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Hey, there are rumors …

  • The Tampa Bay Rays may be looking to pick up a full-time catcher, and Marc Topkin mentions Geovany Soto as a possibility. A frequent subject of rumors early in the offseason, Soto is signed to a very reasonable $4.3 million deal in 2012, and has another arbitration year left after that. With Welington Castillo nearing MLB-readiness, and the Cubs looking to (they hate saying the word “rebuild,” so I’ll say) get younger, you can understand why they’d entertain offers for Soto. Topkin mentions pitchers Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann as possible bait, but neither really gets your blood pressure up. Davis is a league-average pitcher, but is just 26. Niemann, 28, is maybe slightly better, but, again, you’re talking about a league-average type pitcher. If the Cubs were going to move Soto – and there’s no guarantee they would – they’re going to want young players or prospects.
  • The Cubs continue to discuss Matt Garza with a handful of teams – the Blue Jays have notably re-emerged as an interested party – but, as I’ve said before, nothing is certain or close, particularly in advance of a conclusion to Garza’s arbitration case, not to mention the outstanding Theo compensation issue.
  • There is nothing to report on Yoenis Cespedes (or Jorge Soler, for that matter). He’s free to negotiate with teams (and he is), but there’s apparently a document or two that needs finalized before he can actually sign. No worries, this isn’t quite like the drawn out residency problem – it isn’t expected to hold anything up. I still figure Cespedes is going to want to sign in advance of Spring report dates so that he can camp with the team and at least theoretically try to make a team out of Spring Training.
  • We’re still awaiting the decision of 18-year-old lefty pitcher Gerardo Concepcion, whose agent said he might sign this weekend, but was likely to sign this week. The Cubs are one of many teams in on Concepcion, who has several offers on the table. For what it’s worth, I’m told the Cubs would love to sign all three of Cespedes, Soler, and Concepcion, but are more heavily focused on the former two than on Concepcion. That makes sense, given the pedigree of the three players – Concepcion will not command nearly the same dollars that Cespedes and Soler will. The Cubs probably don’t have to focus quite as intensely on Concepcion.
  • The St. Louis Cardinals want to add Roy Oswalt, who’s looking for about $10 million on a one-year deal. Apparently the Cardinals are about $2 or $3 million short of reaching that level, and so they’re looking to dump Kyle McClellan in order to clear some cash. McClellan, who is under contract through 2013 and will make just $2.5 million in 2012, was an excellent reliever in 2009 and 2010 before being asked to try his hand at starting in 2011 (at which he was not atrocious). Given the Cards’ already full rotation, I can’t help but wonder: is Oswalt – aging, injury-prone, one year – really worth more to the Cards than McClellan? Then again, maybe the Cards can get a nice return for McClellan. Who knows. Whatever. It’s not like I care.
  • Speaking of Oswalt, the only other place he’d care to go – he’s already turned down the Tigers (if they’ve got $10 million to spend on Roy Oswalt …) – is Texas. They took a meeting with him, and are apparently interested, despite an overflowing rotation following the Yu Darvish signing. If they sign Oswalt, Matt Harrison could move to the bullpen, or the Rangers could look to trade him. If the Rangers don’t get Oswalt, I suppose it’s possible they could, once again, consider Matt Garza, but I doubt it. Oswalt is restricting his search to a couple places, and may be willing to give the Rangers a discount should he choose to pitch there. So, in other words, Oswalt to the Rangers could be more about him being too cheap to pass up than about the Rangers needing another starter.
  • The other big name starting pitcher still available is Edwin Jackson, who says he has three or four multiyear offers (well, which is it? don’t you know?). Once he and Oswalt settle on a team, depending on where they land, interest in Garza could increase.
  • King Jeff

    Edwin Jackson isn’t even going to get close to what he was wanting, years or dollars. Between Jackson and Ryan Madsen, I wonder which is more upset with Boras right now.

  • rbreeze

    Lets get Soler and Cespedes signed and get them to camp on time!

    As for trading Soto, do it if you can get fair value for him.  He is not the greatest but with the state of catching around baseball he has to be far from the bottom.  Anyone out there with any ratings on current catchers?  Soto has to be in the middle somewhere.  Davis has a higher rate of walks than Niemann.  Do we need anymore guys with ERA’s over 4???  Unless we need more bodies because some other trades will open up some spots in the rotation?  What’s up Theo?  Can you tell us something soon???

  • njriv

    Cubs sign 38 year old lefty Trever Miller to a minor-league deal.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Bleacher Nation writes article about Cubs signing Trever Miller a couple hours ago.

      (Sorry, just giving you a hard time…)

      • njriv

        Haha yeah I just saw it, I was on my tablet during class and I guess I skipped over it.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          No worries – I appreciate the effort to keep folks updated. Always good.

        • http://aeonimaging.com Cubbie Blues

          Now there is a new slogan for you Brett:

          Bleacher Nation: Lowering GPA’s since 2008

          • Ian Afterbirth

            I want THAT shirt!

  • MightyBear

    When is the Cubs organization meeting? That has to be coming up.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Good memory – I believe they are next week (or, if not, the week after that).

  • njriv

    Maybe trading Soto is a chance to get Archer back?

  • SirCub

    I’m all for trading Soto, but I think the last thing the Cubs need right now is a not-so-young, not-so-great SP.

  • Matt

    If all the Rays are offering are either Davis or Niemann, I say no thanks. The Cubs don’t need more average big league talent on the roster. They have enough of that, especially in the starting rotation. Since Castillo/Clevenger/Jaramillo are all (or at least one or two of them) big league ready (serviceable), a trade involving Soto ought to involve getting a prospect or two in an area of need for the Cubs.

  • Spencer

    On Friday, the Rangers signed left fielder Kyle Hudson to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp. I wonder how this affects the market for Matt Garza.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I can’t tell if you’re making fun of me, or just having fun…

      • spencer

        Not making fun of you at all. Just frustrated with this off season in general with all the fielder pujols rumors and so much uncertainty with everything else. Maybe I’m just paying closer attention this year but there seems to be much more ambiguity than usual this year.

      • spencer

        You’re just doing your job.

  • JR1908

    Soto as compensation for Theo? Free’s up money to go towards the Cubans for the Cubs, and improves the Sox a lot. I could handle that… I am getting more and more worried what the compesation will be. Who knows what the hell old man Bud is thinking.

  • JR1908

    Brett, have you heard anything on Garza’s arbitration case? Has Theo had a reaction at all?

  • mpope30

    I’m getting anxious. Theo compensation, Hoyer compensation, Cespedes signing, Soler rumors, Garza still on the roster, and now Soto talk all at the same time. I really just wish it would all be over with and I could stop obsessing about it…….

    • JR1908

      I know, right Pope… It’s crazy this offseason with the Cubs. Their best player (Castro) has all kinds of uncertainty with his craziness at the night club… And pretty much the rest of the best Cubs players are all surrounded by soooo much uncertainty. At this point who knows who we will be rooting for this summer. I sure hope it’s not like this every offseason during Theo’s time with the club. But someone has to clean up the mess Hendry left.

  • rbreeze

    I’ll be very surprised and disappointed if we get to opening day with this same squad.  Things have been too quiet since the convention.

    • ferrets_bueller

      You’re right.  I’ll be quite disappointed if we dont manage to sell off at least one more player, and turn our meaningless current value into meaningful future value.

  • adam

    i want a big name, now, is that to much to ask

    • David

      Yea, probably.

    • ferrets_bueller

      Its not too much, its just not smart.  Unless that big name is Soler or Cespedes, it would be pointless and set us back farther than we were to begin with this offseason.

  • adam

    im with you rbreeze

  • ferrets_bueller

    You’re echoing my thoughts on Oswalt: IMO, both teams are better off without him.  The benefit doesn’t match the money, or the loss other places.  He’s only marginally better than the guys he would be replacing.

    • JR 1908

      Yeah I don’t get Oswalt being considered a good pitcher anymore. And what the big deal is with him… He hasn’t been that good for years now. And he is hurt constantly.

  • mpope30

    My Cubs wish list (in order of desire):
    1. Sign Soler
    2. Trade Soriano for ANYTHING
    3. Sign Cespedes
    4. Resolve compensation issues without giving up much
    5. Trade either Byrd, Dempster, Soto, or Marmol for a prospect or two

    I really don’t want to see Garza traded unless it is an amazing deal.
    Any thoughts??

    • ferrets_bueller

      I like it.  I was going to say swap 1 and 2, but on second thought…Soler should definitely be number one.

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      I’m with you on Soler ahead of Cespedes, and the order of everything. But there are probably quite a few variations of that list.

    • Brian

      Can we still get Prince Fielder?

      • Kansas Cubs Fan

        Yes, He and Pujols will platoon at first.

  • Brian

    I know Garza has been bantered about for quite sometime now. Can anyone tell me what the rotation is suppose to look like in 2013 with him gone? Don’t see to many #1’s or 2’s in the mix right now, so wouldn’t the Cubs have to come up with some through FA in a year or so, along with a 3?

    • JR 1908

      At this point who knows what the rotation will look like next year… There are some guys that could be out there like Hamels, and Cain if the don’t get extended. But really how can anyone say they know what the rotation or the roster all together would look like in 2013. Too many unknowns at this point. Lets just hope Theo is smarter than the other Front offices.

    • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

      2013 rotation, minus Garza:

      1 – Free agent
      2 – Trey McNutt
      3 – Wood
      4 and 5 – Volstead, Maholm, Whitenack, Rusin, Searle, Beeler, Rhee, Jokisch, Samardzija

      Also, it is fair to assume that if the Cubs deal Garza that they will get back at least one high level, nearly ready pitching prospect in the deal. Feel free to place that guy at number two or three on the list.

      Listing McNutt as a #2 is probably aggressive (we’ll find out this season), but several of the arms in the 4 and 5 list profile as 3s. Rhee, Beeler, Samardzija, and Whitenack in particular. They may not all be ready on opening day, but they could be.

      If the Cubs do move Garza and can’t sign a top free agent or two after 2012 (which I consider unlikely), they’ll have a rotation with a couple of 2s and several 3s. That’s still not a bad place to be.

      • Kyle

        Yeah, McNutt as the second-best 2013 pitcher in the system is *extremely* aggressive. But as you said: This season will tell the tale. I keep reading scouting reports that just adore him, but he’s going to have to put it together in 2012.

        I’m assuming he’s going to be at Iowa. I’m not as much worried about his ERA there (it is the PCL after all) as I am the strikeouts. He needs to prove he can actually miss bats with all that pretty stuff.

        I can’t remember the last time Iowa had such an intriguing group of prospects to start the year. Those first few months, it’s really going to be something. I’m thinking of going ahead and getting the MiLB.com tv package and seeing what they have online. Anyone have any experience with that?

        • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

          Iowa does look nice. I think they’ll have still more talent in the second half when Lake and Ha should arrive. But whenever I project the Peoria roster I almost start drooling. The Chiefs are going to be loaded this year.

          I’ve not had much experience with the milb package yet, but I’m considering it for this season. I’m just not convinced I’ll get enough games in the Cubs farm system for it to be worth it.

          Keep in mind that the radio feeds for a lot of the Cub minor leagues games are free online. I listened online to several Smokie and Daytona Cub games last season, particularly in the playoffs. They aren’t pleasant to listen to as Pat and ________ are, but they aren’t bad.

          • Cedlandrum

            Nods head on all of the above.

    • Mick

      Pretty studly, huh?

      SP Samardzjia
      SP Travis Wood
      SP Turner
      SP Smyly
      SP Volstad/McNutt/Jay Jackson

      • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

        If the Tigers were willing to offer Turner and Smyly, I think the deal would be done already. Smyly and Crosby or Smyly and Oliver might be more realistic. If Turner is in the deal, that might be about all the Cubs get.

        But I really hope I am wrong.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          You might be right about the value of Turner relative to Garza, but I’m pretty confident the Cubs would not do a Turner-for-Garza straight up swap.

          • http://CubbiesCrib.com Luke

            It don’t think it will be Garza for Turner straight up either, but if Turner is in the deal and only Garza is headed the other way I don’t think the Tigers will give up any other top tier, major league ready prospects. The Cubs should get another player or two from further down the Tigers’ prospect rankings, but I’d be surprised if they received Turner as well as another Top 15 guy. Assuming, that is, only Garza goes back.

            But then, I’m not sure only Garza would be heading the other way. I can the addition of a couple of other players making a lot of sense for both teams. For instance, maybe Garza, Scoot Moore and Junior Lake for Turner, Smyly, and someone else (either Castellanos or a power hitting corner outfield prospect like Garcia).

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I definitely think the Cubs would be open to sending another player/players from the 40-man in a deal with the Tigers (I say I “think,” but I know that the idea has been discussed, at least internally).

          • Kyle

            I would, and I wouldn’t have to think that hard about it.

            Six years of team control starting pitchers make me droooool.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I’m neither approving or disapproving of a straight-up swap, but I think the reason the Cubs wouldn’t do it is not because they necessarily believe Garza is more valuable to the Cubs than Turn would be – they just believe that Garza is more valuable to other teams than a return of Turner only.

              • DocWimsey

                On the flip-side, I would be surprised if the TIgers were willing to trade Turner. It’s a bit of a long-shot, but he *could* be an average MLB pitcher this year. That sounds like a backhanded compliment, but a team with an average MLB pitcher at the end of their rotation is a team in good shape.

                The Detroit News ran an article today stating that the Tigers are still planning on Nick Castellanos being their 2014 3Bman. By that time, VMart’s contract will be expired and either Fielder or Miggy will be DHing, so the time table makes sense. Of course, even if the Tigers were willing to part with him, then they still would be making the “he’ll wear our cap on his HOF plaque!” noises.

              • Cubbiecop

                I would much rather Keep Garz and pay for him. I have read numerous scouting reports on Turner adn I’m not convinced that he could be anywhere near as good as Garza. And with the free agent market being relatively thin for top of the rotation starters, I’m beginning to think it would be best to hold on to him. If the Phillies don’t have their heads up their butts they will lock up Hammels before he is elidigible to speak to other teams. We will see…

                • Cubbiecop

                  What’s that old saying? better to have one bird in the hand than two in the bush… Insert Marlon Byrd joke here or some vague “bush” reference… lol

                • DocWimsey

                  All of the scouting reports have Turner as being a good groundball pitcher. For all the talk about PED testing, the biggest factor in reduce power over the last few years has been the increased number of groundballs. Instead of going for strikeout pitchers (who tend to also give up walks and flyballs), teams have realized that groundballs put into play are very rarely extra base hits.

                  Now, to an extent, Turner is wasted on the Tigers. Comerica is pretty pitcher friendly, and the Tigers infield will be one of the most statuesque in the game. Still, he’ll be giving up singles, not doubles and HR: and it takes a lot of singles to create many runs. (A lot of those singles will become the front end of double plays, too.)

        • Mick

          You’re right, if a Turner and Smyly deal was on the table I’m pretty sure the Cubs would’ve pulled the trigger. I’m thinking we hang on to Garza until the trade deadline and take away all of Detroit’s leverage. By then other contenders such as Colorado, SD, LAD, NYY (possible injuries, like Pineda’s impending TJS), Boston, Minnesota (homer!), KC, etc.will have emerged and entered the Garza marketplace. I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable to think the Cubs could pull Turner and Smyly though. We gave up 3 of our top ten prospects in Archer, Lee, and Guyer to get Garza.

      • Bric

        Any rotation with Samardjia as #1 is God awful. Beyond that there is no guarantee that any of these prospects will ever amount to anything and pretty good odds that McNutt and Jackson will never pitch a meaningful game for the Cubs. Other than Turner and Wood, who are about as big of question marks as Cashner was, this rotation would only be considered studly by KC and Pittsburgh fans. IMHO.

        • Mick

          Yea, I was trying to be sarcastic without actually typing *sarcastic*, I thought people might pick up on that. I was going to put Turner at #1 but since Samardzija caught touchdown passes at Notre Dame I gave him the edge.

  • http://SP,RP,INF,OF,C TongueInCheek

    SP, RP, INF, OF, C, FA, DRAFT, TRADES!
    I hope the brain trust is smarter than all of us on these things. Relax, go with the flow, win or lose in 12,13,14, even a hundred more. Enjoy and have fun!

  • CubSouth

    I really believe the Cubs FO will hold on to Garza til the trade deadline. They will have resolved his arbitration and the compensations will be complete. Plus, there will be a bigger variety of suitors, which most will gladly give up that extra desired player or two.
    One thing I keep hearing is that Theo wants to keep getting younger. For obvious reasons that’s great, but we do need veterans to help guide the younger players as well. A few guys who know how to win in the bigs, have playoff experience and can teach the younger players how to bounce back from losses.
    Also wanted to add about the SP FA’s in 2012 will be interesting. I believe if they trade Garza then they will have their eyes set on a couple big names this coming off season. If you trade Garza and miss the boat on a few, the pitchforks and torches should be coming out of the sheds.

    • DocWimsey

      That all sounds good, but there is not a good correlation between veteran presence and post-season success. The only good predictor is September performance: and both older and younger players can be at disadvantages there.

      Similarly, “tough loses” always have one of two cures: a good performance from your starting pitcher, or a lousy performance from the other team’s pitcher(s). Matt Garza showed that in 2008 pretty well, wouldn’t you say?

  • Tom

    Hey Brett it may be a little late to ask you a question but why aren’t the cubs talking to the Rockies about a Soriano deal? all the Rockies have are old power hitters and soriano is actually an above average power hitter for his age and would do amazing in the thin air. And would be an upgrade from Jason giambi at DH or he could play outfield. Your thoughts?

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      The Rockies are in the National League, so I’m pretty sure they’re not worried about a DH.

    • MichiganGoat

      Coors Field has had humidifiers or some kind of climate control that has balanced the thin air aspect of the ballpark. It’s no longer a homer run haven or ERA killer that it was when it first opened.

      • ferrets_bueller

        This.  Its about time that that myth finally died, I can’t believe people still talk about the ‘Coors field effect.”

      • Kyle

        It’s not quite as bad as it used to be, but it’s still by far the most offense-friendly park in the National League. Before the humidifier, it boosted offense by about 25%. Now it’s closer to 15%.

        • MichiganGoat

          Thanks Kyle it will be interesting to see if it continues to decline, maybe they are still working on perfecting the system.

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