Earlier today, the Chicago Cubs signed utility/role player Daniel Descalso to an affordable two-year, $5M deal, which seems to be a good one even notwithstanding his new and improved offensive upside. But while I have no reason to question this decision, I do have questions going forward.
- Namely … what does this mean for the Cubs involvement in the free agent second base market? For a while now, we’ve been identifying potential Cubs free agent targets – Jed Lowrie, Marwin Gonzalez, D.J. LeMahieu – because with Addison Russell’s immediate future unclear and Tommy La Stella shipped off to Timbuktoo, the only thing we knew is that Javy Baez was going to need some help covering the middle infield. Descalso, with his multi-positional versatility could be that guy. So where do things go from here? I think it all depends on the team’s intentions with Russell.
- If the Cubs are planning on keeping Russell through his suspension – he still has another 28 games – I don’t doubt that some combination of Ben Zobrist, David Bote, and Descalso could/will cover second base admirably. If, however, the Cubs plan to trade and/or release him (remember they can do so without too much financial cost because he’s an arbitration player), I think they’ll be right back in the thick of it.
- At Cubs.com, Jordan Bastian discussed the Cubs potential interest in signing free agent catcher Yasmani Grandal, but landed where I would: probably not unless they moved Willson Contreras, which doesn’t feel all that likely. Mike Petriello, on the other hand, says “the Cubs should totally be interested in Yasmani Grandal. The framing upgrade alone from Contreras is a big deal.” But I just can’t see the Cubs trading Contreras – at all – right now. He still has a ton of upside and present value, and is arguably at a low point in his trade value. And even if the Cubs were willing to give Grandal enough money (which is FAR from a guarantee), he still wouldn’t be the singular starter on the Cubs, and I think that would squash any deal. Would you want to have to have those two behind the plate? Of course. Will it happen without some serious roster shakeup? Nah.
- Daily Harper update: Apparently he “badly wants to be a Dodger,” but I’ve never heard anything like that. I wouldn’t necessarily doubt it – that’s a great, young team with plenty of resources to improve, they’re in a major market and a bright, public-facing city, and have as good of odds to win the World Series as any team out there – but this is the first we’re hearing about Harper’s preferences to play there. Until we hear it from someone else, it’s just another piece of the puzzle. Plus, Harper would apparently have to take a shorter deal to play in L.A. – and that’s if the Dodgers can move one of their outfielders – so who knows if it’s even realistic.
- Phil Rogers thinks the White Sox can/should sign Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, and I think I should be allowed to play in the NBA. Related, from Buster Olney: “The Chicago White Sox hosted Machado and have talked about Harper, as well, but a well-placed source indicated over the weekend that while the White Sox really want to sign both players, their willingness to bid is measured.” Again, obviously – OBVIOUSLY – they want to sign both players, but it’s so unrealistic for so many reasons – the White Sox financial limitations being just ONE of them – so I wouldn’t give it a second thought for now. For what it’s worth, Olney seems to believe Harper and Machado’s final contracts will actually underwhelm relative to expectations, but also lobs the Cubs into a group of “very selective, limited buyers.”
- More dot-connecting and speculating:
For those who love a good conspiracy theory, #Yankees hired Beltran, who had the same agent (Dan Lozano) as Machado, day b4 they are to meet with Machado. Does that top #Whitesox acquiring his brother-in-law (Alonso) 2 days b4 their meeting? #Intrigue
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 18, 2018
- The Yankees remain my odds-on favorite to land Machado when all is said and done.
- According to Joe Frisaro, the Houston Astros are back in the mix for Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, though the Dodgers, Padres, Rays, and others are all considered active participants, and Frisaro is hard-pressed to name a front-runner. For what it’s worth, Frisaro suggests that top prospect Kyle Tucker (#5 overall according to MLB Pipeline) remains a target for a potential deal, and Jon Heyman thinks they might just be more willing to move the young outfielder now that Michael Brantley is back with Houston.
- The Mets craziness might be slowing: GM “Brodie Van Wagenen hinted that A.J. Pollock may not be realistic for the Mets anymore,” now that the team has signed Wilson Ramos, filling the need for a “middle-of-the-order right-handed bat.” Ramos (131 wRC+) was huge offensively last season, especially compared to Pollock (110 wRC+), but Pollock (110 wRC+ career) has a better track record of offensive prowess than Ramos (103 wRC+), so it’s a bit of a mixed bag. Meanwhile, I still don’t see Pollock as a target for the Cubs, even though I did consider Brantley and Andrew McCutchen the right types of fit.
- The Cubs are also likely to dip their toe into the free agent reliever market, and while I suspect they’ll keep their distance from the higher tiers of free agency – PERHAPS with the exception of Andrew Miller and Zach Britton – they’re almost certainly out on Craig Kimbrel, especially if he’s really looking for nine figures. NBC Sports Boston explains why Kimbrel’s market has been so slow, but again, if he’s looking for that much money, there’s not much of an explanation needed.
- Hey! I know who the Cubs should target this August:
- Also, good on Gore for scoring that big league contract, though it’s sorta more of a split deal. According to Dodd, he’ll earn $650K when he’s in the Majors but $350K when he’s in the minors. However, because he’s out of options, he’ll have to clear waivers to be sent to the Minors … and if he does clear, he can accept free agency instead of a Minor League assignment. Still the fastest man I’ve ever seen steal second. Well, except maybe his now teammate, Billy Hamilton.