The open free agent period is a day and a half old, and the Chicago Cubs still haven’t signed Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols. Clearly this Theo guy is in over his head…
- Speaking of Fielder, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel lists the Cubs among other teams potentially bidding on the first baseman. “There are some big-market franchises in need of a slugging first baseman, including the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the American League and the Chicago Cubs in the National League. Whether any are willing to pay Fielder more than $20 million annually for seven or eight years remains to be seen.” $20 million (or slightly more) annually? The Cubs would absolutely be willing. Seven or eight years? No chance. The Mariners, Marlins, Nationals and Orioles also come in for a mention. It feels like an AL team is probably going to have the edge on Fielder, because they may be more willing to commit long-term to a guy they know they can stash at DH if he doesn’t stay physically fit enough to play first base. The Rangers are probably the plurality leader right now.
- Free agent reliever Kerry Wood is looking forward to returning to the Cubs in 2012, whether as a player or something else. He’s currently rehabbing after knee surgery to repair torn meniscus, but expects to meet with Theo Epstein about his future with the Cubs soon. “I met [Epstein], I was down rehabbing my knee in the clubhouse the day before he came in and did his big press conference,” Wood said. “So he came in and talked to me for about 10 minutes. We plan on getting together sometime soon. … We plan on getting together and talking a little bit and we just go from there. I’m sure he wants to pick my brain a little bit on the history of the organization. I’m honored that he wants to do that. I’m sure we’ll talk about my status at some point is as well. I expect to be back and be a part of the organization and help us go in the right direction.” The bullpen is probably the one area the Cubs aren’t hurting for help in 2012, but if Wood is healthy and willing to pitch on the cheap, he’s a fine veteran reliever and clubhouse leader.
- Super lukewarm: second-hand, I heard that Mike Ferrin on MLBN Radio was reporting earlier this week that the Toronto Blue Jays have inquired on Matt Garza’s availability, and, separately that the Cubs have been scouting 25-year-old Japanese ace, Yu Darvish, and 30-year-old Japanese good pitcher, Tsuyoshi Wada. I have nothing to add aside from, (1) it would be silly not to at least listen to offers for Matt Garza (I’ve said as much since the trade deadline), and (2) it would be silly not to at least scout Japanese talent expected to come to MLB in 2012. If and when something more solid materializes, Wada will be discussed more extensively. Darvish has been discussed before, and will undoubtedly be discussed again.
- Bruce Levine touched on a few rumory-type-things in his chat this week. Among Levine’s thoughts: Marlon Byrd probably won’t be traded this Winter because he’d make a nice 4th outfielder even if the Cubs add someone (I doubt the Cubs would keep a valuable piece like Byrd on the team just to be a backup), the Cubs might go after Prince Fielder but he might not want to come to Chicago, the Cubs probably won’t go after CJ Wilson or Roy Oswalt but will make some moves in the rotation, Nick Markakis might make an interesting trade target, and the chances are good that Jeff Samardzija is a starter next year.
- The Braves are open to trading both pitcher Jair Jurrjens and infielder/outfielder Martin Prado, according to a source. Each would be an interesting target for the Cubs, and each comes with a solid track record – as well as concerns. On Prado, 28, the concern is that he’s coming off a highly unproductive season (.260/.302/.385, career averages are .293/.341/.434), in which he battled an injured right calf (staph infection). He’s got two years of arbitration eligibility left, and he made just over $3 million last year. As for Jurrjens, 25, he’s also battled injuries (a knee issue, primarily), had a terrible second half in 2011, and there are some sabermetrically-inclined reasons to believe his “good” career numbers are the product of smoke and mirrors. But, yeah, those numbers are “good”: he had a sub-3.00 ERA last year for the second time in his young career, and sports a career 120 ERA+. Like Prado, Jurrjens has two years of arbitration eligibility left, and made a little over $3 million last year. These guys might merit their own post as genuinely realistic Cubs’ targets soon.
- MLBTR is doing some guessing on where the top 50 free agents will land, and Tim Dierkes guesses the Cubs wind up only with outfielder David DeJesus and pitcher Joel Pineiro. The former will turn 32 in December, and crapped out last year in Oakland in his first away from Kansas City. He’s strong defensively, and, until last year, tended to get on base at a huge clip. He made $6 million for his troubles. The latter, 33, was aggressively bad in his second year of a two-year deal with Anaheim. Pineiro seemed to have found it again, surprise, in St. Louis in 2009, and was solid in 2010 for the Angels, but last year his ERA+ sunk to an abysmal 74. He made $8 million in each of 2010 and 2011, and doesn’t figure to get anywhere close to that amount in 2012. For the Cubs, he’d be a reclamation type, back-end-of-the-rotation hopeful. Neither would be a bad pickup for the right price, but neither knocks your socks off.
- The A’s will listen to offers on almost any player, says Ken Rosenthal. Plenty of pitchers out there would interest the Cubs.
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