The Rundown: Winter Meetings Begin, Kyle Schwarber Off Limits, Lee Smith Gets HOF Induction

The Winter Meetings are here, which means I get to spend the next three days refreshing my baseball Twitter feed every few minutes. I’m still not expecting the Cubs to do much of anything, and that’s not meant to slight MLB Network one-man hype-machine Dan Plesac, but because I believe Theo Epstein when he said he will not be doing anything significant.

Now it’s entirely possible that the Cubs are submarining, as Scott Boras has suggested. Maybe Bryce Harper wants to play for the Cubs and maybe Theo Epstein wants that to happen, but it seems almost impossible unless the Cubs can move a high-salaried player or two.

The hottest Cubs news to come out of the meetings in Las Vegas so far is the admission by the front office that they are not interested in trading Kyle Schwarber. I am in full agreement, but if the Indians are dangling Corey Kluber in exchange for Schwarber, I’d at least listen. It seems to me the Cubs might have to take Jason Kipnis and the $17M+ he is owed in salary and buyout to make such a deal happen. That just doesn’t work based on the team’s stated desire to not increase payroll.

The only thing we really know is that the if the Cubs do something this week, it will be a move steeped in creativity.  I imagine they’ll leave Las Vegas with some bullpen additions. If I had to make a crazy prediction or three it would be:

  1. Sign Andrew Miller
  2. Sign Joakim Soria.
  3. Trade for Whit Merrifield.

One thing about Epstein is he usually strikes early. Last year the Cubs took the first starting pitcher off the board when they signed Tyler Chatwood. I think they’ll wait it out and look for bargains this year. As far as Harper, I think Boras is going to have to find a way to get the Phillies to bid against themselves. 

Cubs News & Notes

Lee Smith is going into the Hall of Fame, and he’d love to do so wearing a Cubs cap. Harold Baines was also elected in a special vote by the “Today’s Game” Era Committee.

Per ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle and David Schoenfield, Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr., and Ian Happ were part of theoretical trades that could possibly pry Kluber away from the Indians. Kluber has three years and $40.5 million left on his current deal with two team options after that. That’s an ideal dollar amount with appealing team control for a pitcher of Kluber’s ilk. No way the Cubs could do that without moving Chatwood, in my opinion.

According to Jim Bowden of The Atlantic, the Cubs are one of three teams that have a legitimate shot to sign Harper this offseason. The other two teams that he mentioned were the Dodgers and Yankees.

Could Epstein follow Jerry Dipoto’s lead regarding the Robinson Cano trade and make Jason Heyward’s contract disappear?

Regardless, Epstein is working diligently to acquire another professional hitter.

After playing in just four MLB games in 2018, Miguel Montero appears to be on to his next endeavor: baseball agent.

At the end of November, both the Nationals and Cubs filed an opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board against Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. The teams are apparently upset with Starwood’s pending trademark application to register their “W” brand in connection with “Entertainment services, namely, planning, conducting and hosting music festivals, concerts and performances by musical groups and individuals.”

Monday Stove

The Yankees and Padres are discussing a trade that would send Sonny Gray to San Diego.

The Yankees are reportedly willing to meet with Manny Machado, but have no intentions on spending $300M to sign the shortstop/third baseman.

Jurickson Profar could be a nice get for a team that fails to sign Machado.

The Braves reportedly have Dallas Keuchel atop their free agent wish list and have inquired about a pair of outfieldersMitch Haniger of the Mariners and David Peralta of the Diamondbacks.

Yasiel Puig has reportedly become disgruntled with his role on the team and is open to being traded this offseason. The Mets are reportedly interested.

There has been speculation about the Milwaukee Brewers and Marcus Stroman going back to last offseason. Nothing ever really materialized due to the high asking price the Blue Jays had on Stroman, but could that change this winter?

On Deck

Best thing I heard this weekend: “Is the Mike Canter that writes for Cubs Insider *our* Mike Canter? It sure looks like him.” That comes from my best friend’s sister, who I haven’t seen in about 25 years.

Extra Innings

Lee Smith’s Hall of Fame induction should help ease the path for future closers. Smith is openly lobbying for former New York Mets closer John Franco, who had 424 career saves. Similarly, Baines’ election may mean more recognition for designated hitters, particularly Edgar Martinez and David “Big Papi” Ortiz. The BBWAA has been steadfast in keeping closers and DHs out of the Hall on the premise that those positions are either too specialized or one-dimensional. 

It would be nice to see Martinez get in, along with a number of other closers, including Rollie Fingers.

Monday Walk Up Song

Your Love by The Outfield. I know some think I should have ranked Sledgehammer a lot higher. But as good as the video was, I just never really liked the song. This one comes in at number 15 on my Top 20 list.

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