Although the rumors are flying all over the place lately, I think we should probably prepare for some radio silence starting tomorrow – for the holiday – and through the weekend. Things can still get done, of course (like Theo Epstein having Thanksgiving dinner at Curt Schilling’s house), but for the most part, these are all people who just want to be with their families/friends or get a break.
But as soon as this weekend is over, get ready, because things – actual transactions – should start picking up and ramp up to a head at the Winter Meetings.
Here’s the latest from the rumor mill …
- History: During the 2017 season, a 28-year-old Corey Dickerson slashed .282/.325/.490 (115 wRC+) for the Rays, earning 2.6 WAR along the way. But because he was expected to earn roughly $5M-$6M in arbitration the following year, they designated him for assignment and got the Pirates to foot the bill. In 2018 he slashed .300/.330/.474 (115 wRC+) good for 2.7 WAR (roughly $22M in value).
- Present: During the 2018 season, a 28-year-old C.J. Cron – whose bat literally replaced Dickerson – slashed .253/.323/.493; 30 HRs (122 wRC+) for the Rays, earning 2.1 WAR along the way. But because he is expected to earn roughly $5-$6M in arbitration next season, they designated him for assignment. When Andrew Friedman was in charge of the Rays, they were cheap … but creative and crafty. Now … they’re just cheap. I’m not sure who’ll pick up Cron, but he could be a solid first baseman or DH for a lot of teams.
- Jon Heyman suggests that the Phillies are going to be all in on the big-time free agent starters this winter, including Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel. I still think Corbin ends up in New York – even after adding James Paxton on a big trade earlier this week – but anything is possible and the Phillies have many needs. For what it’s worth, Jon Morosi also hears that they have interest in Corbin and throws Craig Kimbrel’s name into the mix, as well. Morosi also suggests that if the Phillies miss out on Corbin and/or Kimbrel, they could turn to the trade market, targeting Zack Greinke and Edwin Diaz in their places, respectively.
- I can’t say I haven’t been happy to see the Maybe the Phillies should spread the money out takes lately, if only because they’re still the most likely landing spot for Harper and I’m still holding out hope. I think they might be able to land Harper and another big addition anyway, but for however much money they have and however reckless they intend to be, budgets are never truly unlimited.
- Of course, they’re not the only team in the NL East in on the free agent starters this winter:
nats focus now appears to be on the rotation. Corbin, Keuchel, Eovaldi, Morton all potential fits. could also look for 1 more in pen, maybe 2B. then later comes the big question: do they need Harper?
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 20, 2018
- Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt III recently touched on that same idea of spreading the money around versus spending it all in one place in a quote to Derrick Goold:
Asked about meeting a whopper, free-agent deal like Harper will command (greater than $300 million), Bill DeWitt III says, “We could do it, sure. It’s about (considering) putting all our eggs in one basket. We have the payroll room.” #stlcards #cardinals #MLB
— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) November 19, 2018
- Sticking with Goold for a minute, he writes that the “Cardinals have explored what return they could get for Carlos Martinez.” He continues to say that it was more of a market test than anything substantive, but it’s not like he said they were just open to listening – they actively explored that market. That feels more than a toe dip. I doubt it happens, because they’re not going to punt on 2019 and would need therefore to get back some usable current talent, but anything is possible.
- After all, like the Phillies, one could make the case that the Cardinals are in need of more than one addition, even if that addition is as impactful as Bryce Harper. Not only might they be able to add more wins that way, they also mitigate some risk (injury, underperformance, otherwise) and if you have the payroll space to do it … why not? In any case, if the Cardinals do elect to spend big in one place, I’d expect it to be for Manny Machado, not Harper, anyway. Their outfield is relatively well-set, but the infield can be maneuvered to make space for a shortstop or a third or first baseman (hence the Paul Goldschmidt rumors earlier today).
- MLB.com has a rumor round-up, and among the interesting bits is the Dodgers and Astros interest in trading for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. To bring you up to speed, the Marlins catcher is extremely talented and under control via arbitration for the next two seasons. Any team in need of a catcher would be lucky to have him as he’s one of the best in baseball. There were some rumors that the Nationals were hot on his tail – as they have been for what seems like a while – but the Marlins are not keen to trade him within the division and their recent signing of Kurt Suzuki might have taken them out of the running. The Braves also have interest, but are also in the NL East. The Cubs, meanwhile, came up as a potential landing spot according to Craig Mish, who’s very tapped in down in Florida, but it is hard to envision something happening given the presence of Willson Contreras. In any case, I’d expect a Realmuto trade to go down sometime during or after the Winter Meetings. He’s as good as gone, I suspect.
- Ken Rosenthal suggests that the Dodgers also have eyes for Indians catcher Yan Gomes, as well as their evidently available starting pitchers (including Corey Kluber). In return, Rosenthal guesses that the loaded Dodgers outfield could match up with Cleveland’s needs.
- FanGraphs takes an analytical look at that Japanese ace, Yusei Kikuchi, who’s to be posted this winter. It’s a deep dive, but in their estimation, Kikuchi could be a talented #2 or #3 starter next season. That’ll draw some serious interest, especially as a 28-year-old left-hander.
- At The Athletic Corey Brock discusses what’s next for the Mariners, who are clearly open for business after trading away James Paxton. He guesses that they’d prefer to build around pitchers Edwin Diaz and Marco Gonzalez as well as slugger Mitch Haniger, but even they will be available if the right offer comes in (has Jerry Dipoto ever said no?). In any case, he guesses shortstop Jean Segura could be the next to go, but, really, it seems like any player you can name can be had.
- Also on the Mariners:
As of last night, per sources, #Mariners had contacted Leake but not Segura about possible deal to #Padres. Both hold no-trade clauses. Possible, as reported, deal simply not close. Possible SEA working on separate Leake trade to SD. Leake also mulling other potential options.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 21, 2018
- It’s probably fair to mull a bad contract swap with the Mariners – potentially centering around Jason Heyward and someone like Dee Gordon (due $40.5M over the next three years) or even Robinson Cano ($120M over the next five years), but that is 100% speculation and, frankly, a little bit of wish casting. Yes, the Mariners have money and yes Dipoto loves trades, but I’m not sure what they’re really getting out of it, and if the Cubs didn’t get financial relief in return (that they could then towards someone like Harper), I’m not sure it would be worth it anyway. Who knows, maybe they can just “sell” Heyward – who has a limited no-trade clause – to the Mariners for a nothing prospect, while eating a ton of money. It’s all very unlikely, but my brain-wheels are turning, as they do this time of year.