In one of the winter’s most fascinating storylines, the Nationals face the potential loss of two more centerpiece players after bidding adieu to Bryce Harper last winter … and then winning a long-awaited crown. The D.C. organization would like to “get quick resolutions” on both Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter), rather than engaging in a protracted courtship. If it’s a fond farewell, in either situation, then the Nats would like to get on with sorting out a replacement plan. The offseason could take any number of different directions for the defending World Series champs.
More from the National League …
- The Cubs like Nicholas Castellanos and he likes the Cubs. So … why not bring him back? Sahadev Sharma breaks down the situation for The Athletic (subscription link), explaining the many barriers to a reunion. In part it’s simply a financial issue, but there is also a legitimate dilemma in the outfield. Kyle Schwarber’s season went much like that of Castellanos, starting meekly and ending quite strong, so why replace the former with the latter? Both are bat-first players that probably shouldn’t be standing on the same outfield grass for too long. That leaves the focus on center field, per Sharma, which is where things get tricky. There are loads of other clubs facing similar situations and relatively few up-the-middle options available — particularly in free agency. It’ll be interesting to see how the Cubs sort things out, but Castellanos seems to be a bit of a mis-fitting puzzle piece — unless, perhaps, other developments intervene and his market doesn’t develop as he hopes.
- It is still tough to gauge whether the Rockies will end up pulling off some major roster moves or simply make a few tweaks. GM Jeff Bridich and owner Dick Monfort have suggested the club will need to improve largely from within, while also expressing optimism that it can do so. But we’ve heard persistent chatter regarding possible trade scenarios involving top Colorado players — much of it speculative, to be fair. Odds are, the Rox will simply be looking for affordable, marginal improvements this winter. Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post provides a transcript of Bridich’s most recent comments. Bolstering the pitching and finding a second catcher are the two goals, though it still seems those will be of modest expense. So what of the idea of trading Jon Gray? Saunders tweets that the Rockies could be open to it … if they can secure a major package involving significant prospects as well as “an established pitcher” to replace Gray. That feels unlikely to come to fruition.
- The Cardinals have traded away a huge volume of outfield talent in recent years and have plenty of internal options at or near the majors. Yet the teams still enters the winter with a possible need in that area, as Mark Saxon of The Athletic writes (subscription link). He reasons that the team needs to add a left-handed-hitting piece and looks at a few theoretical trade possibilities. The trick is that the Cards don’t appear interested in raising payroll and all the veterans cited will not be particularly cheap. Joc Pederson ($8.5MM), David Peralta ($8.8MM), and Jackie Bradley Jr. ($11MM) probably wouldn’t require major prospect hauls to acquire, but could bust the self-imposed St. Louis budget. We actually predicted that this year’s top two left-handed-hitting free agent corner outfielders, Corey Dickerson and Kole Calhoun, would secure less annually than each of those players.