Lukewarm Stove: Padres and Dodgers on Betts, Braves Did Want Donaldson, Sox Out on Castellanos? Marte, Walker, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Padres and Dodgers on Betts, Braves Did Want Donaldson, Sox Out on Castellanos? Marte, Walker, More

Chicago Cubs

Is today the day we finally hear the result of Kris Bryant’s grievance? After all, it’s a Friday, the Hall-of-Fame inductees have been announced, February is approaching, the moon is in the Seventh House, etc. What more is needed? Blood?! Is it BLOOD you require?!?!? THEN I SHALL BLEEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDDDDD.

[OK, sorry, Brett added that last part. But, I mean, I reckon Michael shares the sentiment.]
  • The San Diego Tribune and The Boston Globe have confirmed last night’s report that the Padres and Red Sox have discussed a trade that would bring Mookie Betts to San Diego for prospects (and taking on Wil Myers’ contract), while also conceding that a deal remains unlikely. The Tribune added a little context, too, noting that the prospects in such a deal would not include any of the Padres “top five minor leaguers,” which actually tracks with our perceived *trade* value for one very expensive season of Betts (basically, it’s less than you’d otherwise expect for a player of his caliber). Of course, the Padres have a vibrant minor league system, and their sixth best prospect (according to Baseball America) – Adrian Morejon – is actually in the top-100, himself, ranked ahead of popular Cubs prospect Brennen Davis (just as an example). So that could still be a really attractive package.
  • In the Globe’s take on the rumors, the Dodgers come in for a little more love than the Padres (though the overlapping interests on all three sides of this coin are extremely tough to ignore, given the competitive implications in the NL West): “The Dodgers, by contrast, continue to look like a superior match in a potential Betts trade given both their superior financial resources (they have the financial bandwidth to trade for Betts and much of a Sox starter’s contract, as well as a need for rotation reinforcements) and an excellent farm system.” Then again, I can’t really argue with that logic. It tracks with what we know of the Dodgers interests all winter.
  • An important takeaway from this rumor? That it exists. By that I mean, we now know that teams are still *willing* to discuss significant trades, which is relieving to hear as the fan of a team that absolutely must at least explore a salary-shedding trade before the start of the season. It doesn’t have to be Kris Bryant, specifically, but if the Cubs don’t get under the luxury tax by the time it matters, this will have been an entirely pointless offseason, wherein the team effectively got worse for 2020 (losing key players without any additions) without gaining anything for the future *or* resetting their luxury tax penalties for 2021 and beyond. You think trading Bryant for a haul of youngsters is the nightmare scenario? Nah. Doing absolutely nothing, failing in 2020, and going over the luxury tax anyway is the real nightmare scenario.
  • Moving on, we’ve got one mystery solved. The Braves ultimately did hope to re-sign Josh Donaldson this winter, but they just weren’t willing to match the Twins offer (though they were reportedly *able*). In fact, while remaining cryptic, Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos did say they offered Donaldson more than they planned to offer at the start of the offseason and seemed clear and earnest in that admission. In a separate piece at The Athletic, he also revealed that he told teams Donaldson was their priority this offseason and that they probably wouldn’t have added Marcell Ozuna had that gotten done. We still don’t quite know what this all means with respect to Kris Bryant, but I think it’s safe to assume the Braves are no longer the most obvious trade partner.
  • Although the White Sox may still add at the margins before the regular season begins (particularly starting pitching depth), GM Rick Hahn has dropped the familiar “heavy lifting is over” line, which NBC Sports Chicago has justifiably used to stifle any remaining fan interest in a late-offseason pursuit of Nick Castellanos. Hahn and the White Sox are content with Nomar Mazara’s upside and given how many corner-OF/IF types they already have on the roster, another poor defender like Castellanos doesn’t make all that much sense. I guess that’s good news for the Cubs, who continue to hold out very slim hope for a reunion. Speaking of which, with Ozuna off to the not-Cardinals/Rangers, you have to imagine the market on Castellanos is picking back up. So … keep an eye out. If the Cubs don’t sort themselves out soon enough, Castellanos, if he was ever waiting on the, might decide to move on.
  • In other outfield news, those Starling Marte rumors are STILL out there, and they still sound the same:

  • The Marte rumors have flown under the radar because bigger names have been dragged around (Arenado, Bryant, Betts, Lindor, Contreras, etc.), but he is legitimately quite good and legitimately quite available. For whatever reason, the Pirates just haven’t found the right deal. The Mets have been interested all offseason long, though, and we know the Padres are looking at Betts (and have looked at Bryant) for the outfield, so perhaps the pressure of the approaching spring will help move something along.
  • Where have you been this offseason, Jerry Dipoto:

  • Dipoto is the only GM who manages his organization the way a teenager handles his fantasy baseball roster. And it’s really fun to watch. I mean, how often do you hear *GMs* say things like a signing could come in the next x-amount of time? Never. Reporters and “sources,” sure. But never execs. In any case, I have an actual point here and it’s that I wonder if one of these signings might be their former top prospect – and current please sign this free agent, Cubs – Taijuan Walker. Walker hasn’t come anywhere close to his prospect pedigree, but he’s just 27, should be cheap to sign as he’s just coming back from Tommy John surgery, and offers the sort of upside the Cubs need to get in their otherwise unfinished rotation.

Author: Michael Cerami

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