Hey, what do you know? There are other bits of news and rumors out there impacting the Cubs unrelated to Matt Garza. A lot, it turns out (and, ok, there’s a little bit of Garza tucked in there, too) …
- Marlon Byrd’s name is popping up more and more on the rumor wire. The latest edition comes from ESPN’s Buster Olney, suggesting that Byrd might be a fit in Washington (I’m guessing because the Nats have been looking for a center fielder for over a year), or in Boston (I’m guessing because Byrd could be a right-handed platoon-mate with recently-acquired Ryan Sweeney, as well as a fourth outfielder).
- Speaking of Byrd and the Nats, Washington GM Mike Rizzo recently said, very unconvincingly, that the team is content to go with Jayson Werth in center field as a stopgap until 2013: “We see the 2013 free agent class at center field is much stronger than it is for the 2012 season. With that in mind we know Jayson [Werth] can handle the center field position. It’s not a perfect world for us. He’s a good defender out there and is ready, willing, and able to take on the responsibility to play center field. We recognize that we need a true gliding, defensive, rangy center fielder out there in a perfect world. As far as the 2012 season we’re not going to make a kneejerk reaction and lock ourselves into anything long-term if it doesn’t make sense for us.” Sounds like Washington could use a reasonably priced center fielder who is under contract only for 2012. Hmm. Where might they find one?
- Dave Kaplan now says there’s a legitimate concern that Kerry Wood might not re-sign with the Cubs, whom Wood previously said he’d pitch for in 2012, or wouldn’t pitch at all. The hold-up, apparently, is the meaning of a “fair, market contract” for Wood. I warned weeks ago that the two sides could be in a bit of a pinch given Wood’s special standing with the organization and with fans, but his stated position that he’d pitch for the Cubs or not at all. That just doesn’t make for an easy negotiation when Wood wants a raise. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve a raise from the chump-change $1.5 million he received in 2011. He does. I’m just saying that the confluence of factors makes things sticky, and I’ve always been worried that it could come to a head. Hopefully an amicable resolution is still on the way.
- The Cubs have had “at least low-level contact with Brad Lidge,” because they’ve not yet completely cornered the market on bounce-back reliever candidates. My tongue is mostly in cheek there, as I think low risk, high upside moves on relievers is a fine approach. But, given the already bloated bullpen, it does make you wonder how serious the Cubs are about ensuring that Kerry Wood has a roster spot. Again, I’m making no conclusions here. I just wonder. Lidge, 35, was quite good in very limited duty for the Phillies the last two years, but missed significant time last year with rotator cuff issues.
- MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes held a chat yesterday, and touched on the Cubs in a variety of ways: (1) Dierkes expects that, if the Cubs move Garza, they’ll get less than the Royals got for Zack Greinke, and thinks the Yankees could offer the best package, (2) from the Jays, Dierkes sees Henderson Alvarez as a good starting point in talks about Garza (dig it), (3) Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler represent “rare opportunities,” and they’ll be paid accordingly, (4) the Cubs are probably still considering Paul Maholm, who likely wants a deal in the two-year, $12 to 14 million range (pass, unless it’s on the low end), (5) if the Cubs are in full-on blow-up mode (and Dierkes thinks they are), he thinks they’ll shop Ryan Dempster, assuming he’d waive his no-trade rights, and (6) Dierkes doesn’t think Dodgers make sense as a landing spot for Prince Fielder.
- Edwin Jackson: still available. Why there has been almost no discussion yet of one of the better arms on the free agent market is as much a mystery as why Jackson is set to join his sixth team in five years. Maybe it’s the inconsistency, or an unpublicized attitude problem. Whatever the reason, he’s still out there and rarely attached to prominent rumors. Jackson’s agent, Scott Boras, suggests the reason for a slow-play in the Jackson market is because of all of the front office turnover (umm… sure, Scott): “Edwin is very much unknown in this (free-agent) process,” Boras said. “Look at the trade market, the availability of older shorter-term, veteran pitchers, the newness of so many general managers . . . it definitely had an impact. The new GMs, as they slip into it, their familiarity with the market is all new. The information they receive is all new.” Perhaps the teams into which the new GMs have slipped are new to those GMs, but it’s not as if they are transitioning from a career as a college professor into the front office. They know who Edwin Jackson is, what their needs are, and what his numbers/scouting reports say.
- The Rangers remain in the market for a closer, but it remains a mystery whether they’d consider taking on Carlos Marmol. They were interested at the trade deadline last year, but the closer market has since become saturated and Marmol’s performance declined further. I go back and forth on Marmol’s value. He’s owed almost $17 million over the next two seasons, which is not expensive by this offseason’s Papelbon/Nathan deal standards. But he’s also seen a marked dip in fastball velocity, and in slider movement. Unless the Cubs ate part of Marmol’s deal, I’m just not convinced a team would be willing to commit more than a mediocre prospect to obtaining him. The Cubs might be best served crossing their fingers and hoping for an early-season rebound.
- Maybe this is a stupid question, but: if the Angels are truly going to put Mark Trumbo at third base to open up first base for Albert Pujols and DH for Kendrys Morales, what happens to Alberto Callaspo? He can play all over the infield, sure, but he’s been a starter for the last three years (one of which saw him start at second base). He’ll turn 29 next year, and offers good on-base ability and a quality glove. He’s in his second year of arbitration and could make $3 to $4 million. Seems like an expensive, good player to relegate to the bench after three years of starting. Just curious. Maybe I’m missing something obvious.
- Dave Kaplan shared this interesting tidbit yesterday about the Sean Marshall trade: “I just spoke with a great source who told me that Cubs offered Marshall an extension but no guarantee he wouldn’t be moved in July.” It makes you wonder if the Cubs felt like the return on Marshall could have been even better midseason with a couple more years on his contract. The obvious answer would have been yes. Nice try, gents.