Lukewarm Stove: Cardinals Hot on Kim and Ozuna, Reds Want Another Bat, Brewers and Encarnacion, More | Bleacher Nation

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Lukewarm Stove: Cardinals Hot on Kim and Ozuna, Reds Want Another Bat, Brewers and Encarnacion, More

Chicago Cubs

It’s pretty official by now, right? The 2019-20020 MLB offseason has returned mostly back to normalcy. There were early moves in November, some groundwork laid in early December, a ton of action at the Winter Meetings (including all big boys signing), and a flurry of deals getting done this week/weekend, as well. Every time I thought the momentum might stop, it just didn’t. Rumors keep getting spread; deals keep getting signed.

And if Josh Donaldson signs before Friday – which is starting to feel quite likely – pretty much all of the free-agent heavy lifting will be complete before Christmas. And that means January could be a pretty big month for trades (and extensions), which was often the way it used to go.

  • It’s not official yet, but Ken Rosenthal is confirming the original report – which notes Kim’s presence in St. Louis for a physical – so it’s hard not to see it eventually happening. Kim was reportedly drawing early interest from the Cubs back in November, and we saw the fit: “Kim, 31, was an ace in the KBO this past year, and optimism that he could be a solid back-of-the-rotation type or quality reliever is justified.” Unfortunately, we’re not allowed to have anything. Nice or otherwise. (UPDATE: It’s happening.)
  • The surprisingly quiet Cardinals, however, are finally getting busy. With the expected addition of Kim, they could move to re-sign Marcell Ozuna:

  • The Cardinals outfield has … a lot of options: Harrison Bader, Dexter Fowler, Tyler O’Neil, Jose Martinez, Yairo Muñoz, Rangel Ravelo, Lane Thomas, Randy Arozarena, and Tommy Edman. Edman and Fowler are switch-hitters, everyone else is right-handed. Would Ozuna be an offensive upgrade? Sure. Is he really needed? I’m not so sure.
  • Could the Cardinals be posturing to drive the price up on a Reds team that suddenly looks like the biggest threat to prevent a repeat in the NL Central (can’t believe I just typed that)? Possibly:

  • Brett discussed the Reds rotation excellence earlier today, but another bat wouldn’t hurt. With that said, while the Reds may not have nearly as many outfield options as the Cardinals, they’re not exactly desperate, either. Jesse Winker may be rough on defense, but he’s also young, a lefty, and has a career 122 wRC+. Nick Senzel may be a bit of a wild card, but he’s a top prospect coming up on his first full professional season – they’ll want to give him a shot if he’s finally healthy. Aristides Aquino may have been a flash in the pan … or he may be the sort of slugging corner outfielder that can rack up homers and RBIs every team always needs. And Phillip Ervin is another league-average bat with the upside to be more, though the defense is questionable. Eh. OK, now that I look at it, maybe the Reds could use a little bit of additional “floor” to protect against the downside in this outfield (even if the upside is fairly significant).
  • Elsewhere in the NL Central, a Brewers bit: Avisail Garcia’s two-year, $20M deal could turn into a three-year, $30M deal. As it stands, Milwaukee has a $12M club option ($2M buyout) over 2022, which could turn into a mutual option. It remains a reasonable deal for them.
  • On a related note, the Brewers apparently checked in on Edwin Encarnacion before turning to Garcia, but that doesn’t mean they can’t go back:

  • Encarnacion, 36, has been an AL guy for most of his career and I don’t see that ending now, but I suppose it’s possible. And he may be old, but he can still swing it (129 wRC+ in 2019). I am not rooting for him to land in Milwaukee.
  • According to Ken Rosenthal, the industry expects Hyun-Jin Ryu to get more than Bumgarner’s $17M AAV in a deal covering at least four years. In fact, he believes the bidding starts at 4 years and $80M – which is both a risky proposition … and possibly a steal, depending on how healthy Ryu is heading into his mid-30s. It’s kind of a shame the Cubs weren’t in a position to land a starter this offseason – there were so many good, upside options from the tippy-top (Cole/Strasburg) on down (Wheeler/Ryu/Bumgarner/Hamels/Keuchel/Gibson/Kim/Kluber (trade)).
  • I still suspect the Cubs will ultimately add one of those low-cost, higher-risk, high-reward types in January… and that’s great and all. But, yeah. I just wish this wasn’t our reality. I’m sure they do, too. Ideally at this point, a quality arm comes via a trade.
  • Speaking of a risk/reward proposition, too bad the Cubs don’t have the money available for something like this, because it’s worth the big swing:

  • Drew Pomeranz-Dellin Betances-Blake Treinen. All three could have been Cubs this offseason. Or, you know, at least one of them. They have so much upside and could’ve completely transformed a bullpen in bad shape while mitigating against a rotation with as low of a floor as we’ve seen since 2013, in all likelihood. I guess Betances is still out there, but I’d be surprised if he ends up at Wrigley Field.
  • Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney did a Q&A that’s loaded with interesting bits you’ll want to check out. Among the highlights … (1) Kris Bryant is more likely to be traded than Willson Contreras, but that changed over the last few weeks (in other words, the opposite used to be true). (2) The Cubs are expected to target at least one player who is already in the big leagues or close to making a major impact in any trade this offseason. (3) The Cubs are looking for a lefty-hitting 2B complement to Nico Hoerner, which makes me want to pull my hair out because Didi Gregorius, who bats left-handed, would have been the perfect bridge to Horner at second base. He signed for just one year and $14M with the Phillies. I guess Scooter Gennett is still out there.

Author: Michael Cerami

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