Back from my colonoscopy this morning (all went well, thanks for the kind words – hopefully what follows is coherent), and plunging right into the rumor mill…

  • As we discussed previously, yesterday Yoenis Cespedes – in the States on a travel visa only (no work visa yet) – met with Marlins’ brass, and toured the facilites in Miami. Marlins’ president David Samson, who has been outspoken in his team’s pursuit of Cespedes, was uncharacteristically vague in his comments after the visit. “It was good to see him again,” Samson said on his weekly segment of the Dan LeBatard Show. “We hadn’t seen him since he was in the Dominican. He’s still not a free agent officially. But he was able to be in town for some appointments, I guess. He wanted to come and see the ballpark, and we’re always happy to show people the ballpark.” Is he being coy? Was he bummed out that he couldn’t snatch up Cespedes immediately on the visit? It just strikes me as odd to go from talking about your aggressive pursuit and a possible offer, to saying things like Cespedes “was able to be in town for some appointments, I guess.”
  • If Cespedes had left the visit with an offer in hand – even though he can’t yet execute a contract – I would be surprised if we didn’t hear about, given how loudly the Marlins were making offers back in December. That said, I wouldn’t read too much into any of this. The Marlins are probably the favorite to sign Cespedes, but a lot can happen before the opening of Spring Training.
  • A Chicago source told me yesterday that he, too, has heard Cespedes is very likely to wind up signing with the Marlins, for what it’s worth.
  • Red Sox sources still expect the Theo Epstein compensation issue to be resolved before the start of Spring Training. After hearing from multiple sources earlier in the week that Josh Vitters’ was the name being tossed around, I’m now told the compensation will probably be of a “lesser value” than Vitters. That sounds more reasonable.
  • Bruce Levine chatted this week, as he does, and the highlights included: (1) Bruce believes Adrian Cardenas could push Darwin Barney for starts if Cardenas’ glove looks good at second base (Levine sees Barney as more of a back-up player); (2) the Cubs will need career years out of a number of players to compete in 2012 (which he said in response to a question about the possibility of trading Matt Garza and Geovany Soto – in other words, the Cubs are going to suck either way); (3) if everyone is healthy and pitching well in Spring Training, Bruce thinks Randy Wells could be traded; (4) Bruce hasn’t heard anything on Jorge Soler; (5) Bruce still thinks compensation to Boston will not be “a top prospect,” and will include some cash; and (6) someone will pick up Blake DeWitt, whom Bruce calls a hard worker and an outstanding individual (but one who was never very impressive on the field).
  • The Rangers bought out shortstop Elvis Andrus’ three arbitration years yesterday for $14.4 million. Andrus has been a career 80 OPS+ hitting, but is coming off his best campaign, in which he hit .279/.347/.361 at age 22. His defense is roundly considered above average at shortstop. Why am I telling you all of this? Starlin Castro’s arbitration years are coming up (he’s likely to be eligible for arbitration next year as a Super Two), and it’s probably time to start thinking about this kind of deal for Castro, if not longer. He gets the security of some guaranteed, life-changing money, and the Cubs get a payroll break in exchange for taking on the risk of injury or ineffectiveness.
  • Rich Harden will miss the 2012 season after another arm injury. He recently underwent shoulder surgery with Dr. James Andrews, who is putting his great grandkids through college thanks to Harden’s largesse.
  • The Red Sox haven’t made much progress on signing Roy Oswalt, who is also being pursued – in theory – by the Cardinals and Reds. Oswalt’s free agency is still of modest relevance to the Cubs, who could see the market for Matt Garza chance ever-so-slightly depending on where Oswalt signs. (It also matters if he signs with the Reds or Cards, for obvious reasons).


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