Many expect the Cubs to trade from their position player depth to fill a spot in the rotation, but ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers cautions that such a trade may not be as likely as one would think. President Theo Epstein did acknowledge after the season that the team may have to consider dealing from the big league roster to add a pitcher, and names like Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora have all been listed as speculative possibilities. However, Rogers points out how crucial that depth has been in dealing with injuries and suggests that depleting said depth could simply create further troubles. Free agency is a better fit, Rogers opines, suggesting the oft-speculated match between Alex Cobb and the Cubs as a starting point. Also of note, Rogers notes that an informal poll of rival execs at this month’s GM Meetings suggested that Baez and Russell are “neck and neck” in trade value.
Some other notes from around the Senior Circuit…
- Nationals top prospect Victor Robles is expected to begin the 2018 season in Triple-A, reports Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post. The Nats are as bullish as ever on the highly touted 20-year-old, but they’d prefer that he receive everyday at-bats rather than play in a more limited role to open the year. As it stands, Washington figures to head into the season with Michael Taylor, Adam Eaton and Bryce Harper as its starting outfield and Brian Goodwin on hand as a reserve. Robles already made his MLB debut in 2017, so it stands to reason that in the event of an injury, he’d be under consideration for a promotion and a regular role. And, with Harper potentially departing as a free agent following the 2018 campaign, a long-term spot could be opening for Robles in advance of his age-22 season (2019).
- Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post runs down a number of potential targets for the Rockies in free agency, noting that the bullpen, catcher and first base are among the team’s needs. Saunders believes re-signing Jonathan Lucroy to be the club’s top priority, noting that manger Bud Black “loves” how Lucroy worked with the team’s young pitchers. Re-signing Greg Holland is also on the team’s wishlist, but Saunders suggests that if the bidding reaches Mark Melancon territory (four years, $62MM) then the Rockies won’t be a player for his services.
- With the Mets exploring the possibility of bringing in a free-agent first baseman, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter) that Adam Lind is one potential name the team will consider. The interest in Lind suggests that the Mets are casting a fairly wide net, as they’ve also been linked to a higher-profile target in Carlos Santana. Speculating a bit, it also could suggest that the team isn’t giving up on Dominic Smith after a disappointing MLB debut in 2017. Signing Santana or any other higher-profile free agent would block Smith for years to come and likely turn him into a trade piece; bringing in a shorter-term stopgap like Lind, though, could give the Mets a strong platoon partner option to complement their right-handed infield bats early in the season in order to let Smith develop further. Lind slashed a robust .303/.364/.534 in 269 plate appearances against righties last season but could potentially be had on a one-year deal due to his age (34), longstanding platoon issues and a flooded market for platoon first basemen.
- While the Reds’ rotation has plenty of uncertainty heading into the 2018 season, GM Dick Williams tells David Laurila of Fangraphs that he’s nonetheless optimistic about the team’s collection of young arms. As Williams explains, injuries forced the Reds to promote numerous prospects from Double-A while skipping the Triple-A level entirely. Still, some of those arms made adjustments on the fly as the season wore on, and the experience gained was valuable in their overall development. Williams points to strong finishes from Luis Castillo, Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle as encouraging factors heading into the offseason. And, of course, the Reds will hope for better health from the likes of Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan and Homer Bailey, which could further help to bolster the rotation results. Laurila also chats with Twins GM Thad Levine about managerial qualifications and Rangers skipper Jeff Banister about player development.