Despite already being aware of this possibility, I was genuinely taken aback by the way Jeff Passan and his sources described the Cubs’ “aggressive,” “manic,” “motivated,” and “obvious” desire to trade someone this offseason. Even in an article explicitly recounting the unusually large number of high-caliber players that could/should be available in trade this winter, the Cubs section stands out. A lot.
It’s unusual, but probably a good thing. Action is needed, after all.
Let’s start today’s Stove with a little more from that Passan article …
- According to Passan … actually, I don’t really know where to start with this one. There are SO MANY big names and rumors/updates in one place, you’ll just have to check this one out for yourself. And if you’re at all interested in the market for any of the following players, this is going to be a must-read post for this morning: Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, Francisco Lindor, Trevor Story, Marcus Semien, Whit Merrifield, Mitch Haniger, Andrew Benintendi, Noah Syndergaard, Matthew Boyd, Tommy Pham, The Brewers (besides Yelich), Danny Duffy, Starling Marte, Robbie Ray, Joc Pederson, Miguel Andujar, Corey Kluber …. and many more.
- Normally, I’d like to dig deeper and discuss the potential Cubs fallout, but it’s just too dense and interrelated. I can say this: The trade market this offseason may be stronger than we’ve seen in recent years. And if even a tiny fraction of these deals actually go down, the collective impact of the moves will be significant. It’s just such a jarringly large group of impactful players who could conceivably be dealt.
- I’ll also say that Kris Bryant, Francisco Lindor, Mookie Betts, and Willson Contreras are still leading the way at the crossroads of actually-could-be-traded and potential-big-return. Which reminds me … Contreras might not be on the same tier of those other three MVP candidates/winners, but he’s got the most control and is the cheapest. In other words, his return could be very, very strong if the Cubs wind up making a move.
- Moving on … I think I saw something like 40 players were non-tendered before yesterday’s deadline and – at the expense of reducing the impact of the last three bullets – this, too, is a huge collection of familiar names, former top prospects, and recently very productive players. Brett hit on the biggest names right here, but my wish list includes:
- (Tier 1) Blake Treinen, Kevin Gausman
- (Tier 2) Cesar Hernandez, Kevin Pillar
- (Tier 3) Taijuan Walker, Jose Peraza
- And relatedly, remember that Matt Duffy was DFA’d before the non-tender deadline, and could be an interesting, low-cost target for the Cubs, too.
- Oh, come on. They’re not trading him:
Brewers have gotten strong trade interest in Keston Hiura, according to sources. A deal has been described as highly unlikely, with one team in contact with the Brewers saying it would take a “shit ton” to facilitate a trade.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) December 3, 2019
- Ken Rosenthal believes Zack Wheeler is going to make at least $100M in free agency this winter, which … hey, good for him. In a backwards way, he’s lucky to share this market with the MUCH pricier Stephen Strasburg and Gerrit Cole, because the relative “bargain” of his deal is still gonna be a haul. The White Sox, Twins, Reds, Rangers, and Blue Jays are all mentioned, though the White Sox and Reds get special attention (and I’ll point out that Bruce Levine has been pushing the White Sox angle for a while now).
- Wheeler really could be happening soon:
Hearing Zack Wheeler deal before the Winter Meetings is very possible — maybe even probable. @Ken_Rosenthal reported bidding has already hit $100M, not a surprise considering age, innings, velocity, potential and signs of dominance. White Sox, Twins, Rangers, others in.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 3, 2019
- Also: Don’t forget that Madison Bumgarner is a free agent and is totally going to sign with the Cardinals and be annoying on and off the field for the next four years. Book it.
- In a separate piece at The Athletic, Rosenthal reports that the Yankees are meeting with both Strasburg and Cole between today and tomorrow, while other teams have already met with one or both of them, as well. Certainly those were all foundational meetings, but this process is humming along and Rosenthal believes one of these two could sign at the Winter Meetings next week (though Cole is expected to take longer). For what it’s worth, the Yankees are apparently making Cole their priority this winter, while the Padres have been hanging around Strasburg, who is considered by many to be more likely to return to the Nationals than move onto a new team.
- Relatedly, the Nationals, themselves, reportedly remain more confident in re-signing Strasburg than they do Anthony Rendon. However, re-signing both, in my opinion, is very unlikely. And as for Rendon … he reportedly met with the Rangers over the weekend, who are clearly looking for an impact third baseman this winter. Josh Donaldson is the “Zack Wheeler” alternative to Rendon, but the Rangers aren’t ruling out the trade market – specifically, they’ve been connected to Miguel Andujar by MLB.com, and at the outset of the offseason, they were connected to the Cubs and Kris Bryant.
- Obviously, given the Cubs trade history with the Rangers and the Cubs’ willingness to deal, it’s impossible to rule something out, but – as many have pointed out – the Rangers don’t exactly have the right pieces to get such a deal done (either in their Minor League system or on the existing roster). For what it’s worth, the Dallas Morning News also reported that the Rangers met with Anthony Rendon, and added that they’ve also met with Zack Wheeler. They’ll be busy this winter.
- Speaking of third basemen/infielders, the Phillies are reportedly staying in contact with Josh Donaldson, who could get a 3-4 year deal this winter after a great 2019 season, and Didi Gregorius, who continues to be my bet for undervalued player of the winter:
#Phillies maintaining contact with Josh Donaldson and Didi Gregorius reps, as today’s non-tenders of Franco and Hernández make clear their desire for major infield changes entering 2020. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 3, 2019
- According to the Chicago Tribune, the White Sox know they have more work to do this winter – even after adding Yasmani Grandal to the largest deal in franchise history – and that could include adding a front-line starter (think Wheeler at the highest end) and a “power-hitting right fielder.”
- Pure speculation: perhaps the White Sox would consider Nick Castellanos, whose defense could be better hidden on an AL team if it became necessary? He’s not expected to get a bigger deal than Grandal, so maybe they could make it work. [Brett: The White Sox might just challenge the league record for worst defense in history, however you want to quantify that … ]
- As for the additional starting pitcher, Cole Hamels is raising his hand (it’s so weird how much he’s selling himself, but hey it’s his first trip through free agency):