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Lukewarm Stove: Rays Trade Luplow, Red Sox Signing Wacha, Báez Down to Three(?), Mullins, More

Chicago Cubs

I didn’t think I’d be putting together a Lukewarm Stove on Friday night, but, as anticipated, things wound up getting mighty busy today (and I don’t think it’s going to slow down this weekend). The Mets have signed a couple position players (UPDATE: and now a third!), and now some more things to share …

•   Another Tampa Bay Rays trade – they’re really clearing out their arbitration-eligible players now, heads up, Cubs – with the Diamondbacks acquiring outfielder Jordan Luplow for infield prospect Ronny Simon (21-year-old, switch-hitting second baseman who just reached High-A and doesn’t rate as a top 30 prospect in the strong Diamondbacks system). Luplow, 28, was just about to start his trips through arbitration, and split his 2021 season between Cleveland and Tampa. He’s been a lefty-masher in his career, but he started hitting righties well this past season, and that’s probably a bit of what the Diamondbacks are betting on. The price doesn’t appear to have been much, though, and thus this feels like the kind of trade you see in the lead up to the non-tender deadline: “Hey everyone, we’re probably gonna non-tender this guy – anyone want to trade us something modest before we do?”

•   (And if Simon’s name sounds vaguely familiar to you, that’s because he was a youngster in the Cubs’ farm system pre-pandemic, and was eventually the PTBNL innnnnnn the Andrew Chafin trade!)

•   Another move this evening, with the Red Sox signing Michael Wacha to a one-year deal:

•   Still only 30 years old, Wacha is a guy teams are gonna keep hoping they can get productivity out of, despite the fact that he hasn’t had a good full season since 2015. He was not on my radar as a good one-year option for the Cubs, but hey, maybe the Red Sox will turn him around.

•   The Javy Báez stuff got really hot this afternoon, with three reports within an hour of each other connecting the Tigers, quite seriously, to Báez. Jon Heyman adds a fourth:

•   There have been rumors that the Mets (Francisco Lindor) would be the only place where Báez would sign to play second base, and the Mets just signed infielder Eduardo Escobar. It really makes me wonder if they know Báez is going elsewhere (though they’ll make sure to say publicly that Escobar has nothing to do with their interest in Báez). Also, money talks. If the Red Sox make a huge offer that tops the market, I’m sure Báez could find his way to pairing up with Xander Bogaerts up the middle. That said, I remain very dubious that the Red Sox are going to drop well into nine figures on a long-term second baseman. If those are truly the three main teams in on Báez, and given today’s flurry of rumors, I do increasingly wonder if we’re about to be smacked by a report that Javy is going to Detroit within the next four days (i.e., pre-CBA expiration).

•   Stray note on the Tigers: having already signed Eduardo Rodriguez, and also being a small-market club for purposes of draft pick compensation, they have a unique advantage in the market when it comes to signing qualified free agents. The next one would cost them only their fourth highest pick in the draft. I’m not saying that would be the difference in them choosing to go after Carlos Correa (qualified) over Javy Báez (not qualified), but it’ll be interesting to think about as they navigate what is clearly going to be a very active offseason.

•   What are the Orioles doing:

•   That tells me that either the Orioles don’t believe in Mullins’ breakout season, or they are planning to have the world’s longest rebuild (which is already heading into year five). Mullins is not that old (just turned 27), and is under team control for FOUR more seasons. If that’s not a guy who fits your window after four straight seasons of being awful, then you’ve done something seriously wrong. (That said, I’m pretty sure I’d take it as the O’s believing he’ll never again come close to duplicating his .291/.360/.518, 136 wRC+, 5.3 WAR season, and I’d go heavy on buyer beware.)

•   And as mentioned at the top, the New York Mets not only signed Eduardo Escobar, but also added outfielders Mark Canha and Starling Marte. Clearly they had a play to go all out in a single strike on the positional side, and now the question is whether is spurs more activity on that side of the ball in advance of Tuesday’s non-tender deadline, and Wednesday’s possible lockout.



Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.