There’s a new Star Wars movie coming out this week, and it’s likely the end of this particular Skywalker storyline (i.e. pretty much all of Star Wars as we know it). Which means I’m stuck somewhere between excited and depressed. It’s kinda like eating Portillo’s – it’s really great right before (and during) that first bite, but as soon as it’s over, you’re like damn … I’m as far away from eating Portillo’s again as I’ll ever be. I might take food and Jedi too seriously.
- The big story of the day is Ken Rosenthal’s latest at The Athletic about the Yankees specious, but apparently current, interest in trading for Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber. Brett went through that discussion earlier this morning, landing ultimately where we knew we would: it doesn’t make much sense, but really might not be about the Cubs at all anyway (seems more about the Yankees). Indeed, that discussion isn’t even the part of that post that caught my eye the most.
- Before that, Rosenthal notes that the Dodgers (1) did not make an offer to Anthony Rendon, (2) are trying to trade for Francisco Lindor (and even tried to pair him with Corey Kluber, before he was sent to Texas), and (3) are keeping Gavin Lux off the table in these discussions. If the Dodgers did not make an offer to Rendon and do not want to include Lux in a deal for Lindor, their value to the Cubs as a bidder on Kris Bryant might be FAR less than we would have hoped. And that stinks. For what it’s worth, Rosenthal notes that the Padres have reportedly discussed a trade for Kris Bryant (as well as Lindor, Mookie Betts, Whit Merrifield, and Starling Marte), but their focus seems to be on him as an outfielder, which is just an important reminder that Kris Bryant can be marketed to teams that need an outfielder, too.
- Ultimately – although this might sound silly, given how nuts it’s been already – the Kris Bryant rumors might not be at full force until (1) the grievance is resolved and (2) Josh Donaldson is signed. To that end, let me remind you that the Twins are still reportedly involved on Donaldson, which would be a great outcome for the Cubs’ options, because it wouldn’t take any of the rumored bidders out of the game.
- Over the weekend, we learned that the Phillies might well be out on any additional big free agent pieces this offseason, but not necessarily on a trade for Kris Bryant. And at NJ.com, Joe Giglio imagines a Kris Bryant trade, examining – fairly – the considerations on both sides. But setting aside the potential return, or what would be in it for the Phillies/Cubs on a more competitive level, something else is standing out to me: keeping Bryant out of Atlanta or Washington. Although the Phillies could absolutely use Bryant, it’s hard not to read between the lines and consider their interest nothing more than upping the ante on the Braves/Nationals, who are much more clearly involved. That’s a good thing for the Cubs, mind you, but I’m beginning to wonder if they’re all that interested in making something happen at all.
- And with the Dodgers focused on Lindor and the Rangers without the pieces to get something done, I think the realistic Bryant market might be Braves, Nats, or bust. (OR MYSTERY TEAM!)
- Also over the weekend, we learned that the Brewers are trying hard to land Avisail Garcia and it seems increasingly likely to go down, even if it’s not exactly a lock:
Avisail Garcia continues to talk to the Brewers. They are the favorite to sign but nothing done yet and situation is fluid.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 16, 2019
- The Rays are still said to have some interest in returning Garcia in 2020, but if they can’t, they will “to add at least one productive right-handed hitter to their revamped lineup,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. And to that end, it may seem like forever ago, but there was a time when Willson Contreras, a productive right-handed hitter, was considered a relatively heavy Rays target. They’ve since re-signed catcher Mike Zunino, but it’s not immediately clear if he’s going to be the full-time starter for a playoff-hopeful team. There’s nothing to indicate the Rays popping back up for Contreras just yet (indeed, all of those catching rumors have died (Rays? Rockies? Astros? Padres?)), but it’s just something to keep in mind.
- Speaking of the catching market:
Jason Castro is drawing interest from the Angels, Astros and Rangers, per source.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) December 10, 2019
- Okay, so we know those three teams are still looking for a catcher, but here’s the thing: the Rangers still don’t have enough to swing a big trade like this on their own, we already know the Astros are interested in Contreras, and the Angels … are interesting. On the one hand, they theoretically have the pieces and motivation to get a deal done, but on the other hand they just added a big right-handed bat in Anthony Rendon. Moreover, Joe Maddon could be a bit of a wild card. Maybe he LOVES Willson Contreras as his catcher and will push the team to go that way. Or … maybe he feels like he knows a little too much about warts/deficiencies and will steer the front office in the other direction. It’s really too hard to tell.
- Here’s a friendly reminder that the difference in taxes between states can be a huuuuge consideration for free agents:
Two notes on Madison Bumgarner: 1) Per sources, he was the #Nationals’ Plan B if they had not re-signed Stephen Strasburg. 2) A California-based team would have needed to offer him $100M to match the net after tax of $85M from the #Dbacks (h/t @SportsTaxMan).
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 16, 2019
- Miscellaneous note from Brett: 10 of FanGraphs’ top 30 free agents are still unsigned, but 14 of the guys in 31 to 50 are unsigned. As expected, in a deep pool of free agents with question marks, the top of the market is signing up relatively quickly, but the rest is lingering. Still a ton of useful, inexpensive options on the market now, and will be heading into January, too.