Although we’ve been expecting serious Kris Bryant trade rumors for weeks now, the holdup has been explained by (1) the outstanding service time grievance and (2) Josh Donaldson’s continued free agency. Until both matters are resolved, the talks will likely stay muted, and Bryant is going to remain a Cub … which means there’s no point in worrying about the grievance resolution too much right now, because he isn’t getting traded until Donaldson signs anyway, right?
Well, maybe. Maybe the plan really is to bring Bryant to the teams that miss out on Donaldson in the hopes that they might overpay after a free agent whiff. That’s been the thinking, and is still probably the most plausible scenario.
- Or maybe it’s the exact opposite:
No one has told me anything but I can’t help wonder if the post-Rendon 3B market is being held up until everyone knows if Kris Bryant is going to be a FA after 2020 or 2021
— Levi Weaver (@ThreeTwoEephus) December 23, 2019
- Consider a total hypothetical to go along with that thinking: Let’s say you’re the Braves and you really don’t want to give four-years to Donaldson, who’s otherwise pegged Atlanta as his first choice this winter. And let’s also say you’ve got a deal for Bryant pending a Cubs win in the grievance, but can’t make that deal until the decision comes through. Donaldson, meanwhile, knows that if Bryant somehow manages to win the grievance, you’re not going through with the trade and you might be willing to give him that fourth year. And since Atlanta is his first choice, he’s willing to wait it out. And, hey, if waiting out Atlanta forces teams like the Twins and Nationals to four year offers (which it has) in the meantime, it’s kind of working out for Donaldson anyway.
- The point here, though, is that we could actually be waiting on the grievance (dog) and not on Donaldson (tail, being wagged), as we first suspected. Makes the delay even more frustrating, eh?
- The newer, possibly more concerning development on the big-time trade market, is the Indians’ clearer-than-ever interest in listening on Francisco Lindor. What was once a “No seriously, not right now – but thanks!” has evolved into a “We just traded Corey Kluber and are now fielding our best and final offers for Lindor (and also maybe Mike Clevinger) over the weekend.”
- And to that end, do you think Bob Nightengale heard something yesterday?
The #Dodgers are the team to watch. They are being very aggressive in pursuit of Francisco Lindor and Mike Clevinger of Cleveland and remain in contact with the #Redsox on Mookie Betts. SS Corey Seager is their top trade chip veteran players.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 22, 2019
The #Dodgers now could use a veteran starter and that’s why they’re pursuing Mike Clevinger as well as Francisco Lindor from Cleveland
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 23, 2019
- The Dodgers interest in Lindor seems very real and much fresher than any past interest they may have had in Kris Bryant, which is a bummer because they have a very attractive set of pieces they could trade. But also I have a feeling Lindor, alone, wouldn’t even move the Dodgers on Gavin Lux (which is probably why Clevinger’s name is out there, as well). And I don’t think the Indians (or the Cubs, for that matter) are all that anxious to get Seager back as the primary return – obviously, he’s extremely young (25) and talented, but he’s also been injured and is a free agent after just two more years … exactly the same as Lindor/Bryant – so who really knows where this is all going.
- The other name in those tweets is Mookie Betts, who is still available and likely to be moved this offseason (before totally signing a mega-deal with the Cubs next year, right?). The Red Sox continue to shop Betts as well as David Price.
- Remember those weird Brewers rumors regarding Josh Hader? Well, they’re back. According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees remain interested in a trade for the Brewers … second most valuable player? … and could begin a package with third baseman Miguel Andujar. The Brewers intentions here remain questionable, because for however much they may need a third baseman of the future, they probably need Hader even more (i.e. perhaps they know or expect something about Hader’s next four years of performance). Also of note, Miguel Andujar is still very clearly on the trade block. He was in Rangers rumors earlier this winter, as well as those random Kyle Schwarber/Yankees proposals. He’s an alternative to Donaldson/Bryant, but kind of in the way that Al’s Beef is an alternative to Portillo’s. The bat might prove to be legit, but no one is at all sure he can actually play third base.
- The Cardinals have a ton of outfielders on their roster at the moment – even after trading Adolis Garcia to the Rangers over the weekend – but this opinion piece wonders why not go after Nick Castellanos? The Cardinals interest in re-signing Marcell Ozuna has been well-documented, and that does make you wonder, yeah, why not Castellanos? I very much hate that it makes some sense and I’m preparing to catch my puke in some sort of receptacle when that news breaks. Or, since the Cubs are still interested in Castellanos, maybe the Cardinals are just content to be annoying.
- For what it’s worth, the Cardinals have also checked in on third baseman Nolan Arenado, but find the asking price “impossible to meet.”
- The Indians have their second baseman … and it’s someone the Cubs had been connected to (at least speculatively) over the past couple weeks (if they’d been able to move salary before he signed, sigh):
Second baseman Cesar Hernandez and the Cleveland Indians are in agreement on a one-year, $6.25 million contract, sources familiar with the agreement tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 23, 2019
- Hernandez can play some shortstop, but he’s more of a second baseman and the Indians do not have a second baseman. So while this potentially covers them at short a little, I don’t think it makes moving Lindor any more or less likely to happen.
- Brett got into the starting pitcher trade market – as it relates to Jose Quintana – earlier today, and the topic is expanded upon at ESPN with a focus on the Rays Charlie Morton. Also of note in that piece (they cover a lot of ground), the Pirates are likely to try to move Chris Archer at the deadline and the Padres are still trying to push all in for 2020 (possibly including a trade for Francisco Lindor). They were connected to Kris Bryant (as an outfielder) and Willson Contreras earlier this offseason – and certainly have the sort of system that could match up well with the Cubs – but I haven’t seen much on that lately.
- The Marlins are signing free agent catcher Francisco Cervelli. So another catcher comes off the board.
- Old friend alert (I can’t believe he got this much – good for him!):
Right-hander Pierce Johnson is in agreement with the San Diego Padres on a two-year, $5 million deal with a club option for a third year, sources tell ESPN. Johnson, 28, was absolutely dominant for the Hanshin Tigers in 2019 and returns to MLB a year later on a multiyear deal.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 23, 2019
- Johnson was basically this front office’s first developed pitching prospect (selected back in the supplemental first round of the 2012 MLB Draft), so now they have another one in the big leagues again! Big success!