The Rundown: Hot Stove Season Arrives, Contreras Officially Free, Ohtani Very Expensive Trade Option, Mets Re-Sign Díaz

It’s Hot Stove Season, folks, and the Mets didn’t waste any time getting started. The Flushing franchise retained closer Edwin Díaz on a five-year, $102 million contract, leaving Kenley Jansen gift-wrapped for the Cubs. I’d prefer that Jed Hoyer trade for Liam Hendriks, but go get Jansen if he will take a one-year deal.

The way the Mets structured Díaz’s contract is an indicator of how the team intends to attack free agency this winter.

MLB Trade Rumors has yet to drop its annual free agent predictions, but the top closer is already off the board. The GM Meetings start tomorrow, and though most analysts are expecting a slow start to the holiday shopping season, I think the Mets may have redirected that impetus. Chicago’s front office has made a habit of absquatulating from these gatherings the past few years, but I believe Hoyer may have a move or two up his sleeves this week.

Willson Contreras is officially a free agent and the Cubs will undoubtedly issue their all-star catcher a qualifying offer. Most expect Contreras to decline, so one of Hoyer’s first moves could be to find a replacement. Sean Murphy would be a nice fit in a trade with the Athletics, but I think Christian Vázquez could be Chicago’s first free-agent signing. Contreras may find free agency is a rough road because he’ll be saddled with that QO and profiles as more of a DH. The Cardinals have a need, but their front office is loath to surrender compensation in these matters.

Drew Smyly and the Cubs have a mutual option and that figures to be something that is settled this week. Mutual options are rarely exercised, but Smyly could be an exception. If Hoyer lets the veteran starter walk, it may mean he has his eyes firmly set on a bigger prize. Justin Verlander seems like a no-brainer. Nathan Eovaldi is a nice fit, but the Red Sox might tender him a QO. Keep an eye on Martín Pérez, a former top prospect who’s entering his age-32 season and has all the earmarks of a guy GM Carter Hawkins might target. Jameson Taillon fits that profile, too.

The four horsemen of the shortstop apocalypse will generate plenty of rumors this week. Trea Turner, Dansby Swanson, Xander Bogaerts, and Carlos Correa are available and very expensive. Correa will enter free agency unencumbered, but the other three will be attached to qualifying offers. Swanson is a good fit for Chicago, if only by process of elimination. Turner will reportedly stay with the Dodgers or sign with an East Coast team, and Bogaerts will generate a massive bidding war. Correa has set his financial ceiling a little too high for my tastes.

Finally, the Cubs will be shopping for a first baseman and, as mentioned earlier, bullpen help. I’d love it if Hoyer could sign José Abreu, but Anthony Rizzo is hovering on the periphery, too. Rizzo could return to the Yankees, but I’d bet there’s a change of scenery in his immediate future. The White Sox could be players for the former Cub, though that would be depressing. How about a return to the Red Sox? That seems like a really good fit.

Michael Fulmer is an interesting option for the bullpen, as is Wily Peralta. Believe it or not, Aroldis Chapman is a free agent, but that’s a hard pass. Hoyer and Hawkins will have a lot of options, but Jansen seems like the likeliest fit.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

I’m not sure what Kyle Schwarber was thinking in Game 6, but trying to bunt with two strikes is almost always a poor choice.

Monday Stove

The Astros are your 2022 world champions and Baker finally earned his first World Series ring. Rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña earned series MVP honors. Can we get on to more important business now?

Lenny Dykstra is blaming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden as the hex that cost Philadelphia a championship.

The 2022 season wraps up today with a few formalities before the new season kicks off tomorrow in Las Vegas.

The Rule 5 deadline is November 15, which is another reason why I believe the Cubs could be busy on the trade front this week.

The Dodgers are the early favorite to win the 2023 World Series because oddsmakers and sportswriters are generally lazy and uninspired. The Cubs are +8000 by the way.

The Braves acquired Sam Hilliard from the Rockies in the first trade of the offseason.

Aaron Judge is officially the biggest storyline of the offseason.

The Cardinals are the likeliest suitor for Vázquez, according to insider John Heyman. The Cubs were not listed among potential bidders.

The Twins have agreed to exercise their option on starter Sonny Gray.

Rizzo has a career ERA of 0.00 and is 1-0 as a manager if those are things you tend to consider.

It’s also Rob Manfred season, and rules changes are coming, so sayeth the commissioner.

Extra Innings

Your daily Mash.

Monday Morning Six-Pack

  1. The Bears lost 35-32 to the Dolphins in a game reminiscent of those AFL battles between Daryle Lamonica and Len Dawson.
  2. Justin Fields broke an NFL rushing record in the game and is emerging as the franchise quarterback we all hoped he would be.
  3. The Phillies may have lost the World Series, but the Eagles are 8-0 behind Jalen Hurts and they’re the NFL’s lone undefeated team. Hold the phone, though. Since 2010, 11 teams have started the season with a record of 8-0 or better, and none have gone on to win the Super Bowl. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.
  4. Furniture mogul Mattress Mack’s winning bet on the Astros was so huge that it could impact Q4 profitability at Caesars. From his wagers on the Astros, Mack won $75 million total, including a $30 million check from Caesars Sportsbook.
  5. One Milwaukee woman gave out potatoes for Trick-or-Treat and she was the hit of Halloween.
  6. The Power Ball jackpot has surged to $1.9 billion for this evening’s drawing. I matched three numbers on Saturday and won seven bucks. Big whoop.

They Said It

  • “[Winning MVP] is pretty cool, I’m pretty excited about it. There were a lot of fun moments throughout the year, but this is cool. I’m hoping to be in big league Spring Training with a lot more people here, and hopefully, I can make them cheer, too.” – Mervis
  • “Little kid Ian would probably be wondering why I’m playing left field and not shortstop, but his expectations were pretty high. I grew up watching Omar Vizquel highlights and thinking that his accomplishments with the glove were the coolest thing in baseball.” – Happ

Monday Walk-Up Song

Pitchers and catchers report in about 110 days. Let’s light this candle.

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