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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.
  • gratefulled

    It’s 1:20. Go Cubs! Let’s see if we can get back to .333

    Yes, I know the game isn’t ’til later. I just get excited when I see 1:20 kinda like TWC gets happy when he sees 4:20.

    • Sam

      HA!

      • TWC

        ::glares at Sam::

  • ETS

    anothing left hand reliever?

    • Beer Baron

      That sounds a lot like John Grabow. So lets not do that again, ok?

  • Kyle

    I really can’t see LaHair netting anything more than a C prospect under any circumstances.

    If teams want some guy who mashed when he was too old for AAA and had some short-sample success in the majors, they aren’t exactly hard to find.

    • TWC

      In fact, we gave one to Colorado back in December.

  • Cheryl

    If the cubs are that committed to Rizzo, then it would appear tthat both LaHair and Vogelbach might be traded. Rizzo is only 22. Vogelbach is 18 or 19. So in terms of a long-term commitmet to Vogelbach it doesn’t seem probable. What’s your take on this, Brett?

    • JulioZuleta

      Well, Vogelbach can’t be traded until Aug 15 at the earliest, which is after the trade deadline. He could be a PTBNL but the Cubs are in stockpiling prospects, I don’t think any prospects are going anywhere unless they’re included as a deal sweetener as in “We’ll give you our #4 and #9 prospect for Ryan Dempster, but we’ll give you our #2 and #5 prospects for Dempster and a PTBNL (Vogelbach).” I’m not saying Vogelbach would make that big of an impact, but you get the idea.

  • Cheryl

    P.S.: If they trade Vogelbach before he has a good year in the minors I think it would be a mistake.

    • hansman1982

      They won’t, just because they have Rizzo. If they move him it is because they feel they can get better value out of another player. You don’t want to make a decision on a prospect (especially one as young as Vogelbach) because you have another, better, prospect.

      You don’t see the organization gutting the SS position in the minors because of Castro.

      Now, if in 3-4 years Rizzo is mashing and Vogelbach is moving up the ladder nicely, then they might trade Vogy because of Rizzo.

      • Wilbur

        Good assessment of what could happen …

  • Puma0821

    You have plenty of time to figure out V-bomb. No need to be hasty. Also on LaHair IF his value continues to rise you trade him, but at this point he can’t be much worse than Soriano and since we aren’t going anywhere this year, you might as well give him a look at LF once Rizzo is up.

    • JustSwain

      Lahair can barely play first base, I think he would look MUCH worse than Soriano in Left Field.

  • Noah

    I think when breaking news hits, Bruce is often the first to hear it, but his thoughts on who will be traded and other issues often are simply uneducated guesses based upon a pretty old timey view of baseball.

    First, the easy one: MLB has not been doing anything to slow down or hold up Jorge Soler’s free agency. Jorge Soler has not been granted residency in the DR yet. Until he does, there is no control MLB has over that situation.

    I also think Bruce is overrating what the Cubs would get in return for Dempster based on three starts in very favorable park conditions. His two starts in Wrigley were on days with the wind howling in, and his third start was in the cavernous new park in Miami.

    I agree with you that 5 years $65/$75 million won’t get it done. He’s going to probably get $14 million or so in his final year of arbitration. 5 years/$65 million would be an average of just $13 million a year. I’m guessing it would take something like 5 years at $18 million per year or 6 years at $16 million per.

    • CubFan Paul

      “..it would take something like 5 years at $18 million per year or 6 years at $16 million per.”

      not while he’s still arbitration eligible. that’s the point of arbitration: cost control. any Garza extension now (before the trade deadline) will max out at $13M-$14M (maybe $15M if you include buyouts on probable 6 and 7th year club options)

      $16M-$18M is open market money -Wilson, the kid in LAA, Buehrle money is out of reach for Garza

      • Noah

        Garza has one year of arbitration eligibility left, and as a Super 2 he’ll make something like $14-$15 million next year. Why would he taken that amount (or less) yearly on an extension he signs.

        What you’re saying might be true if Garza had not been a Super 2 or otherwise had more arbitration time left. But he doesn’t. Any discount the Cubs would get on Garza now would be 90% him wanting to stay with the Cubs for less economically related reasons.

        • CubFan Paul

          “Why would he taken that amount (or less) yearly on an extension he signs”

          that’s the Beauty of arbitration, making what i’m saying (said) true. No one will twist Garza’s arm to sign an extension now, but he does risk injury & down subpar performance later this year and next.

          there’s a reason why the 5yrs $65M has been thrown around for Garza. He and his agent just can’t make up free market demands for an arbitration extension with 1.75yrs to go before free agency

          • Noah

            Let’s put it this way: Garza’s contract would be for essentially the exact same period of time as Jered Weaver’s or Matt Cain’s, since it wouldn’t start until next season. And what were their deals?

            • CubFan Paul

              you’re obviously clueless to arbitration contracts and rationalization and if Garza is too he’ll be traded before July’s deadline

    • Cubs Dude

      Man, I love Garza, but is he a 90-100 million pitcher?? Jered Weaver (who is a much more accomplished, and better pitcher) got 5 yrs. for 85 million, which looks like a steal at this point.

      • Noah

        5 years/$85 million is $17 million a year. I’d say somewhere between that and $90 million would be reasonable if he continues to perform like he has the last year and change.

  • MichaelD

    I wonder if MLB is purposefully dragging its feet on Soler’s residency so that he ends up having to sign after July 2nd and will count against the new limit.

    • CubFan Paul

      MLB has nothing to do with Soler or any immigrant getting residency in the Dominican Republic. It pains me that Levine brings that up every week misleading people.

    • Noah

      MLB has nothing to do with granting Soler’s residency. That’s the DR government. But Soler is not eligible to work in the US as long as he is solely a Cuban resident.

      • Brian

        It doesn’t state that MLB is holding up residency, just approving of him playing in the MLB.
        This could mean he has residency, but would likely have heard such news and MLB is truly the limiting factor right now.

    • Steve

      Ooooooo conspiracy!!!

  • neifiisgreat

    Who would be interested in Dempster at this point in the season? The Red Sox need starting pitching, but that is a lot of salary to take on for a marginal upgrade.

  • Steve

    I say we trade Volgelbach, Baez and Maples !!! For whom I don’t really care….lets just trade trade trade trade.

  • Evan

    If the Cubs are looking for another lefty reliever, I’m a bit confused as to why Scott Maine isn’t on the big league club. Is it the same type of service time issues that are holding back Jackson and Rizzo?

    • hardtop

      no, i think its because he’s a terrible pitcher?

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I’m not sure I can agree Scott Maine is terrible.  He was pretty bad in the seven innings he threw in the majors in 2011, but his 13 major league innings in 2010 are much better.  In 113 innings in the PCL (which is notoriously hard on pitchers), he has posted a WHIP of just 1.244, a K/9 of 11.0, and an HR/9 of 0.6.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/mainesc01.shtml

        To me, those numbers don’t say “terrible.”  They say “this guy needs a chance to pitch in Chicago”.

        • hardtop

          Ok, I concede. Can we settle on “pretty bad”. His 2010 numbers are deceiving. I watched him pitch in 4 or 5 of those 13 innings and all were fairly awful. The other 8-9 must have been spectacular. You obviously know a lot about his career but from what I’ve seen in the pros, I’m not missing his arm in the bullpen. I hope I’m wrong.

        • nkniacc13

          maybe because hes not on the 40 man roster?

      • Evan

        He had a good spring, so even if he pitched poorly in the majors in the pass, I think that should’ve been enough to earn him a chance since the Cubs didn’t/don’t expect to compete these year anyways.

  • Cub Gone Wild

    I don’t agree with Levine on LaHair not being moved the outfield. He played good enough out there last season. If Rizzo comes up before Jackson move DeJesus to CF for the time being. Send Mather to AAA. When Jackson comes up have Johnson and DeJesus as defensive replacements and situational starters. Trade Soto as soon as possible and bring up Castillo. Byrd is insignificant at this point. If Boston won’t take him then give him his release. At this point what is lost by bringing Maine up and letting him audition. At this point I would have a turnstile in that bullpen until someone proves they can pitch. Bring Wells up… He hates being in AAA and his ego/morale has got to be sideways. Just being in Bigs will turn him around. DL Wood. He is probably toast anyway. Bring up Wood and put him Maholms spot in a couple more starts if he doesn’t pull it together soon. Move Maholm to the pen. Need to have a staff meeting with Theo soon. He’s got this all messed up.. LOL

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Brett what part of Cbus you live in. We lived in Muirfield for 20 years. Jobs brought us to Dayton but we are moving full time to our house at Indian Lake in a few weeks.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    If we are going to trade Garza, do it now. If not, meet the man’s number and get this crap over with. This FO has a habit of dragging things out.

    Also

    I think we should cancel all Marlon Byrd updates, unless the sentence involves the words traded, waived, outrighted, demoted, released or cut. Hell, I could care less if we re-signed Doug Glanville, just replace his ass already.

  • Aaron W.

    I seriously doubt that we trade Garza at the deadline: we have nobody close to a legit #2 or #1 starter in our farm system or on the 25-man roster. I would also add that without Garza, our chances of signing a #1-2 starter in the off-season, assuming Ricketts frees up the money, is next to nothing. Why on earth would Greinke, Marcum, Hamels, A. Sanchez, J. Sanchez, or even Liriano sign with a club with zero chances of winning immediately OR the arms to survive in the post-season if they ‘miracled’ themselves into it? Unless Garza does an about face on his position (wanting to remain a Cub), I seriously doubt we see him traded. He gives us not only a dependable young arm that still has upside, he also gives us more of a selling point as a rotation partner for any potential signing.

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