Lukewarm Stove: Harper's $300M Offer, Cubs and Donaldson, Mariners Rebuild, Phillies, White Sox, Miller, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Harper’s $300M Offer, Cubs and Donaldson, Mariners Rebuild, Phillies, White Sox, Miller, More

Chicago Cubs

From now until around after Thanksgiving, we’re going to get bombarded with so many rumors (including plenty of legitimate ones!), but only get sprinkled with actual transactions. Well, historically speaking, anyway.

Don’t get me wrong: I love rumors as much as the next guy, but have you ever tried not eating a pie? It’s a lot easier when someone isn’t dangling one right in front of your face.

Here’s some pie-smell for ya …

  • In case you missed it, word recently broke that the Nationals offered Bryce Harper a long-term deal on the last day of the final homestand of the 2018 season. Obviously, he did not accept that offer, but I’m guessing you still want to hear the details, yes? Well, according to Chelsea Janes, the Nats offer to Harper was for roughly $300M over 10 years. Although there is a little bit of uncertainty over the finer details, there were reportedly no opt-outs in the offer.
  • So what we do we think about this? Well, for one, this strikes me as the most “technically we made a good offer!” offer I’ve ever seen. Yes, $300 million is a lot of money and 10 years is a long time, but those are basically the lowest reasonable parameters you could offer to Harper before free agency without getting laughed out of the room. At the same time, the Nationals can turn around and check off a bunch of boxes for their fans: We offered him a $300M+ deal over a whole decade! Without mentioning the fact that a lot of the money was probably deferred (as they seem to prefer) and the lack of opt-outs probably stopped things before they started. It was an offer, but there’s no way they thought he’d take it – let alone so close to free agency. That said, you can officially consider 10/$300+opt-outs as the starting point (we probably already knew that, but now there’s an offer Harper and Boras can point to).
  • With respect to that news breaking, Bob Nightengale mentions the Phillies, Giants, and Cardinals as teams now expected to be in the mix – the Cubs name has all but evaporated from these rumors lately, likely because of their apparent financial picture (sigh).
  • I am still 100% a Harper 1A and Machado 1B guy this winter, but seeing as we have to be realistic about the financial rumors out there, I’m allowing myself to see who else is available, and one name keeps coming up: Josh Donaldson. Donaldson may be on the older side and he may have dealt with some injuries, but he strikes me as someone who’s going to be massively overlooked this winter (at least, relative to his name and upside). Mike Petriello runs through his 2018 season and projections for next year – we’ll dive deeper into Donaldson soon – but one thing, in particular, stood out to me: “Overall,” said a scout to’s Mark Feinsand last month, “I see [Donaldson] as a shorter-term, higher AAV type of option for a team in a win-now mode who has the depth to cover over potential injuries and under performance at the tail end of the deal.”
  • Doesn’t that sound like the Cubs? If they’re not looking to saddle themselves with another massive and long deal, the Cubs could offer a short-term contract to Donaldson with a lower overall guarantee than most other options – if, for some reason, that’s what they’re looking to do. After all, they are in a win-now mode and with David Bote, Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and others (like Tommy La Stella, Ben Zobrist, and Ian Happ in a pinch) capable of covering third base in his absence, they have the sort of depth to cover other potential injuries. Donaldson is projected for a 131 wRC+ next season and 4.6 WAR. Just think about adding that.
  • Then again, if the Cubs really have eyes for Nolan Arenado next offseason, perhaps a short-term investment in Josh Donaldson – even for 2-3 years – wouldn’t make much sense. Then again, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Rockies are not planning to trade Arenado this winter anyway, and are instead expected to attempt an extension. I wonder how the Cubs approach to this offseason would change if Arenado was extended. Is he *the* guy they have eyes for next offseason, or is the rest of the 2020 FA class exciting enough to keep their pocket books down this whole winter? I honestly don’t know. Heck, I don’t even know if I believe the whole “next year” thing is accurate.
  • Also from that Rosenthal report, Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto suggests the rumors of a complete roster tear down were “clearly over-dramatized.” Here’s the tweet that provoked that response, in case you missed it:

  • They’re apparently open to discuss any proposal, but want people to know they’re not desperate. At the same time, yeah … you can probably pry away anyone from that roster who isn’t named Diaz or Haniger.
  • NBC Sports Chicago writes that the Phillies might be willing to part with some young talent in exchange for starting pitching. Two left-handers, James Paxton (Mariners) and Robbie Ray (D-Backs), are mentioned as potential targets, as is Michael Fulmer (Tigers) and Sonny Gray (Yankees). Then again, the Phillies will also be involved with the top free-agent arms (Patrick Corbin, J.A. Happ, and Dallas Keuchel), so they may not need to go the trade route. Relatedly, I don’t think I’d like to see the Cubs explore a trade like this – i.e., trading away – but they do have an abundance of starting pitchers (especially lefties) and a desire to shed some salary. If they’re going to get really creative this winter, that could be how they do it – I mean, they still have seven legitimate(ish (Chatwood)) starting options and the offseason has basically not started yet.
  • Speaking of the starting pitcher market:

  • The White Sox continue to be mentioned in rumors all over the place, as they’re signaling a clear intention to spend this winter. Indeed, Jon Heyman writes that they’re telling people they need to take a step forward, have the money, and aren’t ruling anything – including Harper or Machado – out. Morosi called them a player for either guy.
  • Along the same lines, the Twins are reportedly interested in free agent starter J.A. Happ and the Mets are interested in free agent reliever Andrew Miller. I can’t see the Cubs having any interest in the former, but the latter is someone they’ve shown interest in in the past. Will his injuries and down 2018 season change that? I’m not quite sure yet. I think it’ll really depend on what kind of contract he’s seeking. Of course, the Braves are out there looking for a closer too, and that could spell interest in Miller – though they might be more involved in the upper end (namely, Craig Kimbrel) than a gamble like Miller.
  • And let’s close it with a squashed Braves rumor:

Author: Michael Cerami

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