- The Phillies are on the verge of re-signing closer Ryan Madson to a contract in the range of four years and $44 million with a fifth year vesting option (the deal was agreed to earlier in the week, but has been pending high-level Phillies approval, so it might shrink), which strikes me as an enormous investment in a very good, but 31-year-old closer. And, if that’s the market for closers, you have to wonder: might Carlos Marmol and his two years and $17ish million deal look pretty darn attractive right now? Marmol had a rough 2011, but he’s two years younger than Madson, and has been just as dominant (if not more-so), excepting 2011. Given the Cubs’ relative depth at the back of the bullpen, dealing Marmol is something I hope Theo/Jed explore widely this Winter.
- The Toronto Blue Jays are eagerly searching for a closer right now, by the way.
- The Cubs, like many teams, are expected to be in the market for a starting pitcher or two this Winter, but, since the free agent market is thin, they may have to explore a trade. Among the possible starters available in trade, according to Ken Rosenthal: Rays right-handers James Shields and Wade Davis, Athletics lefty Gio Gonzalez and righty Trevor Cahill, Braves righty Jair Jurrjens, White Sox lefty John Danks and righty Gavin Floyd, Dodgers righty Chad Billingsley, and Astros lefty Wandy Rodriguez. The better names on that list would take quite a haul to bring in, and the Cubs might not have the upper-level prospects to get a deal done.
- Speaking of which, Jon Heyman says the Braves have been asking for a Zack Greinke-like return for Jair Jurrjens. Recall, Greinke netted the top outfield prospect and two of the top pitching prospects in the Brewers’ system (and allowed the Royals to swap Yuniesky Betancourt for Alicdes Escobar) when he was dealt last year. The Cubs are listed among a group of teams that could possible land Jurrjens.
- If the White Sox are unable to re-sign Mark Buehrle, they may instead decide to lock-up John Danks long-term. Danks is a free agent after 2012, and would otherwise be a trade candidate – one at whom the Cubs might look. Danks is just 26, but has declined in each of the previous three seasons. He’ll make $7 million or more in his final year of arbitration in 2012.
- The Brewers have all but given up hope that they can re-sign Prince Fielder.
- It’s been assumed for months – since he butted heads with management and was shockingly demoted to the minors – the Marlins’ outfielder Logan Morrison would be dealt this offseason. That’s still probably the case, but Jon Heyman hears the Marlins are telling folks they aren’t as eager to deal Morrison as we all might think. Heyman cites a Miami executive who says the Marlins would trade Morrison for James Shields (ha), but no one else. Morrison is just 24 and has huge offensive upside, but his unique personality has been something of a distraction for the Marlins.
- In addition to Japanese stud Yu Darvish, there are a couple of other Eastern pitchers to keep in mind who might pop up in rumors: Taiwanese lefty, Wei-Yin Chen, and Korean righty, Suk-min Yoon. Chen, 26, is one of the top pitchers in Japan, though he doesn’t strike a lot of guys out (which tends to make me nervous about a pitcher’s “stuff” coming from another league to MLB). Moon, 25, is the reigning MVP in Korean baseball, but query how far that gets you in MLB. Chen is a free agent, but Moon would have to be posted before coming to the States.
- Despite the development of a pro-2013 narrative, Buster Olney doesn’t think the 2013 free agent crop is all that much better than this year’s. And that could shrink even further if guys like Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, and Matt Kemp get locked up to extensions. Maybe grabbing a big money player or two this Winter isn’t the wrong move after all.
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