You know how I know my dog and I have a special bond? I hide the evidence from the fancy pillows he chews up so my wife doesn’t see. And he doesn’t tell her I do this.
Lindor to the … Cardinals?
When Ken Rosenthal listed the potential suitors in a trade for Francisco Lindor this offseason, he included the Mets, Giants, Blue Jays, and “maybe the Yankees,” in his group.
MLB.com’s Jon Morosi has since jumped in to confirm that a Lindor trade is, indeed, likely (though he doesn’t see it happening right away), before adding a few new names to the pile, including one team from the NL Central:
“The Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Blue Jays and Cardinals are viewed as the strongest candidates to land Lindor, sources say. However, some of those teams aren’t prepared — yet — to engage in serious trade talks with the Indians.”
I certainly hope the Cardinals, who just freed up a spot in the middle of their infield by declining the $12.5M option on Kolten Wong with a $1M buyout, aren’t actually involved, but it’s not like it doesn’t make sense either.
The NL Central is fairly wide open right now, especially if the Reds lose Trevor Bauer to free agency and the Cubs largely stand pat (or get worse), as expected. Plus, the Cardinals have only so many years to max out the production of Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Morosi does point out that their budget has been strongly impacted by COVID-19 (which tracks with what the Cardinals president told us, himself), and that they need to determine whether they’ll re-sign Yadi Molina or Adam Wainwright first, but … I do think a trade for Lindor could help ease the blow of letting two franchise icons walk away before their careers are done.
I just really hope it doesn’t happen.
J.T. Realmuto’s Suitors
Depending on your needs, J.T. Realmuto is arguably the top free agent of the offseason, and has generally been considered one of top catchers in all of baseball for a few years in a row. At MLB.com, Mark Feinsand lists his top six suitors, which, once again, includes that pesky team from the NL Central: Phillies, Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, Angels, and Nationals.
HOWEVA, in a roundtable that came after that article, Feinsand walked back St. Louis’ involvement. When asked which of the six potential landing spots he considered the LEAST likely to land Realmuto, Feinsand said this:
The Yankees, for the reasons I mentioned above. After that, I’d say the Cardinals. I think they will work something out with Molina to bring him back for another year or two. If St. Louis is going to spend big on a free agent (which I’m not sure they will, unless that was the reason for cutting ties with Kolten Wong), I think Springer would make more sense.
This is sort of a five-for-one rumor, though.
1) The Cardinals are in on Realmuto, even if it’s less likely than some other teams.
2) The Cardinals are clearly making noise out there on the market.
3) The Cardinals could try to work something short out with Molina.
4) Feinsand doesn’t think they’ll spend big on a free agent, but …
5) If they do, it’ll more likely be George Springer, not Realmuto.
The Contreras Angle
But wait, there’s more (to consider)!
If those six teams are Realmuto’s suitors, we can comfortably assume they’re also candidates to turn to the Cubs for Willson Contreras if and when they miss out on Realmuto. Obviously, you can exclude the Cardinals from that equation, so if they don’t land him and one of the other five teams does, that would leave four of the Yankees/Phillies/Mets/Angels/Nationals in play.
The Cubs were rumored to have trade discussions with the Yankees, Phillies, and Nationals last offseason (albeit often for different players), so they could at least have a preliminary understanding of what each side likes.
None of that is to say the Cubs should or have to trade Contreras! We’re just pointing it out, knowing that the Cubs may explore moving players with top value this offseason.
The Braves have signed Josh Tomlin to a one year, $1.25M deal with an equivalent option for 2022:
Correction on Tomlin guarantee. It’s one year, $1.25M with $1.25M club option or $250K buyout for 2022. https://t.co/LbqPb1YpUF
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 11, 2020
Tomlin, 36, made five starts and 12 relief appearances for the Braves this season, with a 4.76 ERA (4.02 FIP). The fact that even got a guaranteed, big league deal for more than $1 million is actually a pretty good sign. There are plenty of younger, potentially higher upside options for a swing-man role out there, who could probably be had for as much or less. At the same time, there’s value for all sides in getting something done early.
Gausman’s Multi-Year Offers
Kevin Gausman doesn’t have long to decide whether or not he’s going to accept or reject the Giants $18.9M qualifying offer for the 2021 season (4pm CT), and Marcus Stroman’s move to accept it made it all the more likely. But if he does reject the offer, he will apparently have multiple, multi-year offers on the table (including the Giants, themselves):
Do not assume Kevin Gausman will take the qualifying offer. Gausman has received multi-year offers, sources say. The Giants, who extended him the QO, are thought to be among the teams involved in the multi-year discussions.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 11, 2020
We’ve been trying to find ways to connect the Cubs to Gausman all offseason (because we like him and because of their prior interest), so perhaps they have one of these offers on the table? Eh, really not sure they’d pony up when combined with the significant draft pick/IFA cost (second rounder, fifth rounder, and $1 million in IFA space – the price when you’re over the luxury tax).
According to Derrick Goold, free agent catcher Yadier Molina has drawn true interest from four teams so far this offseason, including the Cardinals, who may be the only team willing to give him two years instead of one. Goold shares speculation that the Cardinals are trying to button things up with Molina, before moving onto the rest of their offseason plans (which hopefully does not include anything we discussed above).