Lukewarm Stove: Kluber Chatter Heating Up, Harper and Machado Out on Philly? STL Trade Chip, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Kluber Chatter Heating Up, Harper and Machado Out on Philly? STL Trade Chip, More

Chicago Cubs

I started building some Star Wars Legos last night – one of my finer Christmas presents of the year – and I forgot how much I love doing this as an adult. I’ll pour myself a little drink, put on an audiobook, turn on the fire and OH GOD I’M SO OLD WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME … WHOSE HANDS ARE THESE?!


  • According to Jon Morosi, the Padres, Dodgers, Phillies, Brewers, and Reds are all still talking to the Indians about a trade for Corey Kluber, and that obviously makes things a little complicated. In a vacuum, you’d probably prefer to keep Kluber out of the NL Central (Brewers, Reds) and rather he not go to an obvious contender (Dodgers, Phillies). But after learning that the Dodgers roster/payroll clearing moves might not’ve been done with an eye towards Bryce Harper, but rather for Kluber (or J.T. Realmuto), I get the sick feeling that I want this to end in Los Angeles. Then again, the Dodgers would likely be more out on Harper if they landed Realmuto and spending prospects on Kluber might make that more difficult, so maybe I *don’t* want them to land the pitcher and … oh, dear. I’ve talked myself into a circle.
  • [Brett: Also, that circle only even plays if you buy that the Dodgers absolutely will not go over the luxury tax, which I personally do not yet buy. I expect the Dodgers to go after all three players until they show me otherwise.]
  • I didn’t much mention the Padres above, but according to Morosi they are right in the thick of things, perhaps just behind the Dodgers. And it might all come down to which outfielder the Indians prefer: 24-year-old Manuel Margot, or 22-year-old Alex Verdugo (#32 prospect in baseball). Apparently, the Indians hope to address center field (and probably in a cost-controlled, long-term kind of way) in any trade of Kluber. In another life, maybe Ian Happ or Albert Almora Jr. would’ve made some sense, but this ain’t that.
  • It remains possible, of course, that the Padres are just doing their best to drive up the price on the Dodgers. A Padres beat writer, Kevin Acee, recently suggested that while the team has discussed Kluber and even Marcus Stroman (Blue Jays), adding a third baseman remains the priority. “While the Padres could still add a starting pitcher for 2019, it won’t be [Kluber or Stroman].” Okay, then.
  • The Cardinals have a trade chip in Jose Martinez, displaced by the acquisition of Paul Goldschmidt, but it’s not quite clear what their plans are. They could sell high on the former journeyman who’s broken out late into his career, or they could keep him as insurance for when Goldschmidt leaves in free agency in a year. They did try to land Will Smith from the Giants for Martinez, but the Giants were apparently looking for corner outfield help and Martinez couldn’t cover that spacious outfield (though I know someone who can). The Royals, Tigers, and Diamondbacks are all mentioned as potential landing spots – but I’d really prefer not to see the Cardinals further strengthen their bullpen, or something like that, with a sell-high trade of Martinez, whom they might not be able to use much anyway.
  • While the Dodgers are reportedly looking to add an impact bat this winter, they reportedly want him to be right-handed. In trade, that could mean J.T. Realmuto, as we’ve discussed, but it could also mean outfielder Nick Castellanos, whom they’ve had interest in, as well. And in free agency, outfielder A.J. Pollock lingers as a potentially far cheaper alternative to Bryce Harper.
  • The Phillies might have come into the offseason hoping to spend “stupid” money, but it sounds like money doesn’t always talk. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, neither Harper nor Manny Machado loves the idea of playing for the Phillies next season, which is mighty interesting. Machado has an obvious alternative lined up in New York, but Harper’s realistic market – i.e. a team that could reasonably afford him, all things considered – sure seems to be shrinking. That said, I just refuse to believe Sherman’s other point about a short-term deal for Harper. I believe and understand that the Dodgers might not want to hand out that 10-year-deal he craves, but Harper will simply not have to settle for a “four-ish” year final offer, as Sherman writes. He just won’t. At WORST, he’ll get 7-8 years, with multiple buy-outs anyway. He will not have to choose between a short and long deal – he’ll effectively get both.
  • Here Sherman is discussing Harper’s market and timeline:

  • The Washington Nationals are still talking up outfielder Michael Taylor quite a bit, which is a little odd, right? They already have an outfield of Juan Soto, Victor Robles, and Adam Eaton, and they also reportedly dropped a $300M offer to Bryce Harper before the offseason began. Maybe they’re just talking up their own guy, because that’s what teams do, maybe they’re trying to pump up some trade value, or maybe they’re signaling their official exit from the Harper sweepstakes – then again, I think that happened a long time ago.
  • And finally, after a lot of noise, it turns out neither the Mets nor Yankees made an official offer to Andrew Miller, who’s since signed with the Cardinals for two years and $25 million. The Yankees are still looking to sign two relievers, though, and the Mets are trying to trade for at least one. The relief market is robust this winter, which is good for a team like the Cubs who could use an addition (or three), but so is the competition. I can’t wait to see all that creativity play out, Theo …

Author: Michael Cerami

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