It may be an official holiday – and a great one – but the rumor mill doesn’t shut down on MLK day…

  • The Cubs continue to dance with a handful of teams about Matt Garza, with the issues being all that you already know: the Cubs feel like they don’t *have* to trade Matt Garza right now (though they’d likely prefer it, rather than risk what could happen between now and the trade deadline (injury to Garza, ineffectiveness of Garza, other starters coming on the market, teams deciding their internal options are adequate after seeing them in action, etc.), and are willing to deal Garza only for a very strong return. From the Tigers, that means both Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos, something Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski has made relatively clear isn’t going to happen.
  • On the subject of Garza trade rumors, I had a nice DM discussion with WBBM’s George Ofman on Twitter yesterday about the market for Garza, and the Cubs’ urgency to deal the righty. Ofman believes there’s no way the Cubs can get both Turner and Castellanos for Garza (I tend to agree, at least not unless the Cubs add a significant piece like a Matt Szczur (which, given the 40-man situation, they might well be willing to do)), and added that the Cubs might not even be able to get only one of the two in a deal. Given their druthers, Ofman thinks the Tigers would prefer to add a lefty to their rotation, but notes that the Tigers aren’t the only team the Cubs can continue to talk to about Garza. The Blue Jays linger at the periphery, and the Red Sox may have just gotten more desperate with the Yankees adding both Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda this weekend.
  • Ultimately, Ofman believes the Cubs’ desire to trade Garza is stronger than most folks presently think. While I’m usually the first to hide behind the “the Cubs don’t *have* to trade Garza” thing, I’m not sure Ofman is wrong on this one. As an aside – George Ofman: nice guy.
  • Speaking of the Red Sox and Matt Garza, Jon Morosi also thinks the Red Sox will feel added pressure to add a starting pitcher now, and mentions Garza as a possible target. He also notes that the could try and pick up Roy Oswalt on a cheap-ish, one-year deal. If I said that’s a risky move for the Red Sox, would I sound too much like I’m “selling”?
  • Also of relevance to Matt Garza discussions: Gio Gonzalez just signed a five-year, $42 million extension, with two option years that could increase the deal to $65 million (those must be very team-friendly options). Gonzalez, as a Super Two, had four years of arbitration remaining, so the deal buys out one free agent year. At projected salaries in the area of $5 million, $7.5 million, $10 million, and $12.5 million in arbitration, it looks like the Nats got a great deal. Of course, they take on the risk that Gonzalez blows out his arm (whereas, if they’d gone year to year, they could have non-tendered him), but it is certainly interesting from not only a Garza perspective, but also, for example, a Starlin Castro perspective.
  • As was the case with the Paul Maholm signing, the Cubs will have to open up a spot on the 40-man roster to officially add Kerry Wood. Unless there’s a trade in the works, I’ll reiterate that it seems likely one of the bullpen-type arms will get the boot – guys like Marcos Mateo, Alberto Cabrera, or John Gaub.
  • Optimism that Yu Darvish and the Rangers will reach an agreement by Wednesday’s deadline (thus excluding them from re-entering Matt Garza talks) continues to grow. Jim Bowden cites sources who tells him the deal will get done. Hamburgers.
  • Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler – who came in for frequent mention at CubsCon, but about whom all executives refused comment – could be getting residency (and, thereafter, free agency) any day now. Phil Rogers thinks the Cubs’ signing of Yaniel Balaguert, a former Cuban teammate of Soler’s, and Carlos Martinez, also out of Cuba, are designed to help welcome other Cubans to the organization. I suppose it’s a plausible added selling point, but I tend to think Cespedes and Soler will go to whomever pays them the most money. The Cubs, again, are expected to make offers to both players.
  • Jon Heyman says the Yankees are telling folks they have only $1 or $2 million left to allocate to the now-vacant DH spot. I’d reckon that, even if the Yankees were interested in Alfonso Soriano, the Cubs would want a little more salary relief than that. Indeed, FanGraphs recently concluded that, even as a bench/platoon player, Soriano is worth about $3 million per year. As a full-time DH, I remain of the mind that Soriano could put up at least league average offensive numbers. Soriano is owed $54 million over the next three years.
  • For his part, Soriano says he’d accept a trade, but would like to go to a contender.
  • At CubsCon, Dale Sveum was asked about Prince Fielder, and, after citing Anthony Rizzo and Bryan LaHair, Sveum said Fielder is “just not going to happen.”


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