Lukewarm Stove: Braves May Come After Bryant, Rangers Big on Rendon, Romo, Lindblom, Pillar, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Braves May Come After Bryant, Rangers Big on Rendon, Romo, Lindblom, Pillar, More

Chicago Cubs

Good morning! Time for some rumors!

(It’s the Saturday before the Winter Meetings. What did you expect? Us to chill? Pfft.)

  • I know we’ve been talking about the potential of a Kris Bryant and/or Willson Contreras trade a great deal this offseason – and the Winter Meetings haven’t even started yet – but they continue to permeate the landscape, picking up bits from different sources and through different publications, with more hints and specifics trickling out each time. One of the strongest/most specific rumors – in relation to Bryant – has come in connection to the Braves, who are clearly aiming to push aggressively in 2020, but have their impact third baseman, Josh Donaldson, clearly exploring his options in free agency. Obviously, the Braves can still re-sign Donaldson, but he’s drawing a lot of interest from teams with deep pockets, so they may be forced into the trade market ….
  • Thus, at The Athletic, Atlanta writer David O’Brien says “a trade for Kris Bryant is one possibility” to replace Donaldson’s production at the plate/on the field, and he’s not even the latest to bring it up. In supporting piece, MLB.com echoes the Braves interest in adding a third baseman, while conceding that Anthony Rendon is out of their price range and Josh Donaldson may end up too pricey, as well. They go further, however, suggesting that the Cubs would be open to dealing Bryant and even beginning to discuss a potential return: “The Cubs might be interested in third baseman Austin Riley as a replacement for Bryant, or Drew Waters (MLB Pipeline’s No. 23 overall prospect) as someone who can fill the club’s void in center field. The Braves also have a number of highly-touted pitching prospects, including Ian Anderson (No. 31 overall) and Kyle Wright (No. 35 overall).”
  • Likelihood aside, each of those prospects are very interesting. I’m a particularly big fan of Waters’ fit into the Cubs short-term plans, as a switch-hitting center fielder with speed, who’s already reached Triple-A, and Riley’s obviously got big-bat potential and is projected to stick at third base (where he could replace Bryant immediately). And, of course, the Cubs would be thrilled to get any top-30ish pitching prospects into this system, especially ones who are big-league ready, so both Anderson and Wright catch my eye. Put differently, I really like how the Braves match up with the Cubs as trade partners. If he’s going to go, they have as good of a system as any to pick from, as Brett highlighted yesterday when discussing the Braves fit relative to the Rangers fit.
  • The other thing about a Kris Bryant trade that we don’t often discuss (at least relative to, say, Contreras’ rumors for soon-to-be-obvious reasons) is how much money the Cubs could re-deploy if he’s traded for prospects and/or pre-arb players. Bryant is projected to make $18M in arbitration this season and – if he loses his grievance, as expected – as much as $26-$28M next year. It’s difficult to say what the Cubs would do with an extra $46M over the next two years, but it could free them up to make a medium-term investment this year and really set them up for a big splash next offseason. We’ll leave it there for now.
  • The Rangers have signed another free-agent starter:

  • After jumping the market for Kyle Gibson (3 years, $30M), they’ve added Jordan Lyles on a two-year deal for $16M. Their rotation is now comprised of four free agents signed over the last three winters: Mike Minor (2017), Lance Lynn (2018), Kyle Gibson (2019), Jordan Lyles (2019). So I guess the Cubs aren’t the only team who hasn’t developed a lot of big-league, rotation-caliber pitching. Though you have to admit, the Rangers have built their group effectively and for a whole lot cheaper. They’ve dominated that mid-tier market.
  • In any case, the Rangers aren’t done yet:

  • Kendrick re-signed a one-year pact with the Nationals yesterday, but reportedly shot down multiple, multi-year offers elsewhere. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least, then, to learn that the Rangers were one of them (makes me wonder if they might soon show interest in Didi Gregorius). In any case, their interest in Anthony Rendon can’t be overstated, it seems, as it’s been mentioned about as often as the Yankees interest in Gerrit Cole. The Rangers and the Phillies figure to be the favorites for Rendon, though the Nationals and Dodgers are lurking near behind.
  • Jon Heyman has reported that reliever Sergio Romo was “close enough to a deal that it should be resolved” this week at the Winter Meetings, though he didn’t mention with whom. Luckily, Jon Morosi does have some information, noting that the Athletics could be involved:

  • I mention this because our favorite newly available free agent – Blake Treinen – remains a threat to re-sign with the Athletics after being designated for assignment, but perhaps the A’s would prefer to go in this direction? Maybe I’m wishcasting a bit here, but I really do want Treinen.
  • Continuing with the relief market – or perhaps he really is being viewed as a starter – Josh Lindblom continues to draw probably bigger interest than we would’ve guessed:

  • And finally, Heyman reports that eight teams have checking in center fielder Kevin Pillar, but stopped just short of naming names: “the ones that need a CF.” Well, I don’t have to tell you that the Cubs need a center fielder and Pillar, while not the defensive stud he once was, can more than hold his own in center and doesn’t strike out all that much. If he comes at a reasonable price (as I suspect he ultimately will, despite the early interest), he could be a good cheap pull for the Cubs this winter as part of the outfield mix.


Author: Michael Cerami

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