The Rundown: Fallout From Goldschmidt Trade, Rosenthal Convinced Cubs Will Make Significant Moves, Creative Ways to Strengthen Team

Every time a player I think the Brewers may have targeted gets traded, it’s a complete head-scratcher. I mean, Milwaukee is a first baseman and a couple of decent starting pitchers away from a World Series berth, so when the Cardinals traded Luke Weaver (decent) and Carson Kelly (meh) plus a fringe minor leaguer for Paul Goldschmidt, I was a little shocked on a couple of fronts. Granted, Goldschmidt is going into the last year of his contract and will no doubt elect free agency, but that was all that Arizona could get for him? The Brewers are deep in prospects and could have offered more.

Meanwhile, St. Louis acquired a guy they probably will not be able to re-sign next year (subscription to The Athletic required) and John Mozeliak probably could have gotten a lot more for Weaver if he had packaged him last season. Like say, maybe Christian Yelich. Ouch.

Yes, the Diamondbacks are gutting their team. They lost Patrick Corbin to the Nationals, A.J. Pollock is likely not returning, and they’re probably going to eat some money to trade Zack Greinke (hello, Brewers). After last season’s September collapse, a scorched-earth rebuild is probably a decent strategy. But Weaver? Kelly? What an uninspiring way to start the process.

Ken Rosenthal is convinced the Cubs are going to make a number of moves, not in retaliation to the Cardinals’ acquisition of Arizona’s star first baseman, but just because he feels Theo Epstein won’t go into 2019 with the same team that let him down this past summer. But who are the Cubs really going to trade? I don’t see this front office selling low on guys like Ian Happ, Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, and Addison Russell. Well, maybe Russell.

So that leaves some of the veterans. Jason Heyward would be perfect for a team like the Braves, but the Cubs would have to eat a chunk of his contract. That’s possible, but not likely. Ben Zobrist has some value, but he’s probably not going anywhere. The Cubs can’t trade any starters because they need the depth, and their relievers, other than Pedro Strop, probably have little return value. Epstein wants Strop to remain in the organization for life, so were he to be traded, it would have to be for something he absolutely could not turn down.

So what will the Cubs do? The return value for Happ, Schwarber, and Albert Almora Jr. may not be affected by their down seasons in 2018. Analytics show that War Bear was much better last season than his stats indicated, and Happ is legitimately poised to break out in 2019. So why trade those guys? They haven’t even reached their prime yet.

If anything, I’d say the Cubs will seek relief help in free agency and a starting second baseman via trade so that they can move Russell. Anything else will be of the shock and awe variety. If the Yankees do sign Manny Machado, I’d think Didi Gregorius is a player the front office could and should target. He’d be expensive in terms of player and/or prospect currency.

What does all of this mean? If the Cubs are going to trade from their young outfield depth, they probably aren’t going to do so unless they get a premium outfielder in trade or free agency to fill that void. Let your imaginations run wild. Maybe it’s Bryce Harper, or maybe it’s Andrew McCutchen or Michael Brantley. If Rosenthal is indeed correct about the Cubs’ intentions, next week’s Winter Meetings should provide some answers.

Free Agent Profile: Matt Harvey

I’m finishing free agent profiles this week because we have reached the bottom of the barrel. Matt Harvey is a guy of whom Epstein has previously been enamored, and if the Cubs were back in rebuild mode, Harvey would be a perfect sign-and-flip candidate. Harvey’s early Mets career consisted of 65 starts of 2.53 ERA ball and an ace ceiling. But injuries and personal problems sent the enigmatic starting pitcher down a rabbit hole of inconsistency that led to New York designating him for assignment him last season. The Reds acquired him and Harvey resurrected his career somewhat in Cincinnati.

His performance wasn’t much better than league average, and the fact that that is a bright spot for the right-hander heading into free agency proves just how far the Dark Knight has fallen. But he’s just 30 years old and his 95 mph fastball is still there. The Reds opted not to trade him at last year’s deadline, so it seems they’d like to keep him if the price doesn’t get too high. MLBTR predicts he will go back to Cincinnati on a two-year deal and that seems to be the likeliest outcome. If the Astros took a flyer on Harvey and he returned to form, that would be a huge coup for Houston.

Handicapping Harvey:

  1. Reds
  2. Phillies
  3. Astros

Cubs News & Notes

Thursday Stove

New Giants GM Farhan Zaidi may be the rare front office leader who finds value in building from baseball’s middle ground. Nice to see somebody old-schoolin’ it.

The Dodgers are looking to add power and have contacted the White Sox about the availability of slugging first baseman Jose Abreu.

The Red Sox have agreed to terms with starter reliever Nathan Eovaldi Maybe they could use him as a closer to replace the departing Craig Kimbrel.

The Mets are unlikely to take a run at either Harper or Machado.

Yankees manager is on board with the team signing Machado despite the superstar’s admitted lack of hustle.

Free-agent Hunter Pence says he has heard from a few team this offseason, but not from the Giants. Pence, 35, spent the last seven seasons in San Francisco.

Extra Innings

To me, the Marlins have been the scourge of baseball since the franchise entered the league. Every year, news breaks of shadiness regarding the Miami franchise. This year is no different. Former president David Samson has claimed the San Diego Padres keep a real and fake copy of medical records on players, according to the Miami Herald.

“The Padres lied,” Samson said. “They had an entire medical file on a player and didn’t disclose it. Two sets of medical records is what they had. [Padres general manager] A.J. Preller shouldn’t be allowed in the game. It’s beyond comprehension that he’s still working. They did it to the Red Sox. There are a lot of things you mess with, but you don’t mess with that.”

Thursday Walk Up Song

Jesus Built My Hot Rod by Ministry. This was a video rarely shown on MTV unless you watched their program 120 Minutes regularly. A great combination of rockabilly and speed metal and No. 17 on my list of all-time favorites. Great for your cardio workouts.

Tags

Michael Canter

Favorite Quote: "Look Ma! Top of the World!" Cubs fan since I was five years old (1969): lover of B&W movies, the Oxford Comma, classic rock, and of course, baseball; annual roto-champ; partial insomniac; I detest the liberal use of the word 'albeit' by baseball writers; Nice guy, though somewhat brooding. Comment me, please and thank you.

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4 Comments

  1. I don’t think that the Cubs “need” to make a response to the Cardinals signing of Goldschmidt, but it sure would be nice for them to do something of consequence. Dipoto would have easily taken Russell and Happ for Segura.

    When it comes to Happ / Schwarber we can talk about “hitting coach issues”, them still not being in their prime, not wanting to sell low, etc. etc. The bottom line though is that the Cubs offense will NOT produce next year if they roll out there with another combined 800+ at bats and 37-38% strikeout rate. If you look at their WWROB – it’s even worse. (Whiffs With Runners On Base). So it’s either deal one of them, or totally bet that they will miraculously reverse this trend next season.

    1. Strikeouts still don’t bother me as much as double plays. I’m still hoping the shift is eliminated. If the 14,000+ in MLB last year I’d bet 70% are tied to Brewers infielders versus Cubs batters.

  2. Warm Stove Free Agent Tracker:

    – 12 FA’s signed
    – 1.92 (avg.) years per contract
    – $12.7 million per year average

    If you took out Eovaldi and Corbin – these numbers drop drastically.

    1. Go read Jason Stark’s latest column in The Athletic. I’ve touched on it in them Extea Innings section of today’s column. Just waiting for Evan to edit and publish.

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