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).
  • die hard

    Too bad Mark Cuban not allowed in the mix…Owners fear he would bring too much attention to his team and knock Yankees and others off of radar..would be good for baseball..Mike Veeck reincarnated

  • tex134

    If Pujols were to sign with Miami, don’t you think St.Louis would use the money they had slated for Albert to try and sign Prince?

    • die hard

      Likely is the plan…chess match going on is interesting…still dont think either will end up with Cubs tho….Nobody mentioned Reed Johnson moving to 1B as one yr stopgap…hes athletic enough to do so..would like to see him stay on in some capacity after hangs it up

    • Brett

      The “rumors” say they’ll fill the spot internally, likely with Berkman. I think the Cards were going to a bit “over and above” to try and sign Pujols, given who he is.

  • die hard

    Byrd and Garza for prospects to Indians? Any rumors on this?

  • Irish cub

    Since the rangers offered 4 for 60 million should the cubs get for something like 5 for 75

  • ferrets_bueller

    lol, Carrie Muskat.
    Am I the only person who reads her columns purely for comic relief?

    • Toosh

      No, you are not. Never took the Muskrat too seriously.