Lukewarm Stove: Outfield Alternatives, Meadows Available? Judge Extension Coming, Potential NYY Trades, More

Given the speed with which the market is moving these days, spending literally any time writing up a post like this can be risky. BUT MOMMA DIDN’T RAISE NO WUSS. So here’s some of the latest rumors around the league from around the league on this Wednesday early evening.

(I literally had to change an entire section already, because Kris Bryant signed a massive deal with the Rockies).

Rockies Alternative OF Targets

The Rockies pursuit of Kris Bryant flashed hot and bright two nights ago, when reports that ownership was getting involved (which is usually an omen of serious momentum) … and it turns out that was correct! The former Cubs Rookie of the Year and MVP is signing in Colorado, where he’ll hit 1,000 home runs on his massive seven-year, $182 million deal, with a full no trade clause. That is LEGIT (although, signing with the Rockies has its competitive downsides, as well, I’m sorry to say).

Anyway, the free agent outfield market is clearly buzzing (Seiya Suzuki, Kyle Schwarber, Jesse Winker, Andrew McCutchen, Bryant, etc.) and it might not slow down anytime soon.

And while Brett has a lot of your immediate impact to the signing right here, I do want to point out that the Rockies were also reportedly also looking at Jorge Soler, Michael Conforto, Nick Castellanos, and Corey Dickerson (one of these things is not like the other and it’s Corey Dickerson). So those guys could start looking at new homes very soon, with one suitor off the board.

Then again, the Rockies may have always been keyed in on Bryant more than most (they’ve wanted him for years), so it’s not clear if those late “other interest” rumors were about getting Bryant across the finish line. Just thought you should know.

Austin Meadows Available?

Speaking of the outfield market, there could suddenly be a surprise high-caliber available via trade. According to Ken Rosenthal, Rays outfielder Austin Meadows might just be available.

Meadows, 26, is a corner outfield/DH type who had a breakout season in 2019 (144 wRC+, 4.2 WAR), a down year in 2020 (88 wRC+) and a middling bounce back last season: .234/.315/.458 (113 wRC+). He does have a lefty bat and still crushed righties last season (135 wRC+). And he’s also under control via arbitration through 2024 – so you might wonder if the Cubs would want to check in. But he won’t come cheap.

Unlike some of the Cubs other trade discussions with the Rays, this deal would cost Chicago more than just taking on salary. And I’m not sure Jed Hoyer is really willing to part with any prospects at the moment. Or, if he did, I’d kinda prefer it was for a starting pitcher. Still, that’s another

Aaron Judge Extension Coming?

This is one extension we’ve been discussing all winter, but now, it may finally be here. Aaron Judge, one of the best free agents on the market next offseason, is expected to begin negotiations with the Yankees soon.

“Judge is a very special player right, and a great Yankee,” said owner Hal Steinbrenner. “We will be having conversations, I have no doubt, in the weeks to come.”

And in response to Judge implying that he’d prefer this done by Opening Day, Steinbrenner didn’t mince his words: “I think that’s a pretty normal thing,” Steinbrenner said. “He’s got things to focus on. … We’ve been talking about it. Yes, it’s going to happen soon.”

The Yankees didn’t lay out the cash for Freddie Freeman or Carlos Correa or Corey Seager, electing instead for some cheaper alternatives (Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Anthony Rizzo). So they should be able to pay Judge easily, even with a couple other massive deals still on the books (Gerrit Cole and Giancarlo Stanton). They are the Yankees, after all.

Now you might think this won’t have a big impact on this year’s market, but that’s not necessarily true. If Judge does sign an extension soon (or is widely expected to), then you could see some other positional free agents become more eager to find one-year deals and/or to get opt-outs after the first year of whatever deal they do sign.

Next year’s free agent class was already short on talent WITH Judge. But if he’s gone, there’s a pretty big opportunity to be the belle of the next ball. Anthony Rizzo basically did that on his deal. Michael Conforto is a guy who could look to rebuild some value and re-enter next winter (though the qualifying offer makes that tough). And there were those rumors between the Astros and Carlos Correa.

Yankees Trades Coming?

Sticking with the Yankees, they have a couple trade rumors on the docket. Let’s start with the sell-side rumor first.

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees are quite likely to trade 1B Luke Voit before the start of the season. With Anthony Rizzo (1B), DJ LeMahieu (1B/2B), Gleyber Torres (2B/SS), Isiah Kiner-Falefa (SS), and Josh Donaldson (3B) around the infield, Voit is the odd man out. Heck, they’re already one-man over. Voit does have a pretty big bat, when he’s healthy and with the big league club, so maybe he can be a nice fallback option for whichever team misses out on Freddie Freeman?

On the flip side, the Yankees may be one of the teams pushing for either of the A’s available starting pitchers:

Montas and Manaea are two of the most attractive pitchers on the market, but they should cost a pretty penny to acquire. We’ll see if the Yankees have the guts to dive further in.

Matt Duffy

Wow, what a night for former Cubs infielders to get big deals:

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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