Whew, the rumors, if not the deals, are flying quickly …
- Cliff Lee’s sudden availability on the trade market has thrown all of the prognosticators into a tizzy. He’s set to make $25 million in each season from 2013 to 2015, and has a $27.5 million vesting option for 2016, so the market for him is probably somewhat small (unless the Phillies want to eat a huuuuge amount of money, and maybe they will for a prospect haul). He’s also got a partial no-trade clause, which could impact things. The team you hear the most is the Rangers, but there is also some talk about the Dodgers, who’ve got money to burn. A deal to the Rangers probably wouldn’t impact the Cubs too much, as they still don’t seem a legitimate suitor for any of Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, or Paul Maholm. The Dodgers, on the other hand, could be problematic. If they get Lee, you can be certain that their already tepid interest in Ryan Dempster would wilt completely. The same would be true of Matt Garza. We should be watching this very closely. Jon Heyman says, for what it’s worth, that the Dodgers aren’t currently in on Lee, and the Rangers are a longshot due to the money.
- Speaking of Dempster, Jayson Stark suggests that the Nationals – a team we heard connected to Dempster a few weeks ago – could be lying in the weeds, waiting to see if Dempster falls into their lap. They would really like to acquire a veteran to bolster their rotation when Stephen Strasburg is shut down, and Dempster certainly fits the bill. Thing is, no one knows if Dempster would be willing to go to DC.
- More Dempster. I offer this not because Bowden has always been particularly reliable (the issue with Bowden is that most of his sources are GMs, who notoriously use the media for their own ends), but because it’s the first time a media member has said this. From Jim Bowden: “If the Cubs call the Braves with the same Dempster deal and have a signed document from Dempster approving it….it could still get done.”
- And still more Dempster. Scott Miller reports that Cubs/Dodgers talks are “gaining momentum.” It seems an odd phrasing, given that both sides seem to know where the other stands – unless the Dodgers are starting to talk about the Zach Lee’s, Allen Webster’s, or Chris Reed’s of the system, I’m not sure I see how there could be momentum. Maybe they are. And/or maybe the Alfonso Soriano angle is really heating up and helping things.
- Then again, Ken Rosenthal says the Cubs are “bending over backwards” to try and get Dempster to the Dodgers, which suggests they’re the ones breaking, not the Dodgers. Somehow I doubt the Cubs would do that as a courtesy to the Dodgers or to Dempster. So, if the Cubs bend, it’s because they know Dempster won’t really go anywhere but LA.
- Buster Olney was on SportsCenter this morning saying that both Josh Johnson and James Shields are likely not to be traded by tomorrow. Obviously that would be very good news for the Cubs. Josh Beckett’s name comes up from time to time, but he’s got a big contract, has attitude issues, has 10/5 rights, has had inconsistent performance, and has a GM who’s said repeatedly that he’s not going to be traded.
- Carrie Muskat, not usually a rumor monger, says the Pirates have been keeping tabs on Reed Johnson and David DeJesus. Hmm.
- Jeff Samardzija says he hopes Ryan Dempster isn’t traded, and he doesn’t know much about Dempster’s thinking. No surprises.
- The Orioles, who won’t deal top prospects Dillon Bundy or Manny Machado, and who don’t have much beyond that, are looking at second tier starting pitchers like Joe Blanton. To which I say: why not consider Paul Maholm?
- The Giants are looking for an outfield bat, but can’t take on a lot of salary. If, as we’ve heard, the Cubs are willing to eat almost all of Alfonso Soriano’s salary in exchange for a nice prospect, it kind of seems like there’s a fit there.