Bruce Levine held a chat yesterday, and, given the uptick in rumors over the last week, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that it netted enough rumory goodness to justify a Lukewarm Stove (in late March!). Surprised or not, I’m certainly pleased.

  • A number of teams have asked about Randy Wells, which is pretty understandable – when teams see a guy, fully capable of being a back-end starter on most MLB teams, who is about to be put in the bullpen, they’re going to come calling. It doesn’t mean they’ll offer a whole lot, mind you, but they’re going to ask – and, given that Wells makes just $2.71 million this year, he does have some trade value. Bruce thinks Wells has gotten the shaft this Spring by being on the outside looking in for a rotation spot, and suggests that a trade is more likely than shuffling Wells to the pen or to AAA.
  • Bruce doesn’t see a lot of depth in the Cubs’ outfield, so trading Marlon Byrd right now might not be a great idea if the Cubs don’t want Brett Jackson in the bigs right away. While I’m not suggesting Tony Campana or Dave Sappelt or Joe Mather are as good, overall, as Marlon Byrd, I have to ask: is the downgrade from Byrd to one of those three (or a platoon) really so severe that it’s worth holding onto Byrd to start the year if the Cubs get a good offer for him? I say no way. Trade Byrd for the best possible deal whenever it comes up, and sort out the details from there.
  • Bruce doesn’t think Bryan LaHair has the range for the outfield, and doesn’t think the Cubs will seriously consider moving LaHair there if/when Anthony Rizzo is ready for the bigs. (Which, if true, makes you wonder: what do the Cubs do if July rolls around and both LaHair and Rizzo are killing it? What if no team wants to trade for LaHair? Do the Cubs just keep Rizzo in AAA? Do they bench LaHair?)
  • Conversely, if LaHair struggles, Bruce could see the Cubs filling in with Jeff Baker and Joe Mather, rather than immediately calling up Anthony Rizzo.
  • Many teams remain interested in Matt Garza, but they would have to “gut their farm system” to acquire him. Bruce doesn’t have a good sense of whether the Cubs are serious about negotiating a long-term extension with Garza, because they’ve been very secretive about that issue. That said, Bruce still believes the Cubs will trade Garza by July 31 if they haven’t signed him to an extension by then.
  • Bruce doesn’t see the Cubs as willing to trade Geovany Soto until Steve Clevenger and/or Welington Castillo get a little more seasoning. Bruce also tabs Soto as a guy who’ll have a big season.
  • Alfonso Soriano’s big Spring isn’t enough to change teams’ minds about taking him and his $54 million over three years. Bruce thinks Soriano sticks with the Cubs all season.
  • Jorge Soler! Ever heard of him? On the reason things are taking so long with the Soler: “My opinion, MLB is concerned about media reports saying he already had offers from other teams. Soler is not able to sign with a team until he is cleared by MLB. It’s been a sensitive issue.” Bruce would have an interesting point if we weren’t still waiting on Soler’s residency in the DR. In other words, if Soler isn’t  yet a resident of the DR, there’s nothing MLB could be doing to slow the process down – Soler can’t apply for free agency until he’s a resident of the DR. If, on the other hand, Soler has achieved residency, it’s possible that MLB – concerned about the appearance of impropriety about its teams negotiating with a Cuban citizen – is slowing things down so that it can put some distance between a signing and those early reports about teams like the Cubs coming to an under-the-table agreement with Soler.


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