We’re entering the second half of July, which means there will probably be Lukewarm Stove action just about every day (in addition to more specific rumors/news). I love this time of year…
- Jon Heyman describes various trade pieces as stocks, and lists Ryan Dempster and Alfonso Soriano as the two hottest stocks on the market right now. The reasons for Dempster (there are 33 of them) are obvious. For Soriano, Heyman is ardent: “There is no good reason teams, especially some American League teams, shouldn’t be lining up for Soriano, who may be the most productive power hitter traded this month. (Of course, he could be traded next month, too, since he’d surely clear waivers, with close to $45 million to go on his deal through 2014.) Soriano’s 17 home runs have all come since May 15, meaning he’s been one of the more productive hitters in baseball over the past couple months. He’s been even hotter since the All-Star break, and he is batting .500 with a couple home runs over his last three games. The Cubs understand they’d have to offset a significant portion of that $45 million remaining, so they are being realistic. It’s the other teams that need to adjust. While he isn’t a particularly mobile defender in left field anymore on days his knees hurt, he’d represent a major offensive upgrade for a lot of teams. The Rays, who’ve gotten little from their DH slot, and the Indians, are just two of several he could help.” The only possible answer I can come up with for this conundrum is that the Cubs haven’t yet actually offered to eat a ton of Soriano’s salary. He’s owed about $8 million more this year, and then $18 million each of the next two years. If the Cubs ate all but $5 million of that salary, why in the world wouldn’t they be able to find a taker? Think about it: Soriano is *easily* worth $5 million the rest of this season, alone. And, then, if you don’t want him anymore, you can cut him, with the Cubs footing the rest of the bill. Thus, I can conclude only one thing: the Cubs are offering to eat a whole lot less than that so far.
- Let me add on Soriano: of the guys you can reasonably call sometime DHs in the AL (and this is not a narrow list, as it includes guys like Joe Mauer and Alex Rodriguez), Soriano’s .829 OPS this year would place him in seventh, behind only David Ortiz, Edwin Encarnacion, Paul Konerko, Adam Dunn, Joe Mauer, and Billy Butler. And how many of those guys are actually really DHs? In other words, almost every single team in the AL would be better if they had Alfonso Soriano. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that he’s still playing passable defense in left field this year. I’m sure several NL teams could really use him, too.
- Ken Davidoff poops on the idea of the Yankees being interested in either Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza, despite multiple reports from multiple sources to the contrary. Dempster, Davidoff says, is not a clear upgrade from anyone else in the Yankees’ rotation, and Garza “is not having a very good season.” Setting aside the plainly, demonstrably falseness of both assertions, it’s hard to square the two explanations: either this season matters more than the past, in which case Ryan Dempster is the best pitcher in baseball, or this season doesn’t matter more than the past, in which case Matt Garza is a great fit in the AL East. I’m not saying the Yankees ultimately go after either one – GM Brian Cashman has indeed said he prefers to stick with what he’s got this year – but, come on: of course they wouldn’t mind having either one of those guys.
- Jon Morosi hears that the Tigers and Dodgers are the heaviest players for Dempster, which we’ve heard before, and that the Blue Jays are the most interested in Garza (eeeh! great farm system! eeeh!). The Jays apparently sent two scouts to watch Garza’s last start. Bruce Levine says the Yankees, Rangers, Tigers, Dodgers, and Pirates were also scouting Garza (though I think it’s fair to wonder how many might have been there to see Justin Upton).
- The Tigers, for their part, remain interested in trying to pick up Darwin Barney from the Cubs, packaged together with either Dempster or Garza. Candidly, a Tigers package that doesn’t include both Nick Castellanos and Jacob Turner – both thought to be largely untouchable – doesn’t interest me in the least for Garza and Barney, together.
- The Brewers today announced that Zack Greinke, who’s struggled a bit this month, will not start on Wednesday as planned. They say it’s not injury-related, but instead that they just want to give him a break to get him back on routine (whatever that means). Obviously with Greinke folks automatically make assumptions about his previous problems with an anxiety disorder, but we really don’t know much. The only thing I do know is that, assuming the move isn’t directly related to a pending trade (I’m almost certain it isn’t), then the move can’t hurt the Cubs’ trade market for Dempster and Garza. If teams are a little nervous about Greinke, he becomes a whole lot less attractive than the Cubs’ pitchers, about whom teams may not have the same concerns.
- Doug Padilla chatted over the weekend, and offered some thoughts: (1) The Cubs aren’t trying to trade Bryan LaHair, they’re just listening (I’m not so sure about that); (2) the Cubs can’t move Geovany Soto without playing him, so he stays in the lineup (he’s gone .310/.355/.483 over his last eight games, by the way); (3) the question with a Dempster trade is whether he’ll hold out for the best possible team to go to, or if he’ll go to a lesser team if they really blow the Cubs away with the best package (I think he’s going to want the Cubs to be honest with him, rather than just trying to placate where he wants to go – he cares about the organization); (4) Padilla is still betting Soriano isn’t traded, and he’s heard of no interest; (5) Padilla doesn’t think the Cubs could get Zach Lee from the Dodgers for just Dempster (I agree) or just Garza (say wha?); and (6) Carlos Marmol isn’t netting anything exciting in a trade (if the Cubs can save a couple million, that might just be worth taking at this point).