Winter Meetings Tuesday Morning: Harper, Mystery Owner, Brewers on Murphy, Three-Teamer, More

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Winter Meetings Tuesday Morning: Harper, Mystery Owner, Brewers on Murphy, Three-Teamer, More

Chicago Cubs

My wife woke up to the smell of gas last night (LOL), but not the funny kind. Apparently, one of us (me) left one of the stove burners on, though the flame had burned out, for several hours, filling our house with natural gas or whatever comes out of the stove. We’re all okay now, but I did have the joy of staying awake from 2:30-4:30am airing out the house … in December … in Chicago.

I’m not in a super great mood, so those rumblings that Tom Ricketts okay-ed the consideration of a big expenditure like Bryce Harper better be freakin’ true, man.

  • Speaking of which, if you were wondering, nothing Jed Hoyer said regarding the payroll not changing since Theo Epstein’s end of season press conference technically refutes those rumblings. For one, the question was not asked with respect to that rumor. And for another, even if it were about that, nothing Hoyer said is necessarily incompatible. In other words, the Cubs baseball ops budget *still is* the budget – whatever it may be. But theoretically, ownership could OK a big expenditure like Harper as more like a one-off: If you can get this guy, here’s extra dollars that we won’t otherwise use for anyone or anything else. 
  • Or maybe I inhaled too much natural gas last night, because Ken Rosenthal just said the Cubs are not actively pursuing Bryce Harper this morning, so ….
  • That doesn’t mean there’s not still news on that front, though:

  • MYSTERY OWNER. That’s a new one. The most-rumored clubs include the Cubs (not actively pursuing), the Phillies (reportedly more in on Manny Machado), Yankees (ditto), Nationals (whose owner all but counted them out), Cardinals (out after Paul Goldschmidtt), the White Sox, and Dodgers. I’m guessing it’ll come down to one of those last two teams plus the Phillies, with Machado heading to either New York or Philly (query whether the White Sox would jump seriously into the fray for Machado if the Dodgers land Harper, but we’ll cross that bridge later).
  • I will be so upset if Bryce Harper is playing in Chicago, but on the South Side, but you just can’t argue with the points Rosenthal makes.
  • Or Brett, unfortunately:

  • Moving on: The Brewers are showing interest in Daniel Murphy (as well as Mike Moustakas), which isn’t the worst news for the Cubs. Usually, if any team – let alone a division rival – was targeting a free agent at a Cubs’ position of need it would be a problem, but Murphy’s defense, as we’ve seen first-hand, might finally be bad enough to limit his overall impact, even if he’s hitting well. And, of course, from a market perspective, the Cubs don’t seem interested in retaining Murphy, so him going to a second-base needy team would take them out of the market while not taking one of the Cubs preferred options out with them. As for Moustakas, I don’t see the Cubs finding interest.
  • Jesse Rogers reaffirms that the Cubs’ focus remains on the bullpen, with guys like Zach Britton and Joakim Soria, whom we discussed yesterday (Soria here, Britton here). Rogers did share that Britton would be looking for “big money,” and I’m not sure how that’ll impact the Cubs. Their interest in Britton in the past is quite public and their desire for a late-inning, left-handed reliever is even more obvious, so for now, I’ll assume they’re still interested.
  • Deep-pocketed competition on Britton:

  • In case you missed it, rumors of a three-team trade potentially involving the Mets (Noah Syndergaard), Marlins (J.T. Realmuto), and Yankees (…?) broke out last night, and is still something to keep a close eye on today. And to that end, here’s some more on what the Yankees might be willing to include:

  • And now, all I can think about is Gleyber Torres and Manny Machado on the same team while Eloy Jimenez and Bryce Harper chum it up on the South Side. *sobs uncontrollably*
  • Of course, it’s still not even clear how real or imminent those talks are:

  • According to Jeff Passan, the Washington Nationals are trying to trade starter Tanner Roark – a free agent at the end off the year – while looking for other free agent starters to fill out their rotation. If they do trade Roark, who projects to make close to $10 million next year, keep an eye out for the Brewers, who would probably be able to accommodate that salary and are looking still clearly targeting starters in trade. Their tastes have been higher so far, but Roark is serviceable, cheap to acquire, and cheap to employ for 2019.
  • Speaking of the starting pitcher trade market, the Dodgers remain likely to land a starter before the offseason is over and could dangle Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor and top prospect Alex Verdugo, though they seem intent on keeping Cody Bellinger, for obvious reasons. It remains *most* likely that the Dodgers pursue a big-time trade for someone like Corey Kluber, but I could at least envision a scenario where the Cubs starting pitcher depth could match up with the Dodgers outfielder depth. Again, I think they’re aiming higher than Jose Quintana, Tyler Chatwood, or Mike Montgomery (the only starters the Cubs would realistically trade in my opinion), but I think this would fall under “creativity” on the part of both clubs, who are apparently trying to make an impact without spending a lot this winter.
  • [Brett: You do wonder how much two NL titans would want to help each other out, but since they’re not in the same division, I tend to think they’d put a deal together without reservation if there was a fit.]
  • With all this talk of the Cubs’s big 2018 miscalculation regarding a lack of leadership, I wonder if they’ll seriously consider Andrew McCutchen, who fits both an on-field need and is one of the best clubhouse guys in baseball. We discussed McCtuchen earlier this offseason, though it’s not clear if he, too, is out of their price range.

Author: Michael Cerami

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