Lukewarm Stove: Latest on Soler, Padres Not Set at Catcher, Orioles and Correa, Voit, Castellanos, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Latest on Soler, Padres Not Set at Catcher, Orioles and Correa, Voit, Castellanos, More

Chicago Cubs

It’s weird to still have Lukewarm Stoves to do in the second half of March, but there is still so much out there that can happen on the transaction front around baseball. So we track and discuss.

Here’s what is going on …

Padres Talking to Yankees About Voit

We’ve known for a while now that the Yankees would entertain trading first baseman Luke Voit this offseason, but the additions of Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Anthony Rizzo, to an infield that already had Gleyber Torres and D.J. LeMahieu, were perhaps the final nails in the coffin. So, yes, Voit is on the market, and Ken Rosenthal has confirmed as much.

But the more interesting update is that Rosenthal is now including the Padres among the interest teams, especially after they missed out on Freddie Freeman (and, I’ll add, Seiya Suzuki and Kris Bryant).

So does it make sense? Well, on the one hand, Voit is projected to cost just $5.4M (via arbitration) in 2022. So he might be an easier financial fit for the Padres, who are otherwise unable to add a significant free agent without shedding salary. But if you’re going to add Voit, a first baseman, you might want (need?) to trade first baseman Eric Hosmer anyway. (Enter the Cubs and the prospect-buying plan). So I think I’d file this one under plausible, but maybe a little doubtful. Maybe just a Plan B.

Padres Talking to Jorge Soler

It’s not Plan A, of course, because whether it’s Voit or someone else, the Padres do seem intent on landing a big bat before the regular season begins. For example, maybe Jorge Soler will end up in San Diego.

The issue with a Padres-Soler union is that he’s a little less of a known quantity on offense (though obviously with significant upside) and offers very little on defense. In fact, he’s about as close to a true DH as you can get without being one. So I’m not so sure he’s the best fit for San Diego, unless they can get rid of Hosmer *and* Myers. I wonder if one of the remaining free agent outfielders with slightly better gloves (maybe Nick Castellanos or Michael Conforto), or a trade, is more realistic.

Note that O’Brien also mentions the Braves in the conversation for Soler, which I guess I can see given how much success he had with them last season (132 wRC+ during the regular season, 145 wRC+ and World Series MVP honors in October). However, the Braves DH spot does figure to be occupied for the first large chunk of the season by a healing Ronald Acuña Jr. You’re not going to mess with that.

Just Some More Padres Stuff, In General

Kevin Acee has a writeup on the Padres’ reaction to the Dodgers signing Freddie Freeman, which is interesting for all sorts of reasons. Generally speaking, the Padres’ attitude can be boiled down to “Well, what are ya gonna do about it? They’re the Dodgers.” Which is probably the right way to feel.

But in that article, Acee also reestablishes some longstanding rumors about San Diego we generally know to be true: (1) they need more offense, (2) that can come in the outfield or DH, (3) their primary goal is to trade the salaries of Eric Hosmer and/or Wil Myers. And there’s some new stuff, too:

Still, they acknowledge the need for more offense, presumably in the person of a corner outfielder they have yet to acquire and possibly a designated hitter. They have questions at catcher (among other positions), don’t have a clear closer and are coming off a season in which they spectacularly fell from playoff position in the final month and a half.

And here they are, having made more moves affecting their major league roster than any other team over the past two years. And they have a couple big contracts from which they are trying to get relief via trade. Among their chief aims before the season begins is to move either Myers or first baseman Eric Hosmer and a bulk of their $20 million salaries for ’22.

Note that the Padres are reportedly looking for a closer (Cubs can’t help them there, but what about Craig Kimbrel?) and are questioning(?) their depth at catcher, which feels fairly unexpected. Right now, Austin Nola, Victor Caratini, and Jorge Alfaro project for 2.5 WAR, which isn’t awful. I hadn’t heard of them looking for outside help behind the plate. Not recently, at least.

But if you’re thinking it, no, I doubt a trade centered around Willson Contreras will make sense for either side. The Cubs should *already* be able to get a good prospect or two JUST for taking on big salary. You wouldn’t need to add Contreras to get something of value. Something involving Contreras would have to be a MUCH bigger deal – going the Cubs’ way – to make any sense.

Correa and the Orioles?

Rumors connecting free agent shortstop Carlos Correa to the Orioles … yes, the Baltimore Orioles, allegedly of MLB … began to pop up over the last 24 hours, or so. But so far, I have chosen mostly to ignore them.

Certainly, the low-spending, far-from contention, AL-East dwelling Orioles aren’t going to land the most expensive free agent on the market right now, right? Mike Elias, the Orioles GM, was the Astros’ amateur scouting director when Houston took Correa second overall in the 2012 MLB Draft. So there’s a connection. But this would be a surprise, to say the least.

At a minimum, the Orioles would likely have to WAY out-bid any competition to lure Correa to Baltimore right now. And Elias, himself, just said that the Orioles were unlikely to hand out a multi-year deal to any free agents this winter. All of that true, and logical, and reasonable … and yet, Ken Rosenthal has heard from “a source with knowledge of the situation” that Correa “might be an exception [for the Orioles], if his price dropped to a level the club deemed appropriate.”

Who knows what that level is, but I guess this is not technically nothing anymore. And although we must always question the motives behind the source(s) of a rumor/report, especially if sounds unlikely to be true, people don’t usually use the Orioles, of all teams, for leverage. And considering how little we’ve heard from the Astros since owner Jim Crane got involved on Sunday, well, it’s all just odd. I’d bet money against Correa ending up in Baltimore, but it’s out there and I wanted you to see it.

Castellanos Rumors

Outside of Miami, and despite his recent success, Nick Castellanos has not been carried in a ton of rumors this offseason. But that has begun to change. The Philadelphia Phillies, who have already added Kyle Schwarber, are reportedly interested in another slugging outfielder with a borderline DH-quality glove:

With Bryce Harper and Schwarber already penciled into the outfield corners, I can’t say the fit in Philadelphia is as obvious as it probably will be elsewhere. But, hey, the DH exists for a reason. And if you feel like you’ve got a chance to add a big, lineup-changing bat, like Castellanos, take it.

I mean, just think about a lineup with Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Rhys Hoskins, Kyle Schwarber, *and* Nick Castellanos. That’s a lot of fire power.

Odds and Ends:

•   With an eye on later in 2022 and 2023, the Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly signed both Danny Duffy and Jimmy Nelson this spring. Both are injured pitchers who won’t contribute for a while, and these are the sort of gambles that smart big market teams love to make. They don’t pay out often, but when they do hit, they pay out big. In fact, I had hoped the Cubs would target Nelson, specifically, earlier this offseason. Alas. (There is good news, though: The Dodgers will probably want to hire me now. It’s nice to have options.)

•   I didn’t know other teams besides the Cubs were allowed to sign pitchers yesterday:

•   Another old friend finds a home on a very healthy payday:

Author: Michael Cerami

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