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.”
  • Toby

    If the Cubs can’t get Magadan, they should be able to get Gerald Perry who did a very good job with them earlier.

  • CF

    Litsch may be an interesting bounce-back candidate, but the guy is seriously the slowest pitcher in baseball. I saw a telecast a couple of years ago where they were timing him between pitches and coming up with 40+ seconds. The Cubs are already tough enough to watch…why extend the agony?

    • Richard Nose

      I’m having Deja, Deja, Deja, Deja Vu. I think I remember watching that too.

    • Doug Dascenzo

      Slower than Steve Trachsel? I’d like to see that. Actually, no I wouldn’t.

  • Believe in 2015

    I would love to see the Cubs go after “prove-it” type pitchers this offseason. Much more upside compared to older pitchers who the cubs would trade for prospects anyway

  • Jade

    Cubs feel like the flaws in Brett Jackson’s swing are mechanical and can be corrected.

    Thank God! We all know how difficult philosophical flaws can be. IE. “Breaking pitches are an illusion of the mind” Or mental “Sometimes I just forget to hit the ball.”

    Also I’d love them to get a decent arm prospect for Vitters. 23 yr olds who aren’t decent at the position they’ve played their entire life don’t seem to improve. And he doesn’t seem to have the bat or athleticism for OF.

    • Alou and Vinegar

      Jade, good point about not improving at the position. I wonder how many other GM’s think Vitters can stick at third? If he can’t, his value goes way down. Still think he will be included in a trade this winter

  • Luke D

    I wanted Jesse Litsch back when we got Ted Lilly. But as I recall he was the next big thing in Toronto

  • Ed

    I wonder if the Cubs will look at former Astros manager Brad Mills (because of his boston connections) or former managerial candidate Pete Mackanin (though it may be awkward) for either the third base or hitting coach jobs. Also I can see the Braves maybe getting in on Soriano with Chipper retiring, Prado will probably be moving to third so they have a spot in left field. Not necessarily for Randall Delgado (a guy can dream) but maybe for some other prospects. Obviously the more money the Cubs pay on Sorianos deal the better the prospect they’ll receive.

    • CubFan Paul

      according to the Braves GM, he’s looking for a CF, LF, & 3B with his $25M to spend. The cubs could solve two of those position problems with Soriano (cubs pay all of his remaining salary minus the minimum) and Vitters (none theo&Co prospect). Delgado and Teheran are odd men out of the Braves 2013 rotation again. A ‘free’ Soriano and other parts could definitely pry Delgado or Teheran away from the cash conscious Braves, in my opinion.

    • Mick

      I too see a possible fit for Soriano on the Braves but it will be highly dependant on a few factors. The Braves will have about $30M to spend and holes at CF, LF, and their entire bench. The best possible situation for the Cubs would be if the Braves re-signed Bourn. That would still leave them with the holes in LF and their bench with a lot less money available. We offer up Soriano covering all but $5M/year with Campana and Delgado may be ours. If I were the Braves, I’d go after Hamilton for 3-years @ $60 million to play LF and trade for Denard Span to roam CF and bat leadoff. Believe it or not, the Twins are even more desperate for SPs than the Cubs and could use Span to get Delgado and possibly some throw-ins.

  • Mick

    Another interesting name that recently elected for Free Agency as oppossed to an assignment is Jim Hoey. Hoey is a tall righty reliever who easily and consistenly touches the upper-90’s but has bounced around organizations from Baltimore, Minnesota, and most recently the Blue Jays. At the time, he was the main piece acquired by Minnesota for JJ Hardy from Baltimore. After a season of inconsistency with the strike zone in Minnesota the Blue Jays picked him up off of waivers. Finally, Toronto must have made the same assesment with balls/strikes to option him off of their 40-man roster heading into this offseason.

    • Mick

      Good point Mick but we’ve got enough Hoey’s in our system and putting him on our 40-man at this point could be restrictive to what we want to do later on. If you’re looking for buy-low type FAs, these could be had in January or February on minor-league deals to add depth to our SP:

      Roberto Hernandez (formerly Fausto Carmona)
      Chien-Ming Wang
      Jonathan Sanchez
      Bartolo Colon

  • JR

    Levine = Mr. Obvious. At this point does Vitters have very much value at all? Lets bring him up, play him 25% of the time, and watch him hit .120. I still have no idea why they brought him up. He was playing well at AAA. Why not let him crush down there, then trade him this offseason. Pretty weird if you ask me.

    • Brett

      I think the Cubs could credibly say that they knew Vitters would struggle, but that they wanted him to see the challenge of the bigs before the offseason (and get big league instruction for a month or two in the process). In other words, I don’t really know how much the call-up and attending struggles hurt his trade value.

      • JR

        OK. I guess I was just assuming that it was a foregone conclusion he wasn’t the answer at 3rd for the Cubs. And if he has to play a corner outfield spot, he has little value to anyone. So I was just irritated they brought him up at all, and allowed others to see how bad he is. I am all about making players look better than they are to inflate their trade value. haha. But I do forget sometimes that other GM’s aren’t complete morons and that it’s not fantasy baseball.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          So I was just irritated they brought him up at all, and allowed others to see how bad he is…… But I do forget sometimes that other GM’s aren’t complete morons….

          All of the other teams watch all of the AAA (and other minor league) teams and players. The traits that limited Vitter’s performance (albeit in a very small sample size) were well-known and have been for some time.

          And that is part of the GM’s not being morons: they have to look at other people’s miLB teams, too!

  • Ed

    I just hope Vitters is not the next David Kelton.

  • GDB

    Why wouldn’t Barney be on the block?

    His major league career so far (1200+ PAs) – .263/.305/.354 – and he was worse than that in the season just finished.

    Do we anticipate him improving at the plate in the years to come? Or does + defense at 2B really make a differnce?

    I’d say trading him while his stock is “up” from the streak would make a lot of sense.

  • Alou and Vinegar

    There seems to be a lot of talk of the Cubs trading this winter, yet Levine doesn’t think Barney will be traded. I’m just not sure who the Cubs are going to trade to get much back in terms of value. Soriano won’t get much and Garza probably won’t go until the deadline. The only two on the big club that could bring anything back would be Barney and Russell. I could see one of those two gone along with Lake, Sczuer, Vitters, etc. for pitching.

  • Mike Taylor

    Do the Braves have anyone to play 3B? They might trade Delgado for Vitters and Campana.

    Marcum had a very down year. We need a pitcher that can make quality starts. He seems to be at the top salary as far as reclamation projects go. High risk, high reward. Brandon McCarthy would also be in this category. Due to his injury, he may only receive a one year deal. We’d have a GREAT rotation if we signed these two guys:

    Wood (L)

    • CubFan Paul

      Everyone forgets about Vizcaiano.

      • Alou and Vinegar

        I look for Vizcaino to spend the first half at Iowa and then take Garza’s spot when he is traded or come up if someone gets hurt.

        • North Side Irish

          I think Vizcaino spends the beginning of the year in extended spring training and then moves north when it gets warmer. I’d expect him to work as a reliever in 2013 to get his arm healthy and then get a shot at the rotation in 2014.

          • Eric

            Could not agree with this approach more. No need to rush him back whatsoever.

          • nkniacc13

            Sounded like the cubs had planned on keeping him in extst and then in the bullpen for the most part to limit his innings thru midseason

        • CastrotoBarneytoRizzo

          I’ve been away from the site for awhile, and just catching up on my reading material. Your moniker is classic. Well Done!

      • Cizzle

        Very small chance he starts a game in 2012, let alone gets a rotation spot from Spring Training on.

        • CubFan Paul


    • Frank

      Do the Braves have anyone to play 3B? They might trade Delgado for Vitters and Campana.

      Maybe if the Cubs were to throw in one of their top 10 prospects. I’m not saying that Vitters has 0 value, but at this point, we’d be selling low and would have no chance at getting Delgado. Campana has minimal value. Sure, he can run like the wind, but if he can barely crack a .300 OBP, he’s basically a pinch runner/late inning D replacement.

      • Toby

        Campana is a CF who can’t play CF well.

        • Dr. Percival Cox

          If Campana’s hit tools justified it, you could stick him in left since you would have to find a way to get a high OBP guy with that kind of speed in the lineup. But, since they don’t, he needs to do a lot of work.

      • hansman1982

        selling low? like the Padres did with Rizzo? Just because the dude had a bad 20-some odd games his first time in the bigs he still mashed AAA and his career proves that he struggles at new levels before taking off the next year…the kid can adjust and that is a big deal.

        Other GM’s will not be highly swayed by his MLB callup

        • Brett

          That’s not a bad comparison right there (obviously Rizzo was better thought-of, but it’s essentially the same situation; Rizzo’s ugly cup o’coffee didn’t scare me off from wanting him).

          • hansman1982

            yup…Vitters is not equals with 2011 Rizzo in terms of stature; however, few GM’s will alter their opinion of him. Had he struggled at AAA before MLB then maybe but this is no different than anything he has ever done in the past.

            • Drew7

              *no* different? Sure, he has struggled in the past when he starts new levels, but never as bad as he did this year. Obviously he’s better than what he showed this year, but he looked really overmatched in almost every AB.

      • AB

        The Braves have a couple 3b prospects better than anything the Cubs currently have there in the minors.

        • Luke

          The Braves have a couple of third base prospects that are better than Javier Baez?

          I’m not so sure of that.

          • Drew7

            Even if Baez isn’t included, who in the Braves’ system is better than Vitters/Villanueva/Candelario?

            Drury was probably their #1 3B prospect going into the year, and he raked to the tune of a .600-ish OPS. That was at the same level that Vitters – at the same age – put up an almost .900 OPS.

  • Frank

    Even when Vizcaino does make the big league club from everything I’ve heard it’s about 50/50 whether he’ll start or relieve. Obviously, he’s more valuable as a starter, but his durability will be the deciding factor.

  • Mike Taylor

    If we were to pick up Scott Baker, it would be the same scenario… Twins don’t think he can start, so he’s not worth the option… He could relieve for us and then start if the injury bug happens or after trades. All of 2013 will be Vizcaino working on building his arm strength back up.

    • MIck

      It’s not that the Twins don’t think he can start, the reason why Scott Baker will likely hit free agency is because he’s got a $9.25M option with no buy-out and he just underwent Tommy John surgery in April. The Twins need to acquire at least 3 SPs via trade or FA this offseason but I’m guessing they try to bring Baker back on a 1-year reduced contract hoping he returns to form by July.

  • Toby

    Too bad LaHair can’t play 3B.

    • DarthHater

      It’s not that hard… 😉

      • Tommy

        That’s what she said.

  • Dumpgobbler

    I could see Delgado being flipped for a couple guys, but I doubt its to the Cubs. Maybe Jackson interests them, but I doubt Vitters does.

    • gutshot5820

      I would trade Jackson in a heartbeat for Delgado and I don’t even think Delgado is that good. It is so disappointing to hear Cub fans get excited about picking up the scrapheap that other teams are basically giving away.

      • AB

        “Cub fans get excited about picking up the scrapheap that other teams are basically giving away”

        That’s probably how other teams fans would feel if they were getting guys like Vitters and Lake.

        • Alou and Vinegar


  • ruby2626

    A bit off topic but I was wondering what there is to do in AZ this time of year. I know it would be a blast to watch the Solar Sox play in Mesa but what is happening at Fitch? Are any of the minor league guys still hanging around? How many people attend the Solar Sox games, I would imagine prices are pretty cheap. Thanks in advance to anyone who wants to help out a true Cub fan.

    • Luke

      There is an instructional league that takes place in Arizona in the fall, but I don’t know what tickets would run… if they charge anything for them at all.

    • stillmisskennyhubbs

      Not to encourage cross-breeding, but John at Cubs Den is down there now, issuing daily reports. Take a look at Cubs Den.

  • nkniacc13

    I think the Cubs will look at trading Russell for a Marshal type deal. I think either Vitters or Lake gets moved this winter. I would be shocked if the Cubs don’t take on salary in order to get better prospects in any deal they make

  • Ramy16

    MLB trade rumors are saying that the Rangers and Red Sox are working on deal to acquire Jacoby Ellsbury? The odd man out is Leonys Martín.. Good young outfielder with little playing time… If i were the Cubs Trade Jackson then Swoop up Leonys Martín!

  • Ramy16

    Also I would not Trade Lake! Better Bat and Glove and a lot more upside… If we do trade Vitters that leaves us Chritian Villanueva, and Lake…. Unless We Move Baez to 3rd

    • Drew7

      Much, much lower floor, though.

      Your last point is probably the closest to the truth – Assuming he continues to progress, Baez will probably end up there, anyway.

  • Ramy16

    True Drew… I think the Braves will let Bourn go and sign ex Cub Angel Pagan

  • northsiders6

    probably a dumb question but when a team spends less than their salary cap, where does that money go? obviously things like stadium renovations and the like, but are teams allowed to spend it on minor league contracts or allowed to roll any sum of money over to the next year?

    By not spending big in the offseason do the Cubs have more money to spend in the following season?

    • King Jeff

      That’s completely up to the owners. There is supposed to be a minimum payroll that teams can carry, but a few teams have consistently been under that level and pocketed all revenue sharing. In the Cubs case, I don’t think they are going to say that they need to raise the payroll to a certain level because they spent less this year. They allocated that money all over the place this year.

  • Randy

    I get tired of people say this and that about prospects. The same people on here that are complaining about Vitters as a prospect, will be the same people ready to talk about how stupid management was for letting him go if they trade him and he produces somewhere else. A lot of prospects struggle their first taste of the big leagues especially when they are not getting regular at-bats. Atleast he is working at getting better. If you look at his numbers his first year at ever level he struggled and then came back, made the adjustments and rocked it. Give the guy a chance before you write him off.