Lukewarm Stove: Packaging Braun and Hader? Betances, Catching Market, Profar, Treinen, Blue Jays OF, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Packaging Braun and Hader? Betances, Catching Market, Profar, Treinen, Blue Jays OF, More

Chicago Cubs

With the tender deadline just hours away (7pm CT), today could could get busy on the rumor side. There was already talk of a non-tender for Jackie Bradley Jr. (and some specific Cubs interest) this morning, but word has already flipped that the Red Sox will actually tender him a contract – so that may turn into trade talks.

And then there were the eyebrow raising reports of the Brewers interest in trading Josh Hader, which should make other teams question Milwaukee’s motivation, regardless of his future cost or potential return.

And that’s where we’ll begin this Lukewarm Stove today …

  • Martino goes on to wonder if the Brewers might attach Ryan Braun, who’s making $16M next season (his final guaranteed year with the Brewers), in a deal with Hader, presumably to free up even more cash this offseason. That sort of package would inherently limit the Brewers return, but it’s not without logic/reason (if you’re already trading Hader, that is).
  • Milwaukee’s 2019 payroll was already a record high, so reducing or (at best) maintaining ahead of 2020 isn’t out of the question. Of course, they’re already saving money losing some key players to free agency, and could just as easily be adding extra gunpowder to make a free agent signing to supplement the remaining years of control over Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. If I had to guess, I’d keep an eye on the Brewers in the mid-tier starting pitching market (think Madison Bumgarner’s level and lower).
  • For what it’s worth, the Twins are also active in that range of free agency or a tier higher (Zack Wheeler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Bumgarner).
  • To circle back to the Mets, Martino suggested that if Braun was included, the Mets might include Edwin Diaz, who’s getting his first big raise due to arbitration), to offset some salary … a necessity on which Jon Heyman generally agrees:

  • And why not!? It would be so very Brewers to buy low on Edwin Diaz, sell high on Hader, wind up with the better performing reliever somehow, save some money, sign a free agent starter and be all the better for it in the rotation and bullpen in 2020. Yuck.
  • That said … Brewers are much more likable without Braun and Hader. Heh.
  • According to the New York Post, the Phillies have interest in right-handed reliever Dellin Betances, catcher Austin Romine (in a backup capacity), and shortstop Didi Gregorius, which kicks off a trio of potential Cubs trickle-down implications. The first is that, with a free agent market bereft of impact options, I wouldn’t mind the Cubs taking a flyer on Betances, despite the totally injured/lost 2019 season. The sky-high risk of getting basically nothing out of him in 2020 is matched only by the potential reward of having one of the most dominant relievers in baseball for relatively cheap (MLBTR projects just 1 year, $7M). Of course, with a limited budget in Chicago … oh, whatever.
  • But as for the other two: I have liked Didi Gregorius as a low-risk, high-reward bridge to Nico Hoerner at second base (and backup at shortstop for Javy Baez, should the Cubs non-tender Addison Russell later today), though I’ll admit his price tag might shoot up when viewed as a shortstop. And as for the catcher, Romine, if he signs with someone like Philadelphia, who already has a starter in J.T. Realmuto, the trade market for Willson Contreras could lose a potential starting option without losing a team/suitor (though it also loses a potential back-up option should the Cubs later find themselves in the market for one).
  • Speaking of that busy catching market, it just keeps on churning:

  • Sandy Leon, a glove-first backup, going to Cleveland, where they already have a cheap, effective, cost-controlled starter (Roberto Perez), doesn’t exactly have huge market implications, but it’s just interesting to see how busy the catching market has already been this winter. And remember: The Cubs (Contreras) and Mariners (Omar Narvaez) are the teams two watch on the trade front as sellers, while the Rockies appear to be heavily invested in adding a catcher outside of free agency.
  • Related: the Rays let catcher Travis d’Arnaud walk and re-committed to Mike Zunino, but could still use a right-handed power bat and, thus, could be a potential Willson Contreras suitor down the line.
  • According to the SF Chronicle, the A’s are looking to trade former All-Star reliever Blake Treinen before tonight’s deadline – and if they can’t, they might not tender him a contract (he’s expected to earn roughly $8M in arbitration next season), which would make him a free agent. Treinen, 31, was very good in 2017 and historically good in 2018 (0.78 ERA over 80.1 IP), but struggled mightily last year. With that said, I can’t help but notice that he literally halved his slider usage (but otherwise maintained fastball velocity) from 2017 to 2019, so maybe there’s an obvious first-step fix there (or was it a physical issue with the slider?). In any case, budget concerns make the former A’s standout available, and the Cubs need relief help (and upside) as much as any team in baseball. Here’s hoping he’s non-tendered.
  • The A’s also consider Jurickson Profar in the same boat (trade/non-tender), and … never mind. As Brett is editing this post, the A’s are trading Profar to the Padres.
  • It sounds like the Blue Jays are looking to trade for a position player (or three) this offseason, particularly someone who can play first and/or DH as well as second base and/or center field. With that said, they do not consider Starling Marte or Shogo Akiyama (two rumored Cubs targets) realistic options because of the expected cost – nice to hear that the Blue Jays are potentially out of the Shogo market.
  • Relatedly, though, t’s hard not to think of Ian Happ as a guy the Blue Jays might want to come after – he could (and has!) player center field, second base, first base, and DH. Obviously, his defense at each position varies, but if the Blue Jays are looking to trade for a cheap, multi-positional bat at those spots in particular, it’s tough to come up with many better fits than Happ. Are the Cubs looking to sell Happ for prospects right now, though? Or would they try to pick up a Ken-Giles-controlled-young-starter combo pack?
  • The Rangers consider third base their No. 1 priority this offseason and T.R. Sullivan reports that they’re interested in trading for Yankees 3B Miguel Andujar or signing Josh Donaldson (Anthony Rendon is considered out of their range). There’s an obvious Kris Bryant connection here and given the Rangers-Cubs trade history, I wouldn’t ignore it. (There’s also that spurious Cubs-Andujar connection, but you might ignore that one.)
  • ESPN reminds you of the sort of lines you’ll always hear from uber-agent Scott Boras at the Winter Meetings and why you shouldn’t always believe them.
  • And finally Haruki Nishikawa (a 27-year-old, left-handed outfielder with a great glove and career .376 OBP, who’s also led the league in stolen bases three times) wants to play in MLB! … But probably not until after this coming season. Shucks. Would’ve been nice this winter.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.

Cyber Monday deal:

Author: Michael Cerami

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