Lukewarm Stove: Cubs Targets, Boston-Matz, Huge Olson Asking Price, Suzuki Posting, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Cubs Targets, Boston-Matz, Huge Olson Asking Price, Suzuki Posting, More

Chicago Cubs

Some rumors for your Bears football Sunday. That is to say, these are baseball rumors, but taking place on a Bears football Sunday …

Cubs and Sox Targets, Former Cubs

Bruce Levine stepped in on 670 The Score on Saturday morning and dropped some rumors on both the Cubs and White Sox (and some former Cubs).

•   Although he was speaking generally, Levine decided to begin the segment by mentioning Michael Conforto as a fit for both sides of town. I don’t think that was entirely out of nowhere, and I do think Conforto could be a compelling, buy-low target for the Cubs (still 28 years old, left-handed power bat, career 124 wRC+). The rub, however, is that he is a qualified free agent, and thus would cost the Cubs a second-round draft pick, the associated bonus pool space, and IFA money. It’s a tough one, because although he’s not likely to be a super short-term signing, the Cubs would still really have to like him to age well, and coordinate the move well with other additions.

•   Marcus Semien seems like an obvious fit for the White Sox given their needs at second base, but his asking price will likely be too high. Signing him would prevent the White Sox from making further moves.

•   Jon Gray is the free agent pitcher Levine mentions as the right fit for the Cubs (and to a lesser extent, the Sox). Sahadev Sharma has mentioned Gray as a smart target for the Cubs, too, and Brett’s mentioned him frequently.

•   If Freddie Freeman prices himself out of the Braves range, Levine believes they’ll turn to Anthony Rizzo on a three-year deal. Typically, I’d say there’s no reason to believe Freeman will leave the Braves, but Levine reports that he’s seeking $200M which is about $30-40 million more than I probably would’ve expected. With that said, the Braves have signaled a willingness to spend this offseason. The problem is that they’re probably also looking for an outfielder and perhaps another infielder. If they give Freeman $200M, can they afford to accomplish all those goals?

•   A lot of teams are in on Javy Báez, and the Mets are hot on him for second base. Báez will play second base in New York, but maybe nowhere else.

•   Talking to Kris Bryant, Levine gets the sense that he prefers a West Coast team. Bryant is from Las Vegas originally, and played college ball in San Diego.

Seiya Suzuki To Be Posted Monday

As expected, Japanese slugger Seiya Suzuki will be posted tomorrow morning, marking the start of his one-month period to sign a deal with an MLB team (December 22nd would be the deadline day).

However, if there is a lockout, his posting period will pause and resume whenever the league does. And that cuts both ways. While an extension would give Suzuki the option to wait things out, I have a feeling he’ll try to get a deal done before December 1st, to avoid the problem altogether. I doubt very much he wants to be part of the post-CBA scrum if a lockout lasts the maximum length.

Another Red Sox-Matz Connection

On Friday, we had a nice discussion on free agent starter Steven Matz, who could be a nice target for the Cubs this offseason, but his early connection to the Red Sox is being reinforced via Alex Spier at The Boston Globe:

“The Sox are trying to shore up the rotation with Rodriguez gone. They have had varying degrees of contact with virtually all of the top starters on the market, including Ray. One pitcher prominently on the radar: lefthander Steven Matz.”

Pitchers have been signing early and Matz feels like the tier of players who could be more willing to lock down a reasonable deal now if/when it’s available rather than waiting for the upside/uncertainty of a post-CBA world.

Other Red Sox Notes:

•   The Red Sox were reportedly in on Justin Verlander and so were the Yankees, among other teams, before he re-signed with the Astros.

•   The Red Sox are looking to upgrade their bullpen and are specifically said to be looking “internationally for help,” which is an interesting stray line.

•   Speaking of international help, the Red Sox are expected to engage outfielder Seiya Suzuki as soon as he’s posted.

Phillies in on Givens

There’s not much of a Cubs-connection here, because I doubt they’ll try to add to the bullpen at this level (despite some early rumors), but it was direct enough to include here (via Jim Salisbury at NBC Sports Philly): “According to a baseball source, the team has had substantive conversations with Mychal Givens. It’s not clear where they will end up, but the source indicated that they were ongoing.”

Here’s Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski on this market: “I’d like to have someone close a game for us and count on it,” he said. “But, do we have a couple people do that, or do you want to spend your dollars doing that versus doing something else, signing a couple people?”

A’s Asking Price for Olson:

The A’s are known sellers this offseason (anyone outside 0-3 years of service time is theoretically available), but Matt Olson is coming off a 5.0 WAR, 146 wRC+ season. And thus the asking price is high:

Darn. I was hoping the A’s would be shooting for a reasonable, mutually beneficial return for Matt Olson this offseason. 

All jokes aside, an Olson trade feels likely this offseason, and the Yankees figure to be the top suitor. In fact, those conversations have already began.

But as we’ve discussed, New York’s first base gig is tied up in a number of other threads that are unlikely to be resolved before December 1st. For example, (1) Is there any shot at stealing Freddie Freeman away from the Braves? It’s very unlikely, but I bet the Yankees would like to have the option. So they might hold everything off until he extends. (2) Would re-signing Anthony Rizzo be a more cost effective solution? Perhaps you can’t count on Rizzo’s health, but he’ll cost only money (and not much, at that). Plus, Rizzo is reportedly “eager” to re-sign with the Yankees. (3) If they land a free agent shortstop, would first base even be open for Olson (Gleyber Torres to second, DJ LeMahieu to first)?

Odds and Ends:

•   The Astros are unlikely to re-sign Carlos Correa or dish for Corey Seager, but they did lay out some serious cash for Justin Verlander, which means they will prioritize these next two seasons. Just something to keep in mind this offseason:

•   We’ve reached the tea-leaf reading portion of extension talks between the Rays and Wander Franco:

•   Not many surprises for this look at the best free agent at each position, but one thing that did strike me is the steep dropoff after Kris Bryant at third base (Matt Duffy, Kyle Seager, Jonathan Villar). Bryant is likely selling himself as an everywhere man, but he might find more traction as the “top third baseman” available.

•   Like we said on Friday, the Mets are going to spend big this winter.

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Author: Michael Cerami

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