Lukewarm Stove: Cubs-Senga Optimism? What Would a Cubs Trade for Jansen Look Like? Fujinami to Be Posted Soon, More

We’ve had a trio of Cubs-specific rumors today, in case you missed it, including outfield options like Michael Conforto (I don’t see it) and Cody Bellinger (yeah, okay, that makes some sense), as well as a potentially new starting pitching target in Jameson Taillon (sure, but only as a complementary piece).

But there’s more going on with the Cubs and around the league, so let’s check in …

Cubs: Senga and the Starters

Although Patrick Mooney and Sahadev Sharma refuse to completely shut the door on any potential interest in Justin Verlander, Carlos Rodon, or Jacob deGrom, they make it pretty clear that when it comes to the Cubs: It probably ain’t happening.

With that said, the Cubs interest in Kodai Senga seems very real, and the Cubs chances seem pretty good:

The Cubs are continuing to monitor a group of starting pitchers that includes Kodai Senga, according to sources familiar with the club’s planning. Senga is represented by the same Wasserman agency that negotiated Yu Darvish’s six-year, $126 million deal and Seiya Suzuki’s five-year, $85 million contract. Through those recruiting pitches, the Cubs enhanced their reputation as an organization that is welcoming for Japanese players and attuned to soft factors that resonate with players’ families. Darvish raved about the Wrigley Field experience and recommended Chicago to Suzuki.

Later in the article, Mooney and Sharma write that “The Cubs will not be frozen out of this process,” even if they don’t ultimately control it. I think it all read pretty optimistically.

But here’s a little bit of cold water: The Athletic duo reports that “multiple teams view Senga at or near the top of that next tier” just beneath Verlander and deGrom. And if that’s true, if he’s seen as that good, the Cubs will have a whole lot of competition. The only other pitcher in that category is Carlos Rodon, who’s probably more of a sure-bet, but might be seeking twice the commitment and is otherwise attached to draft pick compensation. Plus, Senga has already visited San Diego, New York, and Texas … which, yeah, there are a lot of very teams very seriously seeking starting pitchers in those markets.

As Brett mentioned earlier, other names thrown into the mix by The Athletic include Jameson Taillon, Taijuan Walker, and Andrew Heaney. As secondary targets, I think each has his own appeal. As primary targets … well, that’s not what the Cubs need.

Trading for a Blue Jays Catcher

In the likely event that Willson Contreras moves on from the Cubs this offseason, Chicago will need to add another big league catcher to pair with Yan Gomes in 2023 — either a true impact/starter type, or more of a legitimate timeshare candidate. In either case, he’s likely to be someone whose work behind the plate outpaces his potential production at the plate.

To that end, there are a number of intriguing free agent options, including Christian Vázquez and Omar Narváez. But there are some really big trade candidates, as well, from Sean Murphy of the A’s to Danny Jansen, Alejandro Kirk, and Gabriel Moreno of the Blue Jays (who appear to be motivated sellers).

So to that end, The Athletic tapped into its stable of beat writers to discover what a Toronto trade might look like from the perspective of the potentially interested parties. And among all the teams included (Cardinals, Padres, White Sox, Red Sox, Twins, Guardians, Tigers) was the Chicago Cubs.

It’s all speculative, but Patrick Mooney has the Cubs pursuing Jansen, in particular, parting with Ian Happ and Adbert Alzolay to get it done. Mooney chose Happ as part of the return (presumably) because the Blue Jays seem to be seeking big leaguers in any such deal, but also because the Blue Jays have had real interest in Happ before.

HOWEVER, Mooney reiterates that the Cubs still intend to attempt an extension with Happ this winter, and that they otherwise view Alzolay as a legitimate asset for their bullpen next year. Obviously, that’s a lot to give up for two years of a part-time catcher, even if you think he’s got a lot more in the tank.

Jim Bowden replied to Mooney’s idea, implying that this would be an overpay for the Cubs, and that the Blue Jays would jump at the opportunity to strike this deal. I tend to agree, especially if the target is Jansen, who did have a legitimately great season (140 wRC+), but only over 72 games.

Plus, losing Happ — without an immediate and significant backfill — would put the Cubs’ offense into an even bigger hole in 2023, all while subtracting their only legitimate left-handed bat. And all that for a catcher with just two years of team control remaining? Nah. I don’t like it.

Ultimately, even Mooney seems to think this particular deal is unlikely for the Cubs, when they can otherwise add a catcher for just money in free agency. And if they’re going to target a Blue Jays catcher at all, Bowden believes it should be Moreno, who’s younger and controlled for longer. Agreed on all fronts.

My bet? Christian Vázquez ends up with the Cubs.

My reasoning? Entirely this exchange:

Odds and Ends

  • The Giants would like to re-sign Carlos Rodon, but they have competition from the Dodgers, Rangers, and Yankees.
  • The focus of the offseason for the Tampa Bay Rays? The “immediate future,” according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. That includes adding a bat, he mentions a long list: Jose Abreu, Josh Bell, Cody Bellinger, Michael Brantley, Michael Conforto, Joey Gallo, Evan Longoria, Brian Reynolds, Jesse Winker. And adding a veteran starter.
  • Ken Rosenthal was the first one to piece this all together, but Jon Heyman is jumping in on the theory: The Brewers, having already traded Hunter Renfroe in a salary-dumping trade, might move Kolten Wong next. Corbin Burnes, however, is less likely to be available.
  • Another stray mention connecting the Cubs to Jose Abreu. That still feels like it has some legitimate legs.
  • Shintaro Fujinami is going to be posted on December 1, after which he’ll have 45 days to sign a deal with a new team, and that team will have to pay a posting fee for the privilege. If you’re looking for more, I discussed Fujinami before. The short version is that he’s got a legitimate heater (100 MPH) and is coming off a great season as a starter (2.77 ERA over 25 starts), but has otherwise dealt with command issues, hopping up and down from the minors, and isn’t nearly as coveted as Senga. Could be a very fun target for a team looking to put all the pieces together, though.
  • 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

    more cubs news

    Reps, Reps, Reps for Morel, Marquee Poach, Kilian Talk, Urshela, Woodruff, See-Through Pants, and Other Cubs Bullets

    Today is the day. Cubs baseball is back. The fake version anyway, and I'll gladly take it. I've still got that nagging feeling that the offseason isn't over yet, and I really hate that it's bleeding now into game play,...

    Cubs Baseball is Back

    I know all the other things. It's not a "real" game. Cody Bellinger still isn't back. The Cubs may not have done enough to be competitive this year. But I still can't help myself. When I open up my At...

    Spring Training Miscellany: Outfield Prospects Showing Out in Live BP, Games Get Underway

    A handful of fun things to share from around Spring Training today, on the eve of the Cubs' first Cactus League game tomorrow ... Alexander Canario, vying for AT LEAST the fourth outfielder job - until and unless there's a...

    MLB Network Airing a Special on Game 7 of the 2016 World Series with Joe Maddon and Terry Francona

    Tonight, MLB Network will be airing a special on Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, aka, the night It Happened, aka, the Greatest Game in Baseball History. The special comes complete with managers Terry Francona and Joe Maddon discussing...

    Obsessive Cody Bellinger Watch: Are the Cubs Actually Alone? How Patient Can Everyone Be? More

    This week, in addition to being about his looming, absent presence at Cubs Spring Training, has been all about reporters and pundits wondering what the market is going to be for Cody Bellinger. Some of that has taken on the...

    Leadoff and DH, Imanaga and Wisdom, Palencia Velo, Little and Development, and Other Cubs Bullets

    The Cubs play a game tomorrow. Not a real game, but a game. It feels like it has come so quickly, which is assuredly because the offseason still feels like it isn't over. I've said it before, but I really...

    Shoulder Injury is Going to Shut Down Kodai Senga for a While

    Although there were some arm concerns coming into his transition to MLB last year, Japanese righty Kodai Senga was by and large healthy (and dominant) for the New York Mets in 2023. Unfortunately, that won't be the case in 2024....

    Tim Anderson Finally Finds a Home, Signing with the Miami Marlins

    The Miami Marlins have seemingly filled their open shortstop job, and it's with the best remaining shortstop on the free agent market. Of course, in this market, the best remaining guy is someone on whom you have to bet there...

    Mitch Keller Signing Five-Year Extension with the Pittsburgh Pirates

    Although the Pittsburgh Pirates have hardly been the model franchise over the past couple decades, one thing they've generally managed to pull off with some frequency is extending their young players either pre-arbitration or early in arbitration. They did it...

    More from the Shota-Seiya Matchup, With Jokes, Nasty Stuff, and an Early Win

    A story can be only so big at Spring Training - shy of Cody Bellinger strolling onto the practice field - but yesterday's big one was newly-signed lefty Shota Imanaga facing, among others, Seiya Suzuki in live batting practice. More...

    Latest News

    Best NBA Prop Bets Today – Friday, February 23, 2024

    There are 10 matchups on today's NBA schedule, including the Milwaukee Bucks playing the Minnesota Timberwolves.One of the best ways to wager on the NBA is via NBA player prop bets. There are NBA player props for each of today's...

    How to Watch Stanford Cardinal vs. Oregon State Beavers: Live Stream or on TV

    The Stanford Cardinal (12-14, 7-9 Pac-12) will look to halt a three-game losing streak when they host the Oregon State Beavers (11-16, 3-13 Pac-12) on February 24, 2024. The Beavers have lost seven games in a row.Stanford dropped its most...

    Utah Valley vs. SFA: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (14-12, 7-8 WAC) will try to break a three-game losing streak when they hit the road to take on the Utah Valley Wolverines (13-14, 8-8 WAC) on February 24, 2024 at UCCU Center.Utah Valley won...

    How to Watch Arizona Wildcats vs. Washington Huskies: Live Stream or on TV

    The No. 4 Arizona Wildcats (20-6, 11-4 Pac-12) host the Washington Huskies (15-12, 7-9 Pac-12) in Pac-12 action at McKale Center, tipping off at 2:00 PM ET on Saturday, February 24, 2024.In its most recent game, Arizona lost to Washington...

    How to Watch Gonzaga Bulldogs vs. Santa Clara Broncos: Live Stream or on TV

    The Gonzaga Bulldogs (21-6, 11-2 WCC) bring a five-game win streak into a home matchup with the Santa Clara Broncos (18-10, 9-4 WCC), winners of three straight.In its most recent game, Gonzaga defeated Portland on Thursday, 86-65. Its top scorer...

    Seattle U vs. UT Rio Grande Valley: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros (6-20, 2-13 WAC) will try to break a seven-game road slide when they take on the Seattle U Redhawks (17-10, 10-6 WAC) on February 24, 2024 at Redhawk Center.Seattle U was victorious in its...

    Hawaii vs. Long Beach State: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The Long Beach State Beach (18-9, 10-5 Big West) will try to build on a five-game win streak when they hit the road to take on the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (15-12, 7-8 Big West) on February 24, 2024 at Stan...

    Stony Brook vs. William & Mary: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The Stony Brook Seawolves (15-13, 8-7 CAA) aim to build on a five-game home win streak when they host the William & Mary Tribe (8-20, 3-12 CAA) on February 24, 2024.Stony Brook won its most recent game versus N.C. A&T,...

    UCSD vs. UC Irvine: Free Live Stream, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The UCSD Tritons (18-9, 12-3 Big West) will host the UC Irvine Anteaters (20-7, 13-2 Big West) after winning eight home games in a row.On Thursday, in its last game, UCSD defeated UC Riverside 77-65. With 20 points, Aniwaniwa Tait-jones...

    Arizona State vs. Washington State: Start Time, Streaming Live, TV Channel, How to Watch

    The Washington State Cougars (21-6, 12-4 Pac-12) will attempt to extend a five-game road win streak when they visit the Arizona State Sun Devils (13-14, 7-9 Pac-12) on February 24, 2024 at Desert Financial Arena.Arizona State lost its previous game...

    more cubs news