Winter Meetings Tuesday Morning: Garza, Wilson, Headley, Stewart, Hudson, Barney, Russell, Pena, Zambrano

I may have undersold the volume of rumors last night and this morning, because, man, this is a lot of stuff, and that’s not including the reported offer to Albert Pujols

  • At last check, various unnamed executives, Matt Garza’s agent, and Matt Garza, himself, suspected Garza would be traded by the Cubs this Winter. And now a Cubs source tells me that he, too, has finally capitulated, and swung from the “probably not” to “probably” side of things when it comes to a Garza trade, citing the kinds of offers the Cubs are seeing floated. Throw in Peter Gammons’ statement on MLBN last night that Garza would be traded “eventually,” and you’ve got an overwhelming amount of smoke. A trade may not result, but be assured: if the Cubs move Garza, they’re going to get a great return.
  • Which brings me to CJ Wilson. Weird segue? It would be, but for this: last night, we learned that the Cubs had met with CJ Wilson’s agent to “gauge the market” on the lefty. We, reasonably, assumed that meant the Cubs were checking in to see if it was worth making an offer on Wilson. But the same Cubs source tells me that “gauging the market” for Wilson was actually all about helping the team figure out how valuable Matt Garza is on this market. If Wilson is set for a $100 million payday, for example, the market for Garza could improve even further – and the Cubs would be wise to be patient. Very crafty, Cubs. Very crafty, indeed.
  • The Cubs continue to talk to the San Diego Padres, with the Cubs hoping to pick up third baseman Chase Headley, and the Padres hoping to pick up pitching. Bruce Levine reports that the Padres are interested in reliever James Russell, who was absolutely lights out (as a reliever) last year (2.19 ERA and 1.074 WHIP in 49.1 relief innings). While it would be hard to part with a young, effective, cheap, lefty reliever, getting Headley in a deal with Russell as the primary piece would very much be “selling high” from a position of strength.
  • Note that Russell, alone, would not net Headley – the Cubs would have to include, at a minimum, a prospect, as well. There were multiple reports out of San Diego last night that the Padres were open to moving Headley, but were asking “for the moon.” That is, of course, a relative term, but given Headley’s cost (low), age (27), and 2011 OPS+ (120), you can understand their wanting a healthy return. I’m told the Padres might want the Cubs to take on an unattractive contract – like second baseman Orlando Hudson (owed $5.5 million in 2012, and an $8 million 2013 team option with a $2 million buyout) together with Headley. Hudson is coming off a down couple years and will be 34 next year, but is still adequate defensively, and can get on base a bit.
  • Which possibility of adding a second baseman leads to … the Cubs are getting calls about Darwin Barney. I’ve got nothing more than that. I don’t know if the Cubs are interested in moving him, how much teams are willing to give up, or which teams are calling. I just know they’re calling.
  • As for the other oft-rumored third base target, Ian Stewart, Gordon Wittenmyer reports the Rockies are asking for infielder DJ LeMahieu and lefty reliever Scott Maine. For relatively costly risk like Stewart, one whom the Rockies might non-tender anyway, the Cubs should be passing on this one, regardless of the Headley talks. Maine did not impress me this year, but he has value. LeMahieu is a good defender at third, adequate at second, and has the bat to be an above-average offensive second baseman. Will he ever get there? Maybe not. But I’m inclined to take my chances with LeMahieu as a young, upside second baseman, rather than Stewart as an older, upside third baseman. Bruce Levine says the Rockies are still interested in Tyler Colvin, for what it’s worth.
  • Chicago Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein confirmed that he met with Albert Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano yesterday, but played off the meeting by quipping that Lozano also represents free agent Cubs pitcher Rodrigo Lopez. Too many in the media seized upon that line and made it out for more than it was. Obvious sarcasm: Yes – one of the biggest superagents in the game, who currently represents the biggest name free agent in the game, is going to spend a chunk of time during the most hectic and critical week of the offseason talking to Theo Epstein about a journeyman pitcher who is as likely to get a minor league deal as he is a Major League one. Yup. Totally. That’s exactly what happened. End obvious sarcasm. Might Lopez’s name have come up in a, “hey, by the way, we’d like to talk about bringing Lopez back at some point when it isn’t the most important week of the offseason,” kind of way? Sure. But that meeting was about Albert Pujols. Don’t let Epstein’s coyness fool you. How serious the Cubs are about Pujols is a legitimate debate, however, particularly in the face of reports that the Marlins have upped their offer to Pujols to 10 years (no word on the money – but reports just now in say the two sides are expected to meet for a third time (it’s getting serious)). A report out of St. Louis says the Cubs have officially made an offer for Pujols, but doesn’t give any details other than to say it was a “qualifying bid.”
  • Epstein did confirm he’d like to have Lopez back on the Cubs next year for depth. Epstein also said recently that you have to know who your team’s ninth starting pitcher is. Now we know.
  • Jon Heyman – now of CBS Sports, not SI – says the Cubs are “eyeing” Prince Fielder more than Albert Pujols, as the Cubs don’t want to go to nine or ten years on a 31-year-old (which, like, duh). I’m still waiting on word that the Cubs have actually met with Fielder’s agent (Scott Boras) about Fielder. Boras is believed to have met with teams interested in Fielder yesterday, and the Cubs have not yet been mentioned.
  • On Carlos Pena’s possible return to the Cubs, Theo Epstein didn’t tip his hand, but pulled back a bit from Jed Hoyer’s previous suggestion that the Cubs were ready to move on. “I thought he did a really good job as a Cub, and from everyone I talked to, he lived up to the reputation he established in the American League East as a fine all-around player,” Epstein said. “I think he’s put himself in a position to have multiyear suitors. By offering arbitration we didn’t in any way close the door on Carlos, but we are exploring all our options at first base. My expectation is he’ll decline arbitration. but we’ll continue to have a dialogue, and he’d be an asset to the Cubs or any team.”
  • Theo Epstein said he doesn’t feel the need to make a big splash this week, which everyone has turned into, “Cubs won’t be making any big moves this week.” Do I really have to point out the distinction? Here’s what Epstein actually said: “Five years from now, 10 years from now, if we look back on this and say we made any move for any reason other than it’s in the best short-, medium- and long-term interest of the Cubs, we’d have a hard time sleeping at night. This is hard enough. If you try to serve perception as well as reality, you’ll end up hurting yourself long term. We have to work really hard to figure out what’s in the Cubs’ best interests.” You know how many moves that rules out? Exactly zero.
  • The Marlins are checking in with the Cubs on the asking price for Carlos Zambrano. Some salary relief and Matt Dominguez. That would do it for me.
  • In case you’re checking in for the first time, I’d recommend “liking” Bleacher Nation on Facebook and following it on Twitter for the latest news and rumors. You’ll get them incrementally faster that way (and, a bit more volume, too).

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

83 responses to “Winter Meetings Tuesday Morning: Garza, Wilson, Headley, Stewart, Hudson, Barney, Russell, Pena, Zambrano”

  1. JasonB

    1) I’m fine with trading Russell.  He isn’t an overpowering pitcher and likely won’t amount to more than a LOOGY or middle reliever that pitches in low stress situations

    2) I agree with you Brett – no to LeMahieu for Stewart.  I want to see how this newly discovered plate discipline plays out.  I’m all for chasing Stewart but he is damaged goods right now and the piece we give the Rockies should reflect that fact.

    3) All Cubs’ fans playing on the internets and the sociable media type places should hype up Darwin Barney’s scrappiness in an attempt to drive up his trade value

    1. Zelie

      Do you all remember the Darwin Barney game? Man, that was amazing baseball…

      1. Deer

        Barney had a decent rookie year and was one of our better hitters with RISP. Plus he’s cheap. For overvalued players, look no further than Byrd. He offers very little and makes $6.5M. He’s gotta go, regardles if he’s a nice guy.

  2. Section 409 Row 2

    Thanks for a great site Brett. I’ve been on Bleachernation for over a year now and finally decided to jump in on the posting. I’m a lifelong Cubs fan and as you can see from my name a 2nd year Season Ticket holder. I like the idea of adding both Headley and Hudson in a deal. Hudson is older and expensive, but he did steal 19 bases last year in only 122 games, is a switch hitter and solid defensively. Obviously its going to take more than just Russell to close the deal, but adding Hudson’s salary dump would help mitigate the quality of prospects other than Russell going over in the deal. I don’t mind Barney, but he proved in the second half of last year he is not an everyday player…at least at this point. Payroll would look something like this next year with only a hole at 1B.

    C Soto, Geovany $5,000,000
    2B Hudson, Orlando $5,500,000
    3B Headley, Chase $4,500,000
    SS Castro, Starlin $444,000
    LF Soriano, Alfonso $19,000,000
    CF Byrd, Marlon $6,500,000
    RF David DeJesus $4,250,000

    SP Zambrano, Carlos $19,000,000
    SP Dempster, Ryan $14,000,000
    SP Garza, Matt $9,500,000
    SP Wells, Randy $3,000,000
    SP Cashner, Andrew $427,500

    Bench Baker, Jeff $2,300,000
    Bench DeWitt, Blake $1,200,000
    Bench Campana, Tony $417,000
    Bench Castillo, Welington $417,000
    Bench LaHair, Brian $417,000

    CL Marmol, Carlos $7,000,000
    RP Marshall, Sean $3,100,000
    RP Wood, Kerry $2,500,000
    RP Samardzija, Jeff $2,300,000
    RP Russell, James $417,000
    RP Carpenter, Chris $417,000
    RP Coleman, Casey $417,000


    1. ottoCub

      This is a great breakdown on salaries. The Headley/Hudson combo is speculative at this point, which means that $10 million may or may not be on the books at those two positions. It seems safe to assume that a trade or FA third baseman is going to cost in the neighborhood of $5 million. Darwin Barney can fill the second base spot, for a savings of $4 million over Hudson. Barney should be on the roster somewhere… otherwise the Cubs won’t have a backup shortstop on the roster. If he replaces DeWitt or Baker, there’s another approximately $1 million less salary. These modifications to your roster would free up another chunk of cash to put towards first base and starting pitching. And if, as Brett says, $4-5 million of Soriano’s salary can come off the books, then there would be even more options.

      1. ottoCub

        Adjusted roster and salaries:

        C Soto, Geovany $5,000,000
        2B Barney, Darwin $444,000
        3B ????,???? $5,500,000
        SS Castro, Starlin $444,000
        LF LaHair, Brian $417,000
        CF Byrd, Marlon $6,500,000
        RF David DeJesus $4,250,000

        SP Zambrano, Carlos $18,000,000
        SP Dempster, Ryan $14,000,000
        SP Garza, Matt $9,500,000
        SP Wells, Randy $3,000,000
        SP Cashner, Andrew $427,500

        Bench Baker, Jeff $2,000,000
        Bench DeWitt, Blake $1,200,000
        Bench Campana, Tony $417,000
        Bench Castillo, Welington $417,000
        Bench Jackson, Brett $417,000

        CL Marmol, Carlos $7,000,000
        RP Marshall, Sean $3,100,000
        RP Wood, Kerry $1,500,000
        RP Samardzija, Jeff $2,300,000
        RP Russell, James $417,000
        RP Carpenter, Chris $417,000
        RP Coleman, Casey $417,000

        Salary Compensation: Soriano, Alfonso $14,000,000

        Total: $101,085,000

        This would free up more money for first base (is it enough for Fielder or Pujols?) and/or starting pitching.

    2. john

      Russell is gone under that scenario and Dempster and Zambrano drop off.
      There is plenty of long term dollars available even if you have to up 2012 payroll
      to accommodate

  3. Katie

    That tapeworm was rather pesky, but it’s all cleared up now.

    1. hansman1982

      Dr.’s said that it was nearly 20 feet long and any normal human being would have been dead…but not Darwin Barney.

      Rumors have it that Darwin then ate it for dinner.

  4. Toosh

    Is there an over/under on whether or not the Cubs make ANY personnel moves before their entourage leaves the Winter Meetings?

    1. Pat

      There cannot be an over/under on a yes or no question. Over/under applies to a question to which a number is the answer. For instance there can be an over under for how many trades the Cubs will make, but not for will they make any trades at all.

      Sorry to nitpick, but I used to see this on Yellon’s site all the time and it drove me nuts.

    2. john

      Over by 7 guys Garza Barney Soriano, Russel, Marmol 2 prospects

  5. Section 409 Row 2

    I think you’re right about my arb figures being a bit on the high side, but I’m a finance guy and tend to be conservative. It doesn’t leave us with a ton of money for a top tier 1b unless…dare I say it in memory of Hendry…we backload the contract and keep the first year lower, knowing that Demp, Z, Byrd and Hudson would be off the books in 2013. At least this would give LeMahieu another year to develop in AAA and make Barney the backup MI. We are still short on starting pitching but I think you need to go with what you have and hope to sign/trade for pitching in 2013.

    1. CubFan Paul

      here’s your arbitration projections. yours were definitely a bit high ..after a couple more moves there’s definitely enough room for Fielder at $23million a year, especially afer 2012

    2. JB88

      Well, I think this is also assuming a couple things: (1) the budget is set at $135MM (which I think could be flexible if Theo asked for more); (2) no moves are made to lose Marmol, Zambrano, or Soriano; and (3) that one assumes that the payroll will be fixed in future years — remember, another $32MM comes off the books for sure with Dempster and Zambrano’s contracts ending after this season. In other words, you might increase the budget to $150MM this year, knowing that you don’t intend to completely replace the $32MM that comes off the books next season.

  6. CubFan Paul

    “remember, another $32MM comes off the books for sure with Dempster and Zambrano’s contracts ending after this season. In other words, you might increase the budget to $150MM this year, knowing that you don’t intend to completely replace the $32MM that comes off the books next season”

    GOOD Point.

  7. Odd

    So apparently I already like BN on FB, but I do not get status updates from you. Anyone know how to fix this? Is it a preference in the settings somewhere?

  8. MightyBear

    Rumor has it the Marlins just gave Pujols a 10 year offer at 225-250 million. Go figure. A few years ago the marlins were trotting out a AAA team. Now they’re making the Yankees look cheap. Go figure.

  9. MightyBear

    If the Marlins sign Pujols, they might move Gaby Sanchez. Is that somebody the Cubs could/should go after? He had a 2.9 WAR last year and made 400K.

    1. Smitty

      I would think so. Cheap 1B that is 28. Does’nt give you alot of power, but for the price in prospects and what you would pay him I think it would make some sense.

  10. mb1.0.2

    My biggest question is HOW are the Marlins able to do this? Isn’t this the team that routinely conducts fire sales to shed payroll like it’s going out of style? I mean, sure, new ball park, but really?

    While I’m a giant baseball fan, I’m not as up and up on the ‘behind the scenes’ stuff as maybe I should be…what exactly am I missing with the Marlins?

    1. Luke

      They think the new ballpark will bring in that much more revenue… and they might be right. For the first time in their history, the Marlins will play their home games in a baseball stadium, not a football stadium that is re-purposed and has some seats that don’t even face the right direction.

      But if the fans don’t show due to, perhaps, a shaky economy or angry Mayans wanting their calendar back, then we could be just 12 months away from another Florida Fire Sale.

      1. SirCub

        I almost feel sorry for Marlins fans. They may get a couple high-profile players that will sell jerseys and tickets, but I don’t think it is a wise (baseball) move to invest 350 million into two players who more than likely have had their best years behind them.

        1. Toosh

          They’ve been in existence 19 seasons and won 2 World Series.

  11. Toosh

    The market for Marmol just got smaller.

  12. die hard

    A substantial change in the make up of the team thru FA or trades comments on the job Quade did as “not his fault.” A silver lining in every cloud

    1. Luke

      Pitching to Pujols on consecutive days with the game on line is Quade’s fault.

      Leaving Castillo to rot on the bench instead of taking advantage of Soto’s injury to see if the kid can play any better than Koyie Hill is Quade’s fault.

      Leaving LeMahieu to rot on the bench instead of taking advantage of the infield injuries to see if the kid could play is Quade’s fault.

      Moving Castro around the lineup like a balloon in a hurricane is Quade’s fault.

      Publicly throwing his youngest players under the bus while ignoring similar offenses from his veterans is Quade’s fault.

      Leaving Pena at first so he can try to get 30 HR while he has multiple potential first baseman on the roster needing evaluation is Quade’s fault.

      Having no clue when to pull his starting pitchers is Quade’s fault.

      Over working Marmol and leaving him to twist in the wind on days when he clearly did not have his control is Quade’s fault.

      Leaving Soriano in the lineup on a regular basis when he had multiple left handed hitting outfielders that could have taken some of Soriano’s at bats and likely raised the overall team defense is Quade’s fault.

      Leaving Darwin Barney as the everyday second baseman as his offense and defense decline when there are multiple options that need some playing time rotting on the bench is Quade’s fault.

      And when three (3!) of a teams starting pitchers wind up having problems with the manager (Dempster, Zambrano, and Garza), I tend to think the manager might need to look in the mirror.

      Quade didn’t have the greatest roster in the world, but to say that roster changes somehow excuse the terrible job Quade did as a manager strikes me as a pretty untenable argument.

      1. Jeff

        Wow. I knew it was bad under Quade, and I knew that he muffed a lot in his managerial decisions. To see it listed like that it pretty crazy. You didn’t even include the Russell experiment to start the year, which was one of his worst decisions and did direct damage to the Cubs chances at a time when the team still had a shot.

        1. hansman1982

          Quade had the stupid notion that the only thing he would be evaluated on was W-L.  In today’s game there is so much more to it than that, especially if, when it is Aug 20 and you are 18 games out, you have young guys to look at and your GM just got fired.

  13. john

    Does anybody else think this Winter meetings is
    a non starter for the Cubs. They should have made a move by now.

  14. Fishin Phil


    1. john

      Something is not right. Small moves at least lay the groundwork for bigger deals.
      No deals? I expect that once Wilson/Pujols signs all hell will break out

    2. Oswego Chris

      every year the winter meetings do this to me….I get all excited….constantly look for updates….and then nothing!…I fall for it every year…like Charlie Brown trying to kick that football…

      I thought for sure we would get some action


      1. Deer

        I hear ya, what’s more disappointing to me is all the legit rumors smell of Hendry. DeJesus, Stewart, Headley, prince/Pujols, I would have expected Hendry to do the exact same. Luckily, there’s likely much more going on than we know about.

  15. Oswego Chris

    Unfortunately(at least for us that wanted him traded) …there are not many landing spots now for Marmol…I don’t think SD is a realistic one…there aren’t many teams out there who would want him…BoSox?..Maybe the Reds if Cordero doesn’t sign…Orioles?….he will just be another albatross contract..

  16. Fishin Phil

    So I’m guessing you think there is no way Marmol rebounds this year?  I wanted to see him traded as well, but if we don’t get decent value now,  keep him until a market develops.  Perhaps at the next trade deadline.

  17. Oswego Chris

    actually Phil it has nothing to do with  his ability…I think closers are expendable and fairly easy to replace…I was just hoping they could maybe get something for him and put his 9 mil to better use…