Over at ESPN, Buster Olney got into a bit of what can be – and is still – going on behind the scenes during the lockout, noting that even the process of discussing rumors with sources is complicated. Team executives aren’t supposed to speak with the media about any of the locked out players, which answers my conspiracy theory about how teams could otherwise “negotiate” with players by planting rumors. Which isn’t to say those conversations aren’t still happening (Olney references texting with an executive who was using his wife’s phone number just to be safe!).
It’s all wild and worth a read for the behind-the-scenes look, alone. But, hey, he also gets into some rumors. For example …
NYY and LAD in on Correa/Story
Immediately after the Dodgers and Yankees missed out on signing Corey Seager, there was thinking that either would turn to Carlos Correa, the other $300M+ shortstop on the market. Both teams were said to have preferred Seager, particularly for his left-handed bat, plus the Dodgers already have Trea Turner at short, and even the Yankees might not want to have FOUR $300M+ players on the roster all at the same time (Giancarlo Stanton, Gerrit Cole, a theoretical, but expected extension for Aaron Judge, plus Correa).
But maybe those tides are turning.
According to Olney, some agents believe the Yankees are going to be one of the most aggressive teams coming out of the lockout, and “might revisit conversations with the representatives of Correa and [Trevor] Story.” And they say something similar about the Dodgers, adding that it’s “unclear whether Trea Turner will remain” in Los Angeles beyond 2022, his final year under contract, making a pursuit of either other shortstop more realistic.
Now, that said, we don’t have to take this at face value. And we don’t even have to guess at the source of the rumor — Olney says right there it’s from a player-agent. And an agent certainly could have any number of reasons to want the world to know the big-money Dodgers and Yankees are totally in on these two shortstops. So for now, it’s just another piece of the puzzle.
Bryant, the Giants, and Money
We’ve been doing this dance with the Giants and Kris Bryant for so long. On one side, we have a Giants team with an obvious need to bolster their lineup, with openings in the outfield and at third base and some familiarity and reciprocal interest with Bryant from last season. And on the other side, we have a wave of rumors indicating that the Giants are not all that interested in re-signing Bryant this offseason.
But here’s a new explanation as to what exactly is going into that calculus, via Kiley McDaniel at ESPN: “The Giants make sense with Bryant … but their payroll is expected to balloon in 2022 – maybe to CBT threshold levels. That could mean more than $75 million left to address those spots and maybe add another pitcher or two. Sources believe the Giants aren’t looking to go after nine-figure targets ….” Volume approach, apparently.
If the Giants aren’t willing to go to nine-figures on anyone, it’s difficult to see Bryant as a realistic option. Indeed, I think that’s the point McDaniel is trying to make. Because even though I sense that Bryant isn’t going to reach the $200 million threshold, he should be a nine-figure guy no problem, right?
On the flip side, the Giants do have plenty of short-term money to spend, and McDaniel thinks they’ll be the premier landing spot for guys that want to do a short-term, high-AAV deal. That reportedly includes guys like Trevor Story, Nick Castellanos, Michael Conforto, Kyle Schwarber, Seiya Suzuki, Clayton Kershaw (can you imagine Kershaw as a Giant, lol), and Carlos Rodon.
So long story short, if Bryant wants to do the short-term, high-AAV thing, the Giants may be there to facilitate. But we already know that the one thing he’s looking for is a long-term deal (likely with a no-trade clause) so that he can keep his young family in one place after multiple years of trade rumors. Just keep your eyes on the West Coast teams. I think the Mariners are where he ends up and I’d bet for nine figures – just my gut.
More on Kris Bryant Market
Alden Gonzalez tries to come up with five teams that could make sense for Kris Bryant, though I’m not sure they all make quite as much sense as he’d have you believe — especially the Giants, for all the reasons we listed above, and the Brewers … who are absolutely not about to hand Bryant the amount of money he’d require to sign. The Red Sox, Mariners, and Phillies, however, are perfectly logical landing spots, and likely Bryant’s best bets at a big deal.
There’s also this from David Kaplan on the Cubs (non-)interest in a reunion with Bryant this offseason:
Kris Bryant Reunion in Chicago? No Chance According to @thekapman
— FanSided MLB (@FanSidedMLB) December 16, 2021
For what it’s worth, I think it’s the same story as the Giants. The Cubs want short-term deals (the price of which is lesser consequence) and Bryant wants long-term security.
Cubs and Correa
Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma dive into the question of whether or not the Cubs will ever get serious about signing Carlos Correa, and the answer is about what you would expect. The Cubs may have upwards of $50 million more to spend on the 2022 payroll and they do have a need for a high-quality defensive shortstop and a big bat like Correa … HOWEVA, they also have a lot of other holes to fill, so committing most of that money to Correa could be a road block. And perhaps more importantly, “it’s going to come down to years with Correa,” with respect to the Cubs.
Jed Hoyer seems genuinely intent on NOT handing out a long-term deal right now, so unless Correa is willing to accept one of those short-term, high-AAV deals (which is something I just discussed *and* something Buster Olney now sees as a fallback option for Correa), it just seems so unlikely to happen.
But Mooney and Sharma don’t leave us hanging. In addition to other options in free agency, they reminded me that the Cubs could also explore a trade to fulfill their infield needs, mentioning Matt Chapman, Didi Gregorius, Jonathan Villar, Ha-Seong Kim, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa. You are going to want to check that article out.
Red Sox, Rizzo, and Suzuki
This was a pretty thin mention, all things considered, but Kiley McDaniel is a solid source and I don’t think these sort of seemingly off-the-cuff mentions are ever by accident. So take it for what you want (emphasis mine):
Freeman would also fit in Boston, which could upgrade on Bobby Dalbec (who could slide into a corner utility role), and still use the DH spot in 2023 to break in top prospect Triston Casas after Martinez’s contract expires. But I’m not sure if it’s in keeping with the new direction of the Sox — who balked at giving $300+ million to Betts — to give half that to Freeman. More in that new style of thinking would be smaller deals with a couple of position players — Anthony Rizzo and Suzuki, for example — and maybe a couple more low-cost gambles.
Seiya Suzuki is someone we’ve been eying as a nice high-upside gamble for the 2022 Cubs, but he has no shortage of suitors so far (more on that in a second). Meanwhile, Rizzo’s market seems wrapped up entirely in the Dodgers-Yankees-Braves web of interest in Freddie Freeman (and to a lesser extent, Matt Olson). But I suppose you can now add the Red Sox to that list of teams as possible suitors for Rizzo, whom they did target at the trade deadline, if you recall.
I still wouldn’t mind – or rule out – a reunion with Rizzo in Chicago, but there are a LOT of hurdles to cross before that becomes a possibility.
Seiya Suzuki’s Huge Market
Circling back to Suzuki, Jon Heyman the list of teams with theoretical interest is enormous. The original article cited here mentions the Yankees, Rangers, Blue Jays, Phillies, and Red Sox, while Heyman adds the “Giants, Mariners, and more.”
So that’s, what, eight teams involved, if we’re generous and count the Cubs based on the fit? And if we count the Cubs, it’s probably even more than eight? As a pure statistical matter, I don’t see the Cubs winning that bidding.
Hear multiple West Coast teams are also in on Suzuki, including Giants, Mariners and more. Multitalented OF predictably has big interest. https://t.co/elBPGKWbgC
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 15, 2021
For what it’s worth, Suzuki will have 20 days to sign a deal once the lockout ends, and is projected to earn something in the five-year, $50-$60M range.
Odds and End:
• Old friend alert:
The NC Dinos of KBO are working on signing OF Nick Martini. Means that OF Aaron Altherr won’t be brought back in 2022.https://t.co/H9mzEQRaPN
— Sung Min Kim (@sung_minkim) December 15, 2021
• More non-MLB deals:
Freddy Galvis has a 2-year agreement with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. Done deal.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 13, 2021