The rumor mill is starting to wear down, though it still feels like the Cubs have plenty to accomplish yet this offseason…
- The Cubs and Kerry Wood continue to be “close” to a final deal for 2012 – or so sources say (better bet? The deal is done, and just waiting an appropriately-timed announcement). Theo Epstein cautioned, though, that the Cubs aren’t going to be constrained by an artificial deadline, i.e., the Convention, for getting the deal done (sorry, don’t buy it). Epstein also talked to kids at a Cubs Caravan stop and said this about players and the teams that play for them in relation to a question about Wood: “Players have the right to make choices in their careers. If they sign somewhere else, it doesn’t mean they’re disloyal or anything else. There are a lot of factors that go into it with someone’s career and livelihood. But teams have to make choices too, about what’s best for the organization as a whole over the long haul. When you have a player the team wants and a situation the player wants [to return], you need to sit down and really try to work it out. A lot of times it does work out, sometimes it doesn’t. When it doesn’t, you move on. There are always other opportunities, always other teams for the player. In this case, I know it’s important to the fans, and for baseball reasons we’d like to work this out. He can be a real contributor to our bullpen this year.”
- Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has decided to play in the Dominican Winter League for a week’s worth of games or so, which could be about getting back into some game action, or could be an attempt to get his suspected-to-be-falling price tag moving back in the right direction. He didn’t do himself any favors last night, in his first game. Playing DH, Cespedes struck out three times in three at bats. I don’t reckon the performance will move the needle in either direction on teams’ interest.
- Speaking of which, the Marlins are ridiculously interested in Cespedes, as expected. And they’re being very, very open about it – perhaps in an attempt to scare other suitors off. From Marlins’ president David Samson: “[The club's pursuit will be] aggressive right to the point of stupidity, but not quite there. We think he’s a perfect fit for us, but it has to be sane. [We've been] expressing interest, going to visit, making it very clear to his representatives and to him and his family that we think he should not be anywhere other than Miami. As a Cuban and someone in the DR, it makes perfect sense. We have a perfect position for him to play. It would be great …. I think that we’re right in there. There are a lot of teams who want him and we’re definitely competitive and we’re not fooling around. We expect he will be a significant sign and receive a significant signing bonus and contract, and we’re prepared for that. Again, if you’re dealing with another team who needs to make a bigger splash or wants to get irrational, we’re not going to match that.” At what level an offer becomes “stupid,” of course, is a matter of debate.
- There hasn’t been much to say lately about Cespedes’ fellow outfield defector, true prospect Jorge Soler. The 19-year-old is expected to establish residency in the DR soon, but the immediacy of his signing will not likely follow Cespedes’, who will want to participate in Spring Training. Soler could theoretically wait until the Summer to sign, but he’ll wait no longer – the international signing caps in the new CBA kick in after June, so Soler would stand to lose a whole lot of leverage (and money) if he waits that long. The Cubs will be involved, I have no doubt.
- The Nationals are now making an aggressive push to sign Prince Fielder, says the Washington Post. He isn’t coming to the Cubs, so your rooting interest is probably a long-shot like Toronto, which could spur the Blue Jays to stepping back up to the table with the Cubs about a Matt Garza trade.
- Speaking of Garza, another theoretical suitor is the Texas Rangers. Their pursuit, however, will remain theoretical until Wednesday, when they either sign or fail to sign Yu Darvish, at which point their interest in Garza will be decided (lifting the box on Schrodinger’s Cat, as it were). If the Rangers can’t finalize a deal with Darvish, they’ll almost certainly resume their pursuit of Garza. If they do sign Darvish – and the most recent indications are that they are optimistic despite a gulf in the two sides’ offers – they’re out.