It’s already been well-chronicled how bewildering the acquisition and subsequent handling of Dee Gordon has been in Seattle. With Shed Long waiting in the wings, bidding adieu to Gordon before the July 31 deadline seems like a forgone conclusion.
Long story short, for all intents and purposes, Gordon has $20 million left on his current deal. He’s signed through 2021 for $34.5 million, though a $1 million buyout for the last year of his deal is almost assuredly going to be exercised.
The Cubs are already going to finish 2019 well-over the luxury tax threshold, so adding payroll doesn’t seem entirely out of the question. That being said, there’s been murmurs that the team is anticipating getting back under that threshold for 2020.
It would certainly come as a surprise if Chicago had any interest of taking on all of the remaining monies owed to Gordon.
The Cubs have utilized a bevy of names at second base this season. Daniel Descalso, David Bote and Addison Russell have seen the majority of the work. The three of them have combined for 0.6 WAR in 90 games, though things have been better of late since Descalso stopped receiving regular playing time.
Bote is a good player, and can be employed virtually anywhere on the diamond. Chicago may prefer to keep his versatility instead of anchoring him to second base.
Regardless of who Russell is as a player, he’s just coming back from a lengthy domestic violence suspension. It should be assumed he’s on an incredibly short leash and is probably expendable to the organization and fanbase alike.
Rip off the ugly Band-aid, Chicago. Set an example.
But I digress. That’s an article for another day.
As usual, there’s three avenues Chicago could go in a Gordon trade. We’ll examine all three.
Option 1: Seattle sends Gordon to the Cubs, Chicago eats the contract.
Not only is this unlikely from a Chicago perspective, Seattle wouldn’t prefer this either. Sending Gordon to the Cubs and allowing them to eat the remainder of the $20 million owed would net a return of almost nothing. Maybe one slice of deep dish pizza. Certainly not from Lou Malnati’s pizza joint, but maybe some pie from Punky’s.
Mariners Acquire: SP Chris Allen
Allen was the Cubs 18th round selection in the 2018 draft out of the JC of Marin — ironically also the Mariners. At 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, Allen throws a high-80s fastball and mixes in a slurve with good vertical and lateral movement. He’s working to develop a changeup, but as of now it’s a below-average offering. A left-handed pitcher, he’s got a projectable body and his delivery suggests future durability shouldn’t be an issue.
At 21 years old, Allen has a lot of time to develop his craft within an organization, while possibly developing a little more electricity in that arm.
It would serve Allen well to work on his extension toward the plate. He could also work on getting the ball in a more athletic position behind his ear prior to throwing his pitches as right now his stuff is stymied by his limited arm action.
He represents a sensible young man. Could use more of this.
When people stand up as soon as the plane reaches the gate, I assume they’ve never flown before— Chris Allen (@ChrisAllen1622) June 2, 2019
Option 2: Seattle sends Gordon to the Cubs along with $10 million
This is the most likely outcome, though I could see the Mariners eating the remainder of the deal as well.
Mariners Acquire: RHP James Norwood
Norwood is a true power pitcher who has struggled a bit with injuries throughout his career. Armed with an upper-90s fastball and a fringy curveball, Norwood has an 8th inning profile if he can find a way to stay on the field. He’s thrown 36 innings at AAA Iowa this season, compiling a 4.25 ERA and 1.250 WHIP. His 50 Ks in such limited action shows how dominant he can be just so long as he throws strikes. He’s issued 18 free passes this season.
A 7th round pick in 2014, Norwood has been working to develop his changeup this year to keep hitters off balance, whilst also upping his ‘effectively wild’ profile.
Seattle has obviously had a volatile bullpen in 2019, exacerbated by durability issues to it’s best arms. Norwood, while not totally durable himself, would represent a solid high-leverage reliever cut from a similar cloth as Sam Tuivailala.
Option 3: Seattle sends Gordon to the Cubs along with $20 million
Chicago may actually prefer this deal, though it remains to be seen what Seattle would be asking for in return for such a deal.
Mariners Acquire: 3B/IF Christopher Morel
Morel represents a high ceiling infielder that packs a punch. Having just freshly turned 20 years old, Morel can really take a cut at a baseball. Having signed as an international free agent for $500,000 from the Dominican Republic in 2015, Morel has put on 25 pounds since signing and now sits at 6-foot, 165 pounds. He looks to have the defensive ability and projectable bat to stick at third base, but a move to shortstop isn’t out of the question.
His glove is currently ahead of his bat, but the lumber is starting to show this season. Currently at A-Ball South Bend, Morel is currently slashing .285/.322/.437 with six home runs and six triples in 266 at-bats. He’s still not walking a whole bunch, but the strikeout rate is down from years past.
Morel grades as average or better in a number of areas. His bat is going to dictate how high his ceiling can go, but with some added weight and a tinkered approach, Morel is the type of guy that could ascend quickly if it clicks for him. There’s a Josh Harrison comp in there if things keep trending upwards.
Morel currently does not rank inside the Cubs’ Top 30 prospects for Baseball America, though he does slot in at #26 for MLBPipeline.
However things shake out in a Dee Gordon deal, again, it’s important to remember a few things as fans.
- Seattle has almost zero leverage here as they’re the ones publicly looking to offload capital.
- That so-called capital is underproducing, especially considering the money attached.
- Seattle has Shed Long waiting in the wings and they’ve made it publicly clear he’s next in line.
- Suitors will almost certainly make the case they’re simply looking to acquire a pinch-runner, nothing more.
Dee Gordon is a talented player who hasn’t had it easy in Seattle. For his sake, hopefully he lands with the Cubs and has a very real shot and getting a ring in 2019.