Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

Is Yoenis Cespedes becoming the next Prince Fielder? In terms of repeated discussion here at BN, that is. Maybe so. But, no matter, because there’s still more to say…

  • The timeline for Cespedes being unblocked and able to enter the United States and sign a contract is still somewhere around the next couple weeks. It could happen sooner, but Cespedes’ agent believes the Cuban outfielder will be able to join a team for Spring Training by the third week of February at the latest.
  • Cespedes’ agent, Adam Katz, also believes that his client is permitted to agree to terms with a team on a deal, he simply can’t yet execute the contract. I suspect that, as soon as he’s unblocked, Cespedes will sign a contract almost immediately. Subject to …

  • Bruce Levine believes that Cespedes is going to want to meet face-to-face with teams before making a decision, so it could take a few days post-blocking for him to sign. Fortunately, I’m guessing Cespedes has already met with Tom Ricketts on the owners’ visit to the Dominican Republic last week (though Cespedes hasn’t yet seen the facilities at Wrigley Field, which he could do once he comes to the States, and which might not help the Cubs’ cause). Levine also says he hears that the bidding could touch 6 years and $60 million, and that the Cubs and Marlins seem to remain the most interested teams. You’ll recall that, as of a month ago, Cespedes, himself, said the Cubs were his most aggressive suitor.
  • Wow: the Reds are reportedly trying to sign Roy Oswalt. Apparently, they’re really, really, really going for it in 2012 (not just really, really going for it, as previously believed). To make it happen on a one-year, $8 to $10 million deal, the Reds would have to move one of their starting pitchers, and the only one who is movable, and makes sense financially, is righty Homer Bailey.
  • The 25-year-old former top prospect is set to make $2.425 million in 2012, his first year of arbitration. Bailey’s numbers haven’t been great, or even good (he’s never topped a 93 ERA+), but he’s been up and down from the minors so much that it’s hard to know what he really has. His strikeout rate has generally been climbing, and his walk rate generally dropping, so he’d be the kind of player the Cubs would be interested in. Given the very crowded rotation, and the difficulties of dealing in-division (the surprising Sean Marshall trade notwithstanding), I’m not sure how involved the Cubs would really be. Given that the Reds have little leverage, and Bailey is soon going to make much more than he’s been worth, I don’t see his value as all that different than, for example, Chris Volstad’s.

  • The Yankees are having “serious discussions” with free agent outfielder Raul Ibanez to contribute in their DH hole. Why am I telling you this? Is it because there’s some contorted and ridiculous Alfonso Soriano connection? No. It’s because if Ibanez signs a Major League contract – as opposed to having to settle for a minor league deal – the Phillies get the 54th overall pick in the 2012 draft, bumping the Cubs’ compensatory pick for Carlos Pena down from 54 to 56 (the 55th pick is locked into place). Two spots isn’t a huge deal, but, hey, it matters.
  • The Yankees are also interested in former Bombers Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, so at least there’s a chance it won’t be Ibanez (or there’s a chance that Ibanez will have to accept a minor league deal to “beat” the other options). Ibanez is the oldest of the three, turning 40 in June.
  • The Pirates reportedly offered Edwin Jackson a three-year deal in the $30 million range, but he instead opted for the Nationals’ one-year, $11 million offer. He did that, presumably, both because he hopes to cash in after 2012, but also because the Pirates are probably going to suck. It makes you wonder if there were any other short-term offers out there from the Cubs that were rejected because, like the Pirates (indeed, probably more so than the Pirates), the Cubs are expected to suck in 2012.

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