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BCB After Dark: Go to the head of the Clase

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks about the trade rumors for Emmanuel Clase.

All-MLB Team Show presented by MGM Rewards
Emmanuel Clase is ready for “After Dark”
Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

We’re open for business here at BCB After Dark: the grooviest night club for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. I hope the weather out there hasn’t been too rough on you. I can promise you that you’ll be warm in here. Come on in. The dress code is casual. There are still a few tables available. There’s a two-drink minimum, but it’s bring your own beverage.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

Last evening, I asked the question that a lot of you around here are asking: “Who is going to play the most third base for the Cubs this season?” After I did the poll, I realized that I didn’t include Miles Mastrobuoni among the choices. I also realized that “Man, the Cubs are in trouble if Miles Mastrobuoni is their starting third baseman in 2024.” That’s a bit harsh and Mastrobuoni could be a valuable utility glove for the Cubs this year. He’s a good defender. But I don’t think anyone wants his bat at third base everyday.

I suppose that there was the “other” option for the Mastrobuoni Fan Club out there. That was the name of my garage band in the nineties, by the way.

Moving on, there was a lot of good discussion about the Cubs’ third base situation and Christopher Morel came in first place with 44 percent of the vote. Nick Madrigal came in second with 18 percent. That was just one vote more than free agent Matt Chapman, who isn’t even a Cub and may never be.

So here’s the part where I put the music and the movies. Those of you who skip that can do so now. You wont hurt my feelings.

Tonight we have vibraphonist Warren Wolf playing the Wayne Shorter tune “Infant Eyes” live this past June. Sullivan Portner is on piano, Russell Hall plays bass and Willie Jones is on drums.

Here’s a reminder that you still have time to vote the BCB Winter Western Classic second-round matchup between Red River (1948) and True Grit (1969). So if you haven’t yet, be sure to get that vote in for Red River.

OK. Sorry. You can vote for whichever film you want. But while both films star John Wayne, one has him acting opposite Montgomery Clift and the other one has him playing off of Glen Campbell. Which would be fine if Wayne were a bassist. But he wasn’t.

Up next is Shane (1953) versus The Wild Bunch (1969).

Welcome back to everyone who skips all that jazz and movies.

The big Cubs talk of today, other than the incessant Cody Bellinger discussion, is that Bruce Levine said today that the Cubs are interested in trade talks for Guardians closer Emmanuel Clase. Since Al seems to have everything covered for those awaiting developments on the Cody Bellinger front, I guess it’s my job to discuss Emmanuel Clase.

We discussed Clase in this space a little over a month ago, and not a lot has changed since then. Clase is a two-time all-star and the 2022 winner of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year award. He slid back a bit in 2023 and led the league in blown saves with 12. His 3.22 ERA was quite a bit off from his career ERA of 2.00. His strikeouts were down a touch and his walks were up a bit.

On the other hand, Clase still lead the league in saves with 44. While a 3.22 ERA isn’t as good as the 1.36 he had in 2022, it’s still pretty good. And while Clase’s stuff did seem to be a down slightly in 2023, some, but not all, of the difference can be attributed to just bad luck. Clase gave up a career-high batting average on balls in play of .295 and his strand rate was way below his career numbers.

So Clase is a very good but maybe not elite closer. Or maybe he returns to his 2021 and 2022 form and is an elite closer. But he is still going to command a fortune on the trade market because he signed a very team-friendly contract.

Here’s how I explained it last month.

He’s [Clase] only going to make $2.9 million in 2024. That goes up to $4.9 million in 2025 and a still reasonable $6.4 million in 2026. After that, the deal he signed with the Guardians give them two option years at $10 million with a $2 million buyout. That’s still a good price for an elite closer.

Heck, that’s even a good price for a pretty good closer, let alone an elite one. That cost control is a big reason why the Cubs are interested in Clase. It’s also a big reason why he’s going to cost a lot more than your typical bullpen closer would cost in trade.

So why would the Guardians trade him? Because they are in rebuilding mode and teams that aren’t expecting to win a lot of games don’t need someone closing them out. The Guardians could use some young and under control hitters—especially outfielders. The Cubs have some of those.

Last month I mentioned a trade offer from SB Nation’s Guardians site that would send Christopher Morel and Ben Brown to Cleveland for Clase. I no longer think the Cubs would make that exact trade after the deal that sent Jackson Ferris to Los Angeles. They could part with a different starting pitching prospect not named Brown or Horton, or they could offer an additional outfield prospect such as Kevin Alcántara or Owen Caissie. Both of those players have the thump in the bat that Cleveland wants.

I also think the Cubs would be loathe to part with Morel, but for a pitcher of Clase’s talent and salary, they’d probably do it. I also think that Morel has the kind of power and low salary that the Guardians would be looking for.

So tonight I’m going to propose a trade of Christopher Morel and Kevin Alcántara for Emmanuel Clase. Your job is to say “Who says no?’


Christopher Morel and Kevin Alcántara for Emmanuel Clase. Who says no?

This poll is closed

  • 67%
    (162 votes)
  • 6%
    (15 votes)
  • 5%
    (12 votes)
  • 21%
    Neither! It’s a deal!
    (51 votes)
240 votes total Vote Now

If you want to make your own trade proposals in the comments, be my guest. But be reasonable about Clase’s value. Don’t offer Cleveland Daniel Vogelbach in exchange. (Long-time readers should get that reference.)

Thank you for braving the weather and stopping by on this winter evening. Please get home safely. Stay warm out there. Please recycle any cans or bottles. Tip the waitstaff. And join us again tomorrow evening for more BCB After Dark.