Lukewarm Stove: LAD Really in on Betts? Castellanos Meeting, Ozuna, Akiyama's Scouting Report, More

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Lukewarm Stove: LAD Really in on Betts? Castellanos Meeting, Ozuna, Akiyama’s Scouting Report, More

Chicago Cubs

Play with the format, keep them on their toes.

Maybe I’ll sing the next group of rumors into a mic and upload it to my Soundcloud.

Are Dodgers Really in on Betts? Or Is It Just a Play for Leverage?

Given the unexpected and somewhat dubious reports of the Dodgers’ sudden interest in a trade for Mookie Betts, I find it rather illuminating to learn that there was “virtually no engagement” at all between the Red Sox and Dodgers at the Winter Meetings (per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe).

We were already looking sideways at the Bob Nightengale rumor, given its apparent connection to the Dodgers’ more widely and recently reported interest in a trade for Francisco Lindor (and to a lesser extent, Kris Bryant). But now, it seems even clearer that the Dodgers-Betts stuff is/was a play for leverage (by someone). That’s not to say the Dodgers didn’t actually reach out or pivot to Betts in some real way, but if Los Angels was serious about that sort of deal before … yesterday(?), they would’ve discussed it at the Winter Meetings.

And, indeed, the Red Sox still seem to prefer trading David Price before a position player else, anyway:

Any Cubs Life in the Top-10 Remaining Free Agents?

With Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Anthony Rendon, Zack Wheeler, and a number of other key free agents, all signed away this offseason, the remaining crop of free agents has a very different look than it did just a few weeks ago. MLB Trade Rumors what’s left including some updated notes, which is useful if you’re a fan of the poor, poor Cubs (okay, that’s not fair, I’m just having fun).

Josh Donaldson leads the way, and although he isn’t a Cubs target, his decision – which could come down this week – is sure to impact the Cubs. Immediately behind him, is the guy that was connected to the Cubs as recently as this morning: Nick Castellanos. And whaddaya know: MLBTR reminds us that the Cubs (listed first!) – along with the Marlins, Rangers, Giants, and Diamondbacks – have been connected to him in free agency this winter. The financial and positional fit problems, remain, but besides that it’s a no brainer!

Julio Teheran (6th), Will Harris (7th), and Daniel Hudson (9th) are the only three pitchers on the list that I could maybe see the Cubs find interest in down the line – but only because they simply must address the pitching holes at some point, right?

Are Ryu, Keuchel, and Castellanos Next? 

Scott Boras has had himself one hell of a winter, getting his clients more than $1 billion in commitments from various teams, but he’s not done yet. According to The Athletic, the markets for Hyun-Jin Ryu and Dallas Keuchel became increasingly clear after the Corey Kluber trade went down, and Boras was apparently in meetings with teams for both pitchers as well as Nicholas Castellanos on Sunday.

Obviously, we don’t know how often these sort of meetings go down, but it’s not like it’s missing me that Boras had a Castellanos meeting on Sunday and 2.5 days later a report that the Cubs and Castellanos still have mutual interest trickled out. Perhaps that’s a reminder to the other interested teams that Castellanos sure does like the Cubs, so they’ll have to sway him away …

For what it’s worth: That article has way more interesting background on how Boras’s huge offseason came together.

Cardinals Could Still Re-Sign Ozuna

St. Louis has had a fairly quiet offseason so far – though they did land Korean lefty Kwang-Hyun Kim yesterday – but I don’t think anyone really expects them to be done just yet. Not after winning the division and watching the Brewers and Cubs potentially step back. And, indeed, that’s the message John Mozeliak is spreading: “We have to remind ourselves that it’s still Dec. 17, so we really have two months to address things. We’re going to take our time to see what additions make the most sense for us.”

Among the things that can make the most sense is re-signing Marcell Ozuna. The Cardinals are apparently searching first for an outfielder that hits from the left-side of the plate, but “contract discussions continue” with Ozuna nonetheless. Ozuna reportedly wants a longer commitment than what St. Louis is willing to offer, but it’s complicated. Ozuna has drawn interest from the Reds, White Sox, Rangers, and reportedly 2-3 other teams, but as a player who rejected the qualifying offer from the Cardinals he’s attached to draft pick compensation.

So the Cardinals could be in the best position to get Ozuna (they wouldn’t lose a pick they just wouldn’t gain one by re-signing him).

Updating the Shogo Akiyama Scouting Report

Maybe I shouldn’t say this quite so confidently (because who knows with this team right now), but it certainly feels like the Cubs signing Akiyama is more of a when then an if. He just fits so well. And that’s why I found this scouting report on some of the foreign players coming stateside this offseason particularly compelling.

Specifically, on Akiyama, I’ll note that his scouted ceiling matches realistic outcome, which is both a compliment and a critique, since the ceiling is that of an average regular or above-average part-timer. I’ll also note that Shogo’s defense comes in for praise, even as it’s dropping from “other-worldly defender” to “plus defender in center.” Indeed, along with some other recent reports, any lingering concerns about his ability to stick in center field are outdated. And at the plate, he’s still expected to offer good on-base skills and generally good (albeit not quite base-stealing) speed.

Sign me up.

The Marlins Got Their Outfielder?

Matt Kemp has signed with the Marlins so they’re definitely, totally out on Nick Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna, right?

Honestly, I don’t even know which part of that is a joke, because #Marlins.

What Have You Done to My Boy:

Author: Michael Cerami

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