Marlins, Giants Could Be Close To Giancarlo Stanton Trade?

In the latest development of the Giancarlo Stanton saga, the Miami Marlins and San Francisco Giants discussions about the MVP Slugger could indeed turn into an official deal. According to a couple of tweets from Jon Morosi of MLB Network, while Stanton hasn’t given word to the Marlins front office that he would accept a trade to San Francisco, those involved in talks are confident that Stanton will indeed accept a deal to play for the Giants.

In the first of those tweets, a source told Morosi that the Marlins would likely accept a trade offer that would send second baseman Joe Panik and prospects Chris Shaw(1B/OF) and Tyler Beede(RHP) to the Marlins in exchange for Stanton alone, that is, if San Francisco pays down $250MM of the $295MM Stanton is owed on his contract.

While that’s a hefty sum to pay, it looks like that may be the likely trigger to pulling off a deal between the two sides. Stay tuned for more Stanton updates.

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Quick Notes; Yasmani Grandal Trade?, Jonathan Schoop Extension Talks

A couple of key notes around baseball as the day wraps up..

-The Dodgers are reportedly going to shop Catcher Yasmani Grandal this offseason. Grandal, 29, put up a .247/.308/.459 slash line(2.2 WAR) in 482 PAs this past season.

-The Orioles are going to begin extension talks with second baseman Jonathan Schoop this offseason. Schoop broke out this year with a phenomenal .293/.338/.503 line and was valued at 5.1 WAR this past season. Schoop is due to hit free agency after the 2019 season.

Giancarlo Stanton Interested In Joining Dodgers

In the latest news of the Giancarlo Stanton saga, the MVP slugger has reportedly submitted a list of teams of which he would accept a trade to to the Miami Marlins front office. Among those teams are the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to a tweet from Jon Morosi of MLB Network. He goes on to mention that sources say the Dodgers may be his preferred destination in a trade.

The Dodgers have made contact with the Marlins about Stanton, but it’s not known how deep talks are. To this point, the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants are the two teams that are still showing the most interest.

Stay tuned for more as the Stanton situation continues to hold up the hot stove season.

2018-19 MLB Free Agent Class; Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu

We’ve already heard it plenty of times that next winter we will see one of the most star studded Free Agent classes of all-time, and among that class will be two prominent Colorado Rockies stars in Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu. While we still have this offseason and the 2018 MLB season ahead, it’s no doubt that next offseason will be on the minds of many, including Rockies fans who may end up losing these two franchise stars. That’s why we are going to take a look at what the Rockies may do with these two players.

Since his debut with the Rockies in 2011, Charlie Blackmon has gradually become a star in the Colorado lineup. He’s had a steady rise in just about every offensive category, and 2017 he put up the best numbers of his career. Despite nearly eclipsing the 30 homer mark in 2016, Blackmon had never had more than 19 homers in a season prior to 2016. This past year however, he crushed 37 long balls, easily a career high. 2016 saw him earn MVP votes for the first time in his career, but 2017 saw him finish 5th in the MVP voting overall. His total WAR output to this point in his career is valued at 15.2(6.0 in 2017). He’s a 2-time all-star, a winner of the batting title in 2017, and is a 2-time silver slugger winner. Another year like this in 2018 and he could be in for a massive payday next winter.

Meanwhile, DJ LeMahieu is no slouch himself. While he’s not nearly the type of star Blackmon is, he’s still been a big part of the Colorado Rockies for the better part of 6 seasons. A 2-time gold glove winner, LeMahieu won the batting title in 2016 with a whopping .348 BA in 635 plate appearances. That season saw him garner a few MVP votes, however not enough for him to finish in the top 10. He’s valued at 14.4 WAR in his career(2.9 in 2017), and he’s sure to aim high next winter in his age 29 season on a multi-year deal.

With this being said about the two Rockies stars, the team is currently slated to have just $23.5MM in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2019 season, which certainly has plenty of room for Colorado to add plenty of salary.

Extensions for Blackmon and LeMahieu are definitely a possibility, but aren’t a certainty due to the fact that the team will need to use a significant amount of money if they want to extend franchise star 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado, who will surely command a monster contract. That, on top of the fact that the Rockies have top prospects waiting in the wings in Ryan McMahon and Brendan Rodgers, could impact the future’s of both Blackmon and LeMahieu.

These next couple of winters will see the Rockies work with some payroll flexibility on top of the fact that they contain a few trade chips that they can use to fill some areas of need, if necessary. As for Blackmon and LeMahieu, their futures will depend upon how the Rockies view them going forward and the progress of some of their younger players who can fill those positions.

Trade Destinations For Gerrit Cole

Fresh off of a season in which he posted a 4.26 ERA, 2.8 WAR season, Pirates ace Gerrit Cole didn’t exactly post the numbers we would typically see out of him at the top of the Pittsburgh rotation. However, he still has plenty of trade value if the Pirates are to shop him this offseason. With his rising price tag through arbitration and dwindling team control, the cost conscious Pittsburgh Pirates would be wise to check out the market for Cole. Here’s who they can expect to at least take a look at trading for Cole and his career 3.50 ERA.

As they have been with just about everyone available this winter, the St. Louis Cardinals have been linked to Cole at one point but talks have not gotten serious between the two sides as of right now. The Cardinals are most likely to look at other options before they would consider Cole, but both their outfield and infield depth on the big league roster could be of interest to the Pirates, who don’t look likely to rebuild, instead more of a retool if they are to deal anyone on the big league roster.

You could say that maybe another division rival, the Milwaukee Brewers, could take a look into acquiring Cole, as they have a deep farm system and a need at the top of their rotation, but their likely route for filling that vacancy looks to be through free agency, plus the Pirates may not want to trade with a division rival(that goes the same for St. Louis) if they want to compete next year.

Much like the Brewers, the Minnesota Twins are going to be players at the top of the starting pitching market and could very well look into acquiring Cole if they lose out on Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, that is, if they truly do make a bid for either of the two. Cole would be a nice add to a Twins rotation that features Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios at the top.

Other speculative fits could be the Texas Rangers simply due in part to their desperate need for rotation pieces, but Pittsburgh isn’t going to give him away for nothing and the Rangers will have to come up with an offer that they may not be able to put together. The Orioles, Mariners, and Phillies could also benefit from adding Cole, but I don’t see any of those 3 for various reasons.

Trading Cole may or may not happen, but the Pirates should definitely check into trading their ace while his salary isn’t all that high. Of course, they could also wait until next season to see if he gain regain some more trade value then try and deal him.

Examining Greg Holland’s Market

Free agent closer Greg Holland enters the market coming off of a solid season in which he racked up 41 saves to go along with a 3.61 ERA in 57.1 IP in a Rockies uniform. He will now try to turn that production into a lucrative multi-year contract with a new team(or if the Rockies are to re-sign him).

It’s easy to see why teams will want to lineup for a player like Holland, as he’s just about always shown he is a reliable option in the 9th inning his entire career to this point. Even pitching in the tough Coors Field in Colorado didn’t do much to decrease his performance. Before signing with the Rockies in the 2016-17 offseason, Holland had just been coming off of a year that was wiped out due to Tommy John surgery, which caused him to sign a 1-year deal with a player option(which he then declined) so no one knew what to expect out of the former Kansas City Royal. He silenced any critics however, and proved he’s the same pitcher he was before, once again pitching brilliantly.

While it’s easy to point to the success he’s had, it’s also easy to point to the blemishes that may impact his market. Holland’s Tommy John surgery history alone will always at least make some teams a little concerned at what to expect going forward in his career and whether that will affect him down the road at some point. It’s also worth noting that despite the fact that he recorded 41 saves, he faded down the stretch for Colorado after pitching amazingly in the first half of the season.

With all of that being said, exactly who will be vying for Holland’s services? The St. Louis Cardinals are the first team to mention, due in part to the gaping hole in the back of their bullpen. The Cardinals are willing to do whatever it takes to land an elite closer and prefer to sign Holland over anyone else that is available. It’s not known exactly how much they are willing to offer Holland, but they will surely be one of the top bidders.

Next is the Rockies, the team he just wrapped up his contract with. While he declined his player option with the team, there is interest between the two sides in a reunion. Colorado will have to cough up a pretty penny to get their closer back though. However, despite Holland’s potentially big asking price, the Rockies are reportedly going to make a play to retain their closer on a long-term deal.

The Minnesota Twins will be in the market for a closer and are plenty familiar with Holland from his time with the Royals. Holland would be a huge boost to the Minnesota relief corps and for a Twins team that is looking poised to contend on top of the fact that they have plenty of money to spend going forward, they could easily make the biggest bid if they are interested enough in Holland.

Other teams that could be linked to Holland this offseason could be the Astros, Cubs, D-Backs, Rangers, and Phillies. Even though he endured a rough second half of the 2017 season, most teams will probably look past that as Holland has always shown he is a capable and elite closer.

Blockbuster Moves Cardinals Could Make At Winter Meetings

The St. Louis Cardinals have been the most frequently mentioned team since the offseason began. Giancarlo Stanton has been the most frequently mentioned name since the offseason began(other than Shohei Ohtani). With that being said we will kick off Stanton and the Cardinals in this post. Before we do that though, it’s worth mentioning that there are other moves that we will be speculating on other than Stanton and the Cardinals, as St. Louis could perhaps be the most active team once the winter meetings begin in a couple of weeks. We will take a look at some moves St. Louis could make that could dominate the transactions front this winter. Lets begin with the aforementioned Stanton/Cardinals potential move.

Cardinals acquiring Giancarlo Stanton:

They have reportedly submitted an early offer to the Marlins for Stanton, but that doesn’t mean much right now as both teams will continue to go back and forth over the coming weeks as Marlins management continues to look for what they will be the perfect offer for their MVP slugger. St. Louis and San Francisco are the top two teams vying for Stanton at the moment, and it’s beginning to look likely that it could come down to those two teams in the Stanton sweepstakes.

The Marlins want both prospects and the acquiring team to pay down a significant portion of Stanton’s contract, which will obviously be the main sticking point in negotiations. Unlike the Giants, the Cardinals have the payroll space to take on more money from Stanton’s contract. I believe St. Louis will get him, as they have the most enticing collection of players and the space to acquire him. Money however, will obviously play the biggest role.

Now here’s one sort of deal I thought of would be both interesting, but difficult to envision. It would be an expanded deal between the two teams. The deal would send Stanton, Dee Gordon, Dan Straily, Kyle Barraclough, and Miami would pay down $150MM total between the Stanton and Gordon contracts to St. Louis. In exchange in the deal, the Marlins would receive outfielder Stephen Piscotty, 2nd baseman Kolten Wong, starter Michael Wacha, and two of the Cardinals top 10 prospects.

The Cardinals in the deal would finally land Stanton, and would also fill two other needs in the rotation with Straily and the bullpen in Barraclough. While the Cards probably don’t need Gordon, they could take him on as a way of being able to trade Wong, who has sort of fallen out of favor at times by the Cards. Money does play a huge role in how much St. Louis would take on in the Stanton/Gordon deals, however.

For the Marlins, they would receive the salary relief they are desperately looking for plus they would get Piscotty who has plenty of upside at a much lesser of a cost(though he will never replace Stanton’s production). They would also fill a need in the rotation by getting Wacha, plus Wong could fill the void left by Gordon at a lesser cost as well. A couple of prospects could also head the Marlins way.

While that type of deal has plenty of flaws(and plenty of people that will call me crazy), some of the players in that speculated trade(not including Stanton) could realistically be in the discussions between the two teams.

Nonetheless, I expect the Cardinals and Marlins to eventually work something out to send Stanton to St. Louis, even if it takes plenty of convincing to get Stanton to waive that no-trade clause. Speaking of their payroll space..

-Cardinals Signing Jake Arrieta

They would like to add a frontline starter, whether through trade or free agency, but I can see them making a real play for Arrieta. Stanton drama aside, Arrieta would fill that frontline starter role, giving the Cards another top rotation piece to what president of Baseball Operations John Moezliak hopes to be a World Series contender. Not to mention they have plenty of familiarity with Arrieta when he was pitching with the Cubs.

-Cardinals signing Greg Holland and/or Wade Davis

Another need and pretty much the biggest need for the Cardinals is a closer. They will be in the market for the top relievers available, and they have already been linked to Holland. But would it be crazy to see them sign Holland then make a bid at another top reliever in Wade Davis? Signing those two would make the St. Louis bullpen as scary as any pen in baseball.

It’s also worth mentioning Shohei Ohtani, as every team in baseball will be linked to him, but it’s a lot less likely St. Louis would land the Japanese phenom due to their logjam in the outfield(where Ohtani has interest in playing on days when he doesn’t pitch) and smaller international bonus pool.

The Cardinals are guaranteed to make at least one big splash at the winter meetings and whether it’s move(s) that involve any of these players, or moves that could involve any other free agents(Yu Darvish) or trade candidates(Brad Hand, Gerrit Cole), President of Baseball Ops John Mozeliak is all but guaranteed to help make this team a World Series contender in 2018.

Braves Set To Lose Kevin Maitan, Others As Part Of International Violations Punishment

While not confirmed as of yet, an announcement from Major League Baseball is set to come soon on the exact punishments the Braves will receive as a result of the team violating international signing rules. The Braves look very likely to lose one of their top prospects, Kevin Maitan, among others as part of the severe punishment that will be handed down by the league.

The 17-year old Maitan was the top ranked international prospect at the time of his signing with the Braves in 2016, and he signed for a $4.25MM bonus. He is currently the 38th best prospect in the game according to MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list.

Meanwhile, it is not known what other prospects that are rumored to be taken away from the Braves as part of the scandal.

Last month, now-former Braves GM John Coppolella was forced to resign along with now-former international scouting director Gordon Blakely due to their heavy involvement in the violations by the team. No other Braves executives were reportedly involved in violating the rules. Stay tuned for more.

Orioles Starting Pitching Targets

Plain and simple, The Baltimore Orioles need starting pitching. One of the worst starting rotations last year was one of the main reasons the team couldn’t sustain a winning record and a shot at the postseason. Now, the Orioles head into the offseason with their sights set on adding some starters who can provide the team with quality innings at an affordable price.

Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette has stated that his team will not break the bank for a starter, but that they will hunt for multiple pitchers who can provide innings at a lower cost.

That means the team will surely be out of the race for Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta. However, they may make a play for second tier starters Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. Problem with that is both Lynn and Cobb, while won’t cost as much as Darvish and Arrieta, will be looking for lucrative long-term deals themselves. Which brings us to the next wave of free agent starters.

If the team wants to hunt for low-cost, short-term starters as expected, the most notable names would be Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia, and Tyler Chatwood, among others. All of those would check the box for the Orioles, but wouldn’t be much of a guaranteed upgrade.

Orioles starters combined for one of the worst ERAs in baseball(4.97) and the second worst in the American League(only the Tigers were worse with a 5.36 team ERA). This team will need to address their rotation problem in a big way if they want to give it one more run with the current core they have in place.

Orioles, Brewers Interested In Lance Lynn

As Lance Lynn begins his first foray into the free agent market, several teams will begin to start showing interest in the right-hander. Among those to this point to show some interest are the Orioles and Brewers. Both teams have varying needs for rotation upgrades, with the Orioles in dire need of at least two starting pitchers and the Brewers looking for another starter to help offset the loss of Jimmy Nelson to injury.

The Orioles interest may only be to a certain point, as the team doesn’t want to dole out too much money and years to a starter if they prove to be a non-contender within the next couple of years due to the fact that several players are expected to depart from the team after next year.

The Brewers meanwhile, are going to be linked to several starters this offseason, as the team will have some money to spend due to the fact that the team will have plenty of payroll space to work with over the next few years. The team has already reportedly shown interest in Jake Arrieta as well.