Lukewarm Stove: How Can a Five-Player Trade Be Boring? Bumgarner's Availability, Rosters in Motion

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Lukewarm Stove: How Can a Five-Player Trade Be Boring? Bumgarner’s Availability, Rosters in Motion

Chicago Cubs

On Monday, I experimented with a Periscope (how funny would that have sounded five years ago?) of that day’s Lukewarm Stove and I think it went pretty well.

If they keep your interest, I’ll keep doing them – especially if we can keep them to 20 minutes or less. I like the idea of being able to elaborate on certain rumors, be more nuanced where I want to, and to answer specific questions of yours along the way. And, of course, sometimes you just want to dig into the Lukewarm Stove rumors, but you’ve got a stupid commute to conquer or dinner to make. Now you can listen! Hands free!

Realistically, I won’t be able to do every single one and we’ll probably stop after the thick of the offseason moves are over, but for now … keep an eye out for that. Okay, rumors.

  • OMG it’s a trade. OMG it’s a trade involving an AL Powerhouse and an NL Central Rival! OMG it’s a trade involving an AL Powerhouse and an NL Central Rival and FIVE-PLAYERS are involved in the deal! This must be absolutely nuts … oh:

  • Jordan Luplow is young, but has not shown any offensive ability in the big leagues just yet (and is more of a corner outfielder than a center fielder). Max Moroff is equally young and can play shortstop, but his bat is even weaker (career 70 wRC+). Erik Gonalez is a 27-year-old baseball player. That’s about the nicest thing I have to say. I’ve never heard of Tanaj Thomas, but he’s a 19-year-old right-hander who spent 2017 and 2018 in Rookie League after signing as an IFA back in 2016. And the *exact* same thing can be said about Dante Mendoza, except that he was a 12th round pick in 2017, not an IFA signing. In other words, the Indians and Pirates just got together on the least exciting five-player trade ever.
  • The Giants are at a really interesting crossroads as far as the offseason goes. They just got a brand new President of Baseball Operations (in the form of the widely-respected former Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi, no less) and have plenty of money to spend, theoretically, but they have a core of aging stars, some of whom are on their way out the door. For example, Madison Bumgarner, still just 29 years old, is under contract for just one more season at an extremely affordable $12M. He may have had injury-shortened seasons over the past two years, but he’s still Bumgarner, he’s still cheap, and he’s still on the right side of 30: most teams would love to have him. But are the Giants willing to trade him? Buster Olney discusses it at ESPN.
  • In short, the Giants have previously shown a reluctance to trade Bumgarner for “legacy” reasons, but Zaidi probably harbors far less attachment to the star pitcher. Given the Giants’ tenuous – at best – grasp on competitiveness next season, would trading Bumgarner now not make more sense? Yeah, maybe it would … and yet, I still don’t see it. I’m guessing the Giants push to hold onto Bumgarner and possibly try to extend him through the early parts of the offseason/regular season. But if those efforts don’t bear fruit and the Giants fall behind in the standings early on, Bumgarner might be a highly valuable trade deadline asset, especially if he’s pitching well again. And that might be a better time to trade him anyway, given how many quality starters are available in free agency (Dallas Keuchel, Patrick Corbin) and trade (Zack Greinke, James Paxton). Put simply: I won’t be surprised to watch Bumgarner finish the 2019 season on a team other than the Giants, but saying that out loud is weird.
  • News from the South Side:

  • Avisail Garcia is still just 27 years old and is only 1 year removed from a legitimately great season (137 wRC+, 4.2 WAR in 2017), but he’s apparently on the block and at risk of being non-tendered if there’s no interest. Phil Rogers responded to that tweet, pointing out that he’s generated “almost zero trade interest” in the past, so they might have a tough time dealing him.
  • Of course, with that in mind, it’s easy to let your mind wander back to that picture of Bryce Harper’s name and jersey number at the United Center, but don’t get to hung up: the White Sox will go after Harper (or not) regardless of what happens with Garcia. Garcia is not good enough, expensive enough, or under control for long enough to make any sort of impact on that discussion.
  • Speaking of non-tender candidates, Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors collects the players most likely to be non-tendered this offseason (though that likelihood could be as small as a 10-20% chance, in their words). Names that stick out include Justin Bour (see below), Travis d’Arnaud, Adam Duvall, and a lot more. Several Brewers make the cut (Jonathan Schoop, Tyler Saladino, Hernan Perez, and Erik Kratz), and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised to see some of them non-tendered, given the Brewers financial picture.
  • For what I consider to be obvious reasons, Addison Russell is on the list. I find it hard to believe Theo Epstein would non-tender him – making him a free agent – when they could try to trade him first (which I believe is more likely), but who knows. Maybe teams are willing to battle the Cubs in a blinking contest and see if they’ll non-tender him before they can come to a reasonable offer. The only threat the Cubs could muster in that case is that yes, they definitely will non-tender him, and if you want to get him short of free agency, you best make *some* kind of offer before the end of this month.
  • Relatedly:

  • Bour has been an underrated offensive performer in recent years, but has always been a bit of a defensive liability and just posted his worst offensive season in the big leagues (107 wRC+). Given how many sweeping changes the Phillies might make (they’re gonna end up with one of Machado or Harper, right?), placing Bour on waivers is not much of a surprise.
  • Although, I should point out that, in general, you should expect to see more, similar moves ahead of the Tuesday deadline to set rosters for purposes of the Rule 5 Draft, as teams look to make space on their rosters. And because a lot of teams are doing the same thing, sometimes you can sneak guys through waivers who wouldn’t normally get through.
  • Indians President of Baseball Operations Chris Antonetti discusses the Indians’ offseason plans and the frequent trade inquiries to which he has to respond (including on Corey Kluber, who has three years of control remaining):

  • I know the Indians haven’t quite re-reached the promised land after losing to the Cubs in 2016, but I doubt they’ll trade a pitcher like Kluber when they still have their core and he still has three affordable option years remaining. Right?

Author: Michael Cerami

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