As quickly as the hot stove heated up, it cooled back down. Monday’s at the Winter Meetings are frequently quiet, but it’s still a bit of a surprise, given how active this week is expected to be.
That’s not to say there aren’t rumors…
- The Chicago Cubs today met with Albert Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, according to Ken Rosenthal. The Cubs have been connected to Pujols since, well, Spring Training, but steps are now actually being taken toward putting an offer on the table. The appearance of interest on the part of the Cubs could still be a vehicle by which to drive up the price on the Cardinals (though according to multiple reports, they’re sticking to their 9/$200M guns (though at least one report says the offer is now only eight years, with the ninth year having been 2011)), but the interest now appears to be moderately genuine. Earlier we learned that executives expect the Cubs to see whether they can entice Pujols with a short-term, but high annual value contract (for example, five years and $150 million). The precise nature of the Cubs’ meeting with Lozano, however, remains unreported – it could have been a prelude to an offer, or it could have been nothing more than the most preliminary of exploratory talks.
- Add another potential third baseman to the Cubs’ list of options: Marlins prospect Matt Dominguez. With Jose Reyes going to the Marlins, thus moving Hanley Ramirez to third base, and other free agents potentially on the way, I mentioned this morning the possibility that the Marlins could look to move Dominguez for a pitcher. Well, Phil Rogers agrees that Dominguez is available, and thinks the Cubs will indeed consider Dominguez. It’s easy to see why: although the 22-year-old prospect has yet to put it all together in the minors, he’s always been quite young for his level, and is considered an excellent defender. He has been one of the Marlins’ top prospects since they drafted him out of high school in the first round in 2007 (taken nine spots after Josh Vitters, incidentally). Dominguez is, perhaps, the most intriguing of the various 3B options connected to the Cubs, but he’s far from proven. Chase Headley remains, to my mind, the “best” option yet mentioned – and there remains a great deal of smoke there.
- ESPN’s Sahadev Sharma suggests the Cubs take a hard look at pitchers like Edwin Jackson and Hiroki Kuroda to bolster the rotation. He adds that Paul Maholm could be a good back-end addition, too. If Maholm demonstrates he can come back from his shoulder problems last year, I’m very much on board for taking a chance. Kuroda would be a fine addition, but, as noted yesterday, he wants a salary in the $12 to $13 million range, which seems steep for a 36/37 year old on a team with so many holes. Jackson’s market has been very slow to develop (he’s been on so many teams in such a short career – what exactly is the deal?), but he figures to get a three or four year deal in the $35 to $50 million range.
- Another report, this from Jon Heyman, says the Cubs are getting some interest on Alfonso Soriano. Last week, it was reported that multiple teams were “kicking the tires” on Soriano.
- Tom Haudricourt says the market on Prince Fielder is shrinking, which “shrink” may or may not include the Cubs.
- Gordon Edes reports that Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes’ agent is telling teams he wants twice was Aroldis Chapman got two years ago. That is to say, Cespedes wants $60 million, presumably over six years. That’s a ton of money to commit to a guy – albeit a talented guy – who hasn’t yet faced professional, American pitching. Some say professional Cuban ball equates to High A minor league ball. Taking a 26-year-old, who’s already developed his approach, and telling him, “Ok, now you have to face pitching that’s miles better than what you’ve been seeing,” is a tough road. $10 million per year could be a steal, or it could be burning cash. The Cubs are theoretically still in it for Cespedes.
- The Dodgers are approaching a two-year, backloaded agreement with Aaron Harang, making it the second time the Dodgers have signed away a theoretical Cubs target for (probably) more money than I’d have wanted the Cubs to spend anyway (Chris Capuano). I love the massive backloading the Dodgers are doing, by the way – ensuring the next owner has the burden on these contracts. Where have I heard that before… (Tribune Company…).