It could be a very busy couple of days leading up to the Cubs Convention. Public relations rarely drives baseball moves – or, at least, with the new front office I expect that to be the case – but the Convention could be an exception. Talks continue with multiple teams about Matt Garza, the Kerry Wood watch is in full effect, and the Cubs currently have 41 players on their 40-man roster…
- Jon Heyman says a Cubs’ source told him it’s looking increasingly likely that Alfonso Soriano will open the season with the Cubs. The Cubs are working very hard to move him to the AL, but the huge contract – three years and $54 million remaining – may make things too difficult for the Cubs and a trade partner to strike the right balance in who pays how much.
- Nick Cafardo had recently suggested the Cubs wouldn’t have a problem moving Soriano to the AL if they really wanted to, because, he says, the Cubs are willing to eat “most” of the contract. Cafardo mentions the Orioles, as Phil Rogers has many times.
- A Kerry Wood tea leaf: Wood congratulated Paul Maholm on Twitter about signing with the Cubs, but did not welcome him to the team. Twitter does have character limits, mind you…
- Speaking of Maholm, Ken Rosenthal reports that there are indeed incentives built into his otherwise very team-friendly one-year/one-option-year contract. Rosenthal says Maholm can earn $550K in incentives each year with the Cubs: $50K at 150 IP, and then $100K at 160, 170, 180, 190, and 200 IP. Those incentives aren’t terribly difficult to reach, but they also aren’t terribly burdensome. Still a very good signing for the Cubs.
- According to multiple reports, the Reds are going to sign closer Ryan Madson, who, not two months ago, was looking at a four-year, $40 million type offer, for just one year and $8.5 million. If you weren’t already convinced, as I was, that Carlos Marmol would be opening the season with the Cubs, let this signing convince you. In a market where Madson can get only one year and $8.5 million, Carlos Marmol at two years and about $17 million has no surplus trade value. None. He probably even has negative trade value. At this point, the Cubs will have to hope that he comes to camp in great shape, he pitches excellently in the first half, and then see where things go.
- Bruce Levine held a chat yesterday, and, among the highlights: (1) Bruce says the Cubs have talked to multiple teams about Marlon Byrd, but would prefer to trade Soriano (Mariners and Orioles make most sense, but neither is willing to take on much salary); (2) the Cubs won’t trade Matt Garza unless they get the package they’re looking for – and, from the Tigers, that will almost certainly include Jacob Turner as a starting point (the Cubs also want third base prospect Nick Castellanos, but the Tigers have refused so far); (3) the Cubs are interested in both Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler (very interested); (4) Bruce thinks Kerry Wood will re-sign with the Cubs by Friday; (5) no one – the Cubs, Padres, or Red Sox – seems to care very much about the compensation issues (swell); (6) the Rangers would make a nice trading partner for the Cubs in the Garza talks if Darvish falls through (which is unlikely); (7) Bruce thinks Brian Roberts doesn’t make much sense for the Cubs; and (8) there’s no chance Carlos Pena is back with the Cubs next year.
- Jed Hoyer was on MLBN Radio yesterday, and, although he wouldn’t comment on specific trade talks, when asked if the Cubs would accept an offer of Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos for Matt Garza, he conceded that the Cubs have had talks with teams about Garza, but “we haven’t gotten the level we need to so far.” I don’t know that he meant that to sound as strong as it did – he was kind of hemming and hawing – but it sounded to me as though he was confirming that, yes, the Cubs are talking to teams about trading Matt Garza, and the Cubs are just waiting for teams to step up their offers. This, of course, is something we’ve long believed to be true – I’ve heard and reported it from multiple sources – but it’s interesting to hear Hoyer actually confirm it. Hoyer naturally made sure to add that the Cubs would also be happy to keep Garza around “for a long time.”
- From the Tigers’ beat (heh), GM Dave Dombrowski says the team still isn’t looking to add a starting pitcher, and Peter Gammons says the Tigers aren’t even willing to trade Turner straight up for Garza (I … doubt that).
- The Mets waived former top prospect Fernando Martinez, a 23-year-old outfielder who’s fallen off in recent years. He’s likely to garner quite a bit of interest on the waiver wire, and it’s debatable whether the Cubs would even put themselves in a position to have to remove another player from the 40-man roster just to claim him.