Lukewarm Stove: Conforto, Nimmo, deGrom, Judge, Giants, Tatis, Soto, Devers, Longoria, White Sox Financial Limitations, More!

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Lukewarm Stove: Conforto, Nimmo, deGrom, Judge, Giants, Tatis, Soto, Devers, Longoria, White Sox Financial Limitations, More!

Chicago Cubs

Normally in these Lukewarm Stoves, I like to break rumors up into big chunky sections for a slightly deeper dive on each topic, but today, we have to do something different. There’s just way too much intel flying around as the GM Meetings wrap and free agency opens up.

So I’m just going to rapid fire the latest with a little context here or there. Apologies/enjoy …

  • The New York Mets are reportedly considering a reunion with free agent outfielder Michael Conforto, whom they’d sign to insert into right field, pushing Starling Marte back to center. According to Will Sammon (The Athletic), Conforto should expect little more than a one-year/pillow contract this offseason, after failing to sign with a team last winter and missing the entire 2022 season (partly due to his shoulder injury, a down 2021 season, the qualifying offer/draft pick compensation, and the lockout).
  • There is a different former Mets outfielder and free agent that could make sense for the Cubs, however, and his name is Brandon Nimmo. Already this offseason, the Cubs have been connected to Nimmo, though we pushed back a bit based on four key factors: (1) the necessary draft pick compensation signing him would require, (2) his injury history, (3) the pending arrivals of Brennen Davis, Alexander Canario, and Pete Crow-Armstrong, and (4) the expected price tag, which was rumored to be as high as seven years and $140 million. For as much as Nimmo, a true center fielder with an impact-bat from the left side of the plate, fits within the Cubs goals this offseason, that was all a lot to overcome. However, since that write-up, Alexander Canario suffered a very serious injury, Willson Contreras rejected the qualifying offer, and Will Sammon has added some context on that salary request, which is a bit lower than the initial reports: “A reasonable contract estimate for Nimmo, 29, would be five years or more for at least $115 million.”
  • Still more than the Cubs’ appetite will allow? Perhaps. But going from seven years to five years takes this from “No chance!” to “Well, maybe, depending on what else happens.” And again, now that they KNOW they’ll get draft pick compensation for Contreras *and* that Canario, in particular, will be out entirely until at least midseason, there’s a little more wiggle-room to add a significant outfielder, especially when he so perfectly fits the Cubs short-term needs. And hey, don’t forget: Ian Happ has just one more year under contract. If you’re really worried about PCA, an outfield with Nimmo can still be accommodated. Anyway, the Mets are interested too. So, keep those hopes in check.
  • Mets GM Billy Eppler said that he has been in contact with Jacob deGrom’s camp about returning this season, though they’re not expected to guarantee four years at significant ($40M+) dollars. I think that (four vs. three years) is going to be an inflection point for a lot of deGrom suitors this offseason. Speaking of which, deGrom has reportedly told the Rangers that he is interested in signing with them (must be nice), though Jon Heyman thinks Carlos Rodon is the better fit (must be nice, again). The Mets reportedly believe the Braves and Rangers are their biggest competition for deGrom, who remains their priority.
  • Speaking of priorities, Aaron Judge is 1-A for the Yankees and has already been in touch with GM Brian Cashman. Interestingly, Cashman says he has not been given (nor has he sought) the right of last refusal on any Judge deal. In other words, Judge isn’t giving him the chance to match any offer he might get out there, which you sometimes see in situations like this.
  • In any case, the more interesting angle here is that the Giants continue to be considered a distinct possibility for Judge this winter, and their fans were no doubt thrilled to see a comment like this from Baseball President Farhan Zaidi: “From a financial standpoint, there’s nobody that would be out of our capability.” Must be nice (x3).
  • From the same interview, Zaidi reportedly says he’s been in contact with the free agent shortstop class and reveals his believe that “one or more of them” might be willing to move to second base. Interesting. Notable. Useful. Tuck it away.
  • To that end, Heyman says “folks expect the Cubs to be serious players for a shortstop this winter. There are four great ones on the market. They could move Nico Hoerner to second base.” That might’ve been bigger news a week ago. But after some brake-pumping on their willingness to go longer than six years, it’s a little opaque.
  • Fernando Tatis Jr., who (after multiple surgeries) won’t resume baseball activities until January and isn’t eligible to return from his PED suspension until April 20, is being considered for a permanent move off shortstop: “One idea that has been kicked around, according to sources familiar with the team’s thinking: deploying Tatis at second base, at least part time, while moving second baseman Jake Cronenworth to first base and keeping Ha-Seong Kim at shortstop, Tatis’ preferred position.” So that’s interesting all on its own, but I bring it up because if that happens, the Padres will have addressed their first base need internally. And they were reportedly players for two potential Cubs targets, Jose Abreu and Josh Bell.
  • Other significant Padres notes: San Diego would like to re-sign Jurickson Profar, they intend to approach Juan Soto about an extension, and they are very interested in another Cubs target, Kodai Senga.
  • The Red Sox are reportedly “digging around in the pitching market,” with interest in Andrew Heaney and Seth Lugo, among others. Heaney was a one-time Cubs target, before the Dodgers snagged him early last offseason. He had a good, but shortened season in 2022 (3.10 ERA, 3.75 FIP), with a massive 35.5% strikeout rate and 6.1% walk rate. Multiple trips to the injured list with shoulder injuries is a big hurdle to overcome, however.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he’s been “listening and engaging” on multiple trade propositions from other clubs about the Yankees abundance of infielders. That’s very interesting. We know, already, the Yankees discussed one version of a Gleyber Torres-Pablo Lopez trade with Miami back at the deadline, so perhaps they’re still looking for starting pitchers? That could impact the Cubs, so could any sudden vacancy in the Yankees middle infield. I’m keeping an eye on this one.
  • The Red Sox are reportedly very far apart on extension efforts for Xander Bogaerts (who becomes a free agent this afternoon) and Rafael Devers, who has one more year of control. And while you might be more interested in the Bogaerts angle because of the Cubs potential interest, I actually found this Devers stuff even more compelling:

The Red Sox are said to have offered Devers a bit more than the $212 million deal Austin Riley signed with the Braves, but he is seeking significantly more than that ….Also of significance: Devers, who is seeking $300 million-plus, is only a year away from free agency.

  • Devers is said to be very patient and confident in his willingness to wait for free agency next season, when he could be the top of his class, right alongside Shohei Ohtani. If you’re unfamiliar, Devers, 26, just slashed .295/.358/.521 (140 wRC+) with 27 HRs good for 4.9 WAR. He also hit 38 HRs in 2021 with a 133 wRC+. If he maintains this season, he’s going to get PAID next year.
  • Evan Longoria, still playing, and still good: he had a 122 wRC+ in 2021 and a 115 wRC+ last season. HIs defense isn’t what it used to be, but he’ll get a deal somewhere:

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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