Lukewarm Stove: Reds New Direction, Syndergaard Yo-Yo, New Free Agent SP on the Market, Correa, García, Ramirez, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Reds New Direction, Syndergaard Yo-Yo, New Free Agent SP on the Market, Correa, García, Ramirez, More

Chicago Cubs

Hey! The Cubs added starting pitcher Wade Miley at $10 million for one season, selecting him off waivers from the Reds (who had otherwise hoped to trade him). Although procedurally different, it’s basically like the Cubs got to sign him today as a free agent on a very reasonable one-year contract. They jumped at the chance.

Like Brett said in the initial write up, at this point, the Cubs just need established arms, and that’s exactly what Miley is – an established arm coming off a particularly good season:

His soft-tossing, contact-management profile isn’t idea with Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills around, but he’s a lefty and Mills seemed destined for swing-man duties anyway. Moreover, if this is any sign that the Cubs do have plenty of short-term cash to throw around this offseason, I’m even happier. (And they should.)

Good start to the offseason, Cubs. I needed that.

What Are the Reds Doing?

So what are the Reds doing here, exactly? After all, they traded away catcher Tucker Barnhart this week, as well. Well, they’re lowering the payroll – plain and simple – and trying to do it in the spots they can without also giving up a prospect (something we hope the Cubs can push other teams into this offseason).

But if that’s not clear enough, GM Nick Krall’s comments after the Barnhart trade should tell you everything you need to know: “Trading Tucker was a very difficult decision,” Krall said. “But going into 2022, we must align our payroll to our resources and continue focusing on scouting and developing young talent from within our system.”

After pushing in a bit over these last couple years, I wonder if the Reds are going to sit in the back seat this offseason. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Cubs and the other clubs in the NL Central.

(Also note: the Reds are getting Nick Castellanos’s salary off the books organically, since he’s opting out of his deal (and they’ll get to make him a Qualifying Offer with the confidence that he won’t accept it). So they’re clearly tons and tons of salary this offseason, it seems. But they also need to replace the talent if they want to compete.)

Noah Syndergaard QO Yo-Yo

Rumors giveth and rumors taketh away. Yesterday afternoon, Mike Puma (New York Post) reported growing “skepticism among agents and executives” that the New York Mets would extend the $18.4M qualifying offer to Noah Syndergaard, a dream short-term target for the Cubs if he were detached from draft pick (plus bonus pool space and IFA money) compensation. So, yes, that report was good news for the Cubs ahead of this Sunday’s deadline.

Unfortunately, today’s report from Andy Martino (SNY) suggests that both Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto (another outgoing Mets free agent I’d love the Cubs to target) are likely to get a qualifying offer from the Mets. Martino concedes that Conforto is the easier call, and echoes the apparent Mets efforts to extend Syndergaard first to a smaller deal, but ends with “the lead as of today is to simply make the qualifying offer.”

Dang it. Don’t do it, Mets.

The Avisaíl García Decision

While we’re on the topic of qualifying offers, let’s zero in on Milwaukee’s impending decision on Avisaíl García. The Brewers struggled offensively last season, but García was one of the lone bright spots (.262/.330/.490, 115 wRC+). So losing him to free agency for nothing could really sting. But would the Brewers really be willing to go as far as extending him the qualifying offer as they’re reportedly considering?

If you offer García the qualifying offer, it sure seems like he’d be wise to take it. He’s a perfect useful player, but not necessarily a lock to be above-average value overall in a corner outfield spot, and $18.4M for one year is a big salary for that profile. And while he could surely beat that on the market *if he were detached* from draft pick compensation, I’m not so sure he’d find such a welcome landing if he costs his new team a draft pick, bonus pool space, and IFA dollars (which is the outcome if he gets and declines the QO from the Brewers).

So knowing that he’d be doing that calculus too, wouldn’t the Brewers expect him to accept the QO if they offer it? And if so, are they really willing to lock up $18.4M in him for next season? If they do, you can pretty much count them out on any of those other substantial moves.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is going to make $9.5M after a horrendous offensive season, and they still owe big bucks to Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain. I just don’t know if extending the qualifying offer to Garcia is the best move. It’s a risk not to if you don’t think you can outbid other teams, but do want to keep him, but that would be my honest advice to the Brewers. I’m interested to see how it all plays out. The deadline is Sunday.

Oh, and while we’re here, you have to wonder: If the Brewers do extend the QO to García, is that a sign that we might see a LOT more qualifying offers extended than usual this season? The CBA-related uncertainty could make teams and players do some funky things ….

Nick Martinez Wants to Come Back

Nick Martinez, 31, had a largely unsuccessful big league career for the Texas Rangers from 2014-2017 (4.77 ERA over 68 starts). Frankly, I don’t even remember him.

After the 2017 season, however, the Rangers non-tendered Martinez, who went on to sign with the Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan for $2.2 million. After an okay 2018 season, a bad 2019 season, and a middling 2020 season, Martinez absolutely exploded in 2021, posting a 1.62 ERA over 23 starts. So you should know what’s coming next: He’s eyeing a return to the majors.

Obviously, we know the Cubs need starting pitching, so I won’t cross them off the list, but obviously you have to be careful when there’s just one season of success in not-MLB. That said, as a scouting play? Bring it on. If there’s something they think they can work out or some way to sustain the success he found this season, let’s do it. All at an appropriate cost, of course. After all, the Cubs have a need for, oh I don’t know, let’s call it … four(?) starting pitchers, and they can afford to take on some risk in exchange for upside.

Carlos Correa

The Astros may yet attempt to re-sign Carlos Correa (yet again), but it sure sounds like his time with the Astros is over.

“I want to say thank you to Jim (Crane) and James (Click) and the whole organization for respecting what I said in spring training. Once the season started, I wanted no part of any talks, negotiations, and they totally respected that,” Correa said. “Now I’m a free agent and obviously we’re going to have some conversations and we’ll see where it goes. But I’m thankful that they respected what I told them in spring training.”

The Astros, you’ll recall, tried to extend Correa on a six-year, $120 million and then a five year $125 million deal last spring, but Correa shot them down and is now positioned to score more than double that. Frankly, they’re probably kicking themselves for not going to a much higher level previously.

In any case, Correa seems destined to shoot for the suddenly-plausible $300 million threshold, and I still don’t see the Cubs becoming involved at that level.

Odds and Ends

•   No surprises here, as the Guardians have picked up the $12 million club option on Jose Ramirez for 2022. Ramirez, 29, just posted his third 6.0+ WAR season in 2021, making this an easy call for Cleveland, who also holds a $13M club option on him for 2023. The question, however, is whether he’s traded before then. I suspect they’ll try to move him this offseason, but there won’t be as much urgency as there was with Francisco Lindor last year (one more year of control), with a few more chances to get a deal done down the line (then again, his value is pretty darn high at the moment).

•   Oh, Mets. Kinda forgot about this whole thing:

•   Some White Sox procedural moves:

Author: Michael Cerami

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