting date, but there’s still a TON of players above the fringe-roster group and below the All-Star group who’ll be treading water.

Best we can hope for is the Cubs to land their starter soon, and call it a day.

  • Which reminds me … the Cubs are consistently thrown into the mix whenever the free agent freeze out gets brought up, but in reality, they’ve accomplished almost every single thing we thought they would heading into the offseason: Bullpen help (Brandon Morrow, Brian Duensing, and Steve Cishek), a veteran back-up catcher (Chris Gimenez), a veteran outfielder with solid defense (Peter Bourjos – OK, he’s not guaranteed a spot, but the Cubs also weren’t guaranteed to need this type), and two starting pitchers (Tyler Chatwood, and TBD). If the Cubs do land Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta or Alex Cobb, they’ll have really nailed this offseason. Like top-to-bottom *precisely* what needed to be done – and they even threw a Drew Smyly in there for good measure.
  • At The Tampa Bay Times, Marc Topkin brings an old rumor back to life with very strong language: “And more changes are coming, as the Rays have yet to address ownership’s directive to cut payroll — they are actually up a few million from this time last year. That means some veterans from the group of closer Alex Colome; infielder Brad Miller; starters Jake Odorizzi or, less likely, Chris Archer; and outfielders Corey Dickerson and/or Denard Span are still going to be moved.” Some of those veterans “are still going to be moved.” Topkin has used phrases like “likely” or “try” plenty of times before, but after a month of almost no Rays chatter, suddenly there are guys that “are going to be moved.” That’s noteworthy – and doesn’t come in a vacuum.

  • In this post Topkin writes that Odorizzi will “almost certainly be gone” from Tampa before the season starts, and considers the Cardinals, Twins, and Brewers as likely landing spots (all three make plenty of sense given their interest in current free agent starters Darvish, Cobb, and Jake Arrieta).
  • The Cubs had been, at a time, connected to Jake Odorizzi, but it seems like their interest – like ours – has waned over time (ditto Alex Colome). I’d prefer to roll with Mike Montgomery in the rotation and Brandon Morrow in the 9th than spend resources acquiring either Rays pitcher at this time. But for a team like the Brewers or Twins, Odorizzi could be a far cheaper option than the free agent route, and for the Cardinals, Colome could be cheaper than Greg Holland.
  • Speaking of the free agent route, at The Journal Sentinel, Tom Haudricourt writes that the Brewers payroll is already up 50% from last season (though, at $60M … they were the single lowest figure in baseball) and could go up more before the season starts. But by how much is the question. Haudricourt reminds us that the Brewers reportedly made an offer for Yu Darvish a few weeks ago, but adds that it’s not likely in the range of a six or seven-year deal for $25M (what Darvish is reportedly looking for). Also of note, Haudricourt mentions that while the Brewers would be willing to push their payroll to up over $100M, it’s currently at $90M and they’d like to leave some room for mid-season moves, if necessary. With that in mind … I’m starting think they are just not a realistic landing spot for Darvish.
  • At the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ben Frederickson writes that the Cardinals should move to bring back Lance Lynn if his market has fallen as far as it seems. Because they are the ones who offered him a qualifying offer, they wouldn’t lose a draft pick to sign Lynn (well, I mean, they sorta would in an opportunity cost sort of way, but that’s obviously different than the other 29 teams), and they still have questions in the rotation. Although I don’t love the idea of the Cubs signing Lynn, he could add value on the right deal and the Cardinals strike me as the team he’d return to at a discount (if any team fits there). We’ll have to see where this goes, but poor peripherals aside, Lynn is not a terrible starter to have in the stable.
  • The Orioles are still desperately searching for starting pitchers, but are apparently considering Lynn and Alex Cobb too pricey. Instead, they’re looking at 27-year-old righty Drew Hutchison, who was outrighted by the Pirates in September. If you recall, they were reportedly asking for two cost-controlled starting pitchers for Manny Machado back in December, but he seems to be fully off the table at this point (at least until the deadline). I’m pretty certain that they made a big mistake by not trading him already – the Diamondbacks were the team with the most interest, but over a dozen other teams had reportedly made genuine attempts to land him – and they risk not getting as much in July.
  • Still nothing changing on the J.T. Realmuto front (finally, the Marlins have learned how to negotiate a trade) …

  • Also, it’s technically a signing! … Just one with no significant, down-stream, or Major League impact. It’s an old friend:

Author: Michael Cerami

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