The latest from the rumor mill…
- The earlier-referenced Jed Hoyer radio appearance also featured an extended discussion on Alfonso Soriano. Once again, Hoyer’s position was kind of the opposite of the default position. “I think that’s unlikely [that he'll start the season with another team],” Hoyer said on “The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show” on ESPN 1000. “Our hope certainly – I know Sori’s been working really hard this offseason – our hope is obviously you want him to get on base a little more. The power was there last year, the RBIs were there. Obviously it really comes down to defense and we’re hoping with some better conditioning and some better health, that he can be a little better out there. We don’t want to do anything to hurt our pitchers, but we do believe there’s something left in Sori.”
- Why do I say that’s the opposite of the default position? Because Hoyer is responding from a perspective that assumes Soriano *won’t* be the Cubs’ left fielder on Opening Day, and is saying, “yeah, he probably will be.” I’m used to hearing GMs say things like “Soriano is our left fielder. He’s going to be great.” The way Hoyer responded, he’s clearly acknowledging our shared reality – that everyone can see Soriano struggles in left field, and his production at the plate is rapidly reaching a point where a starting job can no longer be justified, whatever his contract. It’s nice to “hope,” but it’s better to plan. I suspect Hoyer, together with Theo Epstein and Dale Sveum, has a plan for Soriano if the Cubs can’t move him (and you can be assured that the Cubs wouldn’t hate seeing a few AL DHs go down with injuries in Spring Training). Whether that’s releasing Soriano, or involving him in a platoon, I can’t say for sure. But I have a very hard time seeing the Cubs going with Soriano as their every day left fielder for all of 2012.
- Hoyer also spoke about the future of Matt Garza: It was a long [arbitration] process, but we talked to Matt a number of times since and we’re happy we didn’t have to go into a hearing room with him,” Hoyer said. “He’s a great pitcher and a guy we’re going to talk to him about being part of our future, for sure. We need more guys like Matt, not less, and if we can work something out we’ll certainly have those discussions.” More of the same. The Cubs’ position on Garza is pretty clear a this point: if a trade offer comes along that substantially improves the Cubs’ chances in 2013 and beyond, they’ll take it. If not, they’ll continue to discuss the possibility of an extension with Garza – but the former is preferred over the latter. (For what it’s worth, I’ve been told that one issue in extension talks is Garza’s desire for a no-trade clause, something the new crew doesn’t like to offer.)
- George Ofman hears that at least one team has offered Yoenis Cespedes more money than the Marlins have offered/are going to offer. He guesses it could be the Cubs or White Sox (which seems fair, given their levels of involvement). So if Cespedes really wants to be a Marlin, as he said, he may have to leave some money on the table to do it. (Free advice, Yoenis, regardless of the team: you’re giving up all of your prime years in this deal, and it may be the only one you get. Go for the money if one team is offering far more than the others.)
- That report is interesting when viewed in light of how things played out this week: Cespedes comes to the States, able to negotiating a contract but not sign one. Marlins’ brass openly says they want (but don’t need) Cespedes, and President David Samson says the visit might end with an offer. Cespedes visits with the Marlins and sees their stadium. No one knows if he met with other teams while in Miami. Then, he leaves Miami, and Samson is unwilling to comment on the meeting, saying only “we’re going to let the process play out.” That seems like a pretty sullen no comment from a guy who was so gregarious just a day earlier. Gamesmanship? Maybe. Irked that he couldn’t close the deal? Maybe. Disappointed to learn that another team had offered far more than the Marlins could match? Maybe.
- BN’er Cliffy passes along some thoughts from Phil Rogers, who appeared on CTL last night. There, Rogers noted his belief that the Cubs and Sox are still in on Cespedes, and that the Marlins might not have enough money left to sign Cespedes to the kind of contract he’s going to command.
- The Yankees and Pirates have been discussing a possible AJ Burnett trade, but the Pirates have been unwilling to pick up much of the disappointing righty’s salary. You can see some tangential implications here (if the Yanks move Burnett, they’ll have more money to devote to a DH; the Pirates might be ever-so-slightly improved; etc.), but none are particularly compelling.