With free agency opening up and teams around Major League Baseball making option decisions, there have been a number of tidbits that tangentially touch on the Chicago Cubs…
- The Yankees locked up CC Sabathia by adding another year and $30 million to his already ample contract ($25 million in 2016 and a vesting option for 2017 with a $5 million buy-out). There was little doubt that Sabathia, who was afforded the opportunity to opt out of his contract this weekend, was just angling for more dough from the Yankees. Still, he’s theoretically an arm off the market – a market in which the Cubs could have been active.
- Speaking of pitchers, the Pirates declined a $9.75 million option on lefty Paul Maholm, who was effective last year (3.66 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) after a disappointing 2010, but whose season ended on the DL with a shoulder strain. There are fears that he may not be able to come back as the same player next year, but, if the Cubs are willing to take a chance, Maholm is a guy they could look at.
- Jose Reyes is a free agent, and is not expected to be re-signed by the Mets until other teams make their offers. The 28-year-old shortstop is looking for a deal ranging from four years and $50 million up to six years and $100 million. For my part, anything in that range is unappetizing. Reyes battled repeat hamstring issues last year – a contract year in which he put together the best season of his career – and saw his speed decline alarmingly when he came back from those issues. An overrated defensive shortstop, Reyes could theoretically join the Cubs and push Starlin Castro to second or third base. Maybe his bunt-single-pull-me-from-the-game shenanigans on the last day of the season (to ensure himself the batting title) is sticking in my craw, but Reyes is simply not a player in whom I’m interested – unless he wants to shock the world and take a reasonable two or three-year deal.
- The Indians and Braves set the market on how much you can expect to save when dumping an old, ineffective, overpriced player on another team. Namely, the Braves got 33 cents on the dollar for dumping 38-year-old Derek Lowe on the Indians (Braves are paying $10 million of his $15 million 2012 salary, and receive a marginal, 23-year-old High A-ball prospect). It’s hard to compare across players, but it’s certainly not bad news for the Cubs, who are looking to dump both Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano.
- The Indians also made a couple of options decisions of possible relevance to the Cubs. First, they picked up pitcher Fausto Carmona’s $7 million option for 2012, instead of paying him what he’d earn in arbitration. The Cubs had interest in Carmona last year before opting for Matt Garza, but that was under the Jim Hendry regime. Whether Epstein/Hoyer would consider making a move for the now reasonably-priced Carmona (and whether the Indians would consider moving him) remains to be seen.
- The other possibly relevant decision – the Indians passed on ultra-talented, oft-injured outfielder Grady Sizemore. He’s 29, and will probably land with a team on a cheap, one-year deal, hoping to re-prove himself. Depending on what happens with the Cubs’ current outfield makeup, Sizemore could be just the kind of player the new Cubs’ brass would like to take a chance on. Consider this, if the Cubs get him on a one-year, $4 million deal, and he blows up, the Cubs can offer him arbitration after the season and pick up a couple draft picks for their trouble – all without “clogging” the outfield for the future. The only problem? Sizemore has played only 104 (crappy) games in the last two years.