Lukewarm Stove: Other Bullpen Options, Trading for Syndergaard, Kluber, Bauer, Cano, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Other Bullpen Options, Trading for Syndergaard, Kluber, Bauer, Cano, More

Chicago Cubs

I don’t know how good Jesse Chavez will be next season, but I certainly expected to find out by watching him pitch out of the Cubs bullpen. Now, instead, he’s headed back to Texas and we’re left to wonder what the Cubs will do this winter in the bullpen, if Chavez was not in their plans.

Yeah, there are a lot of other options out there, but Chavez was good, familiar, cheap, and previously said he wanted to return. Whether he was the only addition to the pen or a mitigating piece of a larger, more expensive puzzle, Chavez seemed to make a lot of sense for the Cubs.

  • Remember, despite a solid overall bullpen picture last season, the Cubs have a ton of questions heading into 2019. And with Chavez, one of the brightest spots, now off the table, they have some serious work to do. Heck, we thought they’d target someone like Andrew Miller or Zach Britton with Chavez already in the fold. Now, well, they might *need* to get one of those guys, at least, plus another quality arm. And it’s going to cost more than Chavez would. Perhaps they will seek a reunion with Jorge De La Rosa to begin. But he can’t be the only guy.
  • Speaking of which, Andrew Miller is reportedly drawing interest from the Cardinals, Phillies, Mets, and others. Whether the Cubs are among those “others,” is not clear, but obviously they do have a need. We discussed Miller at length at the outset of free agency, and despite the Cubs increase needs since then, I’m still a little wary of Miller. I think his best days are behind him, and he probably won’t be worth what he’ll ultimately get – especially if so many teams are pining after him.
  • I’m not surprised to see the Phillies mentioned as possible suitors for Miller, but when paired with reports like this one, my brain starts moving:

  • There’s been a general sense that the Phillies might go one of two ways this winter. Route A: Sign Harper or Machado and make some other, complementary moves, spending around $400 million in the process. Route B: still spend around the same amount money, but spread it WAY out, to match the Phillies’ many needs. Route B might include big expenditures on a starter (Patrick Corbin), a closer (Craig Kimbrel), and an outfielder (A.J. Pollock/Michael Brantley/Andrew McCutchen), as well as possible a big-time trade or two. And which direction the Phillies choose to go – if these are, indeed, their most viable plans – can affect the Cubs a lot.
  • For example, if they decide they would rather spread the money around than spend it all on Bryce Harper, the Cubs might suddenly re-emerge into his market, for a lack of other obvious suitors. Or, if they decide to spread out the money and risk, the Cubs might suddenly get some competition in their (theoretical) pursuit of someone like McCutchen or even Marwin Gonzalez. The Phillies have the most money and desire to spend this winter, so their actions could dictate the rest of the offseason/free agent market.
  • The Padres have told the Mets that their top prospect (and the 2nd best prospect in baseball), Fernando Tatis Jr., is off limits in any trade for Noah Syndergaard, which feels about right to me. Given the Mets’ … let’s call it … unpredictability, I’d be surprised if they wind up trading Syndergaard at all this winter. Thus, they probably have some unrealistic expectations for the return at the moment. With that said, Andy Martino writes that the two teams have begun discussing catcher Austin Hedges, but it’s not entirely clear if that’s meant within the context of a deal for Syndergaard, or as part of something else.
  • If the Padres can’t peel Syndergaard away from the Mets, they may turn their eyes towards another New York starter, Sonny Gray. Buster Olney writes that the Padres and Reds could both in play for the 29-year-old right-hander, who should still be able to command a solid price, even after a rough year in New York.
  • Although Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Trevor Bauer are all available in trade, the Indians are reportedly the most willing to part with Bauer. He’s still cost controlled for two more years, but because that’s through arbitration, there’s some cost uncertainty.

  • Frankly, the Indians selling off right now, when no one else in the AL Central is close to competing with them, should be considered a crime. The Cubs might wind up being cheaper than we want this winter, but the Indians are on another level if they’re really planning on breaking up that solid and relatively affordable rotation while Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez (two of the top five players in MLB last season) are still on the team.
  • With that said, when they do go to move one of those arms, I would keep the Braves in mind. They’re likely going to go calling the Giants on Madison Bumgarner, and I think any of the three Indians’ pitchers could work, as well:

  • And for what it’s worth, the Brewers are probably in a very similar boat (we know they called about Bumgarner already!).
  • Today we learned that the Mets and Mariners were getting aggressive on a potential deal for Robinson Cano. According to Andy Martino, the Mariners would pay roughly $10M/year for the next five years ($50M total), to reduce the $120M burden Cano carries with him. In addition, the Mets are apparently trying to get the Mariners to take on Jay Bruce ($26M over the next two years) while also getting someone like Edwin Diaz or Mitch Haniger. But yeah, no. That’s not happening. The Mariners are not going to trade Cano and Diaz/Haniger for Bruce *and still* retain $50M of Cano’s deal while taking on all $26M of Bruce’s money. What are they getting out of that? $50M in savings? For what? They’d be much better off selling Diaz or Haniger on their own and securing an actually useful return. If there’s a trade to be had here, it’s either going to have to be much simpler, or much more complex.

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Author: Michael Cerami

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