I love, love, love writing up Lukewarm Stoves, mostly for my own rumor-consuming enjoyment … but right now, all I can think about is how much Portillo’s I’m going to eat as soon as I’m finished typing. So, yeah, brief intro. Rumor time.
- After moving Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna, and Christian Yelich last offseason, Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto was expected to follow quickly behind. In fact, after seeing the writing on the wall, he even asked to be traded last year. But with three years of (arbitration-priced) control remaining at the time, the Marlins felt no urgency, so no trade went down. Lucky for them, Realmuto went on to deliver his best season in the Majors, with a 126 wRC+ and nearly 5.0 WAR overall. He may have one less year of control, but he’s now arguably the best catcher in the National League, if not the game. So naturally the Marlins are expected to trade him.
- Early rumors had the Nationals interested, but they’ve seemingly moved on with Kurt Suzuki (and the Marlins preferred not to trade within the NL East anyway). Since then, Craig Mish has guessed that the Braves, Astros, Rockies, and even the Cubs (an outside chance if I’ve ever seen one) could come calling, but one thing is clear: Realmuto is on the block and will almost certainly be dealt this winter.
- … or will the Marlins Marlin? According to Buster Olney, the Marlins and Nationals talks broke down when the former asked for Victor Robles in return. Whether that was an in-division premium for the catcher or their actual asking price is a bit unclear, but Olney reports that other teams who’ve checked in on Realmuto are “convinced that the Marlins will end up keeping” him through the winter. That would be extremely dumb given the other unloading the Marlins have done, so maybe it’s a very likely thing for the Marlins to do. I kid: dude’s gonna be traded. They’d be nuts not to.
- The Seattle Times discusses the Mariners’ apparent tear-down, suggesting that “just about anyone,” could be next on the block. And given GM Jerry Dipoto’s M.O., that likely means more than “Sure, we’ll listen on anybody.” Cubs fans will understandably pine for closer Edwin Diaz, but he might cost the kind of prospect return the Cubs can’t realistically . muster when competing with other bidders.
- According to the Times, shortstop/second baseman Jean Segura is the most likely of the remaining Mariners to be traded this winter, and it’s not difficult to see his fit with the Cubs. Segura, 28, is the right age to fit in with the core, was an above average offensive contributor last season (111 wRC+), and thanks to solid middle-infield defense, was worth 3.8 WAR overall. He might not stick at shortstop in the coming years, but as a back-up to Javy Baez, while spending most of his time at second base, there’s no questioning the fit. One potential roadblock might be the $60 million he’s owed over the next 4 seasons, but an early rumor had the Padres sending Wil Myers (and his $73M contract) back to Seattle, so perhaps the Mariners *might* be willing to take on some money if they liked the rest of the return. If that’s the case, the Cubs might be able to make it work. This is all speculation, mind you, but I’m pretty darn interested in seeing where this goes. Segura would fit quite well.
- The Phillies are likely going to spend a TON of money this offseason – their owner flat out said they’d be “stupid” about it – and all signs point to Bryce Harper. Of course, the “stupid” comments have led many to wonder what else they’ll consider doing. One early doozy was the hope of landing both Harper and Manny Machado, in what would probably be the craziest 1-2 free agent landing in recent memory. But what if Machado isn’t the second guy. And what if the 1-2 punch doesn’t come in the same offseason. At The Athletic, Jayson Stark wonders if the Phillies are setting up a play to land Harper this winter and … Mike Trout in two years. Watching those two together would be absolutely wild.
- But at Philly.com, Scott Lauber offers a rumor I’ve seen grown in popularity: perhaps the Phillies will spread it around. I have no doubt that they’ll at least try for Harper, but given his expected price tag ($325M+) and the Phillies many needs, spreading it around might actually be wiser. And, of course, that includes this offseason and next offseason’s almost equally wild free agent class. And with Trout looming a year later, well, you can see a bigger picture forming. I’m not convinced this is what they’ll do, but I must admit it makes sense.
- At USA Today, Gabe Lacques writes that the Brewers “could be a perfect dark horse fit for Bryce Harper,” but I refuse to even consider it. If Theo Epstein and Tom Ricketts let the Brewers outbid them for Harper – because let’s be honest, he’s not *choosing* Milwaukee – they don’t deserve our many, many beer purchases at Wrigley.
- [Brett: Regardless, it’s not happening. There will be plenty of other significant Harper suitors with sufficient money to outspend the remote range the Brewers would ever even consider. And hopefully, if there weren’t, the Cubs would do some “… and one dollar” Price-is-Right stuff to prevent the Harpocalypse. Or maybe the Cubs have planted this seed so that they can push the price tag up to unsustainably high levels on a determined Brewers franchise that, in the years to come, would be crippled under the weight of such a contract for even a successful Harper. Savvy, guys. Savvy.]
- At MLB.com, Jon Morosi runs down the seven storylines to keep an eye on, and they’re mostly things we’ve discussed here with more context (Mariners aren’t done dealing, the Phillies are going to spend, Realmuto is going to be traded), but how about this: Morosi hears the Diamondbacks believe they’re going to be able to trade Zack Greinke (three years and $104.5 million) without eating any money. Greinke has bounced back in a big way the last two years, but he’s 35 and his peripherals and velocity keep going in the wrong direction. Does anyone think he’d actually get a three-year, $100+ million deal in free agency right now?
- And finally, The Ringer runs down the best three second-tier options for the teams that whiff on the stars, featuring theoretical Cubs targets Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Donaldson, as well as starter Charlie Morton.
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