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Lukewarm Stove: Rizzo’s Market, Bryant’s Mismatch, Cubs Done with Rotation? Short-Term Correa? Rodon, Story, More

Chicago Cubs

Anthony Rizzo joined Ian Happ and Co. on The Compound Podcast today, revealing that he finally moved out of Chicago this weekend after living here for seven years — a little dose of finality I wasn’t expecting on my quiet Tuesday morning.

He also explained the process of being recruited as a free agent just before the lockout and how exciting it is to be wanted, as opposed to “the team bashing you and saying why you’re not good enough anymore.” So … read into that however you will. (And you will, since the last team with whom he would’ve been in extension negotiations was the Cubs. Speaking of which … )

Anthony Rizzo’s Journey

As for this offseason, Rizzo seemed to imply that he had plenty of free agent interest in November, but added that the right sort of deal just wasn’t there before the lockout. So did he make a mistake not extending with the Cubs? Unfortunately, probably.

I was among those who believed initially that the Cubs’ offer last spring (five-year, $70 million) was light, especially for a Cubs ambassador and World Series Champ like Rizzo, who already took one under-market deal earlier in his career. But now it’s fair to wonder if he’ll even come close to that in free agency. Five years is very hard to see, but I think he’ll still get a strong enough AAV, especially with the DH coming to the NL. It probably all depends on what happens with Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson.

If the Braves re-sign Freeman, then you could see the Yankees pivot quickly back to Rizzo. But if the Yankees manage to steal Freeman away (or land Olson in trade), I’m not quite sure where Rizzo will end up. Maybe the Braves shift to him, maybe not. In any case, it seems that the only way Rizzo ends up back in Chicago is if the Yankees and Braves get their first base needs satisfied elsewhere, and no surprise team like the Marlins or the Rangers pops up.

Cubs Pitching Plans

At the outset of the offseason, we knew the Cubs badly needed to add starting pitching, ideally of the power-pitching variety. We also figured they’d want to grab at least two sure-fire starters and then target some flier types to round out the depth and increase the upside of the entire group. And so far, so good, at least on the two sure-fire adds. The Cubs have already added Marcus Stroman and Wade Miley from outside the organization to go along with internal options like Kyle Hendricks, Adbert Alzolay, Alec Mills, Keegan Thompson, Justin Steele (and Caleb Kilian?).

So now they’re going to go out and get some power, right? Maybe gamble on Carlos Rodon? Pretty obvious, right? Eh. Not so fast.

According to Sahadev Sharma at The Athletic, the starting staff is no longer the priority for the Cubs in free agency. Cubs President Jed Hoyer expanded: “I would not rule out continuing to look for innings,” Hoyer said. “But that said, I think we’ll turn our attention elsewhere on the roster more.”

I don’t think the Cubs would pass up anything they considered value this offseason, particularly short-term value, but there really aren’t many power pitchers left on the market. So while I don’t think you should necessarily cross Carlos Rodon completely off your list just yet, I think he’s only ending up on the North Side if his market craters and the Cubs can take advantage.

Carlos Rodon’s Market

Speaking of Rodon, an article out of the Daily Herald actually has a good read on his market. Starting in Chicago, the White Sox are unlikely to re-sign their former starter with Lance Lynn, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Dallas Keuchel, and Michael Kopech already around. And while the Cubs had interest last offseason and were expected to again this year, they “don’t figure to spend big on another starter,” now that they’ve added Marcus Stroman (so call that additional confirmation of Hoyer/Sharma’s point).

By contrast, the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Mariners, and Dodgers are all teams rumored to be interested in Rodon, who, you’ll note, is not connected to draft pick compensation because the White Sox did not extend to him a qualifying offer.

This article out of Boston explores Rodon’s upside and risks with a Red Sox tint, but by now, you know the story: Rodon will plausibly be dominant, if he can stay healthy. Plus, he finished the year with a massive drop in velocity that’s rightfully scaring teams away.

But I gotta say … if he is really forced to settle for a one-year or one-year + option deal, I really hope the Cubs find a way to get themselves re-involved. Rodon feels worth the short-term risk, given the way this team is being assembled.

Kris Bryant’s Mismatch with the Cubs

I don’t think there are too many Cubs fans out there expecting a reunion with Kris Bryant this offseason, even if we were just told to “not rule it out.” My pessimism is not rooted in a belief that Kris Bryant isn’t good (he is) or that the Cubs couldn’t use him (they could), but rather about what each side is seeking and how diametrically opposed those wants seem to be.

Patrick Mooney writes: “Years are going to be important for Bryant because he will turn 30 in January and want some long-term security after his family dealt with years of trade rumors. Going long is how deals are structured for players of Bryant’s stature (keeping the luxury tax in mind).”

While Sahadev Sharma writes: Years are going to trump money 10 times out of 10 when Hoyer and his group are negotiating contracts.”

So Bryant wants to go long, wherever he goes, and Hoyer wants to keep things short, whomever he signs. Throw in the years of failed attempts at signing an extension, the service time grievance, his age, and everything else we know, and I just find a reunion difficult to imagine.

Yankees, Correa, Judge, Story

Joel Sherman has a bunch of useful notes on the Yankees, including that they made a $25M offer to Justin Verlander before he re-signed with the Astros, implying that New York is willing to push their payroll up to at least $250M for 2022 (Sherman actually thinks it’ll rise to roughly $260M, which is a fairly specific number, and either would be way above the luxury tax unless it rises dramatically).

•   He also points out that Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Jameson Taillon, Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge, Zach Britton, Joely Rodriguez, and Gary Sanchez represent $75 million coming off the books after 2022. So, yeah, I’d be ready for them to spend. On whom? Well …

•   If the Braves don’t go to 6/$180 for Freddie Freeman, Sherman believes he might be willing to more seriously consider offers from the Yankees and Dodgers, who could be willing to go all out. We’ve discussed this dynamic a million times, but it’s a pretty important thread.

•   If that doesn’t happen, however, he wonders whether they’d blink and do a mega-deal for Carlos Correa, something he expects will cost more than Francisco Lindor’s $341M deal. Well, I shouldn’t say he wonders that. It’s more like he teed it up and shot it down: “The Yankees have shown no desire to make an offer that kind of length or total,” especially with an Aaron Judge extension on the horizon. He DOES however, suggest that they’d be in on a “shorter deal at a higher annual value, like five years at $200 million,” which is something I wondered just yesterday:

•   Now, obviously, there’s a reason players don’t take these kind of deals often (the ubiquity of opt-outs decreases the desirability of these short-term deals, since you can have your cake and eat it, too), but there’s also a reason smart, big-market front offices keep trying to make them happen. Maybe, one day, someone with a big enough hole at a certain position, with enough short-term financial flexibility, and a shockingly open division will offer enough short-term dollars to get something done.

•   Sherman wonders if Trevor Story will be forced to take a short-term deal to reestablish his value, but I think he is off on the price tag: “Say one year at $35 million with a player option for a second season at $35 million?” No way is Story getting what is effectively a two-year, $70M deal, with an opt-out after the first year. (Brett: That’s high, for sure, but I’m not actually sure it’s CRAZY high. Verlander, coming off surgery and the sticky stuff changes got the same deal at $25M/$25M, and he’ll be 39 in February. This is absolutely apples and oranges, but my point is just that I think short-term deal price tags are just going to keep going way up.)

In any case, he believes Story will find at least a three-year deal, mentioning the Mariners and Red Sox, in particular. I tend to think the Mariners prefer someone like Kris Bryant rather than a shortstop, and I’m still not sold on the Red Sox adding a shortstop with Xander Bogaerts there. But well, there’s the rumor. And another …

Mariners Made an Offer to Story

Coming off his best season in the big leagues, J.P Crawford, 26, figures to be the Mariners starting shortstop in 2022. But that won’t stop the Mariners from exploring the market:

“That’s one of the first conversations I had this offseason was with J.P.,” [Jerry] Dipoto said. “And I told him, ‘Hey, you are our shortstop. You will see that we are courting other shortstops. But it is with the understanding of that inquiry is made with the intent that that player is willing to move to another position. We do have flexibility where that player can play second or third days, so it gives us a chance to go target the most impactful player we can find. As long as that player is willing to not play shortstop, primarily, then we should be game.”

So who are the Mariners going to court? Well, according to The Seattle Times, Corey Seager was not seen as a realistic option and Marcus Semien was never really in their sights before both signed with the Rangers. Meanwhile, Javy Báez wasn’t even an ideal target, because of his contact issues. Carlos Correa would fit (in terms of his profile), but the Mariners are not expected to join the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs, and Braves, who’ve all reportedly been in contact with his reps. Also feels worth pointing out: Correa is reportedly seeking an 8-10 year deal and we know he’s going to want to beat Seager. Generally assumed information now being reported.

The big reveal from the Times is that the Mariners made an official offer to Trevor Story before the lockout, though nobody seems to know if it’ll still be on the table when MLB resumes. The Mariners reportedly prefer Story and his expected price range because it’ll allow them to go after Seiya Suzuki (another potential Cubs target) and another starting pitcher in free agency and/or trade (A’s/Reds).

Odds and Ends:

•   Miami isn’t done adding this offseason. They’re reportedly looking to add at least one more outfielder when the lockout is over, which could create some overlap with the Cubs, who could arguably use an outfielder at any of three spots.

•   Back in 2008, the Mariners, Mets, and Indians made a massive and unlikely 12-player trade, which you can read all about over at MLB.com, including some juicy behind the scenes stuff.

•  Just a reminder:



Author: Michael Cerami

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