The Rundown: Early NL Central Outlook, Hot Stove Rumors Galore

20 degrees outside with a “feels like” temperature of 7. Man, do I need me some hot stove. What I really need is spring training and a trip to Arizona and/or Florida. And before I go any further, I want to thank those who have commented on my articles and those who have followed me on Twitter since I started doing the Rundown again. It truly warms my heart.

ESPN has a look at the NL Central as it pertains to this offseason and I’d like to add perspective. These types of articles become a bit passé by November because the chatter starts at the trade deadline in July for most teams. And as far as the Cubs are concerned, we’ve known they would need to acquire starting pitching this offseason since 2016. Nevertheless…

  • The Cubs need two starters.
  • The Brewers need to get to the next level.
  • The Cardinals need a bat.
  • The Pirates are on the fence regarding a rebuild.
  • The Reds need…a lot.

Which team is most likely to start spring training having filled all of their needs? Corey Freedman has the details of Jed Hoyer’s plans for this winter, and this offseason could be the team’s busiest since this front office took over in 2012. They’ve already overhauled the coaching staff and now they must reconfigure a roster that is still the team to beat in the Central Division.

The Cubs will get their two starting pitchers and then some. We’ve heard the usual suspects mentioned time and again: Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Shohei Otani, John Lackey (strike me dead). I like Tyler Chatwood as a signing and I believe the Cubs will trade from their depth for another SP. I just have a hard time finding a true match with the other 29 teams, which can be interpreted that I believe there will be a shocking trade announcement coming in the next month.

The Brewers are interesting. They’ve got more money than you think; they draw roughy 2.5 million fans per year and are annually in the upper half in attendance in all of baseball; and they’ve got a great front office and a core group of players that is young and dangerous. More than one rumor has attached Arrieta to Milwaukee, but I don’t see that happening. Darvish is definitely in play according to my bar buddies up in Mequon. And because Milwaukee’s front office skews heavily toward the analytics side of the game, don’t be surprised to see Chatwood attached to the Brewers during the Winter Meetings this year.

Can I just say I hate the Cardinals and leave it at that? They’ve built some serious outfield and pitching depth and have money to spend. I was happy to hear that Giancarlo Stanton was cool on a possibility of a trade to the Cardinals, but J.D. Martinez may be in play and they have already been attached to Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna in the early rumor mills. They need a closer and Wade Davis is available. The Cardinals will be big players this offseason. The arms race between the Cubs and the Cards will be must-see TV in December.

It is time for the Pirates to start the rebuild. I miss the days when the Cubs could ring up Dave Littlefield and acquire Aramis Ramirez and Kenny Lofton for magic beans and fairy dust. Those days of the Pirates being the Cubs feeder team are long gone but the Pirates do have assets that could interest the Cubs. Gerrit Cole wouldn’t be a bad pickup depending on the cost, which shouldn’t be much. I’d look twice at Jameson Taillon too. The biggest problem that the Pirates have is that most of their movable assets come with serious question marks. If they hold, they lose McCutchen to free agency and their pitching could further regress. The Pirates are selling low now, but next season could leave them as MLB’s blue-light special if they don’t act soon.

The Reds are still in rebuild mode and they have a long way to go. They’ve got some special players rising through their system, if not borderline elite, in Nick Senzel and Hunter Greene. Shed Long is promising. So is Tyler Mahle. The Redlegs still have a ways to go but they’re at least on the right path. They’ve got offense to trade and St. Louis may be a great matchup in trade because the Reds have no pitching. I could easily see the Reds completely selling out like the White Sox did earlier this year. The haul won’t be as good, but could still be significant.

Thursday Stove

Shohei Omani is officially available. The Rangers, Yankees and Twins can offer him the most money but you can count Minnesota out. The smart money says the Yankees get him, but I like the Cubs and the Dodgers chances too. Should be fun.

ESPN is already bored with the 2017-18 free agency class so they jumped a year ahead.

MLBTR assesses the trade market for Giancarlo Stanton.

Atlanta Braves prospects are not worried about MLB’s ongoing investigation.

Logan Morrison is courting the Kansas City Royals.

Brandon Morrow prefers to stay with the Dodgers.

Oakland may be targeting Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna. Ichiro has reached out to Billy Beane as well.

GM Jon Daniels of the Texas Rangers is unlikely to spend big in free agency this year. 

Red Sox prospect Daniel Flores cause of death was determined to be testicular cancer that metastasized to his lungs. Flores was only 17 years old. Very sad story.

Razzball is one of my favorite websites for fantasy baseball. Here’s a look at Tampa Rays prospect Willy Adames.

I love when Forbes writes about baseball. The Houston Astros have given us a strong corporate and life model to follow. Yes, being the best at anything is always a good strategy. And this may be the best line ever written in a baseball editorial: 

The tale has some interesting strategic lessons about a paradigm broader than our national pastime, about leadership in a world increasingly dominated by automated intelligence and the continuing convergence of machine and human learning.

Chills. No, seriously.

Tales of the bizarre: For the last eight years, baseball fan-turned-writer Becca Schultz has presented herself online as Ryan Schultz, a false identity she assumed when she was 13 years old, duping and harassing women on Twitter along the way. Wow.

Friday Walk Up Song

Brown Eyed Girl by Jimmy Buffett (Live from Wrigley Field. Summer please come back. Hockey is just not enough to carry me through another winter.

Back to top button