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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