Lukewarm Stove: Realmuto Heat, Hernandez Signs, Bradley, Tanaka, Story, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Realmuto Heat, Hernandez Signs, Bradley, Tanaka, Story, More

Chicago Cubs

Earlier this morning, news broke that the New York Mets had extended an offer to Trevor Bauer, but there were conflicting stories initially about whether it would top Gerrit Cole’s $36M AAV deal last winter. Consensus now seems to be that the Mets have indeed made Bauer an offer, but that offer won’t likely be worth more in AAV than Cole’s deal. A possibility? The numbers, themselves, suggest he beat the record (albeit over a MUCH shorter term), but some deferrals or performance incentives or whatever other structure somewhat neuters his actual earnings.

It’s like when Max Scherzer wanted a $200M+ deal with the Nationals, and got himself one in name only. The structure and deferrals of the deal made it worth closer to $170M when all is said and done. But it gets the right headlines and maybe moves the ball forward for future players so maybe that’s a win?

Cleveland Making Moves

One day, I hope the Cubs can have as much financial might as the big market, deep-pocked, perennially-spending … Cleveland Indians? 

Earlier this morning, the Indians signed second baseman Cesar Hernandez to a big league deal, which was later confirmed to include one guaranteed year plus a club option. Hernandez, 30, has been an above average bat for four of the past five seasons, while also offering above average defense at second base. He’s pretty close to split-neutral against LHP for his career, too. I can’t imagine how the Cubs could’ve used a low-cost signing like though. 

And that’s not all, even after that deal, Heyman dropped this little nugget that caught my attention:

I wonder if they’re actually exploring any additional free agent deals of significance. They already dropped serious 2021 dollars by trading Francisco Lindor ($22.3M) and Carlos Carrasaco ($12M), who has another $15M guaranteed after 2021. Do you get credit for spending to “improve your team” after that, though?

Phillies/Realmuto/Simmons

The Phillies are my new favorite wild card team out there, especially with respect to potential impact on the Cubs own efforts elsewhere. For example, if they continue “staying in touch with J.T. Realmuto,” that could delay the Willson Contreras market long enough to fuddle the Cubs plans (to the extent they have them), whereas a quick resolution could really accelerate those discussions elsewhere (Blue Jays? Angels? Marlins?). You know the Phillies front office is feeling the heat from the Braves, who’ve just tossed their name in the Realmuto ring, despite the presence of Silver Slugging catcher Travis d’Arnaud, but that may have all been smoke/leverage.

Indeed, it seems Philadelphia has the upper hand:

I just don’t see the Braves coming through. My guess is he return to Philly and d’Arnaud stays pat. I don’t want to give this next thought too much space, because I really don’t think it will happen, but obviously, yes, Willson Contreras is under control for just two seasons at a far lower value. There is, perhaps, a world in which the Braves target him and/or Kris Bryant and include d’Arnaud as part of the return so that the Cubs have a starting catcher for 2021. But it’s all a little farfetched to me.

The one thing I do know is that as soon as Realmuto signs, there will probably be a follow-up wave of Contreras-related rumors.

Meanwhile, the Phillies are also still in on the shortstop market, specifically for Andrelton Simmons, though Freddy Galcvis and Didi Gregorius both are mentioned as well. Not mentioned? My favorite target, Marcus Semien. There’s still hope … psyche! 

JBJ and the Mets

Jackie Bradley, Jr. is another one of those we’re probably dreaming potential free agent Cubs targets, especially if the Mets are seriously considering signing him, as all rumors suggested they might had they missed out on George Springer (which they did):

And if Bradley, Jr. does get gobbled up, I think you can probably start penciling in Ian Happ back into center field, which is fine. I tend to think he’d have a much greater impact as a left fielder, where his glove could probably actually be above average, but he’s still fairly new to center field and among one of the hardest workers in the sport. The Cubs could do worse.

Though they still need to find a left fielder. There’s no one really pencilled in there. Or for the fifth starter spot. Or for second base, really. The holes, they are still aplenty. But hey, at least the Cubs have a back-up catcher now.

Masahiro Tanaka Could Be Returning to Japan

It was a possibility all offseason, but now that the Yankees have added Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon, Masahiro Tanaka can see the writing on the wall. He’s expected to receive a formal offer from his former team, the Rakuten Eagles, of the NPB which could accelerate his return to Japan after seven seasons with the Yankees.

Read more about his plans at MLB.com.

Wait, What?

This is quite the little bombshell to drop at the end of January, just months before Trevor Story is set to be a free agent. Certainly, the Rockies aren’t considering trading him right now, right? In my mind, the goal had always been to trade Nolan Arenado, and use those cost savings to extend Story.

But if that’s not happening, I do wonder if Story could suddenly become available:

Odds and Ends

•   Interesting to note:

•   Continued:



Author: Michael Cerami

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