Not that this will realistically matter to any team, let alone the Cubs, but if you just went out there and signed the top remaining free agent at every position, you’d have a pretty awesome squad for 2021, eh?
Here’s the group:
— Adam McCalvy (@AdamMcCalvy) January 19, 2021
Sure, there’s a little creative accounting in there – I’d call Semien a shortstop, La Stella a second baseman, and Michael Brantley/Marcell Ozuna might both be better suited as designated hitters – but that’s a legit team!
At an absolute minimum, you’ve got the best catcher in baseball, the reigning NL Cy Young, arguably the top defensive shortstop in baseball, a nine-figure center field free agent, FOUR more players who finished with a wRC+ above 129 last season (Ozuna, Turner, Brantley, and La Stella), plus a high-upside play at second base, some legitimate offense versus righties in right field, and one of the best relievers in MLB.
And they’re all available for just money. Near the end of January.
Marcus Semien, the Dodgers, and (Not?) the Cubs
Okay, so I snuck a rumor in up there that we haven’t actually discussed yet and that’s via Ken Rosenthal at The Athletic:
“The Dodgers were involved in the bidding for LeMahieu, and their failure to sign him seemingly would point to a reunion with free-agent third baseman Justin Turner. But the team has compiled a list of infield alternatives, including free agent Marcus Semien.”
First thing’s first: The Dodgers were recently considered serious threats to trade for Kris Bryant if they aren’t able to re-sign Justin Turner. But now Rosenthal is adding that a whiff on Turner could also lead them to Marcus Semien, a shortstop by trade who’s probably perfectly capable of playing either third base for the Dodgers, or, as I’d like it, second base for the Cubs:
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers are considering Marcus Semien for 3B (if they can't re-sign Turner).
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) January 19, 2021
And, look, I get it. The Cubs have done *absolutely* nothing to indicate that a free agent deal for Marcus Semien is realistic or forthcoming, but it was just one month ago that Jeff Passan had them as among the teams that could be “in play” for Semien and there’s still some time left. I refuse to stop beating the drum for the moves I *think* the Cubs should make, especially when they’re fairly reasonable (I’m not out here telling them to sign George Springer, despite his fit, am I?).
Kirby Yates Signing Soon
It’s not done yet, but it sure seems like that one of baseball’s top relievers, Kirby Yates, is on his way to the Blue Jays (who just signed Tyler Chatwood yesterday):
Free agent reliever Kirby Yates is firmly on #BlueJays radar, per source.
Yates, who had surgery on right elbow in August to remove bone chips, is expected to be in Dunedin today and I’m told he’s not just “visiting.”
— Scott Mitchell (@ScottyMitchTSN) January 19, 2021
Kirby Yates is close to a Blue Jays deal
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 19, 2021
Perhaps they’re finally ready to start going over the top on the free agents/trade offers they’ve been targeting. So far, they’re all talk and no bite, but I suspect the Blue Jays are readying their big moves here shortly.
George Springer and Other Blue Jays Plans
And the most likely of those big moves? Signing George Springer. Here’s the latest out of Toronto: “The Toronto Blue Jays continue to show serious interest in star free agent George Springer and are believed to be making a push for the outfielder, according to industry sources.”
The rumors go on to explain that Springer and the Blue Jays may have already “reconnected” earlier this week, theoretically to top their earlier offer of five years and something a shade more than $100 million (Springer was reportedly looking for $175M, but I doubt he gets that much). Springer is said to prefer the Mets, but the Blue Jays are clearly pushing hard and his interest has been considered genuine. Given New York’s front office trouble and their proximity to the luxury tax, I suspect Toronto will hold the highest offer when all the dust settles.
If, however, the Blue Jays don’t end up with Springer, they’re reportedly considering a quick pivot to Jackie Bradley, Jr. (who was, many moons ago, connected to the Cubs). But that’s HARDLY the Blue Jays’ only intentions.
On top of adding an outfielder (Springer or Bradley Jr.), the Blue Jays (emphasis mine) “also intend to add an infielder, and the market is stacked with options, from Gold Glove calibre second baseman Kolten Wong, to shortstops Didi Gregorius and Marcus Semien, and third basemen Justin Turner and trade candidate Kris Bryant.”
And as though that wasn’t enough, they’ve also reportedly already pitched to J.T. Realmuto and Trevor Bauer.
Needless to say, the Blue Jays actions here with respect to Realmuto (Contreras) and an infielder (Bryant) can have significant overlap with the Chicago Cubs own trade interests/efforts. I wouldn’t be surprised then, to see the action on either front impacted until the market for Realmuto and Springer begins to resolve itself (behind the scenes or publicly).
Jurickson Profar and Second Base
Jurickson Profar has not been explicitly connected to the Cubs this winter, but he’s also been something of a periphery target of ours for second base/super utility, given his youth (27), positional flexibility, and contact skills.
But like everything else, the Padres are here to eat everyone’s lunch.
Padres are not simply addressing their pitching. Per sources, they are still trying to re-sign free-agent IF/OF Jurickson Profar.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 19, 2021
How could the Cubs be expected to keep up with the FINANCIALLY DOMINANT Padres?
For what it’s worth, one anonymous executive was asked to share his guesses on the what’s left of the second base market post D.J. LeMahieu’s deal with the Yankees, and he thinks things will move quickly with free agents landing this way: Tommy La Stella (A’s), Jonathan Villar (Orioles), Jurickson Profar (Royals), and Kolten Wong (Angels).
None of those teams, you’ll note, are the Chicago Cubs.
Still More Benintendi Rumors
This report is from Craig Mish – a Miami/Marlins guy – so you can bet that if Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi is really available, as we suspect, the Marlins are likely involved:
Per sources Red Sox continue to be open to moving OF Andrew Benintendi. Marlins and several other clubs are pursuing. Miami has pieces that make sense and looking for RF help. Change of scenery type move, if it happens. It could.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) January 19, 2021
The Cubs would be a good fit for Benintendi as well as a bounce-back corner outfield target, but the Red Sox are looking for pitching and outfield prospects in return, which … is that really the way we suspect (or want) the Cubs to go at this point? When there are so many available free agents, I’d rather they spend just money to acquire talent if/where possible.
Odds and Ends
• Industry sources reportedly believe that both Yadi Molina and Adam Wainwright will end up back in St. Louis. I also believe that. There are offers on the table (you can ignore the tease here – he means offers are on the table and waiting for their acceptance). The Cardinals are quite clearly not leaping over themselves to accommodate either party:
#Cardinals say they've tabled offers to Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. Sources confirm to @stltoday that's the case, but there's a reason why neither has accepted (yet) and can look to entertain other options. On progressing (?) talks: https://t.co/cykWG4NyKq #stlcards #MLB
— Derrick S. Goold (@dgoold) January 19, 2021
• The Padres are considering a six-man rotation this year. Meanwhile, the Cubs are considering a two-man rotation.
A.J. Preller indicates Padres could use six-man rotation in 2021.
Going from 60 games to 162 is a factor in considering it.
— Kevin Acee (@sdutKevinAcee) January 19, 2021