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Yesterday afternoon and on through the evening proved to be fertile grounds for the rumor mill…

  • The Detroit Tigers announced that DH/C Victor Martinez would be missing the 2012 season after tearing his ACL, which spent the Cubs’ rumor world into a tizzy: Alfonso Soriano? Marlon Byrd? Increased desire for Matt Garza? It was frenetic, and, at times, thoughtless – but that doesn’t mean it was inaccurate. I have no doubt that these scenarios have been and will be explored … together with many, many other options for the Tigers. GM Dave Dombrowski said the team would like to find a “short-term” solution, which doesn’t quite sound like three years of Soriano. It all depends, of course, on how much money the Cubs are willing to eat on Soriano’s deal, and how strongly the Tigers believe Soriano could succeed as a full-time DH (for me, I think his numbers climb if he’s just DH’ing).
  • Phil Rogers suggests that the best solution for the Tigers would be moving Delmon Young to DH while picking up a strong defensive left fielder, like Marlon Byrd (who would, presumably, be strong in LF). Thus, he thinks the Tigers would be wise to talk to the Cubs about a Byrd and Garza package. He also mentions the same package going to Boston, as Carl Crawford might be out a few months after wrist surgery.
  • On Garza, generally, I’m told that teams (the same names you’ve come to know and love) have started re-approaching the Cubs. The sense I get is that talks with a number of teams were hot and then cold, hot and then cold, based primarily on the Cubs’ high demands. Whether the current re-approaches mean teams are more willing to meet the Cubs’ high demands, or simply mean teams are are still looking to pick up a starter and now wonder if the Cubs have dropped their price, I don’t know.
  • Something to keep in mind on Garza trade talks: if the Cubs would like to net a prospect who was picked in the 2011 draft, they can’t make the trade for a little while yet. Why? Signed draft picks can’t be traded until one year after they sign. They can be players to be named later before that, but a PTBNL has to be “named” within six months of the trade. So, do a little subtraction, and knowing that most of the top prospects in the draft didn’t sign until mid-August, that would mean mid-February is the earliest that such a trade could happen (with the Cubs not officially getting the kid until he is “named” in August).
  • On the Yoenis Cespedes front, the good signs keep popping up. BP’s Kevin Goldstein, after noting that he’d recently been talking to a number of international folks, said he was reordering his likely Cespedes destinations thusly: 1. Cubs, 2. Marlins (and then a big gap), 3. Phillies, 4. Tigers. I’m not crazy about seeing the Cubs getting into a bidding war with the current iteration of the Marlins’ front office, but it’s nice to see them consistently listed as a leader.
  • Cubs’ Scouting Chief Jason McLeod, who’s watched Cespedes a couple times, compared him to a younger, faster Marlon Byrd, and confirmed that he would ideally see about 100 at bats in the minors before you’d think about calling him up.
  • Bruce Levine chatted recently and noted, among other things: (1) The Cubs may try to pick up an outfielder in trade if they move Soriano or Byrd, rather than call Brett Jackson up right away ; (2) once Cespedes and Jorge Soler get residency in the DR, it could still be upwards of two weeks before they are declared free agents; (3) Levine isn’t sure Epstein and Hoyer are sold on Darwin Barney as the starter at second base; (4) Bruce isn’t sure Randy Wells will be the odd man out of the rotation, especially if the Cubs trade Garza (well, yeah); and (5) the Cubs don’t want to do a bad contract swap with Soriano; (6) Bruce still doesn’t completely rule the Cubs out on Prince Fielder.
  • I missed this a little while ago, but Nick Cafardo wondered whether the Yankees’ acquisition of Michael Pineda could be a precursor to flipping him to the Cubs for Matt Garza. Shrug. That seems far-fetched. If Garza is going to the AL East, I’d reckon it’s to the Red Sox or Blue Jays.
  • Tim Kurkjian doesn’t see the Cubs trading Garza, but his reasoning doesn’t paint himself as the most thoughtful guy (which was kind of surprising): “I frankly don’t think Garza is going anywhere. If the Cubs want to get any good here, they’re going to have to do it with their pitching, and to trade one of their best pitchers, at this point, wouldn’t make any sense.”  … unless that pitcher is 28, extremely valuable on the trade market, and under control for two years, during which the Cubs might not be particularly competitive. Come on, Tim. I’m not saying the Cubs have to trade Garza, but “wouldn’t make any sense”?
  • Today at 4pm CT is the deadline for the Rangers to sign Yu Darvish, and there remains general optimism that he’ll sign. If you need me to remind you: you’re hoping he doesn’t sign, which could encourage the Rangers to re-engage the Cubs in Matt Garza trade discussions.
  • Sean Marshall says he hopes he has a chance to return to the Cubs when he’s a free agent after this season.
  • http://justinjabs.com/blog Justin Jabs

    Interesting fact on PTBNL bullet #4. Didn’t know that. Thanks, I learned something today!

    • A_Mazz_Ing

      ditto!

    • Micahel Foster

      Agreed. This is why this site is a must read for me, thanks Brett. BTW, nice work from the convention.

  • Tommy

    Wow!  Sean Marshall would like to return to the Cubs!  That’s pretty encouraging and makes me like the guy that much more.  Hopefully Dusty doesn’t destroy his arm before we get that chance!

  • dob2812

    Re the Tim Kurkjian comments: I’m always wary of a guy’s analysis when he says things like “they’re going to have to do it with their pitching”. This is a well-worn cliche and pretty much next to meaningless. Teams win in all kinds of ways and no way should any team attempt to win using just one particular means. You improve your team any which way you can by adding the best available players, no matter their individual strong points (obviously, there’s a limit; I’m not advocating having two barrel-batted first basemen on the roster or 8 ace-type pitchers fighting for 5 spots).

    You’re going to need pitching to win!!!!!!!!

    Sure, you’re going to need some pitchers…

    Let’s all laugh at the Philadelphia Phillies now.

    • ferrets_bueller

      Kurkjian, to me, is just a guy who constantly states the obvious or simple things convincingly, and as if they were profound.  I think he missed his calling as a politician, lmao.  I don’t think I’ve ever actually heard him say anything of much value…just fluff that sounds great.

      • BetterNews

        ferrets–Kurkjian is right on the money.

  • Tom B

    What a great move the Marshall trade would be if he returned to the Cubs after this season. He’s a stand-up guy that did what was best for the team. Can’t get enough of those guys on a young team.

  • cls

    Interesting point about Marshall willing to come back. Makes me think a lot of these guys see the changes in the front office, and what the team is doing, and like the direction, and want to be part of something special. That would be sweet if we trade Marshall for a couple good prospects this year, and then get him back on a bit of a hometown discount again next season. :)

  • BD

    Wouldn’t that be crazy- trade Marshall for some solid prospects, let him have another good year, and then get him back for just money? Not saying he will fit a need or anything else, but just the thought is kind of funny to me (or maybe it’s because the old FO would never have tried anything like it).

  • Deer

    A younger, faster Marlon Byrd? For $50-60M? No thanks. While he might be faster, his frame doesn’t look like a base stealer IMO.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      I’d do $50 – $60 million over six yeas for a faster Marlon Byrd in his prime. $10 million a year might be a little steep for that type of player, but not by much. And I think the upside on Cespedes could be higher yet.

    • Hawkeyegrad

      Agreed….I think if he was an established MLB player he we be worth $50-$60 million but given that he has never consistently faced anything close to MLB pitching I think a 5 year $30 million deal makes alot of sense. It will be interesting to see where the market ends up on him.

  • rbreeze

    After this Darvish thing has past.  Fielder will sign with some team this weekend and we’ll still have Garza. I think Garza will start with the Cubs and will be a more valuable piece for a contending team in July.  Then we can get the top two prospects (+) out of someones organization.  I like what Theo and Jed have done so far.  I hope that by keeping the spending to a minimum this winter means that we will get Cespedes and maybe Soler.  These guys are the type of athletes that you can take chances on.

  • clark addison

    A tweet from Gail Fischer is hardly strong evidence that Marshall wants to return to the Cubs.

    • http://cubbiekingdom.wordpress.com hansman1982

      If Marshall does not want to sign an extension with the Reds then two things are true:

      1. He will always say that he would like to come back to the Cubs, if nothing else it will drive up his price from other teams

      2. Of course he will want to come back to the Cubs.  If Theo and Co. see him as a future closer and Marmol fails this year he could come in as a closer and get paid well.  If that actually happens with this front office, remains to be seen.

      • hardtop

        Sean, come on buddy, give Cinci-Nasty a chance! Oh Yeah, right, never mind, you’re welcome back to Chicago anytime (assuming your asking price is reasonable and your saber-metrics pan out ;))

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      She spoke to him yesterday.

  • cedarpip

    I agree with Kurkjian (sp?) on Garza. I understand the Cubs think they can get prospects for him, which would be fine, but the flip side is that he does have great stuff and can help us for years to come because of his age. i also think the fact that he pitched in the AL east is downplayed way too much when it comes to Garza. The competition he is used to facing on a regular basis is by far the toughest. i actually think that if the Brewers had gotten Garza instead of Greinke last year they would have been in better shape for the playoffs. In other words, sure you can trade him, but it’s far from the end of the world if you keep him. He’s certainly not a liability, like, say, Soriano.

  • Bails17

    Cedarpip…so pay Garza for the next two years and take the chance of having him walk away without getting anything in return?  I don’t think so.  We have to weigh out what our maximum return for him versus what we would be paying him in a long term contract.  IF you don’t extend him…you HAVE to trade him.

    • Garrett

      Bails, I definitely agree with you 100% the thing we need to realize here is that if we get an amazing return great, but if it’s not there right now then we do have the deadline where we could get a great return from a contender, and also next winter as well. I think this is why we are seeing the Cub’s price being so high, so they get maximum return and they know that if it doesn’t get done now they can always do it in the future. Of course you have the double edged sword where you could run out of time if you don’t do it.

      • Bails17

        Agree Garrett.  Waiting till the trade deadline gives us additional liability as well.  He could have an off year or end up injured.  There are so many factors here.  I said we MUST trade him…I didn’t say when we trade him.  BTW…I LOVE having Matt Garza on this club.  He is the type of guy that makes everyone around him better.  But…what are the chances of the Cubs making the playoffs in the next two years?  If the Tigers come up with the BIG TWO we are wanting back…I say pull the trigger for sure.

  • ncsujuri

    Who is Detroit’s other option behind the plate?  Instead of packaging Byrd with Garza might they not be interested in Soto?

    • Bails17

      They signed Laird a while back.  They are set in the catcher position…they will be looking for a bat.

      • ncsujuri

        Thanks Bails!

        • Richdanna

          Juri!!!! Wassup, bud?

  • CF

    I can’t see it being true, but I would love for the Cafardo suggestion of Pineda for Garza to work out. I actually think it might take more than just 2 years of Garza to get 5 years of Pineda. I’ve seen Pineda pitch in person a couple of times, and the kid is going to be dominant. He’s got a 98+ fastball (though too straight at times), probably one of the top 5 sliders in all of baseball, and a developing changeup. If he learns not to throw too many strikes and improves his changeup, he’ll be one of the top 10 pitchers in the game.

    The Yankee-Mariner trade was an interesting one though, as Pineda isn’t a great fit for Yankee Stadium (what pitcher is?). He tends to get a fair number of flyballs, and as a righty, the porch in RF in Yankee Stadium is awfully short.

  • Ashley

    How great would the trade for Marshall be if we got him back next offseason in free agency?

  • die hard

    Pineda for Marmol would be more likely

  • die hard

    Wonder how the Cincy org feels about Marshall wanting to leave even before season starts?..will there be doubts as to his loyalty to Cincy if the Cubs light him up?…Hopefully, Marshall quickly denies he said that or else hes in for alot of bad feelings from teammates…dumb, just dumb

    • Ron Swanson

      Thought crossed my mind too, die hard. I’d be less than excited to see that if I was Cincy management.

  • Puma0821

    I kow this is a bit crazy, but wouldn’t it be something if guys like Kerry and Dempster (and maybe Marshall to an extent) would be OK with being traded this year to a contender. Then come back next year on one year deals and traded again @ the deadline if the Cubs are out of it. This would be a great way to try and win a WS for them while still helping the team they love!

    • http://bleachernation ferris

      thats what i posted a couple weeks ago..i couldnt agree more w/you..and these are good character guys…..the kind you want here

  • BlueBlood

    I don’t the Red Sox deserve compensation for Epstein being promoted. Since the Cubs promised it however, I guess a low a prospect would work. 30+ in rankings. Something is really wrong with the RedSox brass.

  • Bren

    So $60M for a younger, faster version of Marlon Byrd? That hardly seems worth it

    • http://bleachernation ferris

      i agree,marlon is a solid player but that kind of money for someone who looks offensively like he hits like a combo of byrd and sori…i dunno,i think we need more contact guys,but the thinking could be get a decent if not great player and open up good p.r. w/cuban players for the future since the cba is more difficult now.

      • Bren

        Well, regardless of what the final figure may be, it seems certain that the starting point is the Chapman deal. So anywhere b/t 30-60M seems exorbitant for someone who, at best, is a Marlon Byrd type, no disrespect to him.

        I suppose it could be a good p.r. move for future Cubans, but the means by which they come available is rather drawn-out, so $$ talks at that point.

    • Matt

      He will not get $60 million.

  • joejoecubs

    What do you guys think is going to happen with Brett Jackson this year?  Personally, I am very high on the guy and his possible upside and potential.  What is his expected date of arrival on the big league team?  I am looking for him to have a huge spring and either get a job or be extremely close (maybe a June or July arrival).  Another thing that I have been pondering lately is what if Lehair tears it up this year?  What then do we do with Rizzo.  I remember Lehair played a couple of games in left field last year.  If I were Theo and Jed, I would do everything possible to move Soriano NOW because I don’t like the idea of not having anywhere to put Rizzo if he starts off real hot in Iowa, and assuming Lehair is playing well. Unless we plan on keeping Rizzo in AAA for the whole season, where are we going to put him?  So many questions, anybody have any opinions?

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      Jackson will almost certainly start in Iowa and come up until June or so. And I expect his promotion will correspond fairly closely with a trade of Byrd.

      The LaHair / Rizzo question is an interesting one, but I don’t think the Cubs would mind if Rizzo spent all year in Iowa. In the first case, that would mean LaHair is tearing it up, and that’s a good thing. Second, it would mean the team would not be using one of Rizzo’s options.

      More likely, if LaHair is playing so well that he is keeping Rizzo trapped in the minors, and Soriano is playing so well he can’t be benched in favor of LaHair, then the Cubs will have absolutely no trouble trading LaHair, and would probably be able to find a taker for Soriano. I’m guessing that is one problem the Cubs are dearly wishing they will have.

    • ottoCub

      It would be fabulous if the Cubs could trade Soriano! Everyone talks about the salary, but his presence in the outfield is a drag on future options for the Cubs outfield.

      With Soriano gone, the Cubs could start the season with some combination of Byrd, DeJesus, Campana, Sappelt, and Reed Johnson in the outfield.

      If, at mid-season, LaHair is hitting well and Rizzo is playing well at AAA, they could move LaHair to left field and bring Rizzo up. If Jackson looks ready to bring up, they can move him into the spot occupied by Campana/Sappelt/Johnson. If Sappelt or Campana have a good start, they could stay in the line-up, and the Cubs could save one of Jackson’s options and give him another year of seasoning…

      But these are all big “ifs”.
      If Soriano is still taking a spot in left field the Cubs don’t have many options at all.

      • David

        At this point, not a fan of Soriano, but an outfield of Campana, Sappelt, Johnson, Byrd, and DeJesus is pretty uninspiring. Basically all 4th or 5th OF’s. None of those guys would likely be starting on a really good team, and none of them are really upside guys at this point. Sappelt should be useful in a reserve role, and Campana may have a place. Such a shame he doesn’t get on base at a better clip. Even a .360 OBP with no power could be useful with his speed.

        • BetterNews

          I’ll take DeJesus over Fukodome in right no matter how you slice it. DeJesus numbers were a little down last year, but I, like others are betting he rebounds.

  • MikeW

    I’m really hoping to see something big from Brett Jackson in spring training that would force the club’s hand and allow for a Starlin Castro-type promotion in early May or so.

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      The rules changed under the new CBA, and the new rules are why we expect him to be held off until June.

      Castro was delayed until May in no small part because in doing so the Cub hoped they could prevent him from attaining Super 2 status. Typically, players become arbitration eligible after 3 years. However, if a player after his second year is in the top 17% (old rules) of players in his arbitration class according to time in the majors, he is granted arbitration a year early.

      Under the new CBA, that 17% is now 22% (if my memory is working). To avoid getting caught in the 17%, teams would try to wait until mid-May to call up their potential stars. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but mid-May was considered to the be Super-2 status cut off.

      At 22%, no one is sure where that cutoff line will be, but current thinking is that it will be in early June. That’s the reason the Cubs are likely to keep Jackson in the minors until mid June. They won’t want him to hit Super 2 status if they can avoid it.

      Since Anthony Rizzo has already been in the majors, his clock is already ticking and the Super 2 thinking doesn’t apply. He could come up any time.

      • BetterNews

        Luke–Excellent comment,TY.

  • T Larson

    DeJesus is not a 4th or 5th outfielder. He would be a starter on most clubs.

  • Sully777

    Back on the Garza speculation, one of the articles today stated that the Tigers had previously rejected the Cubs demands of Turner and another lefty SP-Castellanos wasn’t part of the deal according this report. If the Tigers and Cubs do agree on a deal, a guy to keep an eye on is this kid Smyly; who only issued 36 BB and allowed TWO HR’s in 126 innings last year to go with 130 K’s. Crosby and Oliver’s BB totals are twice that plus. Sounds like a nice piece to have to go along with Turner(Smyly currently ranks 6th on Tigers prospects list).

    • Ryan

      I wonder if that was the pitcher that caused the deal to be rejected

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