The rumor mill is taking on a decidedly Cuban flavor…

  • No one knows precisely when Yoenis Cespedes will achieve residency in the Dominican Republic (we’ve heard, intermittently, a month ago, this week, next two days, next two weeks, and so on). He and his agent remain confident that it will happen in plenty of time for Spring Training (report dates are about a month away), though. The longer it drags on,  it is ever-so-incrementally better for the Cubs, and any other team in on the bidding that doesn’t need Cespedes to fill a position this season.
  • Kevin Goldstein says the Cubs’ interest in Cespedes is “very, very legitimate,” and he is confident that the Cubs will “without question be in on the bidding.” We’ve known that for some time now, and Scouting Chief Jason McLeod all but confirmed it this weekend. It seems like it will be coming down to a bidding war between the Cubs and the Marlins – but these things change rapidly, as you know.
  • As for the other two Cubans the Cubs are considering – 19-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler and 18-year-old pitcher Gerardo Concepcion – the latter is already a free agent, and the former’s is as forthcoming as Cespedes’. I would expect each to shop around for a while – neither is a threat to make the bigs this year, so they can afford to wait. And, since the international signing cap doesn’t kick in until July, the two can wait out the highest bidder for several months before risking some cash. For what it’s worth, Goldstein ranks the three players’ overall attractiveness thusly: (1) Cespedes, (2) Soler, [big gap] (3) Concepcion.
  • Phil Rogers is still suggesting Marlon Byrd as a fit for the Tigers or the Red Sox, given their injuries to Victor Martinez and Carl Crawford, respectively. Shrug. I’m told the Tigers don’t want Byrd, and the Red Sox aren’t going to have room in the budget for Byrd unless the Cubs eat some serious salary (Byrd is owed $6.5 million in 2012).
  • Speaking of which, the Red Sox just dumped Marco Scutaro on the Rockies for virtually no return – it was a pure salary dump, and one involving a still-quite useful player (which suggests some urgency). The Red Sox were pushing the luxury tax limit, something they don’t want to exceed anymore, and the $6 million they saved will almost certainly go to picking up a pitcher.
  • More speaking of which: while the Red Sox publicly say they’re fine with a questionable Nick Punto/Mike Aviles platoon at shortstop (Jose Iglesias isn’t ready for the Show, and might never be), I think it’s fair to wonder whether they might want someone like Darwin Barney (compensation for Epstein? Seems a big much, but the fit is inarguable). He’s cheap, a good defender at shortstop, and might outproduce those two. I’m just spitballin’ here.
  • If you’re looking ahead to future offseasons’ of pitching, don’t get your hopes up for Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain reaching the market. The Giants are working hard to lock them up, and it sounds like they’re willing to pay big for Lincecum, and Cain is willing to give a home-town discount.
  • Nick Cafardo joins Phil Rogers in noting Matt Garza’s continued availability on the trade market, and prods teams: “Garza is under control this year and next, though he’s asking for $12.5 million in arbitration while the Cubs are at $7.9 million. Still, who wouldn’t pay $10 million-$12 million for a pitcher of that caliber?” I get the sense, though, that nothing will happen on the Garza front until (1) the Boston compensation issue is settled, and (2) Garza’s salary for 2012 is settled.


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