The Rundown: Yankees and Mariners Ignite Hot Stove, Cubs and Marwin González Could Be Fit, Tuesday’s New Spins

Consider the hot stove candle officially lit. Finally. Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re about to see a cascade of movement between now and the opening of spring training, but the Mariners’ trade of James Paxton to the Yankees for Justus Sheffield yesterday represents the first major trade of the offseason. New York GM Brian Cashman gave up his No. 1 prospect plus two minor leaguers to acquire the cost-controlled lefty who has pitched like an ace when he’s been healthy.

And though Paxton has been getting fair-to-middling appraisals on social media, he is a bona fide top-of-rotation starter and he did take the bump 28 times last season. This could be a steal for the Yankees, as many prospect analysts see Sheffield as a relief pitcher long-term, though Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto sees far greater potential.

Dipoto has said he doesn’t consider this an offseason of change for his team, not “a teardown, a build-up, or a reset — but a re-imagination of the roster.” Okay, then. The Seattle front office has more important issues to deal with anyway.

As for the Yankees, I first thought this move signaled that New York would forego pursuit of free agent Patrick Corbin and instead sign Bryce Harper and/or Manny Machado in free agency. Getting both would make the Bronx Bombers a scary good team. But Brian Cashman has indicated that pitching remains the team’s number one offseason priority.

As far as who won the trade, it is difficult to make a determination when a minor league player is the centerpiece, though we can determine that the two franchises have opposite offseason plans. In a conference call with local media, Dipoto said the Mariners’ plan was to take a “step back” in 2019 with the on-field roster while moving forward with a focus on the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Free Agent Profile: Marwin González

I keep trying to convince myself that this is the player the Cubs need to sign this winter because of his versatility. But Chicago already has so many versatile guys, so will adding another make the team any stronger? I suppose it’s possible if they replace Ian Happ with González but the former is younger, cheaper, and — even though I am not a huge fan — he does have more potential.

That being said, the super-utility player is one of the most versatile in baseball, capable of above-average defense anywhere in the infield as well as left field. He had a blistering August and September, hitting 10 of his 16 home runs in the final two months of the season, at times carrying Houston offensively. He likely wants an everyday job, even if it is not at a single position.

González is an ideal player for the Cubs if they get rid of Addison Russell, but the Dodgers probably have a lot of interest as well. If it comes down to brass tacks, I think the Cubs would rather keep Happ unless they can trade him and gain a lopsided return. As with every free agent, the Phillies could be a player here.

Handicapping González:

  1. Astros
  2. Cardinals
  3. Red Sox
  4. Phillies
  5. Cubs

Yesterday: Nelson Cruz

Tomorrow: Daniel Murphy

Cubs News & Notes

Tuesday Stove

The Cardinals and Diamondbacks have had “meaningful talks” surrounding first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The same record plays year after year and St. Louis will eventually refuse to include top prospects. It’s just my opinion, but I think the Cardinals’ farm system has lost quite a bit of its luster the last few years.

The Braves may or may not be serious players for Harper.

Bleacher Report takes a stab at predicting this winter’s biggest trades, including one that sends Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke to the Cardinals.

Many teams see free agent pitcher Nathan Eovaldi as a closer rather than a starting pitcher.

World Series MVP Steve Pearce said it was “a no-brainer returning to the Red Sox.”

Could the Mets trade SP Noah Syndergaard? Never say never, I guess, especially when it comes to the Metropolitans.

Extra Innings

My new favorite word is truculent, and I suppose I owe a thanks to Al Michaels for turning me onto that word. But disregard, for a second.

MLB franchises are bringing back the powder blue unis, with the Cardinals unveiling theirs recently. I truly hope the Cubs don’t follow suit, since their foray into that uninspiring color was, well, uninspiring. It would, however, give me the opportunity to sport my George Mitterwald jersey around Chicago this summer.

New Spins Tuesday

  1. Howlin’ Wind by Graham Parker & The Rumour – Before anybody knew who Elvis Costello was, we had Parker. It’s a shame that Costello got so darn popular that many people missed out on this wonderful contemporary artist. And if you seen the Paul Rudd movie This is 40, you’ve gotten a taste of Parker’s self-deprecating sense of humor.
  2. Lady Soul by Aretha Franklin – No doubt she is the Queen of Soul, and this long player confirms it. Many of the songs included are in mono, and there is nothing wrong with listening to songs the way they were originally recorded.
  3. One Particular Harbor by Jimmy Buffett – I was a big fan of Buffet, until I found out John Paxson  was too. I am not a big fan of Paxson so I stopped listening cold turkey. That silliness is over now. This underrated album will have you longing for summer.

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Baby Please Don’t Go by Muddy Waters with the Rolling Stones live from the Checkerboard Lounge. Was saying this in case the Cubs and Joe Maddon parted ways but things look copacetic these days.

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