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The latest items of Cubs-related relevance from the rumor mill…

  • Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein is sticking to the rebuild-and-compete-simultaneously thing: “I’m going to look for moves that make us better in the long run but don’t negatively impact us in 2012.” But he admits that, where there’s a conflict between those two goals, he’ll “err on the side of the long haul,” rather than competing in 2012. “I think that’s the position we’re in right here,” Epstein said.
  • One of the Cubs’ targets for 2012 and beyond is 26-year-old Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes, who is currently establishing residency in the Dominican Republic. Sources tell Dave Kaplan the Cubs are breaking out the big guns when it comes to Cespedes: both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are currently in the DR meeting with Cespedes’ advisors. This, of course, does not necessarily mean an offer is forthcoming, but it’s a long way to go if you’re not very, very interested in a guy. I’m sure we’ll be hearing much more about this very soon.
  • He should be a free agent within a week, and his people are spreading the word that he’s already received an eight-year offer with $10 million up front. Given the risk associated with a player who has never played professional baseball in the States, I’d be surprised if all of those eight years are guaranteed (i.e., I could see a five or six year deal with a couple option years thrown onto the end). I expect the Cubs to be serious contenders for Cespedes, but I can’t imagine they’d give him an eight-year deal. Peter Gammons quotes a GM who tells him that the $35M to $50M estimates on Cespedes’ final price (over how many years?) “may be light.”
  • Lately there have been fears that Japanese ace Yu Darvish would not be posted this Winter by his team in Japan (which is the vehicle by which he could come to MLB for the 2012 season), and his father recently stoked those fears, saying, “Yu and I are talking about having a family meeting once the Nippon Series is over. At this point [the chances he is posted are] about 50-50.” As with Cespedes, the Cubs are expected to pursue Darvish – assuming he becomes available.
  • Grady Sizemore is now expected to re-sign with the Cleveland Indians, despite interest from a number of teams, including the Cubs. The purported deal would give Sizemore a low base salary, but incentives that could take it over the $9 million he would have received from the Indians in 2012 had they exercised an option on him. It’s possible the deal was discussed with Sizemore before that option was even declined.
  • The Nationals are apparently making a strong push for Mark Buehrle, including a home visit (is he playing high school football now?). Looking for a leader for their young rotation, one who can eat some innings, Buehrle makes a lot of sense for the Nats. Scot Gregor guesses Buehrle could get as much as $60 million over four years, which is made all the more possible by the Nats’ hard pursuit.
  • Dick Dave Van Dyke says the Cubs are unlikely to make an offer to Buehrle or any other “high-priced free agents.” Not sure if that’s his speculation or a sourced comment (it sounds like the former), but it’s not an unreasonable guess, especially in light of the previous bullet.
  • There are rumors out of Miami that the Marlins believe Albert Pujols is older than 31, and their relative lowball offer to him is reflective of that fear. The whispers have been around for a while, but it’s yet another reason to hope Pujols returns to the Cardinals on a gigantic long-term deal.
  • South Side Sox speculates that the White Sox’s failure to add Jordan Danks to the team’s 40-man roster last week means they aren’t planning on brother John Danks being around for much longer. The Cubs probably would have interest in adding the lefty pitcher (under contract through 2012), but this strikes me as a moderately specious clue to his impending availability.
  • The Reds may be looking into picking up A’s closer Andrew Bailey, who’s been very effective, and is under control through 2014, but has had a number of injury issues. Reports have the A’s interested in heavy-hitting (but no position) prospect Yonder Alonso, but Reds’ beat writer Mark Sheldon cites a Reds’ source who says that price is too steep.
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  • Stinky Pete

    I don’t do well analyzing trades etc. so help me out on this one.  WHAT IF…

    Marmol for Alonso.  Reds want relief help and we need a first baseman.  He’s young and he can hit.  And hit.  And hit.  Sure we take some salary off of Carlos and have to add a player or two because of the division thing.

    Plausible?

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      Plausible, but I’m not so sure this wouldn’t be a straight up deal. Cub fans tend to remember Marmol’s blown saves while the rest of the league tend to see a near-elite closer who was mismanaged and had a bad season (and maybe a few mechanics issues that can be cleaned up). Very good closers demand very good returns, and Alonso fits the bill.

      The Cubs might send some cash along, but I’m not even sure of that. And if I’m the Cubs, I do it.

      • Pat

        Pretty sure the rest of the league sees a guy who more or less sucked last year, and waked damn near 8 per nine innings three years ago, and is due 8.5mil the next two years. Right now about the best you could expect is full salary relief. But if he starts next year well, they could be looking at something decent at the deadline.

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      The Reds don’t want to give Alonso up for Anderew Bailey, so there DEFINATLY not going to give him up for Marmol.

      Marmol Is getting paid alot more than Bailey and isn’t as consistent.

      Marmol is healthy, but it still wont happen.

      I’ve heard that the Reds like Alonso’s bat more than Joey Votto’s, so its a pretty good bat.

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        That might depend on how the rest of the winter goes. If Pujols and Fielder both leave the division, the Reds could see themselves as the clear favorites if they can fill their holes. In that scenario, moving Alonso for something might make sense to them. I think they’d be more likely to deal him for a starter than a closer, but you never know.

    • Jim Kress

      If it were a possibility I would totally agree with this, but I don’t believe the Reds are giving him up unless you trade the whole team…..unfortunately

  • Cliffy

    I don’t trust most things Gammons has to say these days. He could easily putting information out there to discourage teams from bidding. His ties to Boson poison most things he says.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    “Marlins believe Albert Pujols is older than 31″

    Haha.

    • Fishin Phil

      I forget where I read it, but somebody speculated the only way to determine his real age is to saw him in half and count the rings like a tree.

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        Hmm I heard from an unidentified source that you have to count the rings on his ear drums to tell his real age.

        I think this could go either way!

        • ron

          So you are saying he is going to be a fish?

    • Internet Random

      I find it more likely true that Pujols is over 31 than that he’s juicing… which I also find to be entirely plausible.  Read:  I think that man is older than he says he is.

  • Vinestal

    There were tweets last week that had Hoyer and Theo going to the DR this week to scout Cespedes, so this is not really new news. The 8 year thing with 10 million up front could mean less money per year than a lot of people think.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      McLeod went to scout Cespedes last week. Never heard anything about Epstein and Hoyer, who did not go last week, going this week. Perhaps I missed it – either way, it’s a big deal.

      Edit: To clarify, I didn’t hear anything about them going to meet with Cespedes’ advisors, which is a different and potentially more intriguing thing than going to scout him. I did see Levine’s tweet on Friday about them potentially going to scout Cespedes. Your point is well-taken – I just wanted to make sure folks knew they weren’t just down there to watch him.

      • Vinestal

        Right, Levine’s tweet was what I was referring to, the advisors thing is new, although Im not sure what they can really accomplish as far as a deal without Katz (agent) being there.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Ditto. Could be just trying to get an addition feel for Cespedes. He’s not technically a free agent yet, so no deal could be reached quite yet anyway.

          • Larry

            If they have gone down to the D.R. to meet with Cespedes’ people, that tell me that not only are they more than just very interested, but that they have made him a huge priority. I couldn’t imagine them going all that way if they didn’t feel that he was the big bat that they are trying to bring in this off-season.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I will agree that the two of them going down is not insignificant – though there could be other business in the DR, including scouting other players, and management activities related to the development of the new facility there.

            • Cheryl

              Larry, I agree. They can take a look at the new facilities at other times. But they must have some fairly solid information on him to have both of them down there.

  • http://rooftop-view.com Jack Nugent

    Not sure if you’ve previously established this, Brett, but Cespedes will be just like any other player in that he’ll need six years of big league service time to become a free agent. He’ll get paid every bit of what he signs for no matter what, but I agree that he may end up getting a year or two tacked on to his deal in the form of options. But whoever signs this guy is guaranteed six years of his control, assuming he pans out.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      No doubt. But, as I think you’re also saying, the length of the contract matters quite a bit, because he’ll get those years’ salary whether he’s in the bigs or not. And the amount on the later years of the deal matters, as we learned with Jeff Samardzija, because it impacts how much the club can pay him in those later years of control.

      The same is true for a deal for Yu Darvish, by the way, in case anyone was wondering (that’s why most rumors talk about a six-year deal for Darvish).

      • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

        The new labor deal apparently caps spending on the draft AND international free agents (according to mlbtraderumors.com).

        Any idea that the dollar amount of that cap is? Or when it goes into effect? Or, if it goes into effect right away, if Cespedes is excepted? Technically, he will be an international free agent, and if there is a limit to what teams can spend with stiff penalties for exceeding it, that could have a major impact on his contract.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I know nothing beyond what’s been widely rumored/reported to this point – namely, as you said, that there will be a cap-and-tax system for both the draft and international signings. Unknown at this point are whether the caps will relate to each other in any way (or, perhaps, if there will be one total amateur cap), whether Major League deals (like Cespedes will get) will be excepted, how much the tax is going to be (i.e., whether it will really deter big market teams like the Cubs), or when it will go into effect. On the latter one, the 2012 calendar year makes sense (and Cespedes will likely sign before 2012).

          You’re quite right, though, it could possible have a dramatic impact on signings like these. Or on Jorge Soler, the other Cuban the Cubs are heavily interested in.

          The deal is being announced tomorrow at noon, so we’ll know then.

  • Jim

    I know nothing is official yet and mostly speculation but doesn’t it seem like the players caved in a lot more than usual to Selig and the owners?

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      I don’t know about that. The new set up with regards to teams getting compensation for free agents only if they make them the minimum qualifying offer that starts around $12 million is pretty solidly in the players favor.

      HGH testing has been a priority of the commish for awhile now, so that would be a point in favor of the owners.

      I’m not sure who wins with the new draft and international free agent compensation limits. Players can’t be happy and there are lot of owners who aren’t going to like it either. That makes me wonder how many teeth the new system will in fact have.

  • Mike F

    Cespedes is a big gamble. He is an athlete who has never played in the Major Leagues and comes from a county that has been known to both enhance athletes and lie continually about ages. If you buy him, you’d have to be sure of his age, his enhancement or lack there of, and recognize he’s all projection. If he’s 26 and clean it’s an awful lot to pay a guy who has never played a day in the major’s. It’s a bigger gamble than most portray it as. If he’s older or has used performance enhancers it’s very ill advised.

    Yeah, I would be very concerned about Pujlois age and steroids, but even more skeptical of this kid. I also if I were going to move a lot of dollars, be far more interested in recognizing the sunk costs of both Soriano and Zambrano and getting them off this roster. I think it makes sense to check Cespedes and they are and should, but he belongs with the Yankees who can afford the financial gamble, and that’s what he is. He is the classic definition of boom bust at best.

    • Max

      Mike, I agree completely. It’s made me nervous to see the Cubs mentioned with Cespedes and this trip to DR makes me even more so. His asking price is waaaaay too high for the risk he represents. I would much rather spend money on a known commodity like Fielder rather than risk a significant chunk of payroll on someone who could very likely turn out to be a bust. But, Jed and Theo have a lot of political capital right now, and if they think the risk is worth it, I’ll try to keep my mouth shut. I have a feeling, though, this could be Fukudome all over again.

  • Mike Foster

    Hopefully Cespedes has a birth certificate handy to prove his age……just saying, defectors.

  • Katie

    I think a lot of the trepidation is due to Big Jim Hendry handling these things in the past. This is a new era and I’m more than willing to give Theo & Co the benefit of the doubt. Any moves they make this off season will probably not be understood until 2013 anyway.

  • Cliffy

    Considering the amount of rebuilding that the cubs need to do, its more likely Cubs consider Jorge Soler rather than Cespedes. It fits their timeline better As well as their budget.

  • Oswego Chris

    Joe Nathan gets two years and 14 million from the Rangers?…..time to start shopping Marmol now…Nathan is one year removed from TJS and saw a significant drop in velocity..and he is 37…Marmol is at least worth one good prospect and a couple of solid ones….

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      I can’t wait for some of the offers the Cubs are getting on a few of these guys to start leaking. Then again, as water tight as the Epstein front office has been, we might be in for some disappointment on that front.

  • MC2

    Used to be when I was younger that to be on the Cuban National Team was something special, and those guys were regarded the best players in the world. Wasn’t until the USA started letting their PRO’s play that the belief diminished. As for Cuba possibly enhancing their players, Cepedes is only 26, chances are anyone who is 30 years old and a MLB Free Agent this year may have used PED’s in the past also. Come to think of it the “Steroid Era” started about the same time that our MLB players started playing in international competition, so the question here is… …Did Cuban baseball drop off that significantly or or did PED’s even the playing field for us. Either way Cepedes wants to come to MLB so he would have to be very stupid to be juicing right now especially with the Manny incidents.

  • Mike F

    I think reasonable people can disagree on this, and I do trust Theo and his people. I think they likely have a plan and I also think they don’t share it well, all of which is good. One think I’ve noticed is a common stream of thought, that the Cubs have a weak minor league system which needs rebuilding. Also that they are unlikely to do so through Free Agency. Followed by why not act as though we are a small market club and hold an auction for what relevant pieces we do have. Then there is another stream well supported and attributed to the Cubs, naming FA’s and high risk, high ceiling prospects like Darvish, Cespedes, and a bunch of early guys as all as later like Danks and Gonzalez. What fascinates me, is a lot of those people most mentioned would take prospects and minor league talent.

    My conclusion from all of this is, while we’re all trying, we really don’t know, what their intentions are. I think Theo is honest when he says build now and for the future and everyone, having been burnt by some of the reckless signings like Soriano, Insanity personified Bradley, and even Fukadome who was not a poor fundamental player, just not as advertised, fans are leery. That’s fine, but a balance approach is likely the best approach for the Cubs, but that doesn’t preclude all three routes or trading pieces. I think many will be surprised when the smoke clears, the Cubs will likely surprise with some of the moves they make. To me the single best move to start, is to assume the Soriano and Zambrano costs are sunk and in effect write them off. This is not St. Louis or Pittsburgh. It’s a Billion dollar franchise and in my view it would be unfair to saddle them or the fans with the costs which were sunk 2 years ago at least. A loss is a loss, it’s a bad investment and you admit, writer it off and correct it. From there things change dramatically in how you view the offseason.

    Mind you I don’t think the Cubs should act like Miami is and try to sign the market, 2 or 3 players to the roster would help and could open the ability to make some deals that make sense now and in the long term.

    • die hard

      to go for either Darvish or Cespedes would be an indication that the Cubs are desperate…not good long term planning with this approach…trading Garza for 2 cant miss kids or signing Pujols to short term deal would make more sense and be consistent with taking baby steps

  • die hard

    If Pujols would take $40 mil for 2 yrs and a club option at 25 mil for 3rd and 27 Mil for 4th yr
    then the Cubs should take a shot and go for it…

    • Montellew

      I’ll have some of what you’re smokin!!

    • Dougy D

      Make that smoke for 2. I am pretty sure that Pujols is not looking for a short term deal. If he was, he would be demanding around $30 million per. I think that we are in for a strange off season either way. Hopefully the new skip can change the way the ballclub plays. I would love for him to be a hit and run, suicide squeeze type of guy. Unfortunately, something like a LaRussa (without the batting the pitcher in the 8-spot type of moves though, of course).

      • CubFan Paul

        a manager with cajones would be nice..

  • njriv

    I don’t know, even though these kids from other countries might have huge upsides, some of these foreign players have not had the greatest transitions to the big leagues (mostly from Japan). I think we are too close to the whole Fukudome situation to take another gamble, It would be smarter to invest in Soler, but all in all i fully trust Thed Hoystein to make the best decision.

  • cubs4life

    “In Epstein We Trust! “

  • MoneyBoy

    Having read that Cuba lost to Netherlands, I looked around and found Cuba’s roster for that tournament.

    For as big a star as he is billed to be Cespedes didn’t make the roster.  Was he included?   Did he try out?   What was the selection process like?  Dunno … just felt odd to me.

    The Cubs signed 2 kids out of Cuba this year and 3 last year as Intl FA’s.  Hard to tell from a distance if they have good intel on players from a closed country.

  • http://bleachernation.com ricosanto

    I look for the big dark horse to be Samardza as a starter. He has the stuff to be a 1 or 2 starter. He wants to be more than a decent set-up man. he wants to be a star. He has much more arm strength than Cashner. Keep him in the pen with Carpenter,Wood, Marshall.Trade Marmol, not Marshall.

    • MoneyBoy

      I’m not sure who gets the credit – Riggins or Shark … but the 2nd time he got sent to Iowa in 2010 his mechanics were completely overhauled.  Longer delivery, better control.  Overall his velocity went up, he added a cutter (KWood), and showed marked improvement.

      Since this is Dempster’s last year and we stll don’t know about Cashner’s shoulder I am also of the belief that Shark should be given a chance to make the rotation.

      He’s a tough kid … long hair and “Dude” attitude aside.   I just like his competitive attitude.  (I believe) He remains cost-controlled for 12 and 13 … Gotta find out if he can pan out as a starter.

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