Lukewarm Stove: Shark or Arrieta for Cubs? Mets/Dodgers Battle for Bauer? Hader Asking Price? Arenado Dreaming? More

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Lukewarm Stove: Shark or Arrieta for Cubs? Mets/Dodgers Battle for Bauer? Hader Asking Price? Arenado Dreaming? More

Chicago Cubs

Oh boy. Have you been paying attention? Because the last couple days have been quite a ride for Cubs news, rumors, and transactions, and I don’t think it’s over yet. Things are actually happening.

Not going in any particular order, Tom Ricketts has reportedly increased the 2021 budget for player payroll, the Cubs have signed Joc Pederson and former top prospect Kohl Stewart to big league deals, Jake Arrieta is throwing for teams and there could be mutual interest for a reunion in Chicago, Jeff Samardzija is throwing for the Cubs, and direct Cubs rumors persist with Chris Archer, Mike Foltynewicz, Carlos Rodon, and Kolten Wong.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have re-signed Adam Wainwright and could be on the precipice of trading for Nolan Arenado.


There’s a Shark in Chicago and Other Puns

Parsing words is always a dangerous game when it comes to rumors, but when I read Patrick Mooney’s latest on the Cubs efforts with respect to Jeff Samardzija, it’s hard not to get a sense that there’s something there – perhaps something a little more than just regular old exhausting every option:

Mooney: The Cubs are among a group of teams expected to have a presence at Jeff Samardzija’s workout on Friday as they continue to assess their options on the pitching side. If healthy — and if the price is right — Samardzija could be the type of veteran starter who absorbs innings and brings a competitive personality into the Wrigley Field clubhouse. While the Cubs haven’t narrowed their focus on Samardzija — and his free-agent process is still developing — there’s an obvious history and a local connection there with the ex-Cub/former Notre Dame star.

If I had to guess, this isn’t going to be an either/or thing with respect to guys like Samardzija and Jake Arrieta (and in whomever else they’ve shown interest at this tier – there are tons). Simply stated, the Cubs are going to need someone to eat some innings this season – even if the rest of the pitchers all work out great. Going from a 60-game season to a 162-game season is going to take its toll. Does that mean the Cubs will add ALL older-veteran-innings-eating-nostalgia types? No. I’m sure they want some guys with some upside for a more medium-term stay with the team if it comes to that (Carlos Rodon? Mike Foltynewicz? Chris Archer?), hence the Kohl Stewart signing.

I’m just saying, the Cubs are very clearly and openly looking to add multiple starters:

Arrieta Pitching, Mets Interested – Also, Other Moves to Make

Speaking of Arrieta, the Mets are attending his session today, and seem to have some legitimate interest in him now that Steven Matz has been cleared out of the rotation and off the books. Obviously, Trevor Bauer is still an option (a more likely one, I’d wager) and Jackie Bradley Jr. is still a target now that they’ve missed out on George Springer, but Andy Martino says it pretty plainly, the Mets moved Matz’s salary out to add another player:

Bauer, the Mets, and the Dodgers

To that end, it sure seems like Trevor Bauer to the Mets is something that’s going to happen. According to Jon Heyman and Andy Martino, the Mets currently have an offer out to Bauer in the 3-4 year range with opt-outs included, but for something less than the $36 million average annual value Bauer is seeking (because OBVIOUSLY). Bauer reportedly wants a longer deal than that – Heyman mentions the Cole/Strasburg range, which, again … LOL – but that’s the status of things for now.

Of course, the Mets aren’t the only option:

The Dodgers have been big on these short-term, high AAV offers the past few years, so I could see them making some sense given what Bauer is seeking. But I just don’t see how Bauer believes he’s going to get a record AAV on anything more than an extremely short-term deal.

Josh Hader Trade Offers

You know what’s been surprising this offseason? The lack of trade rumors for guys like Craig Kimbrel and Josh Hader. There have been some, mind you, but not a ton. Today, that could be changing, though, at least with respect to the Brewers closer.

Robert Murray writes that “The Milwaukee Brewers continue to listen to trade inquiries for reliever Josh Hader,” though they do not feel as though they have to trade him. And, indeed, the asking price, according to Murray’s sources, is absurdly high:

The asking price for Hader, according to sources familiar with the situation, is a combination of both major-league players and prospects.

“We won’t be in on that,” one American League executive said.

“Don’t waste your time,” another executive said.

Michael’s Musings

•   Earlier this offseason I told Cubs fans to look forward and forget the past … and the Cubs got in a time machine and pretended it was 2015:

•   Can we prevent the Joc Pederson misinformation campaign before it begins?

•   I do remember being so nervous he was going to steal the 2015 NL ROY award away from Kris Bryant back in 2015. Do you remember how insane his first-half was? He hit 20 homers before the All-Star break with a 137 wRC+:

•   This is so incredibly unrealistic I probably shouldn’t even put it in writing, but there have been precious few reasons for optimism this offseason that I just want to manufacture some dream-big vibes. Just leave me alone. So here goes: *IF* third baseman Matt Carpenter – and his $18.5M salary in 2021 – was expected to go back to the Rockies as part of a Nolan Arenado deal, and *IF* the Cubs payroll did just loosen up a bit, and *IF* those prior reports between the Cubs and Rockies on an Arenado trade last year (and trickling into this offseason) were ever true, then MAYBE you can see how Kris Bryant and his $19.5M salary, but more favorably projectable 2021 performance could be a comp for Carpenter in a similar swap with the Cubs. There’s still probably no chance the Cubs would be willing to absorb the net on whatever’s left of Arenado’s six-year, $199M deal, but just imagine Arenado’s glove at third, Javy Baez’s glove at short, and Anthony Rizzo’s glove at first. Now imagine the Cubs actually also sign Kolten Wong … that’s four Glove Glove favorites around the infield. Now wake up, because come on … (Fun though, right?).

•   The Cardinals say they want to bring back Wong …

•   … but does Wong want to go back to St. Louis?

•   Here’s a stray thought based on the rumor below: If the Braves also checked in on Arenado, you do have to wonder if they’d be more seriously interested in trading for Kris Bryant. And if the Cubs are suddenly less concerned with shedding every single penny in the Bryant trade, you do have to wonder if a team like the Braves might suddenly be more able to swing a deal the Cubs would consider (i.e., Cubs eating salary for a better return).

Odds and Ends

•   Oh, hey! Matt Moore! I remember him. After throwing 85.0 innings of 2.65 ERA ball in Japan, Moore is returning to the big leagues on a guaranteed, $3 million deal with the Phillies. That’s pretty nuts. Good for him. The Phillies are probably not done yet, my friends.

•   Old friend alert:

•   Not sure we could say that definitely forecloses any Willson Contreras Nats rumors (the Nats could simply include Yan Gomes in a deal the other way, and Avila would be the back-up), but we don’t particularly like those rumors anyway.

Author: Michael Cerami

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