Lukewarm Stove: Padres on Top FAs? Realmuto and Dodgers? Relief Market? No Extension for Mookie? More

Social Navigation

Lukewarm Stove: Padres on Top FAs? Realmuto and Dodgers? Relief Market? No Extension for Mookie? More

Chicago Cubs

I still believe the Cubs will do *something* this offseason, whether that’s as simple as signing a free agent reliever, a back-up catcher, and/or even making a surprising trade with the Padres, but I can’t help but feel discouraged, lately, whenever I write up one of these Lukewarm Stoves.

Half the fun of a these posts is tying stray rumors to the Cubs in an educated, transitive-property kind of way (i.e. Team X is interested in Player Y, which is making Free Agent Z more likely to wind up on the Cubs … or whatever). But as of now, it’s difficult to do that with any sincerity. Indeed, if the chance of spending literally any money is zero, it doesn’t really matter if there’s a deal to be had out there or not. And that really stinks.

These posts still matter, of course, because the Cubs’ division continues to improve and be at the forefront of so many rumors and transactions, and the Cubs will also possibly be competing with other NL clubs in the postseason (and if you’re just a general baseball nut, there’s still obvious value), but yeah … I’m discouraged.

  • Speaking of the NL Central, though, consider the players who’ve been added to the division this winter, alone: Yasmani Grandal (Brewers), Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller (Cardinals), Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Alex Wood, Tanner Roark, and Sonny Gray (Reds). The Pirates, meanwhile, added Chris Archer half-way through last season. Regardless of how good you thought it was or is now, the division has inarguably gotten tougher through trade and free agency this winter. And we’re not done yet.
  • At least we can probably sleep safely knowing J.T. Realmuto won’t end up in the division. Although he’s still expected to be moved, Joe Frisaro seems to believe the Dodgers are taking the lead, with the Rays, Padres, Astros, and Braves rounding up the rear. The Reds *are* mentioned as involved, but – my golly – would it be surprising if they made yet another trade as the buyers. Realmuto’s got only two remaining years of team control. I know the Reds are pushing the chips to the center for 2019, but if it doesn’t work out – and, let’s be clear, it probably won’t – they’ll have given up a TON of future seasons for this one (knowing what the Marlins are asking and are likely to get for their star catcher).
  • This is interesting:

  • As we discussed in the MLBits yesterday, the Padres ownership recently pulled off a refinancing that freed up some cash to spend on their payroll. And if you consider how cheap it would be to pay someone like, say, David Bote, to play third base, they might just be able to shock everyone and make a big push for a star free agent. It would not be the first time the Padres surprised the entire market – just last year they signed Eric Hosmer to a huge contract – so maybe that’s a fun late-offseason storyline to keep an eye on.
  • The Rangers have signed reliever Zach McCallister to a one-year, $1M deal with some escalators built in. McCallister, 31, had an awful 2018 season, but is just one year removed from a 2.61 ERA. Indeed, in 183.1 innings from 2015-2017, McCallister had a 2.99 ERA (3.60 FIP) with a 26.1% strikeout rate. I know he was very bad last season, but geeze … that’s all a very-recently solid relief arm (even as a bounce-back type) can get these days? Scoop someone up, Cubs. The deals are good enough, and the market is going to finally move.
  • And how about Drew Pomeranz’s one-year deal?

  • Again, he struggled through an awful and injury-shortened 2018 season, but he was worth more than 3.0 WAR in 2016 and 2017, with identical 3.32 ERAs in each season. You only have to guarantee a 30-year-old like that $1.5M right now? Whether you think he’s worth it or not is beside the point: This is NOTHING like the market 2-3 years ago.
  • Well, one way or another, it’s not going to matter, bub:

  • Just like everyone looked ahead to the loaded crop of free agents available this offseason – heck, the best ones are still available – people are looking ahead to future classes. Next season’s group figures to be very exciting, but in a couple years, Mookie Betts will join Mike Trout in what could be the most ridiculous free agent duo of all-time (to be fair, Mike Trout and anyone would have a shot at that title) – that is … if they make it that far. The Red Sox and Angels will certainly try to extend their stars up long before then, and they have plenty of time to do so. Prevailing wisdom seems to suggest that Trout, who’s never been a free agent (without seeing the postseason much) and is a long way from his home in Philly, will rebuff any extension offer, but what about Betts? Can he see it happening?
  • He discussed the possibility of an extension recently, but it wasn’t particularly heartening for Red Sox fans: “Contract things are kind of tough to come up with,” Betts said. “Especially with both sides and how economics and all those things work. I love Boston, I love my teammates, I love the fans and all those types of things. We’ll just continue to see what happens …. It’s just one of those things where you have to sit back and see.” Mookie to the Cubs in 2021. Trout, too. Clearly that’s what they’re saving for.

Author: Michael Cerami

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