Winter Meetings Afternoon: Loaded Second Base Market, Hamilton Signs, Cubs and Brantley, More

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Winter Meetings Afternoon: Loaded Second Base Market, Hamilton Signs, Cubs and Brantley, More

Chicago Cubs

While we may be light on action, we are not light on rumors. Here’s everything that’s leaked out since this morning’s Winter Meetings roundup …

  • To be sure, the Reds would definitely not want to let other teams and free agents out there, let alone their own fans, know their true intentions with a player like Gennett, lest they lose some leverage and goodwill (maybe for nothing). And while Sheldon, the Reds beat reporter for, is far closer to the team than Rosenthal, that cuts both ways. In other words, if the Reds wanted to dispel a rumor that got out a bit prematurely, this is probably how it would look.
  • In any case, Gennett’s presence on the market is a good thing for the Cubs (not necessarily because they’d pursue him), who are looking for middle infield help. Though, he’s not the only one:

  • Give all the names available in free agency – even if they’re of a lower quality – the Cubs should have no problem getting a second baseman, one way or another, for 2019. But according to Bruce Levine, the Cubs and White Sox have been “silent,” so far, in the sense that they’re “working hard on free agents and trades with zero leaks.” Another tiny scrap to keep your belly full until Harper signs elsewhere.
  • Also note: if the Cubs did try to shop Ben Zobrist, although he’s versatile, the glut in the second base market would probably hurt.
  • Rosenthal seems to believe the Cardinals will not be a match for Bryce Harper (parroting a Derrick Goold report from last week), but it’s more complicated than that, as Brett just discussed. Relatedly: The Mets are not expected to meet with Harper this week.
  • [Brett: One random thing that stuck out to me in Rosenthal’s latest was the Angels’ hope to move outfielder Kole Calhoun and his $10.5 million salary for 2019 (team option for 2020 at $14 million with a $1 million buyout). Mostly, it just got me wondering why we don’t hear about him at all anymore. Remember when he was a nice breakout bat a few years ago? So it got me looking: the now 31-year-old fell WAY off the last two years, including a .208/.283/.369 (79 wRC+) in 2018. Woof. Then again, I saw that his contact rates actually looked really good – he made the 16th most hard contact last year, more than his teammate Mike Trout! By Statcast’s expected metrics, Calhoun was the third most unlucky hitter in all of baseball last year. I’m not really GOING anywhere with this, because I’m not necessarily going to advocate for the Cubs to pick him up, even if the Angels eat a bunch of salary. I just thought it was interesting to see how dang unlucky he was.]
  • Somewhere, Brett is sad: Billy Hamilton just signed a one-year, $5.25 deal (plus $1M in incentives) with the Kansas City Royals. At first, that seems like a pretty hefty price to pay given Hamilton’s limitations, but I actually get it. If he does start hitting even moderately well, he can be a super valuable player. But even if he’s nothing more than he’s ever been (excellent defender, arguably fastest player in baseball), the Royals will be able to trade him to a contender in July or August, saving some money and picking up someone along the way. [Brett: And, yeah, if he can get a starter job, go with God. He was never going to start with the Cubs, and I wasn’t thinking about him as a bench piece for nearly that much money.]
  • Sahadev Sharma has a HUGE dump of Cubs’ rumors to dissect over at The Athletic, so much so that I couldn’t possibly get into all of them. So really, be sure to check it out. Among the highlights, Sharma writes that DJ LeMahieu may have already priced himself out of the Cubs’ range (LOL). He also throws Cody Allen and David Robertson out there as potential Cubs relief targets, should their more “ideal” pursuits of Andrew Miller or Zach Britton go awry (though he mentions several other names, as well). And finally, and perhaps most intriguingly, I found Sharma’s discussion of Michael Brantley quite telling. There are no specific rumors, mind you, but if Sharma is bringing Brantley up without poo-poo’ing the idea financially, it tells me it’s something to keep an eye on. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s VERY good news. We like Brantley.
  • Earlier today, we heard that there could be as many as three mystery teams in on Manny Machado, but apparently, some executives are unconvinced:

  • I’m quite interested to see just how aggressively the Braves play this offseason. They don’t have the financial might of the Nationals or Phillies or the exciting recklessness of the Mets, but they do figure to continue being active, even after grabbing Josh Donaldson, and should be among the favorites for the NL East in 2019.
  • Of course, again, #WinterMeetings:

  • And finally (for now), a Giants sell-off could be coming:

  • The Cubs are well-set at first base with Anthony Rizzo, and so are the Reds (Joey Votto), Cardinals (Paul Goldschmidt), Brewers (Jesus Aguilar/Eric Thames/Ryan Braun), and Pirates (Josh Bell). I’m not sure I can see a Brandon Belt trade impacting the Cubs too directly, though a full-on Giants sell-off could. We’ll stay vigilant on that front.

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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