Winter Meetings Tuesday Afternoon: Tight Money and Big Moves Holding Up the Market

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Winter Meetings Tuesday Afternoon: Tight Money and Big Moves Holding Up the Market

Chicago Cubs

I certainly hope teams are not actually waiting on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to sign before making their moves. Because unlike a normal offseason, where waiting for the top dogs to eat is wise, these two figure to take their time – especially as they’re planning to set new contractual records. Plus, with guys James Paxton, Edwin Diaz, Jean Segura, Patrick Corbin, and Josh Donaldson off the board already, it’s not like things haven’t already been put into motion. It’s just that they’ve since stopped.

I suspect some combination of J.T. Realmuto, Harper, and Machado are, indeed, holding things up a bit, but that’s, like, what this week is for, man! Iron that stuff out! Let’s go.

  • For what it’s worth, Jesse Rogers jumped on the radio today and reiterated his belief that the Cubs are not likely to land Harper, unless this is one of the longest of long cons for the front office. In fact, he implied that while everyone would be happy if the Cubs did wind up with Harper, such a move would necessarily mean Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein were straight up lying this entire time. In other words, he thinks this can’t possibly be a smokescreen, because you wouldn’t go to these depths – on and off the record, over and over – just to obfuscate your intentions. He’s not ruling out something late in the offseason – a la Yu Darvish – but it doesn’t seem promising in conjunction with Ken Rosenthal’s report earlier today.
  • Interestingly, Rogers also seemed to knock down the idea that the White Sox would land Harper, despite the increasingly juicy reports to the contrary. It’s not that they don’t have the money or space, but Rogers believes there still one year away from “making some real noise” in free agency. Seems like now is the time, given the market, though.
  • You might’ve already forgotten, but one reason the Cubs might not go after Harper – the rumor goes – is because they love next year’s free agent class. The thing is, that class isn’t a lock to look the same next year as it does right now:

  • And it’s not just extensions – injuries and poor performance can totally change a future market, as it kinda did for this year’s crop.
  • That rumored three-team trade between the Mets, Yankees, and Marlins remains fairly head-scratching. It’s not that it doesn’t make sense, logically, it’s that quality reporters are all over the place with the details, closeness, players, intentions, everything, really. Here’s part of the latest:

  • And Andy Martino jumps in with some cold water: “Here’s what we DID NOT report, ever once: That the Yankees, Mets and Marlins are close to a three-team trade that would send Syndergaard to the Bronx and J.T. Realmuto to the Mets. Though that’s a tempting leap to take, it is simply too soon to say, here’s the trade on the table.” He does believe the Yankees want Syndergaard and the Mets want Realmuto, but apparently the dot-connecting became over-zealous rather quickly. Joel Sherman agrees:

  • In that same report, Martino writes that the Yankees want to offer J.A. Happ a three-year deal, which should get things done, when paired with Passan’s latest:

  • Then again, Martino suggests the Yankees are still engaged with Cleveland regarding Corey Kluber. And now that I think of it, that Indians’ starter trade, alone, could be holding up quite a but. For example, we know the Dodgers are pushing hard to land Kluber from the Indians, and that they’re prepared to dangle an outfielder for him. And if they’re able to make that work, they might then be more willing to commit to another outfielder like, say, Bryce Harper. But it doesn’t end there. Because if the Dodgers get Harper, the Phillies might increase their efforts to land Machado, which could hurt the Yankees in their pursuit.
  • So the Yankees, then, might be especially open to upping their offer on Kluber, because if they can keep them away from the Dodgers, they might help the Phillies land Harper, freeing up Machado for the taking. Obviously, that’s all dot-connecting, but there’s logic to it.
  • Oh, but also, maybe it’s the Yankees who want Realmuto:

  • Three-teamers, man. Confusing stuff. But fun.
  • And for what it’s worth, Buster Olney has more on the Dodgers’ willingness to trade outfielders (with a subtle tease about re-shaping their payroll (gee I wonder what they’d do that for)):

  • But your even more important reminder is that just about everyone is on on Kluber and Bauer, even the Reds:

  • We already knew the Reds were interested in these guys, but “ongoing discussions” does seem to make things feel a bit more serious. I still doubt they’ll be willing to outbid other, more competitive in 2019 suitors, but anything is possible. The Reds can’t rebuild forever.
  • According to Mark Saxon, the Giants have gotten a “ton of calls on lefty Will Smith,” who’s a really intriguing option for the Cubs, if they were willing to pony up what it would take. Smith, 29, is a big lefty who finished 2018 with a 2.55 ERA, 2.07 FIP and 2.0 WAR. He was one of the top relievers in baseball last season and is under control via arbitration for just one year. Frankly, he’s kinda an ideal candidate for the Cubs, again, if they’re willing to pay the price. Oh, and hey, I forgot to mention Saxon also said: “the #STLCards are among the most aggressive pursuers.” So, yeah, basically this is the worst offseason ever.
  • In addition to trading J.T. Realmuto, the Marlins are reportedly also looking to add from the mid-tier-free-agent hitter and reliever market and even “discussed Carlos Santana with the Mariners last week,” according to Ken Rosenthal. Obviously, the Cubs would have nothing brewing on Santana no matter what, but they, too, figure to be hanging out in the mid-tier-free-agent hitter and reliever market, so the Marlins’ presence isn’t exactly welcomed.
  • Relatedly, Rosenthal also added that the Rays are chasing free agents Charlie Morton and Nelson Cruz as well as a trade for Santana.
  • About a month ago, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins suggested the Blue Jays value Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez more than the market, but he’s now conceding that their perceived value is trending closer to what he feels fair. “It doesn’t by any means suggest that they’re going to be traded … It’s just we have to entertain if there’s a way to make the organization better.” Atkins later suggested that there’s significant interest in both. I think you can consider Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray, Madison Bumgarner, and Noah Syndergaard their primary competition on the trade market.
  • Also from that post: Blue Jays closer Ken Giles is available. He’s only 28, has two more years of control, and has always had *excellent* peripherals, though his results only match that in three of his five seasons. Given that he’s been even better against lefties than righties, I’d love the Cubs to explore that avenue unless there are red flags about his exit from the Astros. Pair Giles with Russell Martin and expand Brett’s Tyler Chatwood idea?

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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