Lukewarm Stove: Harper's Top Suitors, Yankees Plans, Miller and Allen, Representing Yourself, More

Social Navigation

Lukewarm Stove: Harper’s Top Suitors, Yankees Plans, Miller and Allen, Representing Yourself, More

Chicago Cubs

Before I ever picked up a keyboard, I was a long-time reader/commenter/sh*t-poster here at Bleacher Nation, the site that became the defining home of my Cubs fandom. But despite this being a Cubs-centric place, I found at the time that my favorite posts were always the Lukewarm Stoves. I mean, everybody loves rumors, but the way my eyes were opened to the not-always-obvious interconnectedness of every rumor was insane. Suddenly, I could see how the Yankees’ pursuit of Player A affected the overall earning potential of Player B, which priced him out of Team C’s range, opening them up to more trades with Team D (or whatever). And all that, in turn, may surprisingly wind up impacting the Cubs.

Now that I’m a writer here, I still love the Lukewarm Stoves for that very same reason. THAT SAID, I have one plea for the baseball universe: may this offseason be full of juicy rumors, but PLEASE let it be nothing like the frequently painful process of last winter.

If you don’t remember, last winter’s transactions were held up artificially, at first, by the extremely high-profile pursuits of Giancarlo Stanton *and* Shohei Ohtani, before ultimately being defined by calls of collusion and threats of Spring Training holdouts. While a normal offseason might see 75% of the free agents signed by the end of December, we were still wondering where key players would go well into February. And because of that, every team had been connected to every player and vice-versa, and it all became this snake eating its own tail. It was a logistical nightmare, as even the most credible rumors and reports began to lose meaning, falling on understandably deaf ears. People got really chippy.

So, yes, please give us those sweet, sweet rumors, but let’s also get some decisions made, yes?

  • Of course, don’t expect Bryce Harper to sign with the Cubs (or anybody!) right out of the gate. As Brett correctly surmised, Harper’s agent, Scott Boras, was trolling everybody when he said that a deal was already in place and simply awaiting the signing period to open up – as Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post later confirmed.
  • But speaking of Harper, Janes and Barry Svrluga tackle the difficult question of Where will he end up? at the Washington Post, running through the top contenders along the way. And despite the fact that they’re not the betting odds-on favorite, the Cubs are the first team mentioned. The writing duo concedes that the Cubs have a loaded outfield crew already in place, but also acknowledges that with a smart front office, a seemingly needy offense, and a ton of money (well, it’s more like just enough money, but I understand), the Cubs can find a way to make Harper fit. I agree. The other top suitors: Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, Giants, and Nationals. Sounds about right, even if there is a report out there that the Yankees won’t be involved.
  • At FanCred Sports, Jon Heyman dropped a ton of notes on a number of teams, and you can peruse if you want all the interesting bits. Among the Cubs-related info, he brings up the potential for the Cubs to go after a closer this winter, but notes that the front office doesn’t love long deals for relievers, and a healthy Brandon Morrow could simply reclaim the job. To me, it seems most likely the Cubs will simply go after the best reliever deals they can find, and will sort out the closer situation later. Heyman is also of the belief that the Cubs will retain Cole Hamels by picking up his option, though I think everyone agrees that the Cubs definitely want Hamels back next year. The big question is whether they can work out some sort of extension instead before the option decision, which could reduce the $20 million AAV hit heading into next year. The rub there? Hamels has never been to free agency, and may very well want a chance to have a say in where he goes next, or at least hear what offers are out there.
  • After largely sitting on the sidelines last winter (in order to reset their payroll under the luxury tax threshold), the Yankees figure to have a big offseason ahead of them (possibly one surrounding Manny Machado). But before they get to any of that, they’ll have to decide whether or not to pick up Brett Gardner’s $12.5M option. After that, lefty Patrick Corbin figures to be high on their priority list.
  • Big surprise: “[T]he Mets’ move to hire [former player agent Brodie] Van Wagenen is so overloaded with conflict-of-interest quandaries that folks on all sides of the industry, from Major League Baseball to the union to club management, find the choice to be bizarre and inevitably problematic.” The Mets are just one of those teams that simply can’t help themselves. Reminder: Van Wagenen represented some players on his team now, including Jacob deGrom. Besides the obvious conflict-of-interest problems, there’s also the weird thing where deGrom goes from Van Wagenen’s boss to the exact opposite. How this will all impact offseason maneuverings remains to be seen, but the Mets will be interesting to follow nonetheless.
  • At, Paul Hoynes discusses a number of Indians rumors, including the potential to return either of Cody Allen or Andrew Miller on one-year deals to pump up their value for next offseason after a shaky 2018. Indeed, after five straight seasons of dominance for Miller *and* Allen, both relievers had supremely disappointing seasons in 2018. But given everything we’ve seen from Miller, and Allen’s relative youth (29), you can go ahead and sign me up for either if they’re really willing to take a short-term pillow deal (although, query whether a one-year, high-dollar deal is really in the Cubs‘ best interests, considering their potential proximity to that upper-tier of the luxury tax threshold).
  • Reliever David Robertson is representing himself in free agency this offseason, and wrote a guest post about the decision at MLB Trade Rumors. I’m sad to say, as much as I laude his reasoning (no one knows what’s better for him or his family than he does), I think almost always a bad decision not to have representation in a system that presupposes it – like defending yourself in court. You might not like lawyers, but there’s a reason they exist. I hope he goes out there and gets a killer contract, though.
  • Logistics, if you missed the correction earlier: Jon Morosi corrected and earlier statement, noting that all option and opt-out decisions are due by 5 p.m. ET on Friday, though some (including Clayton Kershaw’s) are due by midnight on Wednesday night/Thursday morning, per their individual contract.
  • Moreover, teams can start making their options decisions any time now, as the White Sox just demonstrated:

Author: Michael Cerami

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