Bruce Levine held a little pre-Thanksgiving chat, in which he dropped some interesting and relevant hot stovey-type things…
- Levine was blunt when asked about the prospect of the Cubs pursuing Prince Fielder: “I expect the Cubs to be big players for Fielder.” To Bruce’s credit, he’s been banging the Fielder drum since early in the offseason, when most others (me included) didn’t think Fielder would be a target. I’ve since changed my tune, due in part to some chatter I’ve heard, and in part to the CBA changes, which will necessarily force teams like the Cubs to spend more of their organizational dollars on Major League payroll. The question, of course, remains: do the Cubs believe Fielder can stick at first base long-term, into his 30s? A related question, I suppose: is Fielder the next Mo Vaughn – a studly, beefy hitter who fell apart in his early 30s?
- The Cubs are “definitely in play” for both Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish (who has yet to be posted, and, thus, isn’t technically yet available), as expected.
- The Cubs are listening to offers on Matt Garza, and Levine discusses the Rangers (as noted here previously) as a primary suitor. “I think the Cubs will explore every issue that makes sense,” Levine said. “Texas has some of the best young players in the game, and if you remember, Texas was the other team most interested in Garza when he signed with the Cubs. The Cubs would be foolish not to at least listen to a package of prospects Texas might throw at him. It costs you nothing to listen.” For what it’s worth, I’ve heard that virtually every team in baseball – save the Phillies, Braves, and Rays – is at least minimally interested in Garza, which only underscores the point: the Cubs lose nothing by listening to offers. If that many teams are interested, maybe a blockbuster offer comes through.
- Levine revealed that the Cubs spoke to CJ Wilson’s agent at last week’s GM meetings – of course, so did a number of teams – but Levine still thinks the Cubs will pursue Mark Buehrle, if they go after an older pitcher.
- Someone asked about the Cubs pursuing a trade for Carl Crawford as a bad contract swap, but Levine bizarrely answered that Crawford would cost “a big name like Castro,” even after Crawford’s down year. Um … que? I can only assume there was a joke in there somewhere that was lost in translation. Presently, I have a hard time believing the Red Sox wouldn’t give Crawford away for free if they could be rid of his contract.
- Levine offers a great anecdote about one of the new regime’s first questions upon taking the keys: what deals were left on the table at the trade deadline. The one Levine mentions is a deal with the Pirates for Geovany Soto, in whom the Pirates were “very interested.” I’d say it’s fair to wonder whether they might still be “very interested.”
- Levine believes Carlos Marmol has a great deal of trade value, because other teams view his poor 2011 as merely a reflection of overuse.
- The Cubs probably aren’t looking for a stopgap at 3B, instead hoping to find a long-term replacement for Aramis Ramirez. Levine mentions that DJ LeMahieu might get a shot, because he’s solid at 3B defensively (to which I’d say, if it’s all about defense, Blake DeWitt is also excellent defensively at 3B).
- Levine doesn’t see the Cubs shopping Marlon Byrd, regardless of what happens with Brett Jackson or an additional outfielder, because the Cubs view Byrd as a cheap ($6M), good, fourth outfielder, capable of playing all three positions, even if he’s not starting in center field.