Lukewarm Stove: The Money, Padres Looking to Trade, Marlins Hungry for OF, Holt for Utility, More

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Lukewarm Stove: The Money, Padres Looking to Trade, Marlins Hungry for OF, Holt for Utility, More

Chicago Cubs

Hey! I’ve just considered a huge piece of the Kris Bryant puzzle we’ve totally been avoiding, either consciously or unconsciously: the money.

At the beginning of this saga, I had held out the slightest bit of hope that the Cubs might consider moving Bryant in coordination with using the projected $45-$50M in savings over the next two years on one of the big free agents this winter.

But now, with so many of the highest quality free agents off the board – and, let’s be honest … the Cubs’ increasingly obvious financial intentions – the money is a bit of a different conversation. Maybe a very different conversation.

Namely: Shouldn’t the Cubs be willing to include money in a deal for Kris Bryant if it helps improve the package/return? Obviously, that’s not really an issue for every team, but if it made the difference in the return in a really fundamental way? And if the Cubs aren’t gonna spend the savings anyway? At least use some of the funds for *something.*

Make no mistake, they should absolutely be pushing for an enormous return anyway (indeed, I believe they are, based on the wonderful reports of the Cubs’ asking price being absurdly high), I’m more-so talking about when push comes to shove … they can’t let money get in the way of a better return. That is all.

  • Or maybe they can sign Josh Donaldson themselves and then really force the Braves’ hand! Wouldn’t that be fun! *wakes up*
  • Dennis Lin’s latest at The Athletic actually has a few notable bits, including the Dodgers’ continued efforts to land Francisco Lindor from the Indians. I’m really hoping the Indians stick to the plan (to keep Lindor until at least the trade deadline), because losing the Dodgers as a potential trade partner would not be great for Bryant’s market.
  • Also via Lin: The Padres are likely looking to the trade market for more offense – in general – as well as an upgrade at catcher, which obviously has a Willson Contreras ring to it. And as a matter of fact, Lin reports that the Padres “have spoken with the Cubs” about Contreras, but the asking price has been “prohibitive.” He also painted the asking price as “a turn off,” which is really just so great to hear. Interestingly – and this is part of what spurred that intro – Lin believes Kris Bryant could actually be a target for the Padres *as an outfielder* but concedes that his projected arbitration salaries are too high to fully entertain. So, I’ll reiterate: The Padres are a great trade partner – do not let money prevent the best overall return, Cubs.
  • The outfield market is humming a bit here lately with the Marlins getting interested in … everyone that can play outfield:

  • They were also – at one point – in on Nicholas Castellanos, but those rumors have died down. Ah, Marlins.
  • The free agent outfield market lost Yoshitomo Tsutsugo to the Rays (who were reportedly not the highest bidder), but still has some solid names including, as you see above, including Kole Calhoun, Yasiel Puig, Nicholas Castellanos, Marcell Ozuna, Corey Dickerson, and Cubs target Shogo Akiyama and … utility man Brock Holt:

  • Holt plays second base primarily – and thus would be a Cubs target, anyway – but is capable of playing in both outfield corners. MLB Trade Rumors initially projected him to the Diamondbacks (whom we know has interest in free agent outfielders), but I think he’d be a nice pickup for the Cubs.
  • Holt, 31, may have assembled just one season’s worth of plate appearances over the last two years, but has been an above average hitter throughout that time (last 662 PAs): .286/.366/.407 (106 wRC+). From 2018-2019, he’s walking nearly 10% of the time and striking out under 20%. He doesn’t hit for much power (10 HRs, .121 ISO), but his general profile is pretty solid. His injuries in 2019: scratched cornea (ouch) and right shoulder impingement.
  • Fun facts about Holt: Two-time World Series champion, and the only player in MLB history to hit for the cycle in the postseason (and that was his SECOND time hitting for the cycle in his career). At a low expected price tag … bring me Holt.
  • The Mets have agreed on an amended contract with Yoenis Cespedes that significantly lowers his salary “from the planned $29.5M” in 2020 down to less than $10M guaranteed. He can make some of that back (up to another $10M) in incentives, but yeesh. That’s a rough loss owing to whatever was going on at his horse ranch that led to his injury. He says it was stepping in a hole. Obviously there are questions.
  • In any case, the Mets may look to use those savings on unknown upgrades elsewhere:

  • The Mets have been involved in kind of a lot of rumors this offseason, but don’t seem to be getting off the ground on anything big. I’m willing to bet that changes before the winter is over, but they strike me as a pretty big wild card. I’m interested to see what they do.
  • I doubt this ends up being too relevant to the Cubs, but I did find it noteworthy and interesting and thought you might, too:

  • If we can take anything away from this – and other recent comments across baseball – January might be LOADED with trade rumors and deals.
  • The interplay and gamesmanship between the Dodgers and Giants continues over Madison Bumgarner. The Dodgers, having missed out on Strasburg, Cole, and Rendon keep threatening to sign Madison Bumgarner, the best remaining free agent starting pitcher. And the Giants – led by the former Dodgers GM – keep telling themselves it’s just a bluff (losing Bumgarner to the Giants would be like losing Rizzo or Javy to the Cardinals … shudders). I have a feeling the Giants are going to re-sign him to a ridiculously high deal and the Dodgers are going to laugh on into their 8th consecutive division title.
  • Good luck, Brewers:

  • You’ll remember Anderson, of course, from his 6 starts and 22.0 IP as a Cub in 2017 (8.18 ERA). Okay, all jokes aside, Anderson did make 31 starts last season with a 3.89 ERA (4.57 FIP). Nonetheless, a 12.1% strikeout rate is far from scary … especially with poor contact management (14.5% soft-hit rate, 40.2% hard-hit rate). I’m not worried. Right?
  • But say what you want about Milwaukee, their team has been active as heck this offseason – thrifty as heck too (out of necessity), but active:

  • That amount of money is likely to be an issue for the Brewers, but they pull more rabbits out fewer hats than any other team in baseball when it comes to trades. So don’t put it past them.


Author: Michael Cerami

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