Lukewarm Stove: Harper Meets with the Giants, Sox Confident on Machado, Phillies Active on Realmuto, Relievers Signing, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Harper Meets with the Giants, Sox Confident on Machado, Phillies Active on Realmuto, Relievers Signing, More

Chicago Cubs

After learning that the universal DH could be on the table for the 2019 season, my mind was awash with possibilities of how this winter could end for the Cubs. I’ve already examined how the front office might react to such news, given their existing roster plus the remaining free agents and trade targets, but suffice it to say, it would probably be an exciting end to a terribly frustrating offseason.

And although it’s almost certainly unrelated, the stove has churned out some interesting news and rumors for us to consider. Let’s do it.

  • According to multiple reports on Twitter today (Jon Heyman, Alex Pavlovic, and Randy Miller), the San Francisco Giants have met with Bryce Harper and are, indeed, “making a late play to sign” the superstar free agent. This information tracks with our last rumor (new mystery teams in on Harper) and given the wide-spread reporting on the matter, is almost certainly true.
  • And in case you were thinking it was a brief, check-in-only type meeting, think again:

  • So all together, now, you can pretty affirmatively say the Giants, Padres, Nationals, Phillies, and White Sox are all in on Harper (to one extent or another), while the Dodgers hang out around the periphery, interested only in a shorter-term deal.
  • But what’s more interesting about the Giants’ late entry into the Bryce Harper sweepstakes is more tangential. Now, we can more seriously entertain rumors of the Giants looking to add significantly to their outfield. More importantly, we can say with confidence that they’d have – at a minimum – the financial flexibility to add just about any player. If you’re really going to invite Harper and Scott Boras in for a meeting, you’re going to have some financial flexibility. That doesn’t mean they’d open the pocketbook for anyone, but it does mean they could open the pocketbook. Perhaps, then a bad-contract swap for a Cubs outfielder, like Jason Heyward, really does have some legs, at least in terms of realism. (Again, emphasizing: that’s not the same as saying Harper and Heyward are equivalent players, and it’s possible the pocketbook is *only* open for a guy like Harper.)
  • For whatever it’s worth, Aaron Judge said he’d move positions for Bryce Harper: “Wherever he wants to play, we’ll make it work. Anytime you can add an MVP to a team, it’s going to make it better.” I have serious doubts Harper will become a Yankee, however.
  • Stepping away from Harper and back towards the other 26-year-old generational free agent …

  • Phil Rogers believes the White Sox offer for Machado is not only still on the table, but is believed internally to be enough to land the star shortstop/third baseman. Machado has long made so much sense for the White Sox and they’ve certainly done all they can to get him in the fold. I’m starting to believe they’ll make it happen, but only if they can get him signed before Harper does. Because if Harper signs before Machado and not with the Phillies, Philadelphia is going to come back hard on Machado and could absolutely price the Sox out of the water.
  • Since we’ve checked in on the two biggest free agents, we might as well keep the never-ending rumors of star players going, right … Ken Rosenthal has heard that the Phillies have check in on Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto, though there’s no indication that a deal is close (with them). Meanwhile, reports that the Marlins are pushing to get something done before pitchers and catchers report on February 13th, which makes a good deal of sense. For what it’s worth, the Phillies were an early favorite for Realmuto back in November/December, but had fallen way off the grid since then.
  • Indeed, according to Joe Frisaro (, the Marlins are drawing a line at Phillies pitching prospect Sixto Sanchez (#27 overall prospect in MLB) and won’t make a deal without him included, though he wouldn’t be the only player they’re targeting, as 25-year-old catcher Jorge Alfaro is said to be a target, as well. In any case, I still believe Realmuto will be on the move this offseason and the Reds, Padres, Dodgers, Braves, and Rays have all been considered seriously in at one point or another. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Bryce Harper sweepstakes could be a factor here, as the Padres, Dodgers, and Phillies are all in that conversation, too.
  • Reminder: The Reds have been seriously connected to Realmuto for a while now, and represent the biggest potential direct impact to the Cubs (for this deal).
  • The Washington Nationals have signed Jeremy Hellickson, to a one-year deal with a base-salary of $1.3M and another $2.7M worth of incentives for games started. I don’t think there’s much of a downstream/Cubs-impact here, but it’s worth noting.
  • It appears the Royals are inching closer to a deal with reliever Brad Boxberger, and it might well be waiting only on a physical:

  • Boxberger, 30, was a frequent Cubs-related rumor back during his time with the Rays, but he fell off a bit in 2018 with the Diamondbacks after posting a 3.38 ERA, 3.43 FIP in a shortened 2017 campaign. I doubt he was a Cubs target at this point, and after they’ve already added Brad Brach, George Kontos, Tony Barnette, and a few other stray arms on Minor League deals, the Cubs very well may be done in the bullpen.
  • And lastly, Sergio Romo, 35, is reportedly moving close to a deal and the Blue Jays are apparently one of multiple teams still involved. Romo wasn’t great last season (4.14 ERA, 4.04 FIP), but he tossed nearly 70 innings of relief. That’s a useful, middle-relief target, who’ll likely go for very cheap. There’s not much upside left there, but sometimes you just need usable arms.

Author: Michael Cerami

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