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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.