Back when we first thought the Cubs’ and Rangers’ offseasons would be connected, it was because of those deeply meh rumors about the Rangers really wanting Kris Bryant. Little did we know that, come January, we’d be talking about how the Cubs and Rangers are somehow interconnected by Nick Castellanos, Nolan Arenado, and … Todd Frazier?
Long a suitor for Nolan Arenado, the Rangers today appear to have decided to pull the trigger on their back-up plan:
Source: Rangers have reached agreement, pending physical, with free agent INF Todd Frazier. https://t.co/29khIkWgVP
— Evan Grant (@Evan_P_Grant) January 12, 2020
Free-agent third baseman Todd Frazier in agreement with #Rangers on one-year, $5M contract, source tells The Athletic. The deal, which includes a club option, is pending a physical. First with agreement: @Evan_P_Grant.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 12, 2020
To be sure, Frazier is far from Arenado, but the idea for the Rangers here is that they cannot keep waiting on the Rockies, who may or may not deal Arenado (and may not want to deal him to the Rangers in any case). By adding Frazier, the Rangers at least now have a usable third baseman in place, and can now also more vigorously pursue Nick Castellanos, whom Grant says they *have* been speaking to, despite earlier rumors to the contrary.
The connection to the Cubs there is obvious, as they have had mutual interest in a reunion with Castellanos since the end of the season, but cannot consummate a deal until they’ve opened up significant payroll (and maybe a corner outfield spot, too). Castellanos – like the Rangers with Arenado – is not going to wait forever. Here’s hoping this Frazier signing isn’t a pre-planned tandem signing with Castellanos about to come down the pipeline, too.
Meanwhile, even Grant’s report lists the Cubs as reportedly among the two suitors (together with the Cardinals) for Arenado that the Rockies find more “intriguing” than the Rangers. Grant is likely leaning on the previous reports of the Cubs’ interest in Arenado, but it’s still interesting to see the mention coming out of Texas.
So, now we keep our eyes peeled closely on what happens with Castellanos, and whether the Cubs can maneuver very quickly after the Kris Bryant service time grievance is decided (whenever that is).
The absolute dream scenario – in a world where the Cubs are planning to trade Bryant no matter what – is that (1) the Cubs could deal Bryant for prospects/young pitching, (2) could trade prospects, Jason Heyward, and more to the Rockies for Arenado, and (3) might still then have enough leftover under the luxury tax to sign Castellanos. In that way, the Cubs not only would have set themselves up to not fall off a post-2021 cliff, but also would have gotten under the luxury tax AND arguably would be better in 2020, depending on the young pitching in the Bryant deal.