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

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 …

  • There’s nothing more #WinterMeetings than conflicting reports within moments of each other. Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal indicated the Reds were interested in trading second baseman Scooter Gennett. But almost immediately, the report is being refuted:
  • 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 MLB.com, 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:
  • And if you remember, the recent reporting seems to suggest that the Yankees do not intend to exceed $300M for Machado. And if the Dodgers/Cubs/White Sox don’t either (and the Phillies stay focused on Harper), he might not get it. Which, when you consider league revenues and inflation and all that good stuff, it’s kinda nuts.
  • Zach Greinke’s 15-team no trade list, which includes most of the big market teams – is considered a major impediment to any deal, but I’d say so is the $300 jillion he’s owed. After all, unless the Diamondbacks want to pay down a lot of it, there’s only a few teams that could really fit that sort of AAV ($34.4M) into their budget. And when there’s still guys like Dallas Keuchel out there in free agency and Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, or even cheaper targets like Sonny Gray available in trade, well, teams have options.
  • And that’s not including unexpectedly available players, like Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez. UPDATE: And just like that, the talks on Corey Kluber are apparently intensifying, and the Dodgers are among the teams involved.
  • But circling back to Keuchel …
  • 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.
  • written by

    Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

    more cubs news

    Spring Training Miscellany: Double Debuts for Cooper and Smith, Wicks Effective, Thompson Appears, More

    The Cubs dropped this one to the Padres 2-1, with Padres pitchers absolutely mowing down Cubs hitters. Jhony Brito and Matt Waldron combined for 7.1 innings of one-run ball, striking out 12(!). Jordan Wicks continued his spring of effective starts,...

    Chicago Cubs Lineup: Morel at 3B, Smith and Cooper Make Their Debuts

    *HOMAGE is excited to reissue the iconic CUBS STARTER SATIN JACKET in an exclusive limited edition release. A certified nineties throwback, these exclusive vintage-inspired jackets are built for the dugout, with all the classic details of the original. Get your...

    Sonny Gray Leaves Spring Training Start with Hamstring Tightness

    Just as we would with a Cubs player dealing with a mild hamstring issue at this point in the spring (for example, Ian Happ), I don't know that you'd yet start thinking TOO many things about an injury on the...

    Shota Imanaga’s Fastball and a Geographic-Geographic Adjustment

    Shota Imanaga made his U.S./Cubs/Spring Training debut this weekend, throwing 2.1 innings and 40-ish pitches as he begins to stretch out for the MLB season ahead. As we discussed, you can't take too much away from the results, but it...

    Latest Top-100 Prospect List Has Six Cubs in the Top 68

    One of the last-arriving (but well-contemplated) preseason top-100 prospect lists dropped this morning over at Prospects Live. https://twitter.com/ProspectsLive/status/1764658665607315751 16. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF17. Cade Horton, RHP29. Matt Shaw, INF54. Kevin Alcántara, OF65. Michael Busch, INF68. Owen Caissie, OF The Cubs have...

    Taillon to Throw, Tauchman on the Squad, Bench, Hendricks, ‘Go Cubs Go’, and Other Cubs Bullets

    It feels like we're getting close to the first cuts of the spring. I would tentatively expect them to come this week. Sounds like we'll see Cody Bellinger make his spring debut on Wednesday, per Ron Coomer. Part of the...

    Zack Wheeler Reportedly Signing Multiyear Extension with the Philadelphia Phillies (UPDATE)

    It just didn't feel like he was going to hit the market, especially after the Phillies stepped up so aggressively to retain Aaron Nola, and now it's done: Zack Wheeler will not be a free agent after this season. Per...

    Spring Training Miscellany: Cleveland Blew a 3-1 Lead, Hendricks a Little Wild, Bullpen Perfect, Alcántara, Mastrobuoni, More

    Technically Cleveland blew a 3-0 lead that became a 3-1 lead, but the 3-1 joke is always better. A trio of homers did in the Guardians, and the Cubs won 5-3. This was the comeback blow, from annual spring MVP...

    Cubs vs Guardians: Lineups, Pitching Matchup, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

    *HOMAGE is excited to reissue the iconic CUBS STARTER SATIN JACKET in an exclusive limited edition release. A certified nineties throwback, these exclusive vintage-inspired jackets are built for the dugout, with all the classic details of the original. Get your...

    Postseason Odds, Phillies and Snell, Cooper, Happ, Acuña, and Other Cubs Bullets

    If you think about it, all I'm asking is for the Cubs to win a little more than half their games this year, and then win more than half of the games they play in October. That is a very...

    Latest News

    TRADE! Bears Acquire Ryan Bates in Deal With Bills

    I wasn't expecting a Chicago Bears trade on the first Monday of March, but here we are with the team announcing they've cut a deal with the Buffalo Bills with offensive lineman Ryan Bates. Here's the news straight from the...

    Magic vs. Hornets Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    The Orlando Magic (35-26) are favored (-8.5) to extend a three-game winning streak when they visit the Charlotte Hornets (15-46) at 7:00 PM ET on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at Spectrum Center. The game airs on BSSE. The over/under is...

    Pelicans vs. Raptors Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    The Toronto Raptors (23-38) are 7.5-point underdogs against the New Orleans Pelicans (36-25) at Scotiabank Arena on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. The game tips at 7:30 PM ET on SN. The matchup's over/under is set at 229.Pelicans vs. Raptors OddsPelicans...

    Heat vs. Pistons Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    The Miami Heat (34-26) take the court against the Detroit Pistons (9-51) as heavy, 10.5-point favorites on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 7:30 PM ET on BSSU. The point total is 221.5 in the matchup.Heat vs. Pistons OddsHeat odds to...

    Nuggets vs. Suns Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    The Denver Nuggets (42-19) are favored (by 8.5 points) to extend a three-game home win streak when they host the Phoenix Suns (35-26) on Tuesday, March 5, 2024 at 10:00 PM ET. The point total is set at 223.5 for...

    Rockets vs. Spurs Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats and Best Bets – Tuesday, March 5, 2024

    The San Antonio Spurs (13-48) visit the Houston Rockets (26-34) after losing five straight road games. The Rockets are favored by 6 points in the matchup, which begins at 8:00 PM ET on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. The matchup has...

    Pre-Gamin’: Chicago Bulls at Sacramento Kings (9:00 CT), Projected Lineups, How to Watch, More

    Let's try to not spot them a 30-point lead this time around. https://twitter.com/chicagobulls/status/1764675060382437572?s=20 Game Info Chicago Bulls (28-32) at Sacramento Kings (34-25) – 9:00 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Chicago (TV) and 670 The Score (Radio) Projected Starters Chicago Bulls Coby White...

    CUSA Basketball Predictions, Computer Picks and Best Bets | March 5

    CUSA squads are on Tuesday's college basketball schedule in three games, including the Liberty Flames playing the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, and here are some best bets for you to make.How to Bet on CUSA Games[lasso ref="draftkings-promo-1" id="299003" link_id="1463592"]Best CUSA...

    Ivy League Basketball Predictions, Computer Picks and Best Bets | March 5

    There is one game featuring an Ivy League teams on the Tuesday college basketball schedule, the Harvard Crimson versus the Dartmouth Big Green. Make sure you check out below for today's best bets!How to Bet on Ivy League Games[lasso ref="draftkings-promo-1"...

    ACC Basketball Predictions, Computer Picks and Best Bets | March 5

    The Tuesday college basketball slate includes five games featuring an ACC team in action. Among those contests is the Virginia Tech Hokies taking on the Louisville Cardinals. Here are our recomendations for the best bets on action throughout the conference.How...

    more cubs news