Lukewarm Stove: Boston Wants David Robertson? Cubs as Aaron Judge Suitors? Benintendi, Marlins, More

Social Navigation


Lukewarm Stove: Boston Wants David Robertson? Cubs as Aaron Judge Suitors? Benintendi, Marlins, More

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are heading to the East Coast tonight to take on the New York Yankees.

And in case you weren’t aware, the Yankees (41-16) are MLB’s top team this season, with a commanding 7.0-game lead in the highly-competitive AL East. But if the season ended today, the Yanks would be joined by THREE OTHER AL East teams in the newly expanded postseason format, as the Rays, Blue Jays, and Red Sox hold the three Wild Cards at the moment.

Which brings me to Boston.

Although they’re currently fourth in the AL East standings, the Red Sox are actually one of the hottest teams in baseball. Their seven-game winning streak may have snapped last night, but they’ve gone 20-9 since May 10! They also have the 7th highest run differential in baseball, and an expected record that’s three wins higher than their actual position in the standings.

Needless to say, after a rough April, the Red Sox are clearly a team on the rise, and certainly look like would-be buyers at the deadline, given how much they actually stand to gain.

So what are they going to be looking for? Well, that’s our first rumor of the day.

Sounds Like Bloom Wants Literally David Robertson

In two separate conversations at The Athletic, we are made very aware of the Red Sox bullpen struggles this season. So far, Boston relievers have blown 11(!) saves, and they’re currently dead-least in average exit velocity and barrel% allowed.

“It’s fair to say at this point, we were hoping to have a more settled picture in the bullpen than we have,” said Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom.

But .. okay, what’s the big deal, right? They’re a team on the rise looking for relief help. Doesn’t that describe a ton of teams? Well, sure. For the most part, it does, even if the Red Sox are probably a little more desperate for relief help than most teams. But what Bloom said next really caught my attention (bolded emphasis mine):

I don’t think anybody should sell short the value of experience, especially in a place like Boston,” Bloom said. “Still, you look around the league and some of the most effective bullpens are not necessarily the most experienced or most well known or best compensated, they’re just guys who are really good at getting people out, but I think not just for themselves but sometimes the value of that experience on the other guys in the ‘pen to help settle everybody, and you can see that really every year I’ve been here.”

Bloom isn’t just look for a good reliever. He’s looking for a good reliever (1) with a lot of experience to help settle down the rest of the pen, and (2) who’s done it on a big stage before, like in Boston.

Well it just so happens that the Cubs’ inexpensive, veteran closer on an expiring deal is a 14-year veteran with 144 saves in cities like New York, Chicago (both Sox and Cubs), and Philadelphia. He’s also a former (and could-also-be-2022) All-Star and a World Series champion, with 37.2 postseason innings in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2017, 2018, and 2021.

In other words, it sounds like Bloom is describing David Robertson, who’s having one of the best years of his career so far: 21.2 IP, 1.66 ERA (1.94 xERA).

Given his performance and contract alone, Robertson already figures to be one of the most coveted deadline pieces, but it sounds like his experience could be a determinative factor for Boston, in particular. I really think this is something to keep an eye on.

***

For what it’s worth, they’re also looking for the right-handed side of a platoon – in other words, someone that can hit left-handed pitching, perhaps especially at first base, where Bobby Dalbec is striking out 35+% of the time against southpaws, and behind the plate, where Kevin Plawecki has a -12 wRC+ against lefties.

Cubs as Suitors for Aaron Judge?

In the spring, Aaron Judge turned down a seven-year, $213.5M extension offer from the Yankees, and so far … that’s worked out for him. Through 55 games (241 PAs), Judge is hitting better than he ever has before: .310/.383/.671 (197 wRC+). He’s leading the Majors in wRC+ and homers and is second only to Manny Machado in total WAR (but only barely).

Point being, if he keeps this up, he will earn a contract that pays him more than what the Yankees already offered. Obviously, that may still come from the Yankees, but Jon Heyman reports that New York is already “sizing up the competition.”

“One Yankees person was heard to remark recently that just five other teams can reasonably afford Judge — the Mets, Dodgers, Giants, Cubs and Red Sox.”

Now, for the most part, that’s just a list of the biggest market teams. So, like, yeah … okay. But Heyman did go on to reiterate that the Cubs are “expected to spend” this offseason, though he expects them to prioritize other spots, specifically mentioning shortstop and starting pitching.

And, indeed, that last bit tracks with other rumors out there already:

As for Judge-Cubs … I really cannot see it. Judge only just turned 30, but he feels like more of a final piece than a building block. Unless (1) the Cubs have some surprisingly fantastic developments at the big league level from here on out *and* (2) the right players are traded at the deadline, I just don’t think Judge will end up in Chicago. Frankly, I think he’ll re-sign with the Yankees.

The Mets and Dodgers have their own limitations that limit the possibility of signing Judge. So maybe this comes down to the Yankees, Red Sox, and (don’t sleep on them) Giants, who play in Judge’s hometown.

Andrew Benintendi Will Be Traded

In a recent Royals Mailbag, Alec Lewis discussed the “0 percent” chance that Andrew Benintendi is still with Kansas City after the trade deadline:

Benintendi — 0 percent: The Royals have a 0.2 percent chance of making the playoffs, per FanGraphs. Benintendi is in the final year of his contract. Players typically have two times in their careers at which they have a say in the team they play for: the MLB Draft and free agency. Benintendi is likely headed for free agency. That being the case, the Royals should trade him.

Benintendi, 27, is a free agent after the season and is currently having the best year of his career: .312/.378/.405 (129 wRC+). His defense continues to rate out as below average, at best, and he doesn’t hit for much power, but he’s barely striking out (14.8%), he’s taking his walks (9.6%) and he’s cheap ($8.5M this season, less than half that due after the deadline). He’s going to be traded.

Odds and Ends

•   The Yankees are also looking for relief help this season, with David Bednar, Michael Fulmer, Mark Melancon, Ian Kennedy, and David Robertson all listed as the top targets.

•   It sounds very speculative – plus so much has changed already this year – but Willson Contreras will “likely” be seeking $100M+ for five years as a free agent after this season. I don’t think the Cubs will offer him that sort of deal and I think he will find other teams that will if he keeps raking like he is. Again, seems speculative. Just FYI.

•   In case you missed it, Ian Happ wants to be a Cub forever:



Author: Michael Cerami

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