Well, we might not be any closer to a new CBA, but the Cubs were twice connected to Carlos Correa this morning and it’s a Friday, so … that’s a win? Here’s some of the latest rumors around the league.
Padres in on Olson, First Basemen in General
When Dan Szymborski used ZiPS to project out contracts for the remaining free agent hitters – and their potential homes for 2022 – there were some surprising pairings (most notably Carlos Correa to the Angels for 7 years and $240 million). But the one that really caught my eye was Freddie Freeman to the Padres for five years and $150 million.
The finances there seem perfectly reasonable and in line with what Freeman is reportedly seeking, but so far, the Padres have not been included in the Freeman discussion, which, to this point, has centered around the Braves, Yankees, and Dodgers. We do believe the Padres are willing to spend big on another hitter for next season, but (1) maybe not this big, and (2) presumably in the outfield. Oh, and even that would be only after they’re able to move some of the money owed to their current first baseman, Eric Hosmer (and possibly also outfielder Wil Myers or some other contract).
But again, even setting the money aside, first base did not appear to be a target for San Diego this winter. But maybe we were wrong.
A few days after Szymborski’s report, Dennis Lin had this to say at The Athletic:
The Padres would love to have [A’s first baseman Matt] Olson. That’s especially the case now that they employ a manager who oversaw Olson’s development into an All-Star. As is Preller’s wont, the Padres, before the lockout, checked in with every team regarding potentially attainable players. That includes the A’s, who appear likely to deal Olson. I expect the Padres to be in the mix.
Lin is a pretty solid source for Padres information and he expects them to be in the mix for A’s first base trade candidate Matt Olson. Though he does suspect it would be quite difficult to pull off: “To make this work, the Padres might need to engineer a three-team trade, never an easy endeavor — unless they find a separate deal for Hosmer, which we already know to be difficult.” Ultimately Lin concedes there are probably better fits out there than San Diego, but he concludes with “The Padres are one of the interested teams, at least.”
Well, okay then. Adjust your expectations accordingly, I guess, and/or start dreaming again of the Cubs landing a tip-top prospect for taking Hosmer off the Padres’ hands …
Available first basemen: Freddie Freeman (FA), Anthony Rizzo (FA), Matt Olson (Trade), Eric Hosmer (trade)
Teams potentially seeking 1B: Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, Rays, Padres
In a separate piece at The Athletic, Lin also reports that the Rangers and Padres had discussed a trade for first baseman Eric Hosmer at the deadline (similar to the one discussed with the Cubs), which included Robert Hassell (8th overall pick in 2020) and Joey Gallo, from the Rangers. But the big difference in that deal, of course is real value coming back to San Diego (Gallo) and the Padres paying down the “majority of Hosmer’s remaining contract,” which amounts to $59 million from 2022-2025.
Gallo has since been traded to New York and the Rangers are trying much harder to contend in the short term, having just signed Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, and Jon Gray. So it’s not quite clear to me if this sort of deal – or their interest in adding a first baseman, at all – has any sort of forward-looking merit.
The Rangers also already have 26-year-old Nathanial Lowe penciled in for first base. The lefty hitter slashed .264/.357/.415 (115 wRC+) with horrible marks on defense last season, but projects to be a bit better overall in 2022 (120 wRC+, 2.4 WAR). That’s playable for a team trying to contend, even if it’s not quite great.
Freddie Freeman and … the Mets?
There was a little bit of disagreement out east, with ESPN’s Buster Olney reporting not only that the Braves are unlikely to retain the services of Freddie Freeman (at least that’s the reported perception around the league), but also that an entirely new team may soon enter the mix:
“This was the most interesting thing that I heard. There’s a perception in the industry that Freddie Freeman is not going back to the Braves,” Olney explained. “Last summer, that was assumed, like ‘Yeah, eventually he’ll go back there.’ Now, they don’t believe that, and here’s an interesting thing. One of the teams that checked in on the Freddie Freeman availability before December 2 were the Mets.
“And it’s very interesting because you just talked about Steve Cohen saying ‘You know what, I don’t care what the CBT is, unlike the Red Sox, Yankees, and Dodgers, I’m just going to spend what I need to spend in order to win.’ And if he blows past $300 million it doesn’t matter at this point.
On the one hand, you can’t completely count the Mets out with Steve Cohen’s hand on the (presumably diamond-encrusted) wheel. But the Mets payroll is already going to be incredibly high and if negotiations around the CBA don’t take some serious turns around the CBT, the amount of tax the Mets may be forced to pay could be significant (plus the loss of draft picks). Moreover, while the DH is coming, the Mets do have Pete Alonso, 27, at first base, coming off a very solid season (133 wRC+, 3.0 WAR), plus a bounce-back candidate in Dominic Smith. Freeman makes every team in MLB better, but the Mets hardly have the need.
And that’s where the disagreement comes in, via Andy Martino of SNY: “…I’ll say that the odds are close to zero that Freddie Freeman will become a Met in 2022. I actually want to say zero, but have lived long enough to understand that the universe can surprise us. But no, he’s not signing there …. I can simply add the context that anything that did happen failed to progress on any level. If would be truly stunning — beyond stunning — if that changed.”
Yeah, that seems … more right. Martino that the Yankees are more likely to land Freeman than their NL counterpart, but that Yusei Kikuchi is a reasonable Mets target out of the lockout.
Some Cardinals Rumors and Notes:
• According to Derrick Goold, the Cardinals are interested in Colin Moran “as a lefthanded bat off the bench who plays multiple positions and might — emphasis on might — might be available for a minor league deal with an invite to camp and a reserved spot on the bench.” Bonus, the ‘Get a Brain Morans’ meme would be even better.
• Goold also said that the Cardinals “dismissed the notion” of targeting an established closer in free agency or trade this offseason. In the mean time, Giovanny Gallegos will be their presumptive closer, though he could split time with a set-up man brought in from the outside. Beyond that, injured former-closer Jordan Hicks “has been able to get that triple-digit sinker back” and will be a factor at some point (though I think I remember seeing some hope that he could still eventually emerge as a starter?).