Around this time last week, I suggested that we might know a whole lot more about the Cubs’ offseason intentions by today – on the other side of the Winter Meetings – but … nope. We’re basically exactly where we were last Friday, except maybe even more pessimistic about the Cubs’ ability/willingness to spend aggressively this offseason.
In my experience, we’ve got about another full week of potential moves, but I wouldn’t expect much from Monday the 24th until the new year. The holidays create a bit of a break from the action, even if a few stray transactions do sometimes go down.
In years past, that’s no big deal, because 90% of the action is done by the week after the Winter Meetings anyway. But this offseason, like last year, is setting up for an active January/February. Which … yay? Boo?
- The Yankees have quietly set themselves up for an excellent offseason. They landed James Paxton in trade, J.A. Happ in free agency, have a meeting set (as the favorites) with Manny Machado, and GM Brian Cashman has met with the agents of three plausible Cubs relief targets: Adam Ottavino, Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, while showing interest in David Robertson and Joakim Soria, as well. We know the Cubs are planning to do aim a little lower in free agency, given the uniquely full relief market, but I did hope they’d reach for one of the five arms listed above – indeed, they’ve been connected to most of them at one point or another (Soria, Britton discussed recently).
- The real question with the Yankees, however, is whether, after acquiring Happ and Paxton, they’re done adding to the rotation. Because if so, you wonder what effect that’ll have on the Indians (re: Kluber, Bauer):
Brian Cashman has said that the addition of J.A. Happ won’t stop the Yankees from continuing to engage the pitching market. But at last check, it sounds like there’s little optimism in terms of matching up with Indians for Kluber or Bauer.
— Marc Carig (@MarcCarig) December 13, 2018
- The Reds, Dodgers, Brewers, and several other teams remain in play for one of the Indians starters. The potential competitive impact to the Cubs is obvious.
- The Mets have continued their efforts to get J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins, but so far they’ve come up short. Which is surprising, given that they’ve tried dangling Noah Syndergaard in a three-way deal with both the Padres and Yankees, and have also tried to go one-on-one with Miami, with one of Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. There’s apparently some interest in shortstop Amed Rosario, but it sounds like the Mets are less willing to move him.
- The Nationals may have been busy early this winter, but they’re not done yet. According to the Washington Post, they’re looking to add at least another starter (or two), but whiffed on Lance Lynn earlier this week. In his place, they’ll turn to guys like Wade Miley and Anibal Sanchez on the free agent market. Meanwhile, you can add them to the list of teams looking for a second baseman. According to the Post, D.J. LeMahieu is thought to be the prize of the market, but is expected to be too expensive for the Nats (remember, we even heard he’s been priced out of the Cubs range (but we’ll see)). So instead, they’ll probably target Josh Harrison, Brian Dozer, and Jed Lowrie, all of whom could theoretically be in play for the Cubs.
- The Padres are looking for help at third base by any means necessary. It’s not immediately clear what (or how big) they’ll be looking to go, but that does seem to be their M.O. Alternatively, they appear to be set in the outfield and comfortable with what they have on the mound, but they also have a cache of prospects everyone is interested in targeting. The Cubs and Padres have flirted with so many deals over the years – even across multiple front offices – but have rarely been able to get something done, outside of the earlier flip of third base prospect Jason Vosler for reliever Rowan Wick. Heck, maybe Vosler will be the next former Cubs prospect to break out at third for the Padres (Christian Villanueva was the last guy, though he’s off to Japan).
- The Pirates are still busy and are looking for upgrades in the bullpen and at shortstop, as well as a fill-in for Ivan Nova’s spot in the rotation. The Cubs are sort of looking for a shortstop and their left-handed relief targets may overlap with the Pirates, especially if both teams are shopping in the cheaper end of the pool, but it’s their interest in trading Francisco Cervelli that catches my eye. I don’t think the Cubs will be involved, mind you, but Cervelli (125 wRC+, 3.3 WAR) might be a nice consolation prize to the Realmuto runners up.
- Speaking of Realmuto (again), the Dodgers are still trying to land him, but have begun discussing other options, as well:
The Dodgers checked in on Wilson Ramos to talk a one-year deal, but he wants more years, per source. Ramos was here in Vegas this week.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) December 13, 2018
- The Dodgers likely want a short-term catching option to bridge their way to a couple prospects in Kelbert Ruiz and Will Smith.
- I still have no clue whom the Cubs are targeting for their backup catcher gig after missing out on Brian McCann, but we do know that they’ve been meeting with agents of catchers. Perhaps we’ll get some more visibility soon. The Cubs front office, man. They’re so dang quiet.
- The Rockies are interested in adding a first baseman and have considered Daniel Murphy, Logan Morrison, and Neil Walker, as well as the trade market.
- The A’s could wind up being competitors of the Cubs this winter, as they target D.J. LeMahieu and (to a lesser extent) Ian Kinsler in free agency as well as a deal for Jurickson Profar in trade. But to be fair, their needs and goals are widespread, including a starting pitcher and a some relief help, as well. I really think the entire market is just overwhelmed by the number of quality options available at every position – a unique number of free agents and a robust trade market will do that to you. Everyone’s got a case of analysis paralysis.
Red Sox want to wait out market for relievers. So maybe they see it simply as a game of musical chairs. More arms than potentially top-dollar openings, and someone falls to them
— Evan Drellich (@EvanDrellich) December 14, 2018
- And finally, you may remember a story of the Cubs last GM, Jim Hendry, finalizing a deal for free agent Ted Lilly from his hospital bed, because it was … well impressive, and weird, and kinda bada**. But he’s no longer alone in that. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto was hospitalized overnight at the Winter Meetings, but the Mariners finalized a deal to send Carlos Santana to the Indians for Edwin Encarnacion on Thursday morning while he was still there. His assistant GM technically finalized it, but it’s a good story nonetheless.