Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings are jam-packed with rumors, but one of the most head-scratching reports from this offseason's annual get-together involved the Padres and the Cubs.
Yahoo's Jeff Passan indicated the Padres were looking for a young, controllable shortstop and the Cubs could possibly be a match:
Sources: The San Diego Padres continue to be one of the more active teams at the Winter Meetings. There's traction to their talks with Eric Hosmer, and they're seeking a young, under-control shortstop. One match to keep an eye on: The Chicago Cubs.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 12, 2017
It makes sense from San Diego's end: if you're a team searching for a young shortstop years away from free agency, the Cubs are the place to be with Javy Baez and Addison Russell both fitting that bill.
But it was puzzling from a Cubs' perspective given Theo Epstein's front office is searching for high-end, young, controllable starting pitching — an area the Padres aren't exactly flourishing in.
Still, it appears the two teams did talk about Baez, though The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reports the Padres weren't willing to pay the Cubs' perceived price.
Rosenthal didn't get into too much detail about what the Cubs were asking for, but San Diego Union-Tribune's Dennis Lin shed a little more light on the conversations:
.@Ken_Rosenthal mentioned the Padres’ balking at the asking price for Javier Baez last month. Of note: The Cubs would have wanted more besides Lamet or Perdomo. Brad Hand likely was discussed. SD has had interest in Baez, who can play shortstop and move around the infield.— Dennis Lin (@sdutdennislin) January 4, 2018
It's understandable the Padres wouldn't feel comfortable parting with one of their top young starters, their best reliever and possibly more on top of that when they're in the middle of a rebuild, but from the Cubs' perspective, it makes total sense they would ask for that.
Dinelson Lamet is already 25 with only one season (114.1 innings) of big-league work under his belt. He's under team control through 2023 and struck out nearly 11 batters per nine innings (10.9), but he also has had issues with walks throughout his career, surrendering 4.3 BB/9 in 2017.
Perdomo, 24, has spent most of the last two years in the San Diego rotation, though to not-so-great results: 5.16 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 6.5 K/9. He's been a bit unlucky, however, and posted a 4.40 FIP in 2017 while making 29 starts. He is only under team control through the 2021 season.
Hand will turn 28 during spring training and has two years left until free agency. After working as a swingman between starting and relieving for the Marlins, he enjoyed a bonafide breakout campaign in 2016, leading baseball in appearances (82) while sporting a 2.92 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 89.1 innings.
The southpaw was one of the top relievers on the trade market last summer, but ultimately stayed in San Diego and took his game to an even higher level: 21 saves, 2.16 ERA, 0.9 WHIP, 11.8 K/9.
If such a deal was struck between the Cubs and Padres front offices, Hand would've represented an instant boost in the back end of the Cubs bullpen while Perdomo or Lamet would've served as projects of sort while filling in the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
For the Cubs to get rid of a guy like Baez, they'd have to see a serious boost to their pitching staff, both short- and long-term.