Man, oh, man. Usually the trade rumor season doesn’t really heat up until late June, or at least after the Draft at the very earliest. But I guess when your team is as bad as the Cubs have been, and is clearly in the middle of a rebuild, the rumor season can start considerably earlier. So it has been this past week, and the latest installment came from Buster Olney on Mike and Mike this morning.
Olney dropped something of a bombshell when he said that the Chicago Cubs have already been “exchanging ideas” with other teams when it comes to a possible Ryan Dempster trade. Indeed, Olney went so far as to say that Dempster will “probably” be the first high profile name to change teams this Summer, and it “wouldn’t surprise [him] at all” if the trade came in the next few weeks. Obviously the sooner the Cubs trade Demspter, the more value he’ll have (more starts for his new team).
Olney went on to discuss one possible destination for Dempster, the Boston Red Sox, noting that they are right back in the AL East race, and Theo Epstein knows the Red Sox’s system well. I call that a “superficial fit,” but I’m sure the Red Sox will be in the market for a starting pitcher this Summer. Olney, you’ll note, made no mention of Dempster’s no-trade rights.
There were some other relevant bits over the last 24 hours or so from a variety of sources…
- About the 2012 trade season, generally, Theo Epstein had an optimistic take for the Cubs: “We’re starting to get some early calls now. There might be fewer sellers than usual and a lot more buyers. This has a chance to help us. We need core players.” Good to hear. Also interesting? Epstein is explicitly saying that the Cubs are sellers. Already. And that’s fine with me – how long has it been since someone at the top just leveled with us?
- Jon Heyman says the Yankees would prefer Matt Garza over other available starting pitchers on the trade market this Summer, but the Cubs are likely to try once again to extend Garza before trading him (Heyman describes prior talks between the Cubs and Garza as not fruitful). This rumor will get its own write-up, but I thought I’d pass it along now while I was doing the Lukewarm Stove thing.
- Danny Knobler says the Cubs have told teams they’re willing to eat as much as $45 million of the $48 million they owe to Alfonso Soriano through 2014 if that’s what it takes to move him. I’ve said for months the best the Cubs could hope to do would be to save a few million bucks, so it sounds like that’s now the case. Even with Soriano’s hot May, and even if the Cubs do eat $45 million, I wouldn’t expect more than a decent prospect with obvious flaws. *Maybe* the Cubs could squeeze a player from a team’s top 15 prospects.
- Phil Rogers agrees with me that Matt Garza’s recent struggles are putting the Cubs in a bit of a pickle when it comes to the extend/trade/do nothing decision. Phil says the Cubs are more likely to trade Garza than to sign him long-term, but might end up doing nothing in July (that’s been his colleague Paul Sullivan’s position, too). (The article also includes a purely speculative discussion of Alfonso Soriano going to the Indians, where he could fill in for injured DH Travis Hafner. Maybe. But the Indians also have Johnny Damon, who could stand to spend some time at DH.)
- Doug Padilla chatted yesterday, but it was light on rumor-type-things. There were really only two bits: (1) Doug says a Garza trade is more likely than a Soriano trade, but neither are likely; and (2) it would take an absurd offer for the Cubs to move Castro. The chat was interesting otherwise, though.
- MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith also chatted, and offered some thoughts: (1) Ben wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers inquired on Ryan Dempster; (2) there might be a fit there with Soriano and the Indians; and (3) Ben could see the Red Sox reaching out to the Cubs about Garza.
- The Phillies and Cole Hamels haven’t made much progress on extension talks, according to Buster Olney. One NL executive said that there’s no reason for Hamels not to test the free agent waters at this point unless the Phillies give him a record deal. The Roy Halladay injury is not expected to impact the Phillies’ talks with Hamels, for what that’s worth.
- Jon Heyman took an early look at 45 players who could be traded by July 31, and a number of Cubs