Pitchers and catchers are due at the Cubs Spring Training facility in Mesa, Arizona on February 11th, which is exactly three weeks from tomorrow. That means the Cubs front office has – at most – just 15 business days, two weekends, and today’s holiday to accomplish an offseason’s worth of work before it gets awkward … presuming they learn the result of Kris Bryant’s grievance sooner than later, as hoped.
It’s not ideal, but it is still possible. Here’s the latest.
- I think I let myself get caught in a bit of a bubble. Whenever the Kris Bryant trade rumors have come up this offseason, the Braves, Dodgers, Nationals, Twins, Rangers, and Phillies have basically been listed as the only realistically interested parties. But Zach Buchanan’s latest at The Athletic starts off with this message to his Diamondbacks readers: “Don’t hold your breath for Kris Bryant,” which is a reminder/implies that was – at one point – a possibility. And later on, he even prompts D-Backs GM Mike Hazen with a question about trading for Kris Bryant and how Diamondbacks fans are “dreaming about” such a deal. Hazen answers generally – he couldn’t rightly comment on Bryant, specifically – saying only that while a deal of that nature is still possible it becomes increasingly unlikely as we near Spring Training, because teams are getting their rosters set, etc.
- To be sure, the only reported D-Backs interest in Bryant this offseason was a really thin mention last week. For what it’s worth, Hazen does end with a “But, you never know. I wouldn’t say never.”
- Josh Donaldson so CLEARLY wanted to return to Atlanta this offseason, but by the sounds of it, he didn’t actually receive an offer from them until the day before he signed with the Twins … and it didn’t sound particularly competitive:
— Alison Mastrangelo (@AlisonWSB) January 17, 2020
- And I have to admit, this is throwing me for a bit of a loop. Are the Braves not as desperate to land a third baseman/middle-of-the-order bat as we initially thought? Is it all about the money? Do they know something about Donaldson everyone else doesn’t after spending 2019 with him? I could understand not wanting to match the four years and $23M AAV the Twins gave him, but why not make a competitive three-year offer before that (especially considering his apparent preference for Atlanta)? And if it does have to do with the money, it’s worth noting that Bryant is projected to make almost exactly as much on average over the next two seasons as Donaldson. I’d say Bryant is a better bet to be more productive and Donaldson would have cost a third and fourth year at that rate, but Bryant costs prospects. It’s all very curious.
- In any case, my view is that the Braves need a replacement for Donaldson at third base and in the middle-of-the-lineup in 2020, especially as the NL East continues to shape up as an extremely competitive division. I just can’t see them rolling the dice on Austin Riley (even if he is legitimately talented) when there’s so much at stake this year.
- In another loop-throwing development (kinda), Indians Manager Terry Francona had some unexpected comments on MLB Network this weekend: “I can guarantee you we’re not trying to trade Lindor. We have him for two more years. Keeping him is everybody’s goal.” Now, obviously qualifiers like “not trying” and “goal” make that just less than certain, but remember: it was always more likely that the Indians hold onto Lindor to start the season and re-assess at the deadline. There’s basically zero chance they don’t trade him before the end of his deal, but it really did not have to happen this winter. That’s good news for the Bryant market, particularly with respect to the Dodgers, who’ve been hot on Lindor’s tail all offseason.
- Sticking with the trade market, these Starling Marte-Mets rumors aren’t dead yet:
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 19, 2020
- If you recall, the offseason opened up with Cubs-Marte rumors, but those quickly transformed into Marte-Mets rumors, leaving Chicago behind. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks had been looking for an outfielder all winter and were connected to Marte at one point (as well as Shogo Akiyama), but managed to sign Kole Calhoun since then. So … Marte will probably wind up on the Mets eventually.
- Yesterday, the St. Louis Cardinals re-signed catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year, $2M deal for 2020. But while that’s a fine signing it does continue a surprisingly quiet offseason for the Cardinals. Of course, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak did seem to tease at least one more move up his sleeve at the Cardinals fan convention over the weekend, even acknowledging the Nolan Arenado-Cardinals rumors. With that said, Mozeliak did apparently shoot down some unnamed team “who tried to pry some of our pitching away,” and you have to wonder if that was specifically about Arenado. My gut sense – after hearing that (1) they didn’t want to give up their pitchers and (2) haven’t had any trade discussions lately? The most likely outcome for the rest of the Cardinals offseason is re-signing Marcell Ozuna. Just a guess. And a hope, perhaps.
- Wait … if Joe Panik was willing to take a Minor League deal, why not the Cubs?
Deal believed to be worth $2.85 million if Panik makes the #BlueJays. Also includes performance bonuses
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) January 18, 2020
- Obviously, a general preference for the Blue Jays is always possible – as is the lack of a Cubs offer – but you have to wonder if Panik looked at the Cubs roster/outlook, saw guys like David Bote and Nico Hoerner and just guessed that he wouldn’t have been their priority at second base. That’s fair. It’s also possible that when the Cubs signed Carlos Asuaje, they decided that was the high-contact lefty bat for them at second base on a minor league deal, and moved on from Panik (who is getting a lot more than the big league minimum when in the big leagues with the Blue Jays).