Lukewarm Stove: Correa and Seager Price, Cubs Want a Late-Inning Reliever, Cardinals on Taylor, Yankees and Red Sox Active, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Correa and Seager Price, Cubs Want a Late-Inning Reliever, Cardinals on Taylor, Yankees and Red Sox Active, More

Chicago Cubs

There are now multiple reports that Carlos Correa is looking to top the 10-year, $341 million deal Francisco Lindor got from the Mets last season. For all the reasons Brett already laid out, I understand why that’s the initial ask, but I doubt it’s happening. Especially if the Yankees aren’t as interested in the elite free agent shortstop market as we initially expected. And since a top-tier defender like Correa isn’t going to move off shortstop, you could arguably count out big plays from the Dodgers (Trea Turner), Mets (Francisco Lindor), and Red Sox (Xander Bogaerts), too. That’s a whole lot of financial fire power on the sidelines for someone looking to set a new record.

Theoretically, the Tigers, Rangers, Phillies, and Cubs (? I mean, I had to) would be among the teams that have the payroll capacity and need to go big for a shortstop this winter (and some of them probably will!), but without the big boys, beating Lindor’s contracts (which seemed high then and looks worse now) just feels unlikely.

Corey Seager’s Market

And all of that makes me really think hard on this report out of New York that Seager is *also* “Likely to demand $300M” this offseason. For however talented Seager is, he’s not likely to stick at shortstop long-term and has dealt with more than his fair share of injuries over the years (some flukey, others not). The Dodgers could be more realistically involved in his market than they would be for Correa, so maybe that gives him a nice floor, but he doesn’t quite strike me as a $300M guy right now.

I say “right now,” however, for a couple reasons.

First, if Correa does somehow manage to top Lindor’s deal, or even come closer than we think, that could raise the market for Seager. Indeed, that’s why the most free agents usually let the top guy at their position sign first. But this year, everything is different. With an artificial/short-term deadline of December 1st (the CBA expiration date), some free agents, including Seager, reportedly see the next two weeks as their best chance at a big contract. So I ask: Would Seager really sign before Correa? And if he does, does he stand any chance of beating $300M? I don’t think so. But I guess we’ll find out soon. And remember, the Cubs have been connected to Seager twice now.

Cubs in on Late-Inning Relievers, Apparently

Here’s a straight-up, no frills, Cubs-centric rumor straight from Patrick Mooney: “[Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed] Hoyer is searching for late-inning relievers and Ross appreciated Chafin’s influence in the clubhouse and unflappable demeanor on the mound.”

Before you get too excited, the Andrew Chafin mention may have been a product of the way the initial question was phrased (which former Cub can you see returning), but the broader point remains: Jed Hoyer is searching for late-inning relievers.

The Cubs do have some interesting options for the late innings next year — Manny Rodriguez, Rowan Wick, and Codi Heuer (plus whichever of Adbert Alzolay, Justin Steele, and Keegan Thompson don’t make the rotation) — and given their enormous success at identifying and developing useful relievers over the past two+ seasons, I never really expected them to spend lavishly on the bullpen.

And maybe they won’t really go all out on a bullpen arm or two, but some spending there? Mooney’s logic and reporting is sound:

“The Cubs recognize that it’s important to surround young pitchers with veteran players who know how to prepare and handle different situations …. Investing in the bullpen is a cost-effective way to help create internal confidence and avoid some of those blown leads that demoralize teams over the course of a season.”

If you want, you can check out the full list of free agent relievers at The market is led by a lot of familiar names, including Raisel Iglesias, Kenley Jansen, Ryan Tepera, Collin McHugh, Aaron Loup, Andrew Chafin, Mark Melancon, Kendall Graveman, and so on. It’s actually a fairly loaded class, even if the best relievers are on the older side (then again, Hoyer is looking for veteran leadership, so maybe it all adds up to a nice little free agent splash).

Cardinals in on Chris Taylor

The Dodgers are going to try to retain Chris Taylor and Corey Seager, but the tenor of the early rumors aren’t particularly convincing. Plus, the Dodgers will gain two draft picks if each guy signs somewhere else, which, for a team routinely at the back-end of most drafts, could seem like a worthy cause.

Setting Seager aside, the market for Chris Taylor is starting to develop, and it includes the most boring team in the NL Central:

With the Dodgers looking to bring back most of their 12 key free agents, retaining Taylor could be tricky for Los Angeles. The utility man is drawing interest from the Red Sox, Cardinals, Rangers, Giants, Marlins and others, according to sources. The Dodgers are also in the mix.

That’s a lot of interest in Taylor, 31, who has put together five straight seasons of above-average offensive performance, with as much defensive versatility as anyone out there and high marks for base running. In fact, I wonder if people kind of see him as a more affordable alternative to Kris Bryant, who’s really trying to lean into that versatility idea as a sales pitch.

In any case, the headline here is that the Cardinals are sniffing around Taylor, who’d probably be a disproportionately useful acquisition in the NL Central, where things are wide open once again. He does cost draft pick compensation, for what that’s worth.

Yankees Want Starling Marte

You might also notice the Marlins mentioned in the mix for Taylor, and that’s not much of a surprise. They’re looking for bats this winter, ideally in the outfield (Nick Castellanos?), and Taylor, while costly, isn’t going to be the top-earning position player. Let’s say that more directly: He’s in their price range. However, the Marlins have probably been connected more often to a player they had for half of 2020 and 2021: Starling Marte.

Marte reportedly has interest from “more than a half dozen” teams this winter, including the Marlins and Astros, but the Yankees involvement is what catches my attention today:

Industry sources believe center field and pitching will be the Bombers’ top priority in free agency instead. Starling Marte is near the top of that list ….

There are some caveats, including Marte’s age, right-handed bat, and the Yankees apparent desire to keep a deal short-term, but if he’s at the top of their list and they’re planning to spend as much as we think they might this winter, then maybe Marte will be a Yankee after all.

Ope, and I just saw this:

Cubs Free Agent Starting Targets

Sahadev Sharma was speaking generally when he rattled off a list of potential free agent Cubs targets this offseason, but he tends to know his stuff. So when he lists, I listen: “Really, anyone who can stay relatively healthy and strike guys out. I would personally have Jon Gray at the top of my list … and there are so many other names that make sense. Steven Matz, Alex Wood, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Cobb, Danny Duffy, Dylan Bundy, Yusei Kikuchi and on and on.”

Let’s fine-tune this a little bit, too: The Cubs have a TON of innings to cover, so they’ll want someone who can remain healthy. The Cubs will likely not target anyone attached to a qualifying offer. The Cubs will want someone they could reasonably expect to flip at the deadline if things go sideways in the first-half. Flipping that around, the Cubs are a likely a pretty desirable landing spot. Not only do they have plenty of payroll space and a clear desire to spend it on starters, they also have as much rotational vacancy as any team in baseball. That means anyone looking to showcase their stuff in the short term will get more than just a shot to prove it, they’ll have time to work through struggles if they need it.

Red Sox Activity, Semien, Rodriquez

The Red Sox are talking and acting like a team that’s ready to push in big this offseason for another run next year. Here’s Baseball Pres Chaim Bloom on that very matter:

“I wanted to come out of (this season) thinking this could be the start of something, that we had our next core … something we could be excited about going forward,” Bloom said at the end-of-season press conference. “We fell six wins short of that ultimate goal, but in terms of this being the start of something, in terms of us feeling like we have a bunch of guys who joined this group who are ready to help us win going forward, I think we’re there. I think the mission now is to continue to build on that.”

The Red Sox were reportedly in on Eduardo Rodriguez, making him multiple, multi-year offers before he signed with the Tigers for $77 million, and it sure sounds like Marcus Semien could be the right addition for second base. Not only is he going to cost far less than Correa or Seager, he’s also a win-now player. And although he’s attached to draft pick compensation, that hurts less for the Red Sox, who gained a pick when Rodriguez was signed away.

Without many rumors on Semien’s market so far, I’m thinking it starts in Boston.

Odds and Ends:

•   I almost forgot that Nick Castellanos is still a free agent. What’s wrong with me? The Marlins have been connected to him a bunch this offseason, but now you can add the Giants to the list. Castellanos, 29, is attached to draft pick compensation.

•   Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki (who could be the perfect kind of risk for the Cubs this offseason) is about to be posted next week, which gives him one month to ink a deal with a Major League team … which is quite confusing, considering the likelihood of a lockout throughout the majority of that month. Would he take just the one week to find a deal? Would the league make an exception? Do periods of lockouts or strikes not count in the calculation of the monthlong posting? Important questions to consider if we really imagine him as an option for the Cubs, and so far they are unanswered.

•   Are the Cardinals “going for it” in 2022, or just doing their normal thing?

Author: Michael Cerami

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