This offseason will be full of actual, legitimate rumors. It will also be filled with many other bogus rumors. It will be filled – eventually – with some action. But most importantly, it will be filled with me telling you to sign up for a free trial with Disney+ so I can talk about the new Star Wars show “The Mandalorian” and you can support BN in the process … but I digress.
Unfortunately, it’s always a challenge to separate the real rumors from their spurious counterparts – especially when they’re particularly fun or exciting.
But sometimes, you don’t need an actual rumor to scratch that same itch. Sometimes, we can speculate on potential Cubs fits and discuss the likelihood and potential impact of those moves … like we did earlier today, for example, when we signaled Rockies righty Jon Gray as a potential Cubs trade target this winter (yes, please). Or earlier this offseason, when we looked at free agents Didi Gregorius and Scooter Gennett as options to bridge the gap to Nico Hoerner. All three are reasonably attainable players – both on their end and in terms of the Cubs payroll/roster resources – and all three have something to offer.
- Although I think the Cubs will probably be more active on the free agent market than our deepest fears (…and early spending rumors) seem to suggest, the trade market remains more likely to result in the biggest overall organizational impact. And to that end, one of the Cubs dream trade partners – the Padres – are quite clearly and finally ready to deal from that loaded cache of prospects … perhaps even shockingly soon (“There is an air of anticipation both within and from the outside, as multiple people with knowledge of the Padres’ machinations say Preller is poised to execute moves this week. So close are the Padres to being ready to deal that whether they do could entirely depend on the willingness of other teams to actually consummate.”)
- And let me be clear: while there is some indication that this is partly addressing an aggressive approach in free agency, it is also clearly about dealing prospects and young players for immediate impact this offseason (this via Executive Chairman Ron Fowler): “Up until this last year, we really wanted to make sure how we valued our prospects, whether they’re as strong as we felt they were. But we’re now at a point where he have to — it’s all currency, the (young players) you think are going to be there long term, you develop them and the ones you think you can make your team stronger by moving, you have to look at moving. That’s where we are this year. That’s the difference between this year and ’18 and ’19. …We have a lot of guys we can package and come up with what we need to be a better team that can win a lot more games in 2020, and that’s our objective.” Whew! That’s fun.
- So what might the Padres want that the Cubs have? A lot, it turns out. According to the San Diego Tribune, the Padres want to add offense behind the plate, and a left-handed bat to balance out their predominantly right-handed lineup. And then there’s this: “A bat who can from both sides is considered a must, and it is generally believe that player will be an outfielder.” So without getting too specific, let’s just say the Padres are looking for some big league players the Cubs could accommodate. As for the Padres’ side, even setting prospects aside (even though they’d likely be included – if not featured – in any such deal), it sounds like the Padres would be willing to part with 22-year-old middle infielder and former top prospect Luis Urías as well as 27-year-old outfielder Hunter Renfroe in any deal.
- Whether those two names do anything for you or not is beside the point. You want the Padres involved as a potential trade partner, if the Cubs are going to move something big, because they are motivated and have ample young assets.
- Whoopdeedoo … have fun:
Brian Cashman confirms yankees will be in on Cole and or Strasburg. This ain’t Harper/Machado
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) November 12, 2019
Asked of his interest in Cole and/or Strasburg, Brian Cashman said: “Of course were going to talk to Strasburg, we’ll talk to Cole, we’ll talk to the higher-end guys, clearly. We’ll also talk about some surprise guys, I’m sure … Anybody would have interest in players like that.”
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 12, 2019
- I still believe – as has been rumored – that Gerrit Cole is heading to the West Coast (where there should be plenty of money, anyway), though I suppose it wouldn’t be the first time a player’s preferences have gotten shoved aside for a bigger/better/different contract in pinstripes.
- The Mets are the opposite of the Yankees:
Asked at the GM Meetings about the Mets' appetite to go over MLB's $208 million luxury tax threshold, Brodie Van Wagenen said he'll have that conversation with ownership only if his player acquisition strategy requires it. Van Wagenen declined further comment on payroll issues.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) November 12, 2019
- Free agent starter Zack Wheeler is in position to reject the Mets qualifying offer and enter the free agent market with early interest from the Angels, Padres, and White Sox according to Jon Morosi (MLB.com).
- But although those teams have shown early interest, I can tell you right now, Wheeler will have many more suitors than that. He’s coming off a really great 4.7 WAR season (immediately following a 4.2 WAR year in 2018), with the best walk rate of his career and a new high in total innings (195.1 IP). He’s also still on the right side of 30, and throws in the upper-90s. Joel Sherman dives into his expected price tag and suitors at the New York Post, contending that Wheeler could be in a free agent starter tier of his own, below Cole/Strasburg, but above the next group (Bumgarner, Keuchel, Odorizzi, and Ryu).
- For what it’s worth, it’s not a bad offseason to need free agent starting pitching … eh hem (Cubs). Though Wheeler, if you’re thinking on him, does come attached to draft pick compensation (for the Cubs: a 2nd and 5th rounder, AND $1 million in IFA money).
- Or if they choose to go the trade route …
#Tigers willing to discuss Matthew Boyd in trade talks this offseason, as they did before the Trade Deadline. Detroit will ask for an impact position player (close to @MLB or already there) for Boyd, who had a 5.51 ERA after the All-Star break (3.87 before). @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 11, 2019
- Joel Sherman adds to the conversation, echoing Boyd’s availability, but adding that the Tigers consider him “more of a top-of-the-rotation piece than middle ….” Relatedly, the Tigers are getting a lot of interest in closer Joe Jimenez, but without a low-cost alternative, they’re signaling an intention to keep him for now.
- The one-year deal Adam Wainwright signed earlier today is indeed heavy on incentives, but he actually gets a much bigger guarantee than he got last year ($2 million):
Wainwright contract with #STLCards, per source: One year, $5M plus $5M incentives.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 12, 2019
- And finally, free agent (and former Cardinals outfielder) Marcell Ozuna’s market is beginning to develop, possibly in a big way:
Marcell Ozuna has a nice market — about 7 teams already with the #StLCards still talking about a possible multiyear with him — and so Ozuna will not accept the $17.8M qualifying offer.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 12, 2019
- Given his injury history, his decent-but-not-killer offensive seasons outside of 2017, his questionable defense in left field, and the attachment of a qualifying offer, it’s hard for me to see him getting a monster contract. Seems like Nick Castellanos is a more attractive option for teams who believe he can get just a touch better in right field with another year of experience out there.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.