Bruce Levine did his chattin’ thing this week, and the chat was actually fairly rumor-heavy for a mid-April discussion. I suppose that’s probably the way things are going to be the for the Cubs this year. Lots of rumors, lots of rumors.
- The Cubs haven’t tipped their hand on where discussions with Matt Garza on an extension stand. Bruce adds that he thinks Garza’s side is going to want “at least five years and between 65-75 million dollars.” Given the extensions we’ve seen, particularly that of Matt Cain, in recent days, I’m thinking five years and $65 to 75 million would be an easy decision for the Cubs. For that reason, I suspect Garza’s wanting a fair bit more than that, and he’s also wanting a no-trade clause. If it weren’t so, this thing would be buttoned up already.
- If Garza isn’t extended, Levine remains of the mind that the Cubs will trade him by mid-season. Levine adds that Ryan Dempster will have a fair bit of trade value at mid-season, too, assuming he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause to go to a contender (I believe he will be willing, both out of gratitude to the Cubs’ organization, for an opportunity to play for a ring, and with an understanding that he’s probably not coming back to the Cubs next year). Levine thinks the Cubs should be able to net four to six top prospects for the two pitchers, which could be true, depending on your definition of the word “top.”
- Bruce senses no change in the Cubs’ plans to wait on Brett Jackson and Anthony Rizzo until mid-season. (Good.)
- When Rizzo comes up, Bruce doesn’t believe Bryan LaHair will move to the outfield. Instead, he thinks the Cubs will look to trade LaHair if he’s still hitting well at that time. “Teams are always looking for left-handed hitters with homerun power.” LaHair’s value will make for an interesting mid-season discussion if he keeps hitting. On the one hand, he’s mega-cheaply under team control for a long time – he won’t even be arbitration eligible until 2015. On the other hand, he can’t be optioned to the minors like a typical cheap, under control player, if he struggles (signed as a Minor League free agent, he can elect free agency if his team tries to send him to the minors). Further, if the Cubs are dealing him, that means he really can only play first base (or DH). Depends on how he’s hitting, but, yeah, that’s going to be a really interesting conversation.
- Bruce can’t get an answer on Jorge Soler’s situation. The young Cuban outfielder sought to establish residency in the Dominican Republic months ago, but so far, we’ve heard nothing. Bruce thinks the Fausto Carmona kerfuffle could have spooked MLB into really taking its time approving international players. I’m not really sure I see an explicit connection, but who knows what goes on behind closed doors. The Cubs can still bid whatever they want for Soler so long as he reaches free agency before July 2. On that day, the new international signing rules kick in, and teams will have a tough choice about how much to spend on Soler. If they blow through their cap (signing him, alone, would do it), they face restrictions on signings for the rest of the year.
- The Cubs could try and trade Paul Maholm later in the year, but he’s going to have to, you know, pitch well.
- If teams get desperate enough, the Cubs could still find a taker for Marlon Byrd. The same can’t really be said for Alfonso Soriano.
- The Cubs are still looking for another left-handed reliever.