The internet is abuzz with MLB free agency and trade rumors these days as we all wait for the first domino to fall. Qualifying offers are in, fringe players have been assigned or claimed, and 40-man rosters have been pared down to 33 or 34, but the barometric pressure remains low. Even baseball’s true insiders haven’t had anything substantial to report. I am anxiously awaiting the moment I see the words “signed” or “acquired” on the 2017 Offseason Transaction Report.
So I thought I’d have little fun since yesterday was a relatively slow news day. What follows are 10 offseason moves I’d like to see happen because the hot takes would be insane and the analysis would be fun to ingest. Mind you, these are not rumors or predictions, nor do I have any inside scoop. These trades or signings could possibly happen, but I have neither seen nor heard nothing to indicate there is any life to any off them.
Dad always says go big or go home so I’ll start out with this one:
- Ian Happ to the Los Angeles Dodgers for SP Walker Buehler. The Cubs need cost-controlled starting pitching and the Dodgers need a second baseman. Heck, the Dodgers ALWAYS need a second baseman. Both players come with tremendous upside and more than a few questions. Happ would slide in perfect batting 5th or 6th in a lineup that could potentially be the strongest in baseball and the Cubs get a 4th or 5th starter with ace potential. Or both could bust out completely.
- Jake Arrieta signs with the Yankees, who are once again a potential juggernaut. You know Brian Cashman is jonesing to spend some money and the Yankees have done a great job reducing payroll. Arrieta would give them the best rotation in the AL East, if not the entire American League. But the Yankees won’t sign Arrieta until they first trade…
- Jacoby Ellsbury, SP Chance Adams, and SP Freicer Perez to Atlanta for Matt Kemp. Essentially, the Yankees are swapping one bad contract for another. The salaries are nearly identical, just north of $21.5M, but Kemp has two years left on his deal while Ellsbury has three; part of Kemp’s salary ($7M total) is offset by the Dodgers and Padres. Adams and Perez are the sweeteners. You may not have heard of Perez, but he’d be a great get by Atlanta. Kemp would slot in nicely at DH for the Yankees.
- The St. Louis Cardinals sign J.D. Martinez. The Cardinals have a new TV contract and have been in the Cubs’ rearview mirror since the 2015 playoffs. Martinez wants $200M, the Cardinals need a power OF bat. Signing Martinez allows them to fill other holes via trade instead of giving up a boatload to get Giancarlo Stanton. The hot takes on this would be astounding if the Cardinals execute this contract before the Cubs make a single offseason move.
- The Cardinals sign closer Wade Davis. Ouch. The Cardinals need a closer; they have that TV contract thing; they’re tired of being also-rans; they are a team on the rise; they still seek revenge for the Heyward signing, even though the best revenge was that Heyward actually signed with the Cubs. “Go ahead, sign Lance Lynn. I triple-dog dare you.” — Cardinals president John Mozeliak to Theo Epstein, maybe. But Epstein balks because…
- The Cubs trade Kyle Schwarber to the Indians for SP Danny Salazar. This one stings because we all love War Bear, and no one loves him more than Cubs Insider EIC Evan Altman. It’s hard to believe that Salazar is only 27 because it seems like he’s been around for 10 years. Salazar comes with three years of control. Schwarber clears a spot in LF and, let’s face it, nobody is going to take Jason Hayward in a trade. All of a sudden, the Cubs have tremendous starting pitching and they actually have an opening in the OF because at this point Ben Zobrist is a role player, so Theo Epstein makes another bold statement…
- The Cubs sign OF Lorenzo Cain. Now they have a leadoff hitter, an upgrade in OF defense that looks something like Almora-Cain-Heyward depending who plays where, and an opening day rotation of Lester-Salazar-Quintana-Hendricks-Buehler. Mind you, Cain is average or slightly better defensively, but he represents an upgrade and Wrigley’s smaller dimensions help.They still need a closer, but they still have a lot of money left to spend.
- Shohei Otani signs with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I know Otani wants to hit, but he’s a monster on the mound. So the Dodgers give him an occasional spot start in the OF, he fills in as a pinch-hitter 100 times a year and he ends the season with a Cy Young nomination and 250 at-bats. He didn’t sign with CAA so that he could pitch for a small market or non-contending team. It comes down to the Dodgers, Yankees, and Cubs for Otani, but the Dodgers win the bidding.
- The White Sox acquire Giancarlo Stanton. Nobody has more minor league depth than the White Sox, so they work out a trade where Miami eats some of Stanton’s massive contract and the Marlins get to kickstart a putrid system with a couple of blue chip pitchers and a hitter or two. Stanton is the anchor for a rebuilding White Sox team and hits 60 home runs playing in the American League.
- Yu Darvish signs with the Brewers. This ends up being a mystery-team signing. Teams like the Dodgers, the Cubs, the Yankees, the Red Sox will all be in on Darvish, allegedly, and then the mystery team rumors will leak, and the Brewers will have landed their first significant free agent since…well their first significant free agent. I lived in the suburbs of Milwaukee. It is culturally under-the-radar and a great place to live. Won’t shoppers at the Piggly Wiggly be surprised to see Darvish!
The birth of the Democratic Machine in Chicago. The Mob. A Burlesque Dancer. Babe Ruth. An attempted murder. A Cubs-Yankees World Series. A called shot. 1932 would have been an amazing year for Cubs Insider to cover. I need to make a television series based on this article.
These days you need a degree in finance to understand free agency draft pick compensation. MLBTR breaks it down for the six teams that made qualifying offers to nine separate players.
Jay Bruce is seeking a five-year deal.
Jose Altuve, Giancarlo Stanton, and Anthony Rizzo were among the Players’ Choice Award Winners announced yesterday.
Thursday Walk Up Song
Batter Up by Nelly