Where Are All the Trade Candidates? Contreras and the Catchers, Dumping on the Abreu Deal, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Where Are All the Trade Candidates? Contreras and the Catchers, Dumping on the Abreu Deal, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

My morning is all discombobulated thanks to atypical child transportation schedules. I have definitely become an ardent creature of habit these days, and if you want to throw off my afternoon or evening, OK, fine. But boy does a modified morning really unseat my mental space.

  • I wonder what the relationship is this offseason between the Sean Murphy trade market and the Willson Contreras free agent market. They are both the “top” catchers available in their respective categories – trade and free agency – but the nature of their price tags are going to be soooo different that it’s possible there’s very little overlap in the markets, and thus very little impact on each other. Murphy, a top-gloved 28-year-old with three years of arbitration left, is going to command a HAULLLLL in prospects for the A’s. Contreras, a lesser-gloved but more-established-hitting 30-year-old, is a free agent attached to draft pick compensation. The kind of team that would want to pay Contreras $50+ million in free agency isn’t necessarily the same kind of team that would want to give up three top prospects to acquire Murphy.
  • That said, the topic got me thinking about the trade market generally and its relationship to free agency. Even if there isn’t a ton of direct overlap in suitors, the catching market is one of the few areas where there are CLEARLY multiple great trade options available (Murphy plus the Blue Jays trio), and that general availability simply cannot be helping Contreras’s market.
  • … but it could help the Cubs in landing a guy like Christian Vazquez or Omar Narvaez.
  • In any case, it certainly makes you wish there were more areas where there were clearly available trade candidates, not only for the Cubs to target but to make free agency a little less competitive (Jameson Taillon might get MORE than 4/$56M, wut?!). I think that’s probably partially a product of the expanded playoff field, by the way – fewer offseason sellers – which could drive up free agent prices (rather than limit them, as some players feared would happen, with teams not being as aggressive because they can more easily make the playoffs with a lesser roster).
  • I guess a final point on this thread is that we may not always know for sure which players are available in trade or which teams are quietly trying to sell behind the scenes. All I can say for sure is the rumored players available in trade this offseason is waaaaay lower than usual, and that could be squeezing free agency a bit.
  • December is here, so Amazon is doing its Epic Holiday Deals period (i.e., if you want to get stuff before Christmas). Check it all out here. #ad

I’m not arguing that Abreu was less than elite last year, because that’s beside the point. The Astros aren’t buying Abreu’s 2022 performance. They’re buying his 2023-2025 performances, and those are extremely likely to be worse, starting in year one and declining sharply from there. For one thing, he’ll play at 36 this year, and his production outside of 2022 hasn’t been elite for some time; from 2018-21, he had just a .340 OBP, .336 if you take out the intentional walks. He did show consistently strong power output, averaging 33.7 homers per 162 games in that stretch, making him above-average but putting him in the 2-3 WAR range.

In 2022, his production changed, and it’s something we’ve seen before. He lost some bat speed and started to struggle on four-seamers for the first time in his MLB career. His contact quality went down on four-seamers, and the harder the pitch, the more likely he was to whiff. He actually hit the fewest homers of any season since he first signed with the White Sox a decade ago, just 15, fewer than he hit in the 60-game 2020 season. He put the ball on the ground more and went the other way a lot more, which, in an older player, is often a sign that he can no longer get around on pitches he used to pull or hit back up the middle.

  • I won’t say I’m as firmly against the deal as Law seems to be throughout his piece, but I will say that these are among the concerns that animated me wanting the Cubs to get Abreu on a two-year deal, rather than three.
  • Normal offseason stuff for Joe Musgrove:
  • The magnificent hair piece story:
  • Sweet swingin’ Billy Williams:
  • Joe having some fun:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.