With the Winter Meetings set to begin in just two days, you might see some big rumors trickle out over the weekend. And if my memory serves me well – we’ve had back-to-back wonky years, so it’s hard – I seem to recall a spurt of action on Sunday night, before the foundation for the biggest stuff is laid on Monday morning and executed later in the day/week.
And – like it or not – the Cubs are going to be mentioned in some of the biggest rumors, because of their two big, oft-rumored trade pieces (Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras).
- Speaking of which, it’s kind of amazing how many teams should really, really want Willson Contreras this offseason. Andrew Simon (MLB.com) acknowledges the top SEVEN fits for Contreras (Rangers, Angels, Astros, Reds, Rays, Rockies, Yankees), which underscores just how valuable he should be to a should-be-competitive team like the Cubs, as well.
- Related thoughts: I still really don’t see the Cubs trading Contreras to the Reds, but they just keep on popping up over and over. The Rangers, as we discussed earlier in the context of a Kris Bryant trade, don’t really have the sort of pieces that inspire much excitement. The Astros and Rockies are known to have interest. The Angels make sense. The Rays have been connected and make sense, but also re-signed Mike Zunino. And the Yankees are a new entrant, which Simon calls a “wild card” given the presence of Gary Sanchez (another power-hitting catcher with a great arm). The idea there, if you’re curious, is that Sanchez – not unlike Contreras, frankly – is often injured. The two of them could share time behind the plate and at DH, keeping both fresh throughout the season. That would be a terrifying combo.
- But fine, give us Gleyber back (who said that?!).
- In other Cubs-specific news, Brad Brach has signed with the Mets, which saves the Cubs a little scratch:
For interested Cubs fans – they were already on the hook for $1.35M to Brach in 2020, so this deal actually winds up *saving* the Cubs $850K. Thanks, Mets! https://t.co/vQhrOQ7ybH
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 6, 2019
- The other day, a report of the Tigers’ interest in former Cub shortstop Addison Russell was met with a whole-hearted NO THANKS from the internet, and suddenly the Tigers are all … What? Who? Us? And Russell? Nah. Couldn’t be:
The Tigers, per source, have no interest in free agent shortstop Addison Russell. Reports to the contrary are unfounded.
— Chris McCosky (@cmccosky) December 6, 2019
- Jon Heyman expanded the denial, by pointing out that the Tigers are looking for a corner outfielder, a corner infielder, a catcher, and a pitcher, so Russell doesn’t fit their needs. Yes. That’s the reason for the change.
- Japanese slugger Yoshitomo Tsutsugo – who’s got a big bat, but probably isn’t the right fit for *this* Cubs roster – is “drawing interest from multiple clubs,” most of which are in the American League (further evidence that his glove/positional fit just isn’t going to work at Wrigley this summer). Jon Morosi lists the Blue Jays, White Sox, Twins, and Tigers, but some of those teams – namely, the Sox – appear to see him as an alternative to Nicholas Castellanos and/or Marcell Ozuna. The Cubs have not been connected to Ozuna at all this offseason, but they do have continued interest in bringing back Nicholas Castellanos and have been connected to outfielder (who may not stick in center) Shogo Akiyama all winter long.
- Even after signing Zack Wheeler to a relative huge deal, the Philadelphia Phillies have made Anthony Rendon their No. 1 target this winter, according to USA Today. They still have interest in another starter and reliever, but the big-bat third baseman is apparently the guy they want. Er, well, the guy they want most. They clearly want an impact third baseman of any kind, because they’ve also already lined up Josh Donaldson as a fallback option. If they landed either player, they could then look to trade Jean Segura or top prospect Alec Bohm for pitching – again, in the estimation of USA Today.
- I bring this up because it’s interesting, but also to keep you apprised of the third base market. The Rangers, Phillies, and Braves (also the Dodgers, but less so), so far, seem to have the most interest in landing one of the big free agent third basemen, and knowing that market inside and out is important to us for obvious reasons.
- According to the same report, the Phillies are also keeping tabs on one of my favorite lower-cost, high-upside targets: Didi Gregorius. His market hasn’t quite expanded yet – outside of earlier Philly rumors – and I’d love to see the Cubs in a position to explore that possibility if his price tag isn’t egregious.
- This one doesn’t have many Cubs implications, but is still notable:
Yankees made another offer to Brett Gardner so the sides continue to talk. Gardy has made clear he prefers to return to them for a 13th season. They love him as well, and with Hicks sidelined to start the year, it’s hard to imagine Gardner and the Yankees not working things out.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 6, 2019
- Dan Hayes (The Athletic) would put Hyun-Jin Ryu at the top of the Twins free agent wish list, with Madison Bumgarner close behind – though they’re apparently also open to trading for a pitcher even if he’s got a relatively expensive/lengthy remaining contract. Hayes didn’t get more specific than that, but it sure sounds specific, doesn’t it?
- There are two explicit Cubs mentions in that mailbag-style piece, by the way, but one is a stray hope that Anthony Rizzo could be the answer to their first base hole. Which. Nah. Hayes agrees. And the other is about a stray, unsubstantiated rumor that never caught any legs. WITH THAT SAID, the Twins could conceivably move Miguel Sano from first to third base – Hayes mentions as much multiple times – opening up a spot at third. We’re really stretching here, though, so I’d ignore the Twins/Cubs-specific stuff for now.