If you thought the suggestion that the Cubs should trade with the Yankees for Giancarlo Stanton was outlandish, wait’ll you get a load of Joel Sherman’s latest suggestion. Look, I get that it’s a weird time right now between the election and what figures to be a glacial free agency period, but some of this just feels way too forced.
To be fair to Sherman, he’s framing this all with the respective December 2017 trades by the Dodgers and Rays that cleared some bloated contracts from their books and may have led to their recently concluded World Series. There’s obviously a lot that happened between those two points for both teams, but a reasonable conclusion can be drawn that the big trades were important.
Fast-forward to this winter, when a lot of teams are looking to perform a juice cleanse on their payrolls under the guise of an untenable financial environment that also happens to come just before negotiations on a new CBA.
Anyway, the Cubs are looking to cut their spending yet again and might not limit that to just new money being brought into the organization. Some believe they could either trade or non-tender a number of their pricier arbitration-eligible players, or even look to move Jason Heyward and Yu Darvish. That premise is central to Sherman’s original deal.
In that scenario, the Cubs would swap Darvish, Heyward, and Craig Kimbrel — with Ian Happ possibly thrown in as a sweetener — for Stanton and prospects. Using that same logic, the New York Post scribe subsequently suggested the Cubs could do the same for either Nolan Arenado or Bryce Harper. Again, Sherman does note that these hypotheticals are prompted by leaguewide desire to reduce payroll obligations and shouldn’t really be viewed very seriously.
This does beg the question, however, of whether we’ll see MLB turn into the NBA this winter to some small extent. While the rules are obviously different and thus make for incongruous comparisons, it’s not uncommon to see highly-paid veterans shuffled around as they outlive the value of their contracts. That’s more or less what happened with Matt Kemp and Adrián González in one of those aforementioned trades, though their long-term obligations are not at all similar to those of Arenado or Harper.
Anyway, this is all to say that how the offseason unfolds is anyone’s guess and it’s not outside the realm of possibility that we’ll see some blockbusters based more on moving money than talent. And if we want to bring this full circle, we could just go back to González, whose inclusion in that 2017 trade to the Braves marked the second time his big salary was moved thusly. As you may recall, he signed a seven-year, $154 million extension with the Red Sox in 2011 and was traded to the Dodgers the very next season.
Theo Epstein was the GM who negotiated the deal with González, and the trade that brought him to Boston sent Anthony Rizzo to San Diego. That doesn’t really have any impact on the current situation in Chicago, unless you want to draw parallels to a team needing/wanting to clear some big salaries when Epstein’s time is drawing nigh, but it’s fun to connect dots.