HOOOO boy. We’ve got a loaded stove for you today. So in place of a long intro, I’ll just direct you to a fun little piece at MLB.com, highlighting the best trade candidate at each position.
Of note, you’ll find Willson Contreras at catcher (no surprises there, given the rumors yesterday), former Cub Starlin Castro at second base, former Cub Nick Castellanos in the outfield, Brewers star reliever Josh Hader in the bullpen, both Reds starting pitchers Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray for the rotation, and Nolan Arenado, not Kris Bryant, at third base.
Kind of a crazy group, with plenty of former ties to the Cubs, and current ties to the NL Central and the Cubs own trade efforts this winter. Good thing to read.
What’s Going on with Trevor Story?
Everybody “knows” that the possibly uncompetitive in 2021 Cleveland Indians “must” trade Francisco Lindor, their star shortstop one year away from free agency, whom they’re evidently incapable of extending, so why isn’t the story the same for the Rockies and Trevor Story?
Colorado is projected behind the Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Giants in the NL West, Story is on an expiring contract, and there’s no long-term deal in place? Well, Buster Olney is igniting this rumor for us, saying that the Rockies should (almost implying that they probably are right now) put their best and final extension offer in front of Story and see if he’ll take it. If not, they need to trade him this offseason. Of course, in my mind, the Rockies’ true angle would be to unload Arenado and his contract, before reallocating those funds to their new face of the franchise, Story. But Arenado is tough to trade.
If Story won’t accept a deal, Olney anticipates that the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox (moving Xander Bogaerts to third base and Rafael Devers to first), and Texas Rangers(?) could all be plausible landing spots.
Theoretically, those are all landing spots for fellow one-year shortstop trade candidates Javy Báez and Francisco Lindor, as well, then. Something something also a good time to extend Báez something something.
Holding onto Lindor Until the Deadline?
UPDATE on everything in this section: actually, the Indians may have played a little okeydoke, because they’re trading Lindor to the Mets.
Okay, but everybody knows the Indians are going to trade Lindor first, right? He’s been the hottest name on the trade market over the last two offseasons and surely something’s going to get done this winter. It’s fait accompli, yes? Well, you’ve seen this drill before when the market gets tight, right?
In his latest at The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal discussed why getting the right return *right now* might be difficult for the Indians, leading to this relative bombshell given the last two years: “If the Indians fail to get the deal they want, they could hold Lindor until the trade deadline and clear immediate money by moving right-hander Carlos Carrasco ….”
Obviously, holding onto a superstar for a few months longer isn’t supposed to be *crazy*, but given the Lindor rumors, it would be an utter shock at this point. Meanwhile, if the Indians are having this much trouble securing the right sort of return for Lindor, it’s all the more reminder that the market is just going to be crazy soft for Kris Bryant right now (for whom the Cubs have been reportedly unwilling to eat significant salary to move).
For whatever it’s worth, Rosenthal’s four logical landing spots for Lindor each come with some hurdles, short and long-term: the Mets and Blue Jays are focused on free agents at other positions, the Giants are not in a rush to add a shortstop with Brandon Crawford still around, and Twins are in the division, and could balk at an intra-division mark-up.
Maybe they should call the Red Sox, Rangers, and Yankees?
Alex Colome, Brad Hand, Liam Hendriks, (and Kimbrel?)
Outgoing White Sox closer Alex Colome is seeing his market start to heat up, including interest from the Twins … and a “lengthy” list of other suitors:
Figure at some point the #MNTwins add another reliever, maybe even one in at least one tier above Robles. LONG way to go to get to offer stage, but Alex Colome is another FA they’ve recently inquired about. List is lengthy on inquiries. pic.twitter.com/Hki2MdzdD4
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) January 2, 2021
The Astros, Red Sox, Nationals and Twins are among the teams interested in free-agent reliever Alex Colome.
Colome worked w/ Twins manager Rocco Baldelli in Tampa. Astros (James Click), Red Sox (Chaim Bloom) and Nationals (Dave Martinez and Jim Hickey) all have ties to Colome.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) January 2, 2021
If the White Sox do lose Colome, as expected, they could turn to top closer Liam Hendriks, their apparent No. 1 priority at the moment, but he’s not their only option. Jon Heyman has since jumped in to add that the White Sox are “among teams in on Brad Hand,” as they seek a closer for 2021. They probably should’ve just claimed him for $10M when he was on waivers, but … whatever.
Meanwhile, Hendriks, the top reliever on the market, is reportedly receiving heavy interest from the Astros (Rosenthal), who wanted to sign both Hendriks *and* Blake Treinen, before Treinen re-signed with the Dodgers last night.
It’s not difficult to imagine this series of rumors playing out like this: Dodgers re-sign Treinen, which amps up the Astros interest in Hendriks, which pushes the White Sox to pivot to Hand.
And you know what? When all the dust settles, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see Craig Kimbrel mixed up in this market. The Cubs would obviously have to eat salary, but Kimbrel’s resurgence last year has made him a compelling short-term trade piece. And the Cubs aren’t exactly going all-in for 2021, so if they can get a prospect or two for Kimbrel and cash, you’ve got to presume they’d take it.
Heck, I’d probably bet on Kimbrel being better than Hand and Colome in 2021 at this point. His performance for most of 2020 wasn’t just stellar, it was … normal Kimbrel. It made it very easy to see 2019’s weirdness as a fluke, and not the start of a trend.
Is Sugano Going Back to Japan?
Japanese ace Tomoyuki Sugano was supposed to decide on an MLB team before today’s deadline, but that hasn’t happened. At least not publicly. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays have made a strong bid, but apparently he hasn’t yet gotten what he’s hoped for just yet (tick tock). With a four-year offer including opt-outs after each season on the table from the Yomiuri Giants, some are now wondering if Sugano might take his talents back to Japan for a year and look for a sweeter overall deal next offseason.
The issue, of course, is that he’s already 31 and is coming off a monster season in 2020 (1.97 ERA over 137.1 IP).
John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reasserts the Giants’ interest, as first reported by MLB Network, but beyond these two teams (San Fran and Toronto), Sugano’s suitors are difficult to discern. It sure seems like he should have plenty of options, but the artificial timeline may be screwing things up for him.
Once upon a time, the Cubs were interested in trading for Jake Odorizzi, who’s now a free agent. But if Ken Rosenthal has it right, and he’s really looking for a three-year contract in the $36M-$42M range, you can kiss that goodbye (as Brett suggested this morning).
The Blue Jays, who apparently offered Kevin Gausman a $40M deal before he accepted the one-year qualifying offer from the Giants, are potential suitors, but perhaps only if they miss out on signing Trevor Bauer or Sugano. The Red Sox, now run by former Rays exec Chaim Bloom, are also interested:
The Red Sox have serious interest in RHP Jake Odorizzi, per source. Boston chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom was part of the Rays front office when Tampa Bay acquired Odorizzi in December 2012, so there's plenty of familiarity between the two.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 5, 2021
I know Odorizzi had a great 2019 season, but injuries kept him to just four (poor) starts in 2020 … I’m a little shocked by his price tag. And this just further goes to show how desperate this market is for starting pitching … and underscore why I was surprised the Cubs couldn’t do a little better for Darvish.
Is It Corey Kluber Time?
Corey Kluber has struck us as a good buy-low, near-term play for the Cubs (whether that means extra competitiveness in 2021, a mid-season trade candidate, or someone who amounts to nothing, but costs very little – it all kind of makes sense), and he’s having a showcase soon.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 4, 2021
However, the Cubs would have more than their fair share of competition. The Mets will be in attendance, the Nationals will be there, the Yankees are expected to have some interest, the Diamondbacks will be present, and even the Pirates are going! (I’m sure there are many more – the Cubs have not been mentioned explicitly yet).
That doesn’t mean Kluber’s price tag is going to sky rocket, but he’s too big of a name to slide under the radar entirely. And since I’m feeling feisty, why don’t I throw another name out there, as well (for most of the same reasons above, as well as some rotation diversity, as mentioned below):
Honestly, I’m all for this. Cubs need some “stuff” in their slow-rolling Davies-Mills-Hendricks rotation.
And at least with Alzolay, Chatwood, and Hendricks there’s some legit upside. https://t.co/LAPquLZGZh
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) January 6, 2021
• The Washington Nationals are apparently looking for a corner outfielder and could turn to Michael Brantley, Joc Pederson, or … GASP! Kyle Schwarber. Marcell Ozuna is the right fit, but is expected to be too expensive. I still suspect he’ll return to the Braves, but that’s just a gut feeling.
• Jurickson Profar has become a moderately exciting theoretical target for the Chicago Cubs of late, but the Padres want to continue eating our lunch (Darvish, Ha-Seong Kim) and “remain interested in re-signing” him for 2021. Cool. Cool. WHERE WOULD HE PLAY. But cool.
• Oh, and the Padres might also try for a Fernando Tatis, Jr. extension:
Things are quieting down for the @Padres now…
Except for the Fernando Tatis Jr. extension talks. pic.twitter.com/ZgKuFMjszU
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) January 3, 2021