Winter Meetings Monday Afternoon: Pujols, Dominguez, Cespedes, Jackson, Maholm, Soriano, Fielder

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…).

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

52 responses to “Winter Meetings Monday Afternoon: Pujols, Dominguez, Cespedes, Jackson, Maholm, Soriano, Fielder”

  1. Matt

    Earlier this fall, the Marlins seemed like a good landing spot for Big Z, or so people kept saying. I haven’t heard much about that lately. Would it be feasible to see some kind of a deal including Z to the Marlins and Dominguez to the Cubs, or is that just a ridiculous idea?

    1. Kansas Cubs Fan

      How about Chris Carpenter+Z+14Mil for Matt Dominguez?

      Or am I way off?

    2. Luke

      I’m not sure Miami is that desperate for pitching. They could stand to add an arm (who couldn’t?), but I get the idea they’re going to wait until they have their big dollar pieces in place. I think for Miami, a lot depends on whether or not they can sign Pujols. If they can, then trading for Zambrano in a deal in which the Cubs pick up the check in exchange for a nice prospect is certainly possible.

    3. Matt

      I’d gladly let the Marlins “have” Zambrano, cash and a prospect (Vitters?) for a player like Dominguez.

      1. Luke

        League Average OPS for the PCL in 2011 was .807. Dominguez put up just .743. Yes, he was young for the level, but that’s still not terribly encouraging. His strikeout rate (~14%) wasn’t bad, but I’m not encouraged by the walk rate (~6.7%).

        I’m not convinced. I’d take him in a deal, but I don’t think I’d give up any of the Cubs current upper level third base prospects to get him. Offensively, I think both Vitters and Lake have the brighter future. Defensively, Dominguez is the clear winner right now (reserving judgement on Lake until he gets some regular time at third). I don’t think Dominguez is ready to take over third base on Opening Day so it is doubtful that he would beat Vitters to the majors by more than a few months.

        In the interests of depth, I’d take the guy, but I don’t see him as a “can’t miss” by any stretch. His defense will ensure he has a job in the majors, but I’m not convinced his bat will ensure that job is as a starter. I have much more confidence in Vitters’ bat, in particular. Dominguez is a nice asset to have in the system, but he isn’t major league ready and the Cubs have at least two options just behind him in development. I think the Cubs can do better.

        1. CubFan Paul

          sounds like Dominguez projects as utility middle infielder thanks

  2. Oswego Chris

    so teams are “checking the oil” on Soriano at least

    Aaron Harang needs a big ballpark for success…so no thanks….

    day one is looking like another in the long line of Winter Meetings teases…I will settle for other teams making trades right now…



  3. Sam

    Hey Brett, have you heard anything on Roy Oswalt? I feel like he would be a solid bounce back candidate, not to mention he has a good knowledge of the other teams in the NL Central.

  4. Fishin Phil
    • 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…).

    Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  5. jfish1219

    Hey is anyone else having a problem signing in to word press while using Google chrome ?

    1. Luke

      No problems here. I use Chrome exclusive both here and for my own writing and never have an issue, even on my CR48.

      What sort of problems are you having?

  6. JasonB

    Dominguez has really disappointed with the bat but the glove is supposed to be as good as advertised.  I don’t think he will be as good of a hitter as Headley but he will be a premiere defender at the hot corner.

    No way I’d give Harang 2/10 but I would have given that amount to Capuano.  And depeding on the cost, I’d be all for Kuroda.  I’ve always thought he was an underrated pitcher.

  7. The Next Theo Epstein

    No problem, Brett. You have access to a far greater audience, so I’m glad to pass along the information to you for mass dissemination. I just feel like that topic hasn’t gotten any play because everyone has assumed the Cards are offering 200 million. If the Marlins’ offer was indeed well short of 200 million, how could they even make a serious second offer? They can’t realistically beat that 200 mil offer. But what if indeed the Cards offer looks more like 8 years 170ish million? What then?

    Similarly, the Cubs also have no real horse in this race if the Cards still had a 9 year 200 mil offer out.

    It also matches up with some industry sentiment that Fielder could demand more total dollars than Pujols, and is simply waiting to see what Pujols signs for to top his deal.

    I’d have to imagine all this information should significantly affect how Cubs’ fans feel about Fielder vs Pujols.

  8. jfish1219

    Theo will be on Intentional talk on the mlbn tune in now

    1. Ol'CharlieBrown

      Thanks for the heads up. Tuned in just in time to see Theo chat with the fellas for a few.

  9. Chris

    I am all for going after Domingez and Morrison, throw Z, Vitters plus one more prospect and cash. Link up with the Padres for Headley in a Randy Wells trade scenario. Then trade Marmol. Sign Kuroda and make a run at Buehrle. Convince Brandon Webb or Maholm to sign an incentive laden deal. you could also check on Pineiro and Marquis….

    1. ferrets_bueller

      I think there would have to be significantly more than Randy Wells going to the Pads for Headley. Rumors are that Marmol would be in the vicinity of enough. They seem to actually have a realistic view on his value despite his home park, something most people don’t seem to have.
      I think the Marlins trade is plausible (if you mean Dominguez or Morrison…I doubt they would give up both, especially if they’re getting Z and another 3B prospect in return…I think Vitters is much more likely to end up in San Diego as part of a Headley deal. There would be no point for FLA in a deal that moves Vitters to FLA and Dominguez to CHI). LoMo is a very, very valuable player.

      Buehrle’s market seems justified, at least value wise. Whether the Cubs should invest in a veteran SP right now, though, is still a bit questionable. But I wouldn’t complain about Buehrle.

      Kuroda is old, and his rumored market is WAY, WAY more than he is worth. Let someone else pay him $10million a year, because he’s in no way worth it to the Cubs. At all.

  10. Luke

    Brett, and anyone else who likes to dabble with the numbers, or who just can’t quite wrap their heads around WAR, might be interested in this.

    Wahoo’s On First, a Cleveland Indian’s blog, is now the home of a basic WAR calculator that uses fairly basic stats to compute a fairly reasonable WAR value. It won’t match up perfectly with FanGraphs or Baseball Reference, but it is still useful.

    Be warned, you can spend hours sticking in numbers and watching what happens. If you are doing any projections for players currently in the majors I strongly recommend you input their 2011 numbers first to get a baseline off which to interpret your 2012+ projections.

  11. Bryan

    This is completely a hypothetical by me, but if Hanley is willing to play third base could a Matt Garza and Hanley Ramirez centered trade potentially work? It would make sense I think personally. Hanley would give the Cubs their 3B and would be a huge addition to the lineup, and for the Marlins they get their #2 starter behind Josh Johnson as well as salary relief to step up continued pursuit of Pujols, Buerlhe, or other top free agents (Hanley has 3/46 mil left, Garza has 2 arbitration years probably around $20 mil total).


    1. JK

      If Hanley Ramirez were a solid clubhouse guy on the uptick than yes. I am worried about both he seems to be a prima dona and his body is filling out in the wrong areas.

  12. Jewish Mother

    I fail to see what’s so great about the Cards offer, which doesn’t even put Pujols in the top ten AAV. From everything I’ve read, that’s the most important thing to him. If the Cubs are willing to make him close to #1, I’m sure he can be moved to shaving a couple of years off. Does he even want to play to age 41?

    I also don’t understand the whole idea of the Cubs getting into this just to drive the price up for the Cardinals. How is that going to be effective when just about every single media outlet is trumpeting that they don’t believe Theo is serious and that this is just a ploy? Does anybody think Mozilek isn’t aware of this? The only reason the Yankees were successful on driving up the price for Carl Crawford was because the consensus throughout the league was that they were serious. When the opposite is the case, there’s no driving the price up. And so far Mozilek has shown zero inclination to raise his offer (and given how the Cards owner said that payroll won’t go above 110MM and how they already have 80MM committed to 8 players, it stands to reason they can’t afford to go much higher anyway), and there has been little hint that they will do so yet, and they likely won’t, not until Pujols gets an offer that beats theirs. Mere flirtations with Dan Lozano aren’t going to get them to blink.

    Hence, the only way the Cubs will successfully drive the price up for the Cardinals is if they honestly and truly make a serious offer. Screwing around and trying to fake everybody out is a waste of time when everybody already thinks all you’re doing is trying to fake everybody out. For my part though I believe that Theo is very serious about Pujols and that the media, as usual, has their collective head up their collective fundament.

  13. Gustavo

    Sign Cole Hamels to a 3yr/$35 million deal. Then sign CJ Wilson to a 4 yr/$58 million deal. Trade for Hanley Ramirez. Trade Garza and Soto for prospects. That opens you up to signing Prince to a 4yr/$96 million deal with team option for 2 more years at $23 million apiece (Make him work for it, his market is small). Entice him with good teamates.

    1. JulioZuleta

      Hamels would get closer to twice that much in terms of years and average annual pay.

  14. hansman1982

    If I were Theo, since this offseason seems to be one where teams throw absurd amounts of money at players – I would take the offseason off and let the new CBA play out a bit on some of the mid-level talent.  It is entirely possible that a year from now the Kuroda’s of the world won’t be making $3-4M over their actual value.

  15. Frat Rat

    What happened to the Dodgers not being able to make moves, i.e. sign free agents, until the team was sold?

  16. tex134

    Dodgers = All AARP Team

  17. bacboris

    Was supposed to be a reply to Brett (Misplaced the reply button I guess)

    You left out:

    II. A. 3. iii (a): If the team is for sale, then all said contracts of the above clause shall be incredibly burdensome and backloaded.

  18. Cheryl

    And will haunt that team for a minimum of four years.