Lukewarm Stove: Brewers and Gray, Short-Term Pitching Deals, the Cost of Harper, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Brewers and Gray, Short-Term Pitching Deals, the Cost of Harper, More

Chicago Cubs

If this slower, longer offseason really is going to be the new norm – and it sure seems like it might – you’ll have to bear with us as we feel out a new timeline for free agents and trades.

In year’s past, we’ve used the General Managers Meetings, tender deadline, Winter Meetings, and even Christmas as unofficial clocks for things getting done. But now, we’ll have to figure out what else makes agents/players/teams tick – in January and February, no less. And although we’re not quite in that prolonged, final stretch of the offseason (post New Years Day), we are quickly approaching it. Perhaps there’s some motivating factor – before pitchers and catcher’s reporting, I mean – we haven’t quite internalized yet. A whole new world dot gif. 

  • The Reds interest in adding a starting pitcher might have closed off after the additions of Tanner Roark and Alex Wood, but the Brewers remain open to the possibility. And while the Zack Greinkes, Noah Syndergaards, and Corey Klubers of the world are all more exciting, I’ve always felt something less extravagant might make more sense. And to that end, Jon Morosi has heard that the Brewers “remain prominent in Sonny Gray talks with the Yankees.” The Yankees are all but certain to deal Gray this winter and the Brewers seem pretty likely to land a starter via trade, so I’d keep an eye out for this one. It seems fairly obvious.
  • Matt Shoemaker has landed a one-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. There’s not much of a direct, Cubs-related impact, but it does take a starter off the market for some pitching-needy NL Central teams and is another very short deal in an offseason full of them.

  • Moreover, if you really stretch, you might say this lowers any chance of a Tyler Chatwood-Russell Martin contract swap, because Shoemaker already is a low-cost, bounce-back starter under control for two more years. I don’t think we can quite go that far – these are different pitchers in very different situations – but that’s about as close as we can go.
  • Speaking of shorter-than-normal deals, the Phillies have been unwilling to go to five years for Dallas Keuchel and it sounds like that’s been the hold up so far. At just 30 years old with his track record, I can see why Keuchel would be resistant to anything less. In years past, I suspect we’d probably be talking about Keuchel wanting six years not five, but this year he’s asking only for five and being offered four or fewer. That is a noticeable difference in my opinion, and I think Brett may have been onto something. For what it’s worth, I very much doubt the Brewers will end up getting seriously involved in the Keuchel sweepstakes, unless his market continues to crater and lasts deep into the winter. It’s not impossible though, and if the Phillies are able to land a suitable replacement somewhere else, he could quickly find his market drying up.
  • Derrick Goold has a really excellent response to a question about the Cardinals’ apparent lack of interest in Bryce Harper, and I suggest you read it, because many of his points could also apply to the Cubs. In short, there’s a very big difference between the “mega deals” teams have been willing to hand out to guys like Jason Heyward and David Price (and for different, more Cardinals-related reasons, Giancarlo Stanton and Albert Pujols) and the one Bryce Harper is looking for. I think we sometimes lose sight of how significant a $300M deal is, whether he’s “worth it” or not – and that’s without taking the no-trade clauses and opt-outs into consideration. I still VERY MUCH believe the Cubs are in a position (competitively, financially, and strategically) to justify making such a move, but it is worth pointing out that Harper could cost as much in total guarantee as Jon Lester ($155M), Yu Darvish ($126M), *and* Ben Zobrist ($56M) combined. (I actually think he’ll end up shy of that, but my broader point remains.)
  • Somewhat shockingly, Anthony Castrovince seems to believe Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer are going to stay put this winter:

  • Castrovince explains that there’s been some difficulty prying away Major League-ready talent in exchange for a big league player, which is certainly understandable. Rarely does a competitive team trade away a piece that can help them in the upcoming season. At the same time, those sort of deals are often necessary for smaller market clubs who hope to extend their window – you just need to find the right dance partner. Relatedly, Castrovince suggests that the Reds, Padres, and Dodgers all have the young, outfield pieces to get something done and I still feel like this could be a trade that happens. For what it’s worth, Albert Almora and/or Ian Happ certainly seem to be the type of pieces the Indians are looking for, but the Cubs’ rotation is jam-packed. Something else significant would have to give for that to make sense.
  • And finally, the other ongoing trade saga of the offseason – J.T. Realmuto – continues. According to Jon Morosi, the Padres have continued to discuss the Marlins catcher, and could move out incumbent catcher Austin Hedges for pitching. I remain hopeful, however, that the Dodgers land Realmtuo, because I can see that making a play for Bryce Harper slightly less likely. At this point, though, it seems as though the Padres are serious in their pursuit and not just trying to drive up the price on L.A.

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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