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MLBits: Sox Already Thinking Kimbrel Trade? Mets Go Out of Baseball for GM, Kershaw Calculus, Raiding the A’s, More

Chicago Cubs

I know the hammer is going to drop on December 1st, when the CBA expires. But as of now, the offseason feels pretty normal. It’s a weird feeling, because I know it won’t last. But for now, I’m just going to enjoy it.

Are the Sox Trading Kimbrel?

I kind of can’t believe this was put so plainly, but before the White Sox picked up Craig Kimbrel’s $16 million option for 2022, they made sure they’d be able to trade him this winter: “We’ve had conversations with other clubs and have a sense of what is potentially available,” White Sox GM Rick Hahn said via James Fegan at The Athletic. That’s just much more candid than usual from a GM.

Hahn went on to explain that he doesn’t quite see the non-closing role as the issue for Kimbrel, which I believe is incorrect, but since he doesn’t seem interested in moving Liam Hendriks out of that role (or asking Tony La Russa to make the change), it seems like they’ll just try to trade Kimbrel – as a closer – this winter.

Obviously, Hahn wasn’t closing the door on Kimbrel returning in 2022: “The question for us is, with Liam (Hendriks) here and we proceed with both of them, how do we get the best out of both of them? In the second year of that role, would it be more comfortable, for example?” But I really don’t get the sense that paying him $16M to be their set-up man in 2022 is part of the plan.

Set the Hook, Mets!

The New York Mets began the offseason trying to hire a new president of baseball operations, but after being shot down by their first three picks (Theo Epstein, David Stearns, and Billy Beane), they began setting their sights a little lower. And when they were shot down by their next five choices (Brandon Gomes, Matt Arnold, Peter Bendix, Michael Girsch, and Scott Harris), they decided that maybe they’d just try to hire a GM instead.

And I don’t know what they were thinking when they were shot down by their next four candidates (Sig Mejdal, Raquel Ferreira, Daniel Adler, and Jean Afterman), but it was probably some combination of swear words.

None of that is a joke. Twelve (12) people reportedly declined to interview for the vacant president/GM job in New York, in part, it’s assumed, because of the front office turmoil, non-stop series of scandals, over-bearing owner, and presence of Sandy Alderson, whose role remains unclear, but disruptive.

And I’m not being unfair. Alderson was recently asked about why he keeps getting turned down, and he said he understands that there’s “a certain amount of risk” in terms of (1) the organization, (2) himself, (3) the owner, and (4) the city of New York. And I get that his next point was that the reward is worth the risk, but … that’s just not a good job selling, my man.

Anyway, they may have finally found their guy, former Nationals assistant GM Adam Cromie has interviewed multiple times and could get an offer over the next day or two.

Of course, that’s not the end of the story. First of all, let’s note that I said FORMER Nationals assistant GM, because Cromie has been out of baseball for over four years. It’s wild to go from targeting Theo Epstein to landing on a former MLB executive and I don’t want that to go overlooked. But there’s also some controversy brewing with Cromie’s law firm, which represented the Pennsylvania GOP as part of the 2020 presidential election cases.

I don’t care to get into that here, but I don’t think that’s something that should disqualify Cromie, which isn’t to say the general public is not allowed to have their feelings about it. Basically, I doubt this would have been a very popular hire – as is – and his history certainly isn’t helping a team whose fan base is primarily in New York.

Clayton Kershaw Decision

Unlike the White Sox decision not to extend the qualifying offer to Carlos Rodon, which will get into later today, the Dodgers decision not to give one to Kershaw does genuinely seem to be more a gesture of kindness: “I think just with our respect for him and for what he’s done for this organization, that wasn’t something that we wanted to do and put him on that kind of clock when he wasn’t ready for it,” Andrew Friedman told Fabian Ardaya.

Friedman continued, adding some key context: “I know (Kershaw) wants to take a little time with (his wife) Ellen and figure out what’s best for them and also more importantly, get to a point where he feels good health wise. We have no reason to believe that he won’t.”

I don’t think this is *entirely* altruistic. Certainly, the Dodgers know more about Kershaw’s injury history than anybody and $18.4M is not chump change for one year, even for them. But I can genuinely see them wanting to give Kershaw time to figure out what’s best. Plus, without being attached to a qualifying offer, Kershaw can explore the market more freely if he wanted to go somewhere else. And Friedman said he “made it very clear that if Kersh wants to come back,” he will always have a spot on the Dodgers.

I really just don’t think there’s a conspiracy here. It’s probably just a win-win. Dodgers can get Kershaw back on less than $18.4M. Kershaw gets time to decide what he wants to do and the option to seriously explore other teams if he wanted to go that route.

No Really, Take an A

We’ve discussed the possibility of raiding the Oakland A’s for anyone not nailed down to the floor multiple times already this offseason, but in case you thought we were reaching, take a look at this:

Sean Manea, Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, etc. There could be some serious talent to mine out of Oakland if the Cubs are willing to pay for it. And since “pay for it” literally means money (more so than prospects, in this case), they should be all over it.

Snitker’s Journey

I did not know this story: Braves Manager Brian Snitker, 66, had spent 35 years with the Braves organization before finally becoming their manager in 2016. But three years before that, after spending six years as the team’s third base coach, he was demoted back down to the minors, spelling what seemed like the end of his major league coaching career. But here he is a World Series manager. “I always used to tell people that Brian would manage in the big leagues one day,” Snitker’s wife, Ronnie, said. “But when he got sent to Gwinnett I told myself, ‘Maybe it’s never gonna happen.'” Read all about his very interesting story at ESPN.



Author: Michael Cerami

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