Lukewarm Stove: All-Free Agent Team is Loaded, Semien, Springer, Bryant, Profar, Benintendi, More

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Lukewarm Stove: All-Free Agent Team is Loaded, Semien, Springer, Bryant, Profar, Benintendi, More

Chicago Cubs

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:

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:

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):

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.

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:

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:

•   The Padres are considering a six-man rotation this year. Meanwhile, the Cubs are considering a two-man rotation.

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Author: Michael Cerami

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