Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

This has been a surprisingly full few weeks for rumor discussion. I kind of expected October to be mostly silent. November and December could be nuts.

  • Another random name to keep in the back of your mind: Jesse Litsch. The Blue Jays tried to outright the 27-year-old righty to the minors, but he rejected the assignment and is now a free agent. After a completely lost 2012 season (shoulder inflammation in Spring Training, serious infection following platelet-rich plasma injections designed to speed the healing), you’ve got to figure that Litsch will be looking for a “prove-it” type deal – possibly even a minor league deal (with a Major League split – i.e., it’s a minor league deal, but, if he makes the big league roster, he makes $X million). He was solid for the Blue Jays in 2011 in a swing role (96 ERA+, but a nice 1.293 WHIP, 2.36 K/BB ratio, and 3.63 xFIP), which was his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. There could be some nice value there (decent upside, almost no risk) for a team like the Cubs, who will have plenty of spots available in the rotation or the pen for guys to try and “prove-it” in Spring Training. The Cubs, in fact, would be wise to market themselves to guys like Litsch in that way. “You want a chance to start or feature in the bullpen somewhere? Good luck getting that on a team that’s gobbling up big-name free agents.”
  • Bruce Levine chatted this week, and … (1) Bruce sees Dan Haren as an “ideal” candidate to sign to a two-year, or one-plus-option type deal (sure, the Cubs might want him to be that, but, even after a down year, I have a hard time seeing Haren get fewer than three years (unless he wants a one-year prove-it deal, which he’d take from a team other than the Cubs), and the Cubs are unlikely to go there with him); (2) Alfonso Soriano is definitely on the trade market, but Darwin Barney might not be; (3) Josh Hamilton is not a fit for the Cubs (yeah); (4) the Cubs feel like the flaws in Brett Jackson’s swing are mechanical, and can be corrected; (5) the Cubs don’t have anything that interests the Braves (I think that’s a bit too simplistic, Bruce – every team in baseball has something that interests every other team in baseball; whether the Cubs have the right pieces to acquire Randall Delgado (which was the question) is fair to debate, but if the Cubs were truly desiring Delgado enough, they could get him); (5) the Cubs could make a play for their own TV station after the WGN contract expires in 2014 (but, remember, that’s only half of the Cubs’ rights – the other half, held by CSN, are under contract through 2019; so, in order to change things up after 2014, the Cubs are going to have to figure out a way to buy out that deal, which could be absurdly expensive (though the Ricketts own a portion (about 25%) of CSN from when they bought the Cubs, so who knows how it would play out)); (6) Brandon McCarthy is a possible target, if healthy (until his head injury, he was going to be my number one target for the Cubs); (7) the White Sox tried to acquire Tony Campana midseason, and the Cubs told them he “wasn’t available” (there’s NO chance the Cubs flatly refused to trade Campana – refused to trade him for what the White Sox were offering? absolutely possible); and (8) the Cubs don’t necessarily see Josh Vitters as their third baseman of the future, and there are a number of teams who like his bat (implication here is a trade).

  • Ben Nicholson-Smith also chatted over at MLBTR, and … (1) Shaun Marcum is a likely target for the Cubs, and he could get a multiyear deal for less than $10 million per year (a two-year, $15 to $18 million deal seems reasonable – though a team might be willing to take a chance on him for three years … would the Cubs? Maybe); (2) Cubs management definitely cares about winning (was that really a question?); (3) add another one to the chorus: Ben expects the Cubs to focus on DeJesus/Maholm/Stewart/Volstad type acquisitions this offseason; (4) can’t see Jeff Samardzija being dealt this Winter; and (5) the Rays would not go for an Alfonso Soriano and cash for James Shields deal (come on, Cubs fans – don’t make us look silly with questions like that).
  • The Cubs have an opening at the hitting coach position right now (James Rowson is the interim guy, and could still be made the full-time guy), and many think they’re waiting on a chance to land Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan. Nick Cafardo doesn’t think Magadan is going anywhere, though: “The Red Sox hold an option on hitting coach Dave Magadan’s contract. Would think they’d retain him.”

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