Lukewarm Stove: Red Sox May Have to Trade Aggressively, Rockies Tight, Kluber, Grandal, Thor, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Red Sox May Have to Trade Aggressively, Rockies Tight, Kluber, Grandal, Thor, More

Chicago Cubs

The offseason is underway for the Cubs, other teams that didn’t make the playoffs, and the Brewers, and although the Cubs aren’t eager to talk about just what they’re going to do, the one team ahead of them in the payroll standings sure is.

That, and more from the rumor mill …

  • The Red Sox are multi-year “offenders” of the luxury tax, which means their current overage tax rate is 50% (i.e., every dollar spent over the $208 million luxury tax would cost them $1.50). Is that enough of a reason to push a large-market team back under the threshold in the middle of a competitive window? I’d argue a huge no, but what if you’re kinda sorta already thinking about a mini-rebuild anyway? Like, if you’re overhauling your front office and you’re close to losing some superstar players?
  • Well, that’s the tack the Red Sox appear to be taking:

  • I suspect we’ll see their new front office come in and want to remake things their way, and it will conveniently align with some serious payroll shedding. Getting under $208 million is going to require trading big names, and if JD Martinez doesn’t opt out, you’re talking about more than $50 million for just two players. The Red Sox already have David Price ($32 million) and Chris Sale ($30 million) set to make huge money next year, Xander Bogaerts with a $20 million AAV, and other big arbitration raises on the way … yeah, if they’re getting under $208 million, it’s a mortal lock that either or both of Betts and Martinez are gone.
  • The Betts rumors started a long time ago, by the way – he’ll be a free agent after 2020 – so it’ll be very interesting to see what his market looks like. It’s pretty hard for me to see the Cubs in on Betts, given the one-year cost and the fact that they will themselves be overhauling the roster. Very much worth following, in any case. The Red Sox’s situation overall is, really, because they could push the market in a lot of directions.
  • Speaking of teams already talking about not spending, the Rockies have said the same thing, which does make me wonder about that Ken Rosenthal suggestion that the Rockies might surprise everyone and make Nolan Arenado available. Like I said before, it makes for an interesting conversation because of the type of hitter Arenado is. If you’re interested in Anthony Rendon, then you should probably be interested in Arenado, too (especially because the impact of the Coors Field split may not be a dealbreaker when guys actually get away from Coors).
  • It’s no surprise, but the Indians are retaining injured ace Corey Kluber via option for now:

  • Although Kluber turns 34 in April and mostly missed this whole year with a fluke arm injury, he just has too much potential to be awesome for the Indians to decline that $17.5 million option (and the $18 million option for 2021, which they would have lost if they’d let him go now). The actual time to pick up the option will come five days after the World Series, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Indians do a little conversing with teams about Kluber’s value in the coming weeks.
  • I saw this tweet and tease this morning and was like, uhhhh wut, but I think we should proceed cautiously with stuff like this:

  • That’s *not* a rumor selection, mind you. It’s a rundown of the Cubs’ roster, and a surface level take on who could return, who might not, etc. So, yeah, when you see a tweet, always make sure you have the context of the content therein. Feel free to check that one out if you’re interested, but it’s mostly just early guesswork.
  • An oddly specific rumor:

  • Even as he’s a year older than he was when he couldn’t get a substantial free agent offer, Grandal, 31 this fall, put together another huge year: .246/.380/.468, 121 wRC+, and more than 20(!) runs of defensive value, per FanGraphs. He’s been a 4.1 or better WAR player for five straight seasons. It isn’t likely that the Cubs will trade Willson Contreras, but since everything is on the table, if they did go that route, subsequently going after Grandal could be pretty attractive.
  • The early word out of New York is that the Mets are expecting to hang onto Noah Syndergaard (two years of control) since they couldn’t extend now-free-agent Zack Wheeler. Given Syndergaard’s presence on the trade rumor circuit for the better part of two years, though, I expect it’ll come up this offseason. With the Cubs’ need in the rotation for a little younger impact, you’ve gotta think they’d come calling if Thor were made available. (And, you know what? He is. I’m just saying he is. So go ahead and call.)

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.