Is Corey Kluber Next?
We are well passed the point where Corey Kluber seems like a realistic target for the Cubs – his showcase went really well, a ton of teams are interested, and his price tag is ballooning in a starter-hungry market – but I’m still interested to see where this ends up.
Fortunately, I won’t have to wait too long, because people seem to believe a decision will be made by Monday. As for asking price, Kluber is reportedly looking for something in the $6-$7 million range, with incentives to bring it up (an incentive-heavy deal could make a lot of sense for him, given his upside if he stays healthy).
For what it’s worth, the Yankees have been connected to Kluber/a free agent starter few different times today, but they are very determined not to exceed the luxury tax threshold after signing DJ LeMahieu.
Other LeMahieu Fallout
Brett already got into the potential Cubs/Kris Bryant related fallout from the LeMahieu signing, but I want to reiterate the interested parties (Yankees, Dodgers, Nationals, Mets, Braves, and Blue Jays) and also point out that there are other ways the signing could impact the Cubs outside of their own efforts to trade players:
With LeMahieu off the board, the infield market should get moving. The other teams in his orbit can now move on to Plan B (or C?), which should help provide some clarity on Turner, Gregorius, Semien, Simmons, and so on.
— R.J. Anderson (@r_j_anderson) January 15, 2021
Namely, this could speed up the free agent infield market, which includes Marcus Semien, someone I hope the Cubs target, and Justin Turner, who’s decision on whether or not he’ll return to L.A. actually does play a huge role in Kris Bryant saga. Oops. I guess I did go back to KB.
Ultimately, I think the biggest impact here is going to be from the Blue Jays who keep promising to spend a ton of money, but keep coming up short. Their offer to LeMahieu (4 years, $78M) was the highest AAV, but not the highest overall commitment. Meanwhile, they’ve missed out on Francisco Lindor and others.
Still, something big is going to happen there:
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 15, 2021
Blue Jays, one of the most aggressive teams of this offseason, bid on Lindor; they were involved with D.J. LeMahieu. As the big options fall off the board in the winter musical chairs, the best fit for Toronto may turn out to be with George Springer.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 15, 2021
And it’ll probably be Springer … unless they finish second to the Mets(?) yet again.
For what it’s worth, the Blue Jays are apparently intent on adding an infielder, and Javy Baez’s name just popped up as one of the remaining, plausible trade candidates. That is NOT to say that is an explicit rumor – four trade candidates and four free agents are listed broadly – but it is a reminder that Baez is technically available most likely. I still think he ends up with the Cubs long term, but I suppose we’ll see.
Kurt Suzuki Signs with Angels
Earlier today, free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki signed a one-year deal with the Angels, prompting many to wonder what this means for Willson Contreras and the Cubs (after all, Joe Maddon’s Angels were reportedly “showing interest in trading for” Contreras earlier this month).
But I’m not so sure there’s too much of an effect. Sure, this deal reduces any sense of urgency the Angels may have felt to get a deal done – and in that respect it certainly doesn’t help facilitate a future agreement with Chicago – but Suzuki, 37, is probably more of a backup right now. And Max Stassi is rehabbing from hip surgery and won’t likely be ready by opening day.
The Orange County Register believes backup Anthony Bemboom will split time with Suzuki until Stassi is back, but I’m just saying this probably doesn’t take them out of the running for Contreras entirely. It just makes it a little less likely.
(What I do wonder, however, is if the timing of Suzuki’s deal has any meaning. For example, is there other catching market news that just hasn’t hit the wire yet driving this deal?).