Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com spoke with Cubs president Theo Epstein. And you can’t say Theo isn’t optimistic about the Cubs’ ability to attract free agents:
“Elite baseball players are really competitive and I think they like the thought of being part of the solution here. Being a member of the team that finally wins a World Series for the Cubs is really appealing. I’ve had a number of players tell me that directly. We have not had to sell our situation much at all.”
“Except for the money,” Theo added in my mind. “We’ve REALLY had to sell them with gobs of money so they won’t do what almost every other athlete does and try to go to the place where they’re likely to win a championship.”
The White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.