There’s so much information coming out of the Winter Meetings in San Diego that it’s hard to keep track of everything. Rather than waiting for another Rundown Wednesday morning, I figured it was worthwhile to explore a few notes here. Rest assured there will be numerous wrinkles added before the afternoon is up.
First up, Marino Pepén of WJDA in Boston tweets that the Cubs “represent the main threat” to the Red Sox when it comes to landing Xander Bogaerts. Pepén reported Sunday that the Cubs were planning to make an offer to the shortstop, which seems to hold water given their earlier meeting and Jed Hoyer’s comments on Monday.
— Marino Pepén (@Marino_Pepen) December 6, 2022
If that’s the case, Hoyer should try to move quickly to set a tone and make sure the Cubs can secure at least one star following the news that Tom Ricketts has apparently mandated spending whatever it takes. As unlikely as it is that the Cubs would also be able to land Dansby Swanson, there’s some thought that he might be willing to get a deal done quickly.
Swanson is getting married this weekend, so there will probably be a moratorium on negotiations as he celebrates for a while. His fiancée, Mallory Pugh, plays for the Chicago Red Stars and has pretty much the same season as the Cubs, so living in the city during the spring and summer sure would be nice. Perhaps Hoyer can put a massive check into one of those wedding cards made to hold money.
Landing two top free agents would improve the roster dramatically while also pushing some current players to the bench. That could influence the potential pursuit of a trade with the A’s for Sean Murphy, though Oakland might want to get something done before all those dominoes have fallen. It sounds like they’re being patient, however, with Ken Rosenthal reporting that they’re willing to hold onto Murphy if they don’t get the right offer.
I didn’t really believe the Cubs were legitimately in on Murphy at first because the assumption was that they’d have to deplete the upper reaches of the farm to get him. But as Rosenthal wrote, the A’s are seeking major leaguers rather than prospects. Knowing their penchant for maintaining a low payroll, we can assume that means cost-controlled players with upside.
You have to wonder whether some combination of four players from the following group would get it done: Patrick Wisdom, Nick Madrigal, Nelson Velázquez, Christopher Morel, Keegan Thompson, Adrian Sampson, Caleb Kilian. That would be a lot more palatable than giving up Kevin Alcántara, Owen Caissie, and another top-10 prospect. I don’t think this is very likely, but the possibility goes up in a big way if the Cubs land a shortstop, let alone two.
That shortstop market decreased by one on Monday when Trea Turner agreed to an 11-year, $300 million deal with the Phillies that effectively set the bar for his colleagues. Or did it? According to Buster Olney, the Padres actually offered Turner a deal larger than the $341 million Francisco Lindor got from the Mets. San Diego had previously set a record by giving Fernando Tatis Jr. a $340 million extension, but they clearly aren’t sitting back and saving their money.
If the $41 gap between the two offers seems far too big to pass up, consider California’s higher income taxes and cost of living. There’s also the matter of Turner simply preferring the East Coast, though it’s probably safe to say getting a no-trade clause and having his money up front with no deferrals helped. It’s not always about getting the biggest offer on paper.
Maybe the Cubs can find a way to lure a top player or two without simply making the biggest offer, though I would advise strongly against depending on such a strategy. They need to make aggressive offers to bring players into the fold so we don’t have to hear about trying to make reasonable proposals that just ended up being beaten.