Lukewarm Stove: LaHair, Free Agency Spending, Garza, Dempster, Soriano, Ethier

While we were preoccupied with the protracted resolution to the Jorge Soler saga (squeal!), there have been a number of Cubs-related rumor bits floating around out there. With the Draft and Soler in the rearview mirror, trade talks are going to start heating up …

  • Ken Rosenthal has confirmed that the Cubs, in addition to discussing obvious trade possibilities (like Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, and Alfonso Soriano, among many others), are also making Bryan LaHair available in trade. Given his unique situation – breaking out at 29, lots of cost-control – it will be very interesting to see how other teams value LaHair, and how the Cubs value him. Whether or not we characterize the Cubs as “shopping” LaHair, or say that LaHair is “on the market,” you can be sure the Cubs are listening.
  • Dale Sveum spoke about the Cubs’ plans to add impact players at some point in the future, and you could tell he desperately hopes the Cubs add some quality players this Winter. “You can say right now,” Sveum told Paul Sullivan about the time to make additions. “You don’t know what’s going to happen in the next three months. You don’t know what’s going to happen with personnel next year, what we need. Obviously we need a lot of things. We’re losing a lot of games. But to spend that kind of money … when the right time is and how many tears you give a guy, a whole lot goes into that process. There’s obviously going to be some guys available this Winter, and you’ve got to sit down and decide what the plan is. It’s not like we’ve got a lot of guys coming except the [Anthony] Rizzos, [Brett] Jacksons and Junior Lakes, guys with tons of upside. So we do have to obviously fix some things.”
  • MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith chatted late last week, and among his notable thoughts: (1) the primary suitors for Matt Garza will probably be the Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays; (2) Garza will be the best pitcher available at the deadline, assuming the Brewers don’t make Zack Greinke available; (3) the Braves could be a fit for Ryan Dempster; (4) there is no rush to shop Dempster to try and “beat the market;” (5) the Cubs will be able to move Alfonso Soriano if they eat enough money; and (6) as a hypothetical, Ben said the Cubs wouldn’t trade Soriano and Dempster to the Angels for Vernon Wells and Ervin Santana (I agree, but it’s interesting to see that value equation favor the Cubs).
  • Doug Padilla also chatted, and shared his insights: (1) Doug says there’s a 75% chance Dempster is dealt, and it would likely be late in July; (2) the Cubs might not shop Bryan LaHair too much until they’ve seen how Rizzo’s doing in the bigs (to which I say: is a few weeks of Rizzo in the bigs really enough time to judge what you’ve got? To me, the Cubs are going to trade LaHair or they’re not – Rizzo’s performance won’t affect that); (3) the Cubs aren’t looking to pick up a closer any time soon (duh); (4) Garza and LaHair are the two Cubs most likely to draw trade interest, besides Dempster; (5)
  • I’d been meaning to post about a Jon Heyman list of trade candidates a little while ago, but Soler mania took over, and it kept getting bounced. But, since the trade market has yet to fully develop, the piece is still meaningful. The gist is, Heyman put together a list of 45 players who could be dealt by the trade deadline, and the Cubs were, unsurprisingly, well represented. Coming in at numbers two and three were Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster, Alfonso Soriano was 15, Paul Maholm was 19, David DeJesus was 21, Reed Johnson was 29, and Carlos Marmol just squeaked on at 43. Heyman says what you’d expect him to say about each player, but remains up in the air about whether the Cubs will ultimately trade Matt Garza. Heyman later added that other teams expect the Cubs to be the biggest seller at the deadline this year.
  • Heyman was also on the Score yesterday, where he noted that he would find it hard to believe if the Cubs couldn’t find a taker for Alfonso Soriano at this point, given how hot he’s been (assuming the Cubs eat plenty of the contract). But, at the same time, Heyman hasn’t heard so much as a peep of interest.
  • Keith Law was on ESPN1000 yesterday discussing, among Soler bits, the midseason trade market for the Cubs. Law suggested that fans keep their expectations down on the returns the Cubs will see, especially with respect to Ryan Dempster. The mid-season market is not what it once was thanks to the new CBA. There might be a lot of trades, Law said, but not a lot of impact prospects moving teams. This is primarily true for rental players, because an acquiring team can no longer get a compensatory draft pick for them if they leave after the season (under the new CBA, a player must be with a team for the entire season to qualify for a compensatory pick).
  • The Dodgers have reportedly reached a five-year, $85 million extension with Andre Ethier. The Cubs may or may not have considered going after him this offseason (the addition of Jorge Soler, and presumed signing of Albert Almora – though very long-term prospects – probably reduced the chances), but it’s yet another example of the ever-shrinking free agency pool.
  • A reminder, as we approach the fat of the trade season, you’ll want to follow Bleacher Nation on Twitter, and “like” it on Facebook to make sure you’ve got all of your Cubs rumor bases covered.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

121 responses to “Lukewarm Stove: LaHair, Free Agency Spending, Garza, Dempster, Soriano, Ethier”

  1. Andy

    The injury of Brandon Morrow last night might make the Blue Jays pursue a quick trade of Dempster or Garza.

  2. hansman1982

    “how many tears you give a guy”

    Wouldn’t soriano be 8 x 126?

    Interesting about Heyman not hearing a peep about Soriano because the guys on Sirius have been talking about him on a daily basis. Nothing substantial but a lot of talk that he would fit with X or Y team.

    1. ETS

      mlbtr hears that Indians may want him.

    2. David

      Negotiations can be an emotional process, some guys require a lot more tears than others.

  3. North Side Irish

    Would love to see an AL East bidding war for Garza, but only if the Blue Jays are involved. They’ve got the best farm system of the three teams mentioned and easily the best SP prospects. Unfortunately, they also probably have the best GM of the three and AA is not going to overdo it.

  4. Patrick G

    I’ve been hearing Lonnie Chisenhall for Bryan LaHair. I like that trade, gives us nice 3B prospect that we need.

    1. AD

      How old is Chisenhall. I know he had a crack at the bigs last year and couldnt stick. Still wouldnt be a bad guy for the Cubs to get for LaHair.

      1. Patrick G

        He’s still only 23 and looking well so far in the minors this year.

        1. @cubsfantroy

          He has been with the Indians for the past couple of weeks, and his numbers look awful. But, growing pains with a young guy I can handle. I don’t know if I would want to trade LaHair just yet though.

          1. nkniacc

            I think you have to trade either Soriano or lahair. I think you get a better trade with Lahair

  5. AD

    Soriano would be a great fit for any number of teams in the AL. He will likely cost less than five million over the next two and a half season and could supply to much needed power to the Orioles, Indians, Rays, etc. Id love to see him get a shot with a contender, while we save a little money.

  6. JulioZuleta

    Glad to see Dale lump Lake in there with Rizzo and Jackson. Makes you think Theo and Jed are high on him.

    1. AD

      Thats a great observation. Id love to see him here in Des Moines before the season is over.

  7. CCunt

    “There might be a lot of trades, Law said, but not a lot of impact prospects moving teams. This is primarily true for rental players, because an acquiring team can no longer get a compensatory draft pick for them if they leave after the season (under the new CBA, a player must be with a team for the entire season to qualify for a compensatory pick).”

    Maybe I’m missing the point here, but if the Cubs trade Dempster, do the Cubs then forfeit their compensatory draft pick? Ultimately that should be the measure on which the return that the Cubs are seeking is based. I know that the acquiring team may not be willing to give up as much because they lose out on on the compensation pick, but the Cubs had better be getting something in return that would be more valuable than the compensation pick that they lose. I guess time will tell, but I just don’t think this hurts the return that the Cubs will receive… They can always choose not to trade their players, and instead horde compensatory picks. In fact, with as poorly as things are going right now, it may be the best option this year.

    1. Kyle

      The Cubs would definitely get something better than the compensatory pick.

      The problem is, in the past, you could leverage the picks into a better prospect.

      It would be like this.

      Good team gets:
      Rental player
      Two compensation draft picks

      Bad team gets:
      Elite prospect

      But without the compensation picks, the good team isn’t going to give up elite prospects. Now it’ll be:

      Good team gets rental player.
      Bad team gets decent but not elite prospects.

      1. Kevin

        I don’t agree entirely that the Cubs couldn’t get an elite prospect. For one there are many more buyers than sellers and with Dempster being as good as he has been it could still happen.

        1. cubs1967

          nor is it a given the suspects will become major leaguers……remember who the indians got for CC??……….exactly……….

          1. calicubsfan007

            @1967: You have a great point. The Indians definetly lost on that trade.

          2. @cubsfantroy

            Yeah, I thought Matt LaPorta would have been a force for the Indians by now.

            1. calicubsfan007

              Who? LOL

    2. To my understanding

      You don’t get comp picks unless you offer a pretty sizable amount. Which is to say, unless the Cubs offer Dempster an amount he likely can’t refuse (because of age, etc. it will probably be above what other teams offer him) they don’t get a comp pick if he leaves after staying the season with us.

  8. djriz

    As much as I hate to agree with Law, he’s right when he says we won’t get much for our trade pieces (except Garza). Recent Baseball history shows that the ‘selling’ team has not recieved much. This is when you usually get a Blake DeWitt type of player. I laugh when I see comments how trading all of our assets will net us all these great players. The absolute best we could hope for is a Low minors high risk/high reward type. Garza would be different because he would be under control for a bit longer. So the only reason to trade anyone is if you have the chance to rid yourself of a Soriano.
    The time to trade players is in the offseason for maximum return.

    Saying that, it is possible that some team will come along and way overpay for Demp, in which case you go for it. With Demp I’m wondering if the Cubs would work out some deal (wink wink, nod nod) where he turns down arbitration after the season so the Cubs get a Supp draft choice. That will most likely be a better prospect than what they get in a trade.

  9. Ron

    Speaking of money, what happened on the renovation front and the “deadline” for public financing?

  10. Kevin

    Good question, new CBA may limit other clubs options.

    1. Dumpgobbler

      I honestly think it will all even out. The extra wild card teams will generate more interest, driving up the price for impact pieces.

  11. Cheryl

    Look for the Cubs to definitely trade LaHair. They can put other players at first if Rizzo repeats what he did last year. Hate to see him go but it’ll be etter for him elsewhere. He could be combined with Dempster or traded by himself. The Dodgers are a definite possibility. I started following the cubs much more because of LaHair.

    1. calicubsfan007

      @Cheryl: What are we going to expect to get if we trade Demp and LaHair to the Dodgers? Their farm system hasn’t really blown me away. Last time we did a big trade with the Dodgers in 2010, we didnt really get anything out of it. Not sure if the Dodgers are best trade partners.

      1. Cheryl

        I don’t know enough about their farm system but I’ve read the Dodgers, the Pirates and the Blue Jays are possible destination

        1. calicubsfan007

          Personally, I like the Jays system the best out of those three. We would get the most bang for our buck with guys like Dan Norris and Aaron Sanchez.

  12. Kyle

    LaHair to the Pirates makes a ton of sense to me. They have some prospects that could be about the right price. He wouldn’t break their cheap-style budget, and he’d be a *fantastic* addition to their lineup. Even as he comes back to earth, he’d be their second-best hitter and it’s not close. They are fielding sub-replacement hitters at both 1b and LF, so that’d be a huge offensive upgrade for them.

  13. caleb

    I don’t see the Cubs trading LaHair. We have him for cheap right now, and other teams haven’t seen enough of him to know whether he’s going to be consistently good.

    The Cubs have a guy that they can afford to wait-and-see with, and then either have a power left fielder next year or a much more valuable trade piece. Since other teams aren’t going to give up much for LaHair until he shows that he’s LaGit, the Cubs are only risking a low level prospect in continuing to keep and play him. If he is traded, I think it’ll be part of a larger trade bundle.

    This means, however, that LAHAIR SHOULD ACTUALLY PLAY BASEBALL. Hear that, Dale?

    Seriously. Unless there is a slight injury that we don’t know about, I’m calling “strike one” against Dale. (Strike two for those of you upset at Cardenas’ bencherifficness)

    1. Luke

      LaHair does have back issues.  I think we can assume that is a steadily lingering issue, not something that ever went away entirely (do back problems ever go away entirely?)

  14. Jeremy

    I’m loving the Garza situation right now. A bidding war from the AL East is outstanding. Hoping he goes to the Blue Jays. Also, would love to trade Dempster to Texas for Martin Perez or Mike Olt, straight up. Slim chance of that happening but it’s nice to dream.

  15. Cheryl

    Brett, I know I’m in the minority but I think his problems with lefties will change. Just two years ago he changed his batting approach and its done okay against righties, but it’s been slow to develop against lefties. I wouldn’t be surprised if by next year you’ll see a noticable change in his success with lefties. I think when you look at his splits against lefties you may be looking at his entire career. I’d be more interested in the last two years when he made the changes in his approach.

    1. calicubsfan007

      I dont know, it seems as if LaHair cant really develop much more now. He’s 29 now, close to 30 and if a player still needs to develop by the age of 30, they are normally considered a bust or a career minor leaguer. But you might be right though, I am just not sure.

      1. Cheryl

        Brett partially pointed out he had a breakout at 29. The best judgment of him can be made after a year in the majors when he faces both righties and lefties. Also, do you really believe that a player stops developing at age 29?

        1. calicubsfan007

          I believe I said 30, because I think that is when a player hits his prime. And when I say “stops developing”, I mean that it will be way harder for a player to overcome any serious fundamental flaws. The minors are there to “develop” and help the player overcome his developmental flaws. Bryan LaHair can be the anamoly to my belief and I don’t mind being proven wrong. It’s just that, if a player still has serious developmental flaws by the age of 30, it will be very difficult to fix those flaws.

  16. calicubsfan007

    I know this will sound crazy and make me sound stupid, but why do major league teams need so many levels of minor league teams? Why can’t we have like two levels only? It seems like a waste of money to spend on guys who have a 50/50 shot to even get near the majors. Can someone explain to me why we need so many minor league levels?

    1. Luke

      Because very few players have even a 50/50 shot of making majors.  50/50 are great odds for a minor league player.  Most of them have odds that are far worse.

      What’s more, many of the palyers of the majors… I’m tempted to say most of the players, but I want to check the data on that (if I can find it)… are players who beat odds that were far worse than 50/50.

      Teams pick up thirty to fifty new amateur players every year between the draft and free agent signings, and most teams would be happy if 20% of the guys in any one class of players ever reached the majors.  The problem is that there is almost no way of telling at the time the amateurs are signed which one will do what.  Busts are common, but so are complete and total surprises.

      There has to be a system that allows the potential major league players to develop, learn, and get better, and allows the teams the time necessary to figure out who can do what and who can’t.  And even with that system, there are a lot of mistakes.

      The minors may not be the best way to do that.  The entire system is rooted deeply in tradition and carries with it the heritage of the golden age of baseball in which there were dozens of little local leagues and nearly every town had a semi-pro ball club.  But despite the size, cost, and inefficiency, the minors have evolved as a good way to patiently train players and allow them to develop.  As a direct result, the major league product is better today than it has ever been.

      If there were no minor league system, or if it were much smaller, something would have to take its place.  The NFL and the NBA use the college game for that purpose, but the jump from college to the majors is much, much tougher in baseball than in any other sport.  That’s just not going to cut it unless we dilute the major league product so as to bring down the overall level of competition at the highest level.

      1. calicubsfan007

        Thanks Luke! Yeah, I am used to NFL ways of development. It just seems like it takes too long for the players to develop sometimes.

    2. hansman1982

      because you have so many guys at different stages of development plus teams love having AAA there for injury replacement.

      Also, in any farm system you need A LOT of guys in order to be able to field 1 major leaguer. Without having 8 teams for these guys to be spread around you would have an incredibly limited number of guys getting opportunities or guys having to play independent ball to get playing time where you have no idea if they are getting proper instruction or are being used properly.

      I am sure organizations would love to have another team or two for guys to play at instead of high school or collegiate ball.

    3. TWC

      Sample size!

      Well, not really.  But if you’re playing the lotto, while the odds are stacked against you, your odds of winning something improve if you buy more than one ticket.

    4. DocPeterWimsey

      Predicting which A-level players are going to become useful big league ball players is only slightly more advanced than predicting which stocks will do well over the next couple of years.  (Your horoscope is about as accurate.)  This means that you have to cast your nets far and wide to come up with MLB talent.  (Look up “r-selection” for the general principle)

      The other issue is that baseball skills are still evolving for players under 24 or so.  Playing an 18 year old just out of HS against a 22 year old with 4 years professional experience does not tell you much about either player.  (The same rationale is half of the reason why Spring Training performance is such a lousy predictor of regular season performance, the other half being that the sample size is tiny.)  So, you need separate levels that give a general relationship with experience.

      1. TWC

        “Predicting which A-level players are going to become useful big league ball players is only slightly more advanced than predicting which stocks will do well over the next couple of years.”

        I can’t wait until BleacherNation goes public.

        1. Luke

          Me either!

          1. hansman1982

            hey, Brett, don’t forget about me…just trying to sell advertising in New York…

  17. TWC

    Whoa: Jaramillo canned.

    ‘Course, I think the bigger surprise is that they didn’t just let him finish out the year.

    1. hansman1982


      1. TWC

        It’s on the Twitters! It’s gotta be true!

        1. hansman1982

          Hold on while I get it on there that eveyone in the world needs to send just $1 to me or the world will explode…

          Ya, Carrie Muskat reported it – its true.

    2. Leo L

      just saw it also. i thought they would let him finsh the year also. Wonder why now?

      1. hansman1982

        the eleventy bajillion strikeouts against the Brewers probably did not help

        1. hardtop

          dude, i was doing 5 push ups every time a cubs player struck out going into that series.  i couldnt move for a week afterwards.  im back to beer and sausages and as little physical exercise as i can get.  the cubs didnt appreciate my effort so f-em’

          1. calicubsfan007

            The great exercise program of Cubs striking out. One would be in perfect shape quickly. But it might be easier to drink every time they struck out, but then it might be hard to post a legible and legal post on here…

            1. Leroy K.

              and I thought my army physical training program was tough.

              1. calicubsfan007

                Doing 5 pushups for every Cubs strike out might even fatigue the toughest Marine. One would start getting in Schwarzeneger/ Stallone territory there if they kept doing those pushups…

            2. hardtop

              well i only do it on games i can watch, which, in colorado, isnt that many.  i listen to every day game, and watch very few night games


      2. calicubsfan007

        I thought he used to be considered one of the top hitting coaches in baseball. I guess not anymore…

  18. JulioZuleta

    Cubs fire Rudy Jaramilo.

    1. Luke

      That came a few months sooner than I expected.

      1. hardtop

        yet still a few months too late.

        1. Leroy K.
      2. djriz

        maybe they decided to do it now because over the next few months some prospects may be coming up. they didn’t want him around to ‘screw up’ rizzo, bjax and vitters.
        or maybe dale said ,”if i have to manage this #%%#@* team, please get rid of this guy cuz he makes my skin crawl”.

    2. ari gold

      Not sure what to think. Our players aren’t very good, but they were obviously not getting any better. He didn’t preach much patience that’s for sure.

  19. Dustin S

    Tribune reporting same now on Jaramillo, so that is basically confirmed. Kind of saw the writing on the wall coming with that one, so a little surprising but not overly. He was a pretty big disappointment after coming over for quite a bit of money for a hitting coach.

    Getting to the trades, I think you could put the odds of a trade for Dempster at 95%, Soriano ~95%, Garza %60 (wish it was lower, but leaning that way), LaHair 30%. Dempster and Soriano are all but gone, Garza they’d probably like to trade more than they are letting on, and LaHair will only go for a very good offer. If Soto hits well and is healthy I’d put him over 50% too. Castro and Shark are the only essentially untouchables, and everyone else is more than available but won’t have much value. Of the others DeJesus or Maholm might be the next most likely to go. The Dempster and Soriano trades I could see happening fairly soon rather than pushing up to the deadline. Theo is patient but with both of them the risk of their value going down due to injury or a slump outweighs the value in holding out until the last minute. Granted this is all just my humble opinion…

    1. TWC

      I would have thought it was “basically confirmed” when the Cubs themselves broke the news on Twitter.

  20. RicoSanto

    If you trade LaHair, who is going to play LF,that can hit 25 HRs and have a OBP around.400
    and makes 450,000…..A free agent like that will cost 10 mill a year,if there iare any……The new CBA rules say if Demp is traded Thje Cubs can sign him back next year and not lose a draft pick.Theo will not lose draft picks.

  21. baseballet

    Just a punctuation point, I noticed that you usually capitalize the seasons of the year, but I don’t believe they should be capitalized:

    e.g. “winter” not “Winter”

    1. Leroy K.

      yup! Your right. (My mother was an english teacher)

      1. MaxM1908

        And, yet, you misused “your.” Sorry–couldn’t help myself.

      2. cooper

        …. You’re right…

        Your mother must be ashamed. Or should I say you’re mother…


        1. Leroy K.

          shhh….don’t tell her! LOL!!!

  22. 2much2say

    I believe I was an advocate for Soriano way back in
    December. Looking pretty smart right about now though.

  23. koyiehillsucks

    I would be against moving, unless it’s a no brainer I just dont see the upside in trading a proven #2 pitcher for prospects that may never pan out. I think Garza can stay at the level he is at for 5-7 years.

  24. nkniacc

    I will be interested to see if the Cubs trade any minor leaguers in any deals