In recent years, the week leading up to the Winter Meetings has been almost as fertile for transactions as the week of the Meetings, itself. Things can move fast, particularly with a tight-lipped front office like the Cubs now have. Keep up with the latest with Bleacher Nation on Facebook and on Twitter. On to the stove…

  • Former executive turned commentator Jim Bowden recently said the Cubs “have been very aggressive with a wide range of free agents and have been in on trade talks with at least a dozen clubs,” which is unsurprising given the new front office blood, and the commensurate change in philosophy. But Bowden adds, “what’s been interesting is, for a club that struggled so much in 2011, the conversations have not been limited to long-term solutions, but rather, they’ve included everyone from prospects to one-year stop-gap players.” Bowden’s take jives with seemingly conflicting rumors – trading Garza? signing Buehrle? trading Soto? signing Fielder? – as the Cubs are undoubtedly exploring all avenues to improve the team both in the near and long term. As I’ve said repeatedly, there is nothing intrinsically inconsistent with the idea that the Cubs could trade Matt Garza, on the one hand, and still work hard to put together an improved big league team in 2012.
  • Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, who has been killing it this offseason, has a long piece on the upcoming free agency binge, as the Winter Meetings approach. In it, he discusses the expected funneling of would-be amateur dollars into big league payrolls after the implementation of the new CBA. He can’t decide whether that extra money will mean players want to sign quickly, hoping to cash in before the broader implications of the CBA are more fully understood, or whether they’ll wait longer than usual, hoping the market it set at an inordinately high level. I can’t decide either, but, whatever the case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see free agent salaries increase markedly over the next few years – starting this Winter.
  • In the same piece, Passan speculates that the changes could increase the chances that the Cubs pony up for a big-time free agent like Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols (the latter of whom Passan says is “100 percent certain” to return to the Cards, an executive told him). He notes the Cubs among the list of Mark Buehrle’s suitors, too – but guesses a healthy four year, $60 million price tag on the reliable near-33-year-old lefty. Joe Cowley also has the Cubs in on Buehrle, whom he says the White Sox originally believed they could re-sign on a two-year deal. Oops.
  • A relatively generic piece also ties the Cubs to Pujols and Fielder…
  • …but Buster Olney says neither is a great long-term fit for the Cubs. Pujols, because of his age. Fielder, because of his suspect defense. I’m with Olney on Pujols, but I’m keeping an open mind on the Cubs’ possible pursuit of Fielder. On Fielder, Olney says Fielder is a better fit for an AL team who could DH him in the later years of the deal (duh). What the point implies is that offers from AL teams could come in a bit heavier than offers from NL teams.
  • Jon Heyman notes that the Blue Jays are open to moving 24-year-old first base prospect David Cooper, who’s blocked by Adam Lind (query why any team would consider Adam Lind to be “blocking” anyone, but whateves). Before you go leaping on Cooper, keep some things in mind: he’ll be 25 in February, his 2011 season was his first good offensive minor league season since 2008, and that 2011 season came in the PCL, where everybody had a great offensive season. He’s interesting, but, even if the Cubs talk to the Blue Jays about, for example, Carlos Marmol, Cooper probably isn’t enough.
  • Phil Rogers says Cuban prospect, Jorge Soler (the 19-year-old studly counterpart to 26-year-old Yoenis Cespedes), is expected to sign soon. By my reading of the new CBA, the spending limits on international amateurs doesn’t kick in until next year. If so, young Mr. Soler is going to get paaaaaid.
  • Taiwanese 26-year-old lefty Chen Wei-yin can be a free agent as of December 1, and a number of MLB teams are expected to check in on him. He could be a nice risk at four years and $20ish million after tearing it up in Japan. As a true free agent, Chen wouldn’t cost a posting fee – just a contract.
  • The Marlins continue their high-end free agency tour, bringing in CJ Wilson for a visit today.
  • A lot of rumors lately about Reds’ young hitter, Yonder Alonso. The Reds are reportedly making him available for a closer or a number two starter, but I’m not sure I see a fit with the Cubs. Alonso is a first baseman – and a first baseman only – and there is a vast debate about just how good his bat could be. Unless you’re convinced it’s going to be well above average, it’s hard to justify giving up a talented pitcher for him, given his otherwise limited skill set. I also have a hard time seeing the Reds trading in division, with the Cubs. So, could I see a Marmol/Alonso swap making some superficial sense? Yes, though my guess is that, if the Reds even considered the deal at all, they’d want the Cubs to kick in some cash or a low-level prospect.
  • The Tigers have checked in on Aramis Ramirez. His name has been surprisingly absent from most rumors, but that doesn’t mean he’s a risk to accept the Cubs’ offer of arbitration, even though it could land him a one-year, $16 million deal.
  • ramin

    brett could we start seeing moves as soon as today,

    • Brett

      Absolutely could. Any day from here until Opening Day is a possibility.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Brett what do you think about Tyler Chattwood, the Angels young Starting pitcher being included in a trade between Cubs and Angels?

    • Brett

      Cubs would love to have him. Not sure the Angels would be crazy about parting with him in a deal for Marmol or Soto. Maybe both, but I don’t have a great read on how highly valued he is.

  • Stinky Pete

    I will grant Alonso looked downright comical in Left last year, but so did Braun a few years ago….

    Not a problem if he came to Chicago….
    But yeah, we won’t get him.

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      If I’m not mistaken he is the one who was in left field when Campana hit that inside the park home run.

      • CubFan Paul

        yes, he was, that was August 5th. I was at Wrigley sitting in the LF bleachers on the 6th and we all chanted “Aloooonsooo” for five innings straight (he went to the bench early because he butched a few balls again right in front of us, hilarious)

  • Rafael

    The Cubs should trade Soto and Marmol and some cash to the Angels for a package of Bourjos ,Callaspo and Walden it makes sence cause the Cubs get a closer for a closer they get a thirdbaseman for a couple of years that is a switch hitter and has show that can hit well and outfielder with speed and good gap power and great defense thats only gonna get better ,what do you think ?

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      Ehh not to sure abut Walden I think his delivery needs some work. Have you seen him pitch? Both feet come off the ground during is delivery!

      Not to sure about Callaspo.

  • EQ76

    I still believe this team will be good next year.. no doubt about it. Maybe not a 90 win team, but better!

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Any news about Tyler colvin? He did hit 20 bombs in 2009 and could
    Help replace soriano. Or be great trade bait as a
    Low risk high reward when trading marmot or whatever

  • oswego chris

    assuming he is healthy…I think if there is any talk with the Angels, Kendrys Morales must be considered…

    Fielder’s…ahhhh…fitness really scares me, his dad was built similarly(not as big as Prince) and he faded fast after a couple of great seasons…now I know that doesn’t mean Prince will as well, but I would hate to be locked in to a Soriano Part 2 contract…if this were Joey Votto…I would do it in a minute…

    • CubFan Paul

      we can add an elliptical into his contract and make the 33-35yrs old part of the contract (years 6-8) club option years

      • hansman1982

        I think you will see that happen – 5 years guarranteed with an option similar to Ramirez’s for year 6, 7-8 team options but with guarranteed vesting based on MVP/SS/GG balloting (to ensure he is still productive). $3m then $2m buyouts for years 7 and 8.

        Maybe heavily front load it so that if he is declining in productivity he might decline year 6 to pursue a 3-4 year guarranteed contract.

        • CubFan Paul

          agreed, but i think it will take 6years guaranteed to sign him becacuse an AL team will do a 6 year deal easy (even tho ALL of the AL teams except the Mariners have said no thanx)

    • Toosh

      There might be reasons for the Cubs to not sign Fielder but don’t compare his possible signing to that of Soriano. Soriano was 31 when he played his first game with the Cubs, Fielder would be 27 (turning 28 in May).

      • hardtop

        28 with the body of a 45 year old. it was clear fonzie had peaked when we signed him, and no one knows about fielder for sure (i assume he hasnt, but will soon) so i agree, its not a true apples to apples comparison. Yet, a qualified comparison should be made to Soriano as anything over 4 years to fielder will handicap the Cubs in the future… mightily, just as Soriano’s contract has.

  • Jim

    From Jeff Passen’s article, this part about Mark Buehrle: “The Yankees are enamored of him, too; the feelings are not mutual, thanks more to Buehrle’s fear of New York since 9/11 than his distaste toward the team.”

    Irrational much, Mark?

    • Andrewmoore4isu

      You don’t believe everything you read do you?

  • die hard

    Does Barney, Marmol, and LaHair to Seattle for Ackley, Smoak and Delabar interest anyone?

    • Brett

      Everyone except the Mariners.

      • die hard

        we could sweeten with Russell and Byrd if they add a minor leaguer…..Seattle wants to deal and restructure team so not built around Ichiro anymore…they recently added a catcher and more deals on the way…Barney is fan favorite from that part of country in College…Smoak needs change of scenery as does Marmol…Delabar unknown with some upside…Ackley needs a position and could be our 3B if Soto not moved there

        • JB88

          Outside of this blog, has there been any real discussion of moving Soto to 3B?

          Frankly, I don’t see that move happening with this front office. His defense as a C is adequate, but moving him to a position with which he has no big league background, he’d have to be seen as being worse than Ramirez, offering less offense as well. Just can’t see that being a likely or even potential move.

          • Luke

            Outside of die hard and die hard alone there has been not been any mention of it anywhere that I’ve seen.

            Edit: Except in refuting die hard, of course.

          • Brett

            And, to be clear, the concept of moving Soto to 3B has not been discussed outside of the comments – and I’d hazard a guess that it’s been discussed in the comments by a total of one or two people.

        • Luke

          Seattle is not going to trade two of their best young players for a package that thin. That deal would make Seattle worse, not better.

          If they move Ackley or Smoak it would almost have to be for starting pitching, and from the Cubs that would probably mean Cashner or Garza.

          If Seattle were willing deal Smoak at all, the Cubs might be able to start talks on the basis of Smoak for Marmol, but I doubt it. I just don’t see the Mariners dealing either of those guys.

  • Louis

    If we do any trading with the Blue Jays we should try to get Cooper and/or Lawrie for a package including Marmol. I doubt they really want to give up Lawrie though. Worth a shot.

  • JasonB

    They won’t give up Lawrie for Marmol.  I doubt they’d even give up Lawrie for Garza even though that’s what Thoyer would want.