The Winter Meetings roll on with things picking up a bit, though the heavy action is away from the Cubs…
- The potential trade market for Carlos Marmol just shrank, as the Toronto Blue Jays picked up White Sox closer Sergio Santos for a good-not-excellent AA pitching prospect, Nestor Molina. Signed to a very team-friendly deal, Santos was a pretty valuable closer, and, if the return to the White Sox is any indication, the closer market is officially saturated. Combine that with the fact that the move took the Jays off the market for a closer – with a guy who wasn’t thought to be “available,” no less – and trading Carlos Marmol may no longer be an obviously advantageous move for the Cubs. It’s still very early, as many closer options remain out there (and many teams still look), but the tea leaves took a turn.
- Following the trade, White Sox GM Kenny Williams conceded that it was time for a “rebuilding” on the South Side. If that’s the case, you can look for them to make pitchers John Danks and Gavin Floyd, each potentially a free agent after 2012, more widely available on the market. Earlier, it was reported that Williams’ asking price (from the Yankees) on Danks was absurdly high. I reckon that will be changing soon. Bruce Levine has said for weeks that the Cubs should pursue Danks. For what it’s worth, Williams said he didn’t expect to trade any of the team’s pitchers, but, well, that doesn’t quite square with the “rebuilding” comment. Gut says they’re available (hey, so does ESPN’s Sahadev Sharma’s gut).
- The Marlins are making a strong push for Albert Pujols (reports have their offer at 10 years, $220ish million, and potentially a partial no-trade clause), and where he’ll end up depends on whom you ask. It almost certainly won’t be the Cubs, though, despite this morning’s report of an offer. If Pujols goes to the Marlins, as I said earlier, you can expect the Cubs to inquire on Marlins’ current first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who would find himself without a position. Sanchez, 28, is not “young,” but he’s cheaply under team control (first arbitration year isn’t until 2013), and has put up back-to-back solid offensive seasons (though far from great – 108 OPS+ in 2010, 113 in 2011). I’d also like to see the Cubs make a push for Logan Morrison, who can also play first base.
- Adding Pujols would also figure to make the Marlins more interested in a “cheap” starting pitching option like Carlos Zambrano, whom they could get for the Cubs for very little salary, assuming they were willing to give up a good young player.
- On the Cubs and Pujols, Carrie Muskat says a Cubs official told her the report of an offer was not true. Every other source says the Cubs are refusing to comment. Translation? The Cubs made an “offer,” but, whatever form it took, they can plausible deny an official offer should it suit their needs (or Carrie’s source was too low on the totem pole). Something like, “Albert, we’d be willing to offer you 5/$150M if you’re interested. This isn’t an offer, mind you. But we’re willing to do so, if you want us to.” There you go. They made an offer without making an offer. And now everyone is right.
- The Cubs’ interest in Ian Stewart is reportedly waning, at least for now, with the two sides unable to come to a fit, as discussed this morning. Stewart remains a non-tender candidate, so the Cubs might be calling the Rockies’ bluff, and waiting to see what happens this and next week (the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is next Monday, December 12).