The Rundown: Epstein Speaks, Little Action Monday but Lots of Deals About to Pop
Surprisingly, there was no player movement yesterday and the biggest story of the day regarded Derek Jeter’s absence at this year’s Winter Meetings. In fact, Jeter was shown attending the Miami Dolphins/New England Patriots game yesterday, which led to divided opinion on whether the new Marlins president/CEO and resident trainwreck should have represented his team and faced reporters after gift-wrapping Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees. For what it’s worth, the 5-7 Dolphins actually played like they were afraid Jeter might buy the team and tear it apart. They beat the 10-2 Patriots 27-20 in a game that wasn’t really as close as the score suggests.
Cubs president Theo Epstein is in Orlando this week he addressed the press on a number of line items including the Stanton trade. According to Epstein, “There wasn’t much interaction given the makeup of our roster, our future payroll commitments, and some plans that we have. Great player and great opportunity, but not necessarily the right one for us.”
The Cubs were one of four teams on the slugging outfielder’s approved list before he was dealt to the Yankees. The Bombers hit 241 home runs while the Cubs slugged 223. Had the latter been allowed to employ a full time DH, and with a little more power from guys like Kris Bryant and Addison Russell, they could have conceivably out-slugged the Yankees, who led all of baseball in round-trippers. Stanton was a luxury that New York could afford. The Cubs have needs in other areas, mainly the bullpen. It will be interesting to see what both teams do the rest of this week. A Cubs/Yankees 2018 World Series is not inconceivable.
And, oh yeah, when Epstein said, “Great player and great opportunity, but not necessarily the right one for us,” in my head he finished that sentence with “because we are targeting Bryce Harper for that role next winter.”
Jeter did finally address the Stanton trade from Miami. He held a conference call with reporters in which he expressed his displeasure with the negative press he is currently receiving. He then proceeded to blame Stanton for forcing the Marlins to make a deal. Did the outfielder trick team leadership into giving him that $325 million contract extension with the knowledge that the team would be gifted to Jeter, who MLB knew couldn’t afford the purchase?
Meanwhile, Corey Freedman has all the details of yesterday’s Q&A with Epstein, including the team’s pursuit of Shohei Ohtani.
Cubs News & Notes
The Cubs were linked to Matt Harvey yesterday? I’d be genuinely excited were this 2015, but unless the Mets are giving him away for nothing, I’d say hard pass. Aren’t they past the phase in which they acquire projects to flip at the deadline for prospects? I’m not sure there is even any projection left with Harvey. The Rangers and Orioles are said to be linked to Harvey as well.
The Cubs’ piecemeal approach to adding pitching may pay big dividends in 2018 and beyond.
The pace of their rebuilding effort has Pale Hose sometime-announcer and team ambassador Hawk Harrelson envisioning a Red Line World Series or two in the near future. Can we put it on the board?
Rick Morrissey would like the Cubs to be more objective when it comes to the decision to trade or keep Kyle Schwarber. It’s click-bait, so make sure you haven’t had too much coffee before reading. I never understand guys who want teams to trade low on their players. The power-hitting outfielder is not even close to establishing his value after the previous two seasons.
With all the talk about rounding out the starting rotation and strengthening the back end of the bullpen, I haven’t seen much on the Cubs’ quest for a leadoff hitter. The Cardinals might dangle Dexter Fowler in a trade, but that’s not realistic. Other players could be available, such as Kevin Keirmaier of the Rays, but the price would be steep and the front office would probably have to give up one of Ian Happ, Javier Baez, Russell, or Schwarber plus another player or prospect to make that happen. Maybe there is quiet confidence that Albert Almora Jr. can handle that responsibility.
There is no truth to the rumor that OF Marcell Ozuna has started a GoFundMe Page to raise money for the new Marlins owners in order to avoid being traded to St. Louis. Ozuna remains the Cardinals top target, though they are reportedly one of 6-8 teams interested in the emerging star.
Pat Neshek signed a two-year contract with the Phillies and will likely work as a setup man in 2018.
The Yankees are interested in Gerritt Cole but the Pirates don’t seem interested in trading him.
The Yankees will likely need to attach prospects to get somebody to take Jacoby Ellsbury and his $68 million contract, assuming Ellsbury would waive his no-trade clause.
The Athletics are looking for a power-hitting outfielder and have interest in Randall Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty of the Cardinals, Cincinnati’s Adam Duvall, and Steven Souza Jr, of the Rays. The A’s seem uninterested in moving OF Khris Davis.
The Royals look to be headed for a complete rebuild, GM Dayton Moore admitted yesterday. “We have to build our farm system [to] the level we had it in 2010,” Moore said. “That is the focus of this organization as we sit here today.” The Royals were said to be actively fielding calls for closer Kelvin Herrera, starting pitcher Danny Duffy, and IF/OF Whit Merrifield, among others.
The Twins have already checked in on almost every pitcher available in trade or free agency.
In addition to being on the Cubs’ radar, Brandon Kintzler is reportedly drawing interest from the Twins, Nationals, Rangers, and Diamondbacks and could be the next free agent sign.
The Orioles are yet another team interested in Matt Harvey.
The Indians’ initial offer to Carlos Santana was 3 years, $36 million and, though that has been pulled, the team is still heavily pursuing the first baseman.
The Cardinals and Rays are aggressively pursuing Alex Colomé of the Rays. The Cubs are said to be interested also.
The Mets, Rockies, Jays and Mariners are actively pursuing Jay Bruce.
Tuesday Walk Up Song
I Got Loaded by Los Lobos. Hey, I watched Bull Durham last night, which has a sneaky good soundtrack. No truth to the rumor that Crash Davis will be the new backup catcher for the Cubs.