Lukewarm Stove: Mets About to Spend BIG (Again), Rodon's Expected Contract Length, Could Toronto Trade a Young Catcher? More

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Lukewarm Stove: Mets About to Spend BIG (Again), Rodon’s Expected Contract Length, Could Toronto Trade a Young Catcher? More

Chicago Cubs

The last article I wrote at Bleacher Nation was 15 days ago, a Cubs Pre-Gamin’ post against the Reds, one day before the birth of my first son, Leo! That’s the longest I’ve gone without publishing a post on this site since I started back in 2015. Time to change that.

Let’s talk about some of the rumors bubbling up across the league as the 2023 postseason rumbles on …

Mets Offseason Spending

For as happy as I was to see the Mets flame out in the first round of the postseason (both because of their weak stomachs at the trade deadline and because I just don’t like the Mets), I remain worried about what comes next. That is to say, owner Steve Cohen has the deepest pockets in MLB, and I think he’s going to flex them (again) after a second-consecutive disappointing season (he hasn’t even won the division yet!).

2021 Payroll: $215M
2022 Payroll: $288M

So far, the expectation out of New York is that the Mets will spend BEYOND the highest level of the luxury tax this offseason ($290M and aptly nicknamed the “Steve Cohen Tax”), which could create some annoying competition for the Cubs, who figure to be as active as any team in MLB.

SNY took a look at their 2023 payroll as of today to get a sense of what could be coming. Here’s the long and short of it:

  • The Mets have roughly $205M committed to their 2023 payroll, but that has some very big caveats.
  • Opt-out Subtractions: If you subtract expected opt-outs/options for Jacob deGrom ($30.5M), Chris Bassitt ($19M), and Taijuan Walker ($6M), that drops the number down to $149.5M.
  • Arbitration Additions: Take that number and add arbitration estimates for Pete Alsono ($15.9M), Jeff McNeil ($6.2M), Luis Guillorme ($1.5M), Drew Smith ($1.2M), Tomas Nido ($1.6M), and Joey Lucchesi ($1.15M) and your back up to roughly $161M to start.

It’s more complicated than that (what happens with Dom Smith’s $4M? Will any of their four players accept the $19.65M qualifying offer? Etc.), but that’s a good place to start mentally.

And here’s the thing, even if you think Cohen will do whatever it takes to re-sign Jacob deGrom (~$44M per year), you’re still back up to only $205 million. The good news, I suppose, is that they have a TON of outgoing free agents they’ll likely want to re-sign in addition to deGrom. Most notably: Edwin Diaz, Carlos Carrasco, Chris Bassitt, Taijuan Walker, and Brandon Nimmo. They probably won’t go after all of them, but still … that should eat up a big chunk of change, while basically just running it back in 2023.

The other good news? There’s next to no chance the Mets are going after one of the big free agent shortstops with Francisco Lindor in place, so the Cubs shouldn’t see any competition from them on that front (and the same arguably goes for the Yankees, for what it’s worth). But I could see Cohen driving up the price on impact starting pitching, which is something the Cubs need as badly as anyone out there.

And remember, if they miss out on deGrom (who reportedly might want to sign somewhere closer to his home in Florida), that’s a LOT more money to spend elsewhere. Bottom line, even with all their outgoing free agents, you should expect the Mets to spend. Big.

Carlos Rodon Contract Length

Carlos Rodon, 29, is coming off the best season of his career (31 starts, 2.88 ERA, 6.2 WAR) one season after his previous best season of his career (24 starts, 2.37 ERA, 4.9 WAR). And although he’s attached to draft pick compensation this winter, he’s going to be one of the highly sought after free agents of the offseason — and at a position of great need for the Chicago Cubs. So … go get him right?

Well setting aside some of the other attractive options (Kodai Senga? Justin Verlander? deGrom, etc.) as well as the draft pick compensation, there’s the pesky little matter of what it’ll actually take to land him. And I have to say, I’m not particularly optimistic after the first rumor out there. Not because of expected cost, but rather length.

In a Cubs offseason chat at MLB Trade Rumors, Tim Dierkes (five years) and Anthony Franco (six years) both project fairly long deals for Rodon. And while I don’t doubt that Rodon will get what he wants, I do doubt the Cubs willingness to sign a pitcher to a deal that long (especially one with an injury history like Rodon). Indeed, everything Jed Hoyer has said (and done) as president has indicated a reluctance toward LONG deals. Not necessarily pricey ones. So if it’s going to take six years to get Rodon, you can probably forget it. That said, my gut says teams will be seeking a four-year deal, Rodon will be seeking a six-year deal, and the winner will end up at five (or some kind of four-year-plus-easy-vesting-option-if-healthy thing).

For what it’s worth, Dierkes projects a five-year deal in the $75 million range for Senga this offseason, but concedes it’s a bit early to really understand what it’ll cost to get him. Remember, Senga comes with no draft pick compensation (like Rodon) and no posting fee (like Seiya Suzuki).

Cubs or Not, Jose Abreu Is a Goner

By now, you’ve already seen the set of rumors connecting the Cubs to free agent (and long-time White Sox) first baseman Jose Abreu. If not, the gist is that he’s “high on the Cubs wishlist” for the offseason.

And while there’s nothing new to report on the Cubs-specific connection, I did think it was worth sharing two related rumors with respect to the Sox moving on, especially because they’re from someone other than Bruce Levine (who penned the initial reports).

  • The Chicago Sun Times (Daryl Van Schouwen) hints at a future without Jose Abreu, reporting that the Sox front office actually did NOT want to extend him the last time around, but were out-voiced by owner Jerry Reinsdorf who, himself, extended the three-year, $50M deal.
  • USA Today (Bob Nightengale) is a little more forthcoming, stating plainly that “they plan to part ways with [Abreu]” this offseason.

Both articles imply a desire to open up first base for Andrew Vaughn and more DH opportunities for Eloy Jimenez.

The Twins, the Blue Jays, the Catching Market

Willson Contreras is the premier free agent catcher this offseason, but he will be expensive and is going to cost his new team more than money after (presumably) rejecting the Cubs’ qualifying offer. The market for his or any other available catchers services is not quite clear yet, but there have been some general rumblings to discuss.

  • At The Athletic, Aaron Gleeman reports that the Twins intend to bring in another catcher to pair with Ryan Jeffers in a more significant time-share than most primary/back-up arrangements: “When you look at teams across baseball, the co-catcher model is probably two-thirds of the league,” Twins president Derek Falvey said. “I’d anticipate us probably looking at it again in some way like that. Ryan had a really good year against left-handed pitching. That’s a good sign. I’m not saying he’s exclusively a platoon (player), but there is an opportunity to match up going forward.” Bottom line: The Twins are looking for a catcher who can hit righties.
  • At The Athletic, Kaithlyn McGrath suggests that the Blue Jays could look to trade from their catching depth to address their need for pitching or a left-handed bat. The Cardinals and Guardians are both considered potential trade partners. I don’t see an easy road for the Cubs to get involved given that their needs overlap with the Blue Jays (starting pitching, left-handed bat), but that would be a fun idea given their other needs behind the plate. And, hey, the Blue Jays did like Ian Happ at the deadline ….

As a reminder, here’s what the Blue Jays catching depth looks like at the moment:

  • Alejandro Kirk: 23 years old, four years of control, 129 wRC+, 3.8 WAR, great defensive metrics
  • Danny Jansen: 27 years old, two years of control, 140 wRC+, 2.6 WAR, solidly above-average defensive metrics
  • Gabriel Moreno: 22 years old, top-30 prospect coming into the season, slashed .315/.386/.420 (120 wRC+) at Triple-A and .319/.356/.377 (113 wRC+) at MLB this season with solid defense, athleticism, and an above-average arm behind the plate.

Boy. That is some enviable sh*t right there.

Odds and Ends:

  • The Athletic’s Braves writer, Jeff Schultz, puts the chances of the Braves re-signing free agent shortstop Dansby Swanson at “no better than 50-50,” which feels remarkably low relative to my expectations (as well as the Braves impressive ability to get extensions done). I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
  • And to that end, MLB Trade Rumors has a breakdown of the free agent shortstop market, which should be of interest to all of us here.
  • Yes. Yes. More. More. Bring him to the North Side:
  • In case you missed it, Brett discussed an out-of-left-field potential catching target for the Cubs:

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Author: Michael Cerami

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