Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in two weeks and the league – for now – will operate under their pre-2020 rules and structure. What does that mean? Well, while the universal DH remains a distinct possibility, it’s a whole lot less likely for 2021 now than it has been in almost a full year.
Let’s see if that spurs some action, eh?
The DH Market and Tangential Cubs Connections
Indeed, that’s where we’re starting today, with the two top remaining available DH types (Nelson Cruz, and Marcell Ozuna) likely seeing their market heat up considerably, with some interesting Cubs implications to boot:
Now, with no universal DH for 2021 (at least for now), the stars are aligned for Nelson Cruz to return to the #Twins while Marcell Ozuna's chances to return to Atlanta is diminished.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 2, 2021
Nelson Cruz was evidently waiting to find out if his market would expand to most of the National League, but given his age and last night’s revelations, a return to the Twins is more likely than ever. Absent some last minute changes, that’s generally where I expect him to land.
Ozuna, by contrast, could make things interesting.
Now that he’s at least slightly less likely to return to the Braves, where they could have been more comfortable stashing him as their DH either in 2021 or the years beyond his current deal, could Atlanta’s attention redirect toward the trade market? They’ve been seeking a right-handed power bat all winter and their ability to move Austin Riley between third base and left field opens up either spot. I don’t think I need to spell this out for you, but Kris Bryant has been a Braves target for two years, he’s a right-handed power bat, and he plays both left field and third base.
Somewhat relatedly: I wonder what the lack of the universal DH means for Justin Turner and the Dodgers? Would they have been more comfortable giving him the multi-year deal he reportedly seeks if they knew for certain they’d have the DH available? How about the Brewers, who were recently thrust into his rumor-sphere? I can’t recall any specific AL-mentions for Turner (Blue Jays, but they then signed Marcus Semien), and a return to L.A. is probably Occam’s Razor, but it does make me wonder whether the NL teams are just incrementally more wary now.
And now that the other big third baseman on the market, Nolan Arenado, is off the board to a team that would have never traded for Bryant … I’m just saying. This all has my attention, because some factors just got resolved.
Heat on Marwin Gonzalez
Marwin Gonzalez has been trending way down since his breakout 2017 season with the Houston Astros (hmm … I wonder), but imagining him as something close to a league-average bat isn’t impossible and with his positional versatility could make him a semi-attractive target for a team like the Red Sox:
The market for Marwin Gonzalez is predictably heating up. Per sources, the Red Sox are among a half-dozen teams with interest in the versatile INF/OF.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) February 2, 2021
Of course, Feinsand reports that up to six teams are still involved in his market, so perhaps there’s still some time to go before he signs.
Gonzalez has not been connected to the Cubs (which, by the way, were his original organization!).
Jake Odorizzi’s Market
The Angels have already added a couple pitchers to their rotation this offseason, but as we discussed yesterday, that rotation remains underwhelming. Fortunately, for fans of the Halo, they might not be done just yet:
Jake Odorizzi is drawing broad interest, and his market could crystallize once Trevor Bauer signs. The Angels, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Giants, and Twins have been in contact, sources say, with the Mets a possibility if they don’t sign Bauer. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 1, 2021
Jake Odorizzi is the next best free agent starter on the market after Trevor Bauer and should cost a heck of a lot less, too. He’s drawing broad interest, as you can see, but it seems likely he’ll sign after Bauer makes his decision, solidifying the remaining market/providing himself some leverage.
Brett: Speaking of which, Bauer is gonna sign soon, right? You have to assume he’s going to want to hit up pitchers and catchers reporting with his new team, so there might be a two-week clock ticking at this point. Separately, an ugly reality in his market: if Mickey Callaway gets ousted from the Angels after the awful sexual harassment allegations, it’s possible Bauer could become a target for the Angels (friction between those two was cited as among the reasons he would not land with the Angels). I’m sure a number of trickle-down teams and players just want Bauer’s decision to be completed soon.
Blue Jays and Trevor Rosenthal
The Blue Jays are probably not done yet. And as you can see above, they remain in on Odorizzi, and probably Trevor Bauer, too. But aside from their efforts in the rotation, they could look to add a reliever. Robert Murray hears that reliever might be former Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.
Rosenthal, 30, had a dominant 2020 season (1.90 ERA, 2.22 FIP over 23.2 IP) complete with a 41.8%(!) strikeout rate. Given his up-and-down last few seasons, he won’t likely get paid like a guy who just had a 40+% strikeout rate, but he’s still reasonably young, he’s still got an upper-90s fastball, and he did just have a lot of success. He’ll probably be effective this year. In another reality, he’d be a nice addition to the Cubs pen, but this isn’t really the route they go anymore.
He would’ve been a more likely target before his reemergence, if anything.
No Mike Foltynewicz for the Cubs?
The Cubs rotation/starting depth has been bolstered since losing Yu Darvish, and currently looks something like this: Kyle Hendricks, Zach Davies, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzoay, Trevor Williams, and then a whole bunch of possibles (Shelby Miller, Kohl Stewart, Tyson Miller, Cory Abbott, Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson … Brailyn Marquez?).
The Cubs were recently considered players in the Mike Foltynewicz market, but perhaps that’s no longer the case?
Mets, Twins, Rays and White Sox are among teams thought to have some interest in Mike Foltynewicz after his recent throwing session. Word is, he looked good at Georgia Tech.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 31, 2021
The White Sox already added Carlos Rodon and the Mets feel like stronger bets for Bauer or Odorizzi, but the Cubs aren’t mentioned, and I think that’s worth noting.
I’d guess that some sort of reunion is in their future instead (Jake Arrieta, Jeff Samardzija), but if Arrieta’s reported price tag is correct and he sticks to it, then there won’t realistically be a fit with the Cubs.
Remember, the Cubs *must* find a way to get some of their younger, upside plays significant innings in 2021, but also, they shouldn’t have too much trouble, seeing as how many innings will likely need covering:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 20, 2021
Odds and Ends
• The Cardinals are introducing some scrub today. Whatever.
We are officially introducing Nolan Arenado to St. Louis at 11 a.m. CT.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) February 2, 2021
• But seriously, what a joke.
The Nolan Arenado trade is official. Rockies send him and about $50 million to St. Louis for LHP Austin Gomber, SS Mateo Gil, RHP Tony Locey, UTIL Elehuris Montero and RHP Jake Sommers.
— Nick Groke (@nickgroke) February 2, 2021
• Like, it just keeps getting worse, as the Cardinals will literally not have to pay Arenado this year *and* gave up basically nothing to get him.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) February 2, 2021
• Dang it, Reds. I like Sean Doolittle and do not want to root against him.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 2, 2021