Hey! Did you hear the big rumor? The Cubs are totally definitely gonna trade Willson Contreras and Jason Heyward for Nolan Arenado, as well as Kris Bryant for prospects, before re-signing free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos in an effort to (1) get under the luxury tax in 2020, (2) set themselves up for 2021 and beyond, while (3) still competing this season. That’ll be so cool! I can’t wait! I’m definitely gonna hold my breath until all of that is done.
All jokes aside, I do think that would be something of a dream scenario for the Cubs, albeit one not particularly likely to actually happen. To put it differently, I’m sure the Cubs have legitimately checked in on each of those three components (heck – we more or less KNOW they have), but pulling off a plan of that magnitude with that many moving parts … it’s not happening.
(Can you imagine how hard Theo would want to dunk on Cubs Twitter if he did pull it off, though?)
- By the way, the second report of the Cubs interest in Arenado (effectively: the confirmation that spurred this entire conversation) came from Jeff Passan at ESPN, in a post loaded with other notable information – like, for example, the Cardinals interest in pulling off a similar Arenado deal, using Dexter Fowler’s contract to offset some salary the way the Cubs would with Heyward. I don’t know who their “Contreras” would be in such a deal, but there’s really no need to get ahead of ourselves on that one. Or maybe I just really don’t want to think about Arenado in St. Louis across the diamond from Paul Goldschmidt.
- Among the other interesting threads in that Passan post is the continued belief among league executives that one of Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, Kris Bryant, and Nolan Arenado is getting traded before Spring Training. And interestingly, Passan takes care to note the Dodgers’ “cunning” and “patience,” specifically with respect to the Cubs and Red Sox, who both need to get under the luxury tax. The implication is that the Dodgers do intend to trade for one of these superstars (probably not Arenado), but hold more leverage over Chicago and Boston, in particular. Perhaps the Cubs have been able to play it cool as they await the decision on Bryant’s grievance, but that won’t take forever (it’ll just feel that way, apparently). So much more from Passan.
- Other than the grievance, the other holdup in a Kris Bryant trade is – say it with me – JOSH DONALDSON! That’s correct. You knew that! But after the Braves upped their offer to four years, the Nationals have seemingly moved on. First, they signed Starlin Castro to play second base. Then, they signed Asdrubal Cabrera to help cover third. Then they spent lots of cash on relievers. And now, they’ve signed first baseman Eric Thames:
Eric Thames' deal with the Nationals is for $3 million this year and has a $1 million buyout on a mutual option in 2021. Not sure the last time a mutual option was picked up by both sides, but it's been a long time, leaving this likely as a one-year deal for $4 million.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 6, 2020
- After losing Anthony Rendon to the Angels, the Nationals have added four infielders to the mix – Howie Kendrick ($6.25M), Castro ($6M), Thames ($4M), Cabrera ($2.5M) – for a combined cost of $18.75M. They also have Trea Turner at shortstop and top prospect Carter Kieboom just around the corner. Point being, the Nationals might really want Donaldson, but they have spent on a crowded infield and don’t necessarily need him as much as they may need to drive up the price as high as possible on the Braves. And given the fact that the Bryant-Nationals trade talks have reportedly gone nowhere …
- Wait, what? The offer is still on the table:
Even after all their recent spending and signings, Nats are leaving offer on table to Donaldson and would welcome him to team. Doesn’t make them favorites but they have not completely given up. Rival Braves actually seen as likely favorite, Twins among those also in.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 7, 2020
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 6, 2020
- I still think this all about making it as painful as possible for the Braves. Perhaps it wasn’t always that way, but now? Yeah. That’s what’s happening.
- Steve Cishek is staying in Chicago … just on the other side of town:
Reliever Steve Cishek and the Chicago White Sox are in agreement on a one-year, $6 million deal, sources familiar with the agreement tell ESPN. The contract includes an option that could take the deal to a second year at $12 million total.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 7, 2020
- I’m not surprised to see the Cubs let Cishek, 33, walk without much of a fight, especially given his age and heavy usage over the past two years. But he was a huge part of the Cubs last two bullpens. And that bullpen picture remains freakin’ BLEAK.
- As a matter of fact, Cishek isn’t the only former Cubs reliever getting attention here lately. Two other recent members of the team plus one old friend have both popped up in connection to the Marlins:
Among the FA names the Marlins are considering in the pen : Pedro Strop, Brandon Kintzler, Hector Rondon. Others also. A veteran pen add still very much in play. The Marlins opening day closer is likely going to be decided in a Spring competition.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) January 7, 2020
- If the Cubs can’t get Strop on some sort of Minor League or split deal, I’ll understand if they let him go … but I think it still might shake out with a minor league deal. So bring him back. Don’t let him go to the freaking Marlins.
- Meanwhile, sure, relievers are almost categorically inconsistent from year-to-year, but Brandon Kintzler was arguably the best relief arm the Cubs had in 2019. And finally, Rondon, 31, absolutely shoved for the Astros in 2018 (3.20 ERA, 2.79 FIP), but came back down to Earth last year.
- I know the Cubs are limited in their spending ability, but they are going to have to get someone for the bullpen, right? It’s not just going to be Craig Kimbrel, Rowan Wick, Kyle Ryan, and a mix of extremely unproven internal dudes, right?
- At least try to pick up interesting guys like this:
Jimmy Nelson’s 2021 option converts to a $5M mutual option ($500k buyout) with 60 IP or 40 games pitched in 2020, and can increase up to $9M based on 2020 innings.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 7, 2020
Bottom line: Jimmy Nelson gets a chance to pitch for a winner, and he gets compensated if he proves healthy. Essentially, Nelson has a chance to earn what he would have made in arbitration with the Brewers had they opted to keep him.
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 7, 2020
- I mean, I’m not saying they should have done this specific deal with this specific guy, but maybe something like it? Please? Where’s this year’s Daniel Descalso signing? Just give us something.