Lukewarm Stove: Angels Busy Offseason, Cole, Red Sox, Boras, No Guarantee for Shogo? More

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Lukewarm Stove: Angels Busy Offseason, Cole, Red Sox, Boras, No Guarantee for Shogo? More

Chicago Cubs

As much as it pains me … I’ve got the sense that we’re headed for a(nother) loooooong offseason.

And whether it’s in the best long-term interests of the Cubs or not to smooth the transition from this window to the next (Brett had more on that earlier today), I’m just not mentally there yet.

After the ending to the 2018 season, the frustration of last offseason, and the disappointment of 2019 (not to mention the off-field drama with Russell’s suspension, Zobrist’s divorce, Maddon’s uncertainty, Bryant’s grievance, various big-time demotions, etc.) … I just don’t have it in me for more disappointing news. The Cubs need to win us back and I don’t think a measured step back in 2020 is going to do it. I don’t want my medicine. I want cake for breakfast. And I want it every day offseason.

Here’s the latest rumors from around the league …

  • Although most industry speculation seems to believe that the Dodgers, Yankees, Giants, Padres, and Astros (among others) could each make a play for Gerrit Cole, the ace of this winter’s crop of free agents, this offseason, everyone’s best bet at the moment is the Angels – including Cole’s teammates in Houston, it seems.
  • The Angels, with Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, a new manager (Joe Maddon), a need in the rotation, deep pockets, and a World Series drought inching ever closer to 20-years, have more than one reason to spend big this offseason, and there’s probably no where better to spend it than Gerrit Cole.
  • Also of note: Cole grew up in Orange County, pitching five miles away from Angel Stadium in high school. And the Angels owner, Arte Moreno, has already said that “The payroll will go up next year.” Frankly, the stars are pretty darn aligned.

  • If it makes you feel any better, the Dodgers, along with the Cubs, Yankees, and Red Sox – four of MLB’s biggest teams – seem to be playing the pauper card AGAIN this offseason. So, at least we’re not alone?
  • Along the same lines, the Mets are apparently going to get “creative” this offseason, which could be code for: we are not signing any of the big free agents, whatsoever. They could be in play for retaining Zack Wheeler, though, who could, himself, be a plausible Cubs target for the rotation, depending on how much he gets (and whether the Cubs want to avoid draft pick compensation altogether – remember, a qualified free agent this time around costs the Cubs their second AND fifth highest picks in 2020, plus $1 million in IFA money).
  • Moving on … At The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal explains how Scott Boras, who represents most of this offseason’s best talent, might be able to play some of his clients off one another to secure better contracts across the board. And while that doesn’t necessarily sound all that great for each player individually (who wants their life to be treated like a chess piece to help other contracts?), it could help move the offseason along more quickly than the last two years: “If, for example, Strasburg does not re-sign with the Nationals quickly, Boras could run up the bidding for Cole and take him off the board, say, by late December. He then would know what all the suitors would be willing to pay Cole and could direct those teams to Strasburg.” Good? I guess?
  • Rosenthal also has a deep conversation about the Red Sox options this winter, facing the challenge of getting under the luxury tax threshold after J.D. Martinez decided not to opt-out. Obviously, one path forward is trading Mookie Betts, but as Rosenthal points out, even with some significant excess value on-top of his expected $27.5M payday, it’ll be tough to find a trading partner. There are only a handful of teams out there willing to take on that much salary *and* give up multiple significant prospects for just one year of control. Rosenthal does consider a special extension window for the trading team, but doesn’t see it as all that likely. If the Red Sox can’t get something done on that front, they’ll have to be open to trading some combination of David Price, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Benintendi, or Jackie Bradley Jr. They’re clearly the team to watch this offseason.
  • Meanwhile, Rosenthal has more on the Padres, White Sox, Angels, and Rangers in his piece.
  • Jeff Passan answers 20 of the offseason’s biggest questions, and chief among them (for Cubs fans) is the continued rumor that Kris Bryant (and Francisco Lindor) could be on the move this offseason – obviously, his grievance complicates matters, but the smoke is just not going away. Passan also mentions that Willson Contreras could conceivably be dealt, but Javy Baez likely not.
  • Jon Morosi has a detailed breakdown of the Japanese and Korean players likely headed to Major League Baseball this offseason (or in the near future), and you’ll find familiar names like Shogo Akiyama (a potential Cubs target, with some complications) and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (an attractive hitter, who might just not fit this team at this time).
  • Speaking of Akiyama, his story just gets more confusing by the day:

  • At first, I expected Akiyama to get a reasonable, but multiple-year deal from a big-league contender with a shot to start right away. Then he broke (some small part of?) his foot. Then MLB Trade Rumors projected just a two-year, $6M deal. Then Kiley McDaniel suggested a 1-year guarantee. And now Jim Allen, a baseball writer for Kyodo News, seems to think even a big league guarantee may be tough to come by. I mean … what?
  • Why would Akiyama – if he has a multi-year, $20+M offer in Japan (as reported) – come to the states without even a big league guarantee? And why would a team not give him a big league guarantee if he’s got the floor of a quality fourth outfielder and the ceiling for much more than that (at least over the next 1-3 years)? It’s all so odd. I’m very curious to see how this plays out.
  • Adam Wainwright, 38, was a shockingly valuable pitcher for the Cardinals last season, given his age (31 starts, 4.19 ERA, 2.2 WAR), but he’s currently a free agent for the first time in his career. He does plan to pitch again next season, though, and I can’t imagine that’ll be anywhere other than St. Louis. On the right deal, he could have value, but I’m not necessarily sweating it. He’s gone five full seasons since being anything close to impactful.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami is the butler to a wealthy werewolf off the coast of Wales and a writer at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter at @Michael_Cerami