It’s Friday morning, and it’s time to round up the latest (non-Prince Fielder) rumors and news touching on the Cubs…
- While we’ve waited on Yu Darvish and obsessed about Prince Fielder, one of the other big names attached to the Cubs has fallen by the wayside: 26-year-old Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. He’s fallen off the radar not for a lack of interest, mind you, but instead because he still hasn’t reached free agency. Cespedes defected from Cuba and came to the Dominican Republic months ago, and more than a month ago began the process of taking up residence there – required for him to achieve free agency in MLB. The process was expected to take but a couple weeks. Here we stand, and it still isn’t done. Is there a reason to be concerned? Nobody seems to be, and Danny Knobler says he’s heard free agency will be coming “fairly soon.”
- The new CBA, which restricts amateur spending both in the draft and internationally, has made a guy like Cespedes – who, even if the limitations were already in place (they aren’t until next year), wouldn’t be subject to the restrictions as a 26-year-old (spending limits apply only to players younger than 23) – an even more attractive candidate for teams’ dollars. The starting point of negotiations remains Aroldis Chapman’s six-year, $30 million contract, with a belief that the years could increase to seven or eight, and the dollars could ultimately exceed $60 million. The Cubs have long been expected to be one of many suitors.
- The Cubs are also interested in Cuban prospect, 19-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler, whose price tag – like Cespedes’ – is climbing thanks to the new CBA. Teams want to grab a player like Soler while they can still do so without any kind of spending restriction (assuming he signs before July 2 of next year). Soler, once he’s granted free agency, is expected to get a deal that tops the $15.6 million Major League deal older Cuban prospect, Leonys Martin got from the Rangers earlier this year. That same link has Baseball America’s thoughts on Soler as a prospect, and he comes in for sky-high praise. Were he in the 2010 draft, Jim Callis believes he would have gone in the top five.
- If the Cubs are still listening to offers on Matt Garza, the prime competition on the trade market is the Oakland A’s, who are still shopping lefty starter Gio Gonzalez. The A’s demands, however, are extremely high – one report had them asking the Marlins for Mike Stanton. The Blue Jays are rumored to be in heavy on Gonzalez, which could change, I suppose, if they land Darvish. That could put the Rangers onto Gonzalez, and off of Garza. Then again, as I said this morning – and Ken Rosenthal just tweeted – missing out on Darvish, alone, could make the Rangers go after Gonzalez or Garza. This is quite a web, eh? The Reds, Red Sox, and Mets are also interested in Gonzalez.
- Bruce Levine had a chat earlier this week in which he touched on a number of Cubs rumors. His tone was uncharacteristically dour, poo-pooing the idea that the Cubs would be doing anything of note for the rest of the offseason. No big money free agents, no trading off valuable pieces, no unloading Soriano or Zambrano. I’m not sure if Bruce was having a bad week, or if he got some glum news about the Cubs’ plans. I can say this: if the Cubs go into 2012 with the roster as currently constructed, the limits of our faith in the new regime will be tested – much sooner than anyone would have expected (which is not to say going into the season with the team as constructed isn’t part of an overall plan that is the right plan – it just seems to me: either sell off, or make the roster respectably competitive. The middle road never works). I still expect some movement, be it for the near or long-term – Theo and Jed know what they’re doing.
- Hiroki Kuroda, a theoretical Cubs target, continues to receive interest from a number of teams, including the Yankees, Rockies, and Diamondbacks.
- Chase Headley is both the most targeted, and most likely to be moved Padre.
- About 10 teams are interested in non-tendered Oriole, Luke Scott. The Cubs are keeping Scott in mind as a back-up plan.
- Despite their acquisition of Mark Melancon, the Red Sox are still looking at closer options. I mention this only because, at one time in the past, the Red Sox were vaguely attached to Carlos Marmol, if the Cubs were looking to move him. This is not to say there is any actual interest there. But maybe there should be.