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Away we go …

  • One of the top arms in Korean baseball is set to be posted this offseason, and, assuming the Cubs like him, there’s little reason to believe they won’t have interest. Lefty Hyun-jin Ryu, 25, started tearing up professional baseball in Korea back in 2006 when he was a teenager. He won both Rookie of the Year and MVP that year, and has been very good since, but with only two seasons in the ensuing six that was quite as dominant. He’s not a blazer, with his fastball sitting in the high 80s, but he’s been an effective lefty, who’s just 25. That’s a prime target for the Cubs, but he comes with unique risk, having not pitched in MLB. He’ll also be subject to a posting fee (remember that process? teams submit blind, one-time bids for the exclusive right to offer Ryu a contract), which could fall into a wide range, depending on whose opinion you trust. The Cubs have had scouts in Korea for years, so they’ll be very familiar with Ryu. If they like him and believe he can succeed in the bigs, I see no reason they won’t make an aggressive bid. I suspect we’ll be hearing quite a bit more about him in the near future. I think I’ll be doing some heavy Ryu reading in the near future.
  • Some weeks ago, I mentioned righty Carlos Villanueva as a very conceivable target for the Cubs this offseason. The full details are here. Now that we’ve entered the negotiating window for teams with their own free agents, it’s worth reiterating that the Blue Jays are unlikely to re-sign Villanueva. From Gregor Chisholm: “Villanueva is seeking a multi-year contract and an opportunity to start, but that’s not something the Blue Jays are prepared to offer. The club is currently looking for upgrades to its rotation and doesn’t want to tie itself down this early in the process. That’s one of the reasons why Toronto didn’t extend Villanueva’s contract prior to the end of the year. Villanueva will instead likely be forced to look elsewhere as he tries to put the emphasis on the way his starting gig began (3.03 ERA in his first 11 starts) compared to the way it came to an end (8.10 in final five starts).”
  • I’ve laid out my thoughts on Japanese 18-year-old international free agent (potentially) Shohei Otani, and why, because of the CBA restrictions, he likely isn’t going to be a fit for the Cubs this year. But his name was twice attached to the Cubs in the last week – first by Phil Rogers, and next by Nick Cafardo – among other teams, so it’s worth mentioning. I’m not going to say that Phil and Nick didn’t exhaustively dig into the CBA’s international spending restrictions and implications for a team like the Cubs, who have already nearly exhausted their pool for this signing period, but, um … well, you know. That said, I left open – and still leave open – the possibility that there is an angle here to which we mere mortals are not privy. Maybe the Cubs aren’t worried about signing restrictions next year because they don’t anticipate wanting any of the big names (not bloody likely, given that they’ll have the second largest pool with which to work). Maybe the Cubs expect that Otani really will wait until July to sign, at which point the Cubs can be much more aggressive in their bidding. Who knows. I’m saying on that I wouldn’t read too much into these particular mentions of “the Cubs appear to be big players” for Otani (Cafardo’s words). The best bet for the Cubs to be truly in on Otani (if they really want him) is if he waits to sign until the next signing period begins in July.
  • There is one more third base option on the market for next year, though it won’t knock your socks off: Placido Polanco. The Phillies declined their half of his $5.5 million option for 2013, instead paying a $1 million buyout, which means they see his free agent value as something less than $4.5 million. Although he once again played well above average defense, he hit just .257/.302/.327 and had a couple of back injuries. He’s also 37. Is he really a better option than Luis Valbuena or even taking a risk on Ian Stewart? Don’t you hate that that is a reasonable question to ask? Mercy the third base market is terrible …
  • MLBTR put together a full list of arbitration projections for all teams, which makes for a handy dandy conversation starter about possible non-tender targets.
  • With the offseason in full swing, here’s a reminder to follow Bleacher Nation on Twitter, and “like” it on Facebook. This time of year a lot shows up there that doesn’t always make it here to the site – and it’s also a convenient way to get your rumor fix without having to check the site constantly (which, like, is also a fine thing to do).
  • Spencer

    O’s may not pick up Mark Reynolds’ option. He may be worth a look.

    • terencem

      I wouldn’t mind Reynolds at all. I kind of move back and forth on whether or not he’s a realistic target for this front office. It seems strange that they’d pursue a guy who strikes out as much as Reynolds at a time when they’re preaching plate discipline and that their players should develop a better feel for the strike zone. On the other hand, Reynolds cut his strike outs way down last season (for him).

      • Spencer

        yeah and he walks a decent amount. his K rate is still pretty high though.

      • Drew7

        He knows the zone (12% career BB-rate), he just misses the ball. I wouldn’t mind his bat,but guy is an absolute butcher at 3rd.

        • terencem

          guy is an absolute butcher at 3rd

          And there’s the other problem.

  • Spencer

    And I guess I don’t really understand the penalty on international signings. If a team goes over their cap, that affects their ability to give bonuses to ANY player they sign next year, not just international players?

    And it only affects the bonuses that they can give players, right? Maybe they won’t need huge bonuses to lure players because their draft pool money is so large.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      International and Draft are totally separate. Busting one pool has no impact on the other. The Shohei article I linked has a full rundown on the international penalties/implications/etc.

      • Spencer

        yeah, i reread it. and still don’t get it.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Not sure what else there is to say – were I trying to answer in the comments here, I would just be re-typing what is in that post. There’s a link from Baseball America in that post that goes into more detail on the CBA changes. Maybe that’s a starting place.

        • Chris

          Spencer, here is the BA article that talks about international free agent signing penalties.

          http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/international-affairs/2012/2613345.html

  • terencem

    You bring up the point about having scouts in South Korea for years – I wonder how that’s translating (no pun intended) with the new office? Hopefully this does uniquely position the Cubs to understand the value of bringing over Ryu. It’ll be interesting to see what the posting fee estimates are once they start rolling in. We knew before Darvish’s winning bid was announced that it would probably be a record. I doubt Ryu breaks $50 MM but teams are kind of desperate.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, I didn’t even want to hazard a guess at his posting fee, because folks’ guesses in recent years have been notoriously awful, ranging by factors of 10.

      • Sung

        We need to sign this kid Ryu. I am a Korean American having lived in Chicago since 86 and have followed him since he was a high schooler. He is really good. He is a LEFTY with 4 pitches he commands well. He would fit into our rotation perfectly. Maybe 3rd behind Garza, Samardzija. He is only 25 yrs old and has pitched many crucial games in WBCs, Asian games, Beijing Olympics and done very well. He is very comparable to the Oriole’s Chen, who has done great last 2 years. Against Darvish, only difference I see is fastball. Ryu tops about 93 mph.

        His strength: Tenacity, No Fear. As the top of the rotation guy, he has always pitched all of the important games again Japan, Taiwan, and Cuba. Talking about pressure, pitching against Japan is PRESSURE. You MUST win. He is a proven competitor.
        Also, he will have no problem fitting in with other guys. He is a funny and positive person. A lot of the non Korean players playing in Korea picked as the pitcher who will most likely succeed in MLB.

        Only concern: having pitched so many games so far, his durability will be my concern.
        In Korea, pitch count has been introduced not many years ago. But, he has no history of major health issue. Secondly, he hired Scott Boras as his agent. That would be Theo’s problem.

        I hope we sign this kid. His team wants posting bid to start around $10 M. I expect the bidding to be very competitive.

        • P Hertz

          Let’s see; Had TJ surgery in high school. Has a bad delivery. Never pitched in the Major leagues. Projects to be a reliever. Plus changeup, meh fastball, meh curveball. Looks like a LOOGY. Not a starter.

  • fortyonenorth

    By the sounds of it, David Wright is going to re-up with the Mets, so yes, the market at third is slim. I like Youk, but a small part of me thinks it would be great fun to have Polanco and Barney on the same infield, if even for a year or two.

    • terencem

      I wonder if a platoon of Valbuena and Polanco would make sense? That would be a great defensive platoon and maybe Polanco you take the bet that Polanco can hit closer to his career split against lefties than he did last year.

      • cubs1967

        boy is it hard to be a fan when you have to banter over which player will suck less; valbuena or planco……….maybe 1 day the emphasis will be back on TYRING to win.

        anyway; those 2 will play good def and are both classic platoon players at this point so assuming planco wants to play more than win and be a back-up; he’d be a good fit.

        one thing to consider this off season and prob next; now everyone knows the cubs are losing on purpose; where last year there was some questions about this with theo being so new; who wants to play for a team that is gonna lose on purpose and know the 2nd half; any vet over 28 with talent will be traded?……..only the desparate of the desparate or those that get overpaid-like dejesus.

        carlos v would be a good sign………has some upside……perhaps. good call!

        • Drew7

          Why do think DeJesus is overpaid?

        • Myles

          Yeah, why don’t the Cubs sign one of those impact bats at 3B? Oh wait…

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          What’s wrong with being on a losing team with the knowledge you’ll be traded?
          One thing they can count on, is that there will be zero pressure in April, May, June and come July, they will be traded to a pennant race.
          Someone who just signs with a team *expected* to compete, might be let down when that teams sucks (2012′s BoSox, Phillies)

          • Lou

            Well, there’s that theory then there’s lots of FA who want to sign with the Yankees, even if they do suck (in the playoffs, that is.)

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Actually, the Yanks do pretty well in post-season. For example, they have the most “upset” victories in the first round of any team out there, and they are the only team to twice have negative Sept. run differentials and make it to the 2nd round anyway, including in 2010.

              The Yankees do, however, show that there is no such thing as being “built for October”: there is only “built to play in October.”

              • DocPeterWimsey

                *Of course, the fact that the Yanks have the most first round appearances helps a lot for having the “most” of anything in that round….

              • Lou

                Actually, doc it was more of a tongue and cheek comment. Yes, the Yanks do well in the postseason, I agree. My comment’s more about the allure of playing with the Yanks as a FA.

          • Mick

            Put yourself in the FA’s shoes. Would you want to move your family to Chicago only to uproot them 6 months later? I can’t imagine why any player would sign a 1 or 2-year deal with the Cubs this off-season unless it was their only option.

            • Kyle

              Would I? Depends on a lot of factors.

              Would any player? Same thing. There are far too many different factors going into each decision to make blanket statements about what players would or wouldn’t do.

              • Mick

                No, I’m confident in making this blanket statement, “I can’t imagine why any player would sign a 1 or 2-year deal with the Cubs this off-season unless it was their only option.”

                Kerry Wood’s retired otherwise he may have been the exception.

                • Tommy

                  Not all ballplayer’s have families, so that isn’t always a factor. Also, different things are important to different people – I’m sure there are a large portion of players that are going to take the most money they can get wherever they can get it from. And if that happens to be a bad team that will probably trade you away, I don’t think that will change their minds.

              • http://www.hookersorcake.com Jade

                Think about it. You want to sign with a company that will probably trade you to another company in a few months. And then go into another off season not knowing where you’ll be living in 3 months from now? Maybe if your 20, if you’re 30+ as most free agents are, and have a family? The one thing you probably want is to provide is some stability and security. MLB $ go a long way in providing that but a contract that is 5 years = 10/5 or a NTC has got to be icing on the cake.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Someone who just signs with a team *expected* to compete, might be let down when that teams sucks (2012′s BoSox, Phillies)

            True. But someone expecting to get traded to a contender might be let down when:
            a) the teams that want you don’t have anything your current team wants;
            b) you are traded to a pretender rather than a contender;
            c) you are traded to a contender that just misses.

            Moreover, what did the Phils and Sox do after their seasons imploded? They traded players to contenders! So, if you sign with a probable contender, then you basically get two chances: one with that team and a second if that team falls apart and starts trading pieces such as yourself. Signing with a contender reduces the chances of c, too (assuming that you are good): if your new team misses by 1-2 games and you would have made up those 1-2 games in the first 4 months, then the fates went about it all wrong!

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Interesting, especially given the fact that each can play multiple positions. Thing, though, is that I wonder if Polanco will be able to get a starting job somewhere in this market. Might not have to settle for a platoon.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That said, given the dearth of options, I think I might really be into this idea.

          Edit: Ah, but I forgot – Valbuena has a pretty strong reverse split. That is to say, in his career, he’s hit lefties better than righties. Not really an ideal platoon candidate.

          • terencem

            Ah crap. I always forget about that, too. No need to target a right handed hitter, maybe.

      • Stinky Pete

        Why do you say they are trying to lose?

  • hcs

    I don’t know, personally I would prefer to see a healthy Ian Stewart get a shot at third next year, on something like a $1m contract. Low risk, potential huge reward.

    • Tommy

      I agree. My gut tells me the Cubs will resign Stewart to a one-year deal. I don’t see him getting much in terms of offers from other teams, and I think the Cubs may still be hoping to see a return on their investment. It would be a shame to have him go through this surgery on his wrist and find out that was the real problem with his swing, only to let him flourish somewhere else. Do I think that is what will happen? No. I personally get the feeling that Stewart is a bit of a hypochondriac and will never live up to his potential, but I’ve been wrong plenty.

      Sure would be nice if he’d turn into the power hitting 3rd baseman with a good glove that we’re all dying for, though.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    What about 3B Eric Chavez free agent from the Yankees ? Sign him & Keppinger & platoon the two of them. Not costly , proven vets, who could hold the position until Baez or Villanueva are ready to compete at the ML level. I’d bet between the 2 of them Chavez & Keppinger would hit 20 HR’s & drive in 75 – 80 runs while playing some solid defense.

    • http://wavesoftalent.webs.com tim

      Many of which would be for another team, as those numbers ould get them both dealt. So Vitters can try gain. Not disagreeing, just saying.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Giving Vitters another shot may not be such a bad thing. He made some significant strides in 2012, and he should have a pretty good idea what he needs to work on. He could be back in Chicago and playing decently well in the second half of next season.

        • Turn Two

          I agree, would much rather take my chances on vitters than waste another season on Stewart.valbuena is fine defensively, but those guys ard a dime a dozen take a chance on the young bat before someone else does

    • terencem

      That is if Chavez continues to stay healthy. He has 1 season with over 300 PAs since 2007.

      • terencem

        Many of which would be for another team, as those numbers ould get them both dealt. So Vitters can try gain. Not disagreeing, just saying.

        You’re probably right and this can be said of any free agent signing this off-season.

    • King Jeff

      I think Chavez would be a solid pick-up if the Yankees don’t bring him back.

  • calicubsfan007

    Someone mentioned Dallas Braden. He might be a worthwhile guy to add, whether by trade or free agency. I love Chavez, loved him since I was in Oakland. Great hitter, great fielder. He is being underrated right now. I know he has had injury problems, but the glaring hole at third for us could be seen as a golden opportunity for both sides. Besides, no one really wants Valbuena or Stewart to play third for us, right?

  • Dustin

    I still think Youk makes the most sense. Given his age,I wouldn’t give him a 3 or 4 year deal. I would stick around a 1 or 2 year deal. He knows the management well and knows what they expect. He would give great leadership to the up and coming young guys as well. Just my 2 cents.

  • ETS

    ken

    • ETS

      apparently I fail at the image uploads….

      oh well, I’ll give you the gist
      blah blah blah Street Fighter II reference.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        (I’m a helper.)

  • Kyle

    Congratulations in advance on our second-place bid for Ryu.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He’ll be here all week, everybody. Tip your waitress!

  • Lou

    Rangers declined option on Feldman. Might be solid for the bullpen.

    • terencem

      It would be nice to have some solid looking guys in the bullpen but there are a lot of young bullpen arms with promise going into this off-season for the Cubs.

      • Kyle

        I agree, but we still *really* could use at least one veteran and preferably two to smooth things out.

        Marmol, Russell, Dolis, Bowden, Chapman, Beliveau is all that’s left now that Cabrera is being converted to starting. I wouldn’t mind seeing Zych or another prospect force his way in, but that doesn’t seem likely at this point.

        Anything can happen with bullpens, and it only takes one guy (Dolis?) taking a big step forward to change everything, but as it stands that pen has some horrific downside.

  • MikeCubs

    Ian Kinsler might be worth a look as a 3rd base option. He’s 30 years old and there’s word that the Rangers may be interested in trading him. Not sure how his arm plays at 3rd, but he did play a game there last year. He’s coming off a bit of a down year and has a large contract. Maybe there’s a reasonable trade scenario in which the Cubs can leverage their financial strength by taking on Kinsler’s contract plus offering a “win next year” return (i.e. centered around Soriano + cash or Darwin Barney + prospects). Although, then we have a hole in LF or 2B to fill. At 30, he’s a little past his prime but may have 5 years of solid production left, which hopefully fits into our window nicely.

    Another younger option might be Seattle’s Kyle Seager who turns 25 in Nov. He has 20 HR pop from the left side (especially impressive considering their ballpark). He’s inexpensive and under team control, so he may be part of Seattle’s plans, but maybe worth an inquiry. Not sure how highly regarded he is in terms of what the Cubs would have to give up.

    A more out of the box option…Joe Mauer as the Cubs 3rd baseman? No idea if he can play 3rd or if his body can handle the demands, but he’s on the right side of 30 and the Twins are no doubt regretting that contract. Maybe another way to leverage the Cubs’ financial strength and not give up the farm.

    • CF

      It’s extremely unlikely that Seattle will be giving up Kyle Seager for a reasonable price. He just finished his first full year in MLB and, as you mentioned, had a very good year in a terrible hitting ballpark. And Seattle will be looking to trade for hitting, not to trade away hitting. Seattle has some great AA and AAA starting pitching prospects they could be talked into parting with for high-end hitters, but the Cubs don’t have anyone of that caliber within shouting distance of AAA. In short, a trade between the Cubs and Seattle is highly unlikely.

  • cubsfan21

    Brett, Any chance the braves would be a trading partner for the cubs? They need outfielders and have a lot of pitching. We could give up a combination of dejesus/b jackson/ lahair/ or soriano. Im guessing if Soriano is traded, it will be to an American League team but b jackson and lahair are team controlled for a few years and dejesus is a successful veteran with a decent contract. The cubs could try and get Delgado again or go for Minor or teheran. I see alot of different combinations and options that could work

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I definitely see a variety of matches between the Braves and Cubs.

      http://www.bleachernation.com/2012/10/09/lukewarm-stove-braves-pitchers-free-agent-pitchers-soriano/

    • CubFan Paul

      The best bet in my opinion to get pitching from the Braves is Soriano. Without playing in Florida, the Braves is about as close to the Dominican as it gets. That’s Sori’s #1 demand, an east coast contender.

      the Braves are definitely in the market for a RH power bat for LF. If the cubs pay all of Sori’s contract minus the Major League minimum for the next two years, Delgado and or Teheran are guaranteed in a package.

      • nkniacc13

        Id take Uggla in a deal if it got Delgado or Teheran and then turn around an trade barney for prospects. I know thats not what most want to hear but I could handle taking on $ in to get a young good SP.

        • CubFan Paul

          I don’t think Uggla is available (the Braves have $25M to spend so payroll space for new additions isn’t a problem) but if he is then hell yea, we need the pop

      • Kevin

        Do you believe eating Soriano’s salary over the next 2 years, $36M, should only net Delgato or Teheran? That s a lot of money to pay for a prospect.

  • João Lucas

    Completely off topic, but does anyone know about any special off-season rule concerning the 60-day DL? I didn’t think there was any until I saw that for the last couple of days some teams have been activating players who were on the DL for months (like the Rangers’ Neftali Feliz), which I think wouldn’t make any sense unless it was mandatory. And indeed it sounds too good to be true that teams could just keep players on the DL all through April so as to have extra spots on the 40-man roster for all off season transactions.

    • Kyle

      It’s mandatory. There is no DL in the offseason.

      • João Lucas

        Thanks. I had no idea.

  • nkniacc13

    yes with in the first 5 days after the WS ends all 60 day DL players must be actived

  • Ryan

    Kevin Youkilis!

  • CM

    What I find interesting is given the payroll obligations, or lack thereof, and the possible short term players out there, doesn’t it seem like there’s a combination (assuming they had good seasons, but not necessarily great or career years) that could make the Cubs at least contenders in the Central while they continue their current long term plans? Thoughts?

    • Kyle

      They absolutely could. It’s only a matter of if they want to.

      • CubFan Paul

        Agreed. Through trades and short term free agents the Cubs could easily be a 80-85 win team going into April (that trades away 40% of the rotation again in July) but wins around 70 games.

        That’s competing (unlike 2012) and rebuilding simultaneously.

      • jt

        Earlier you mentioned the lack of experience in the BP. I certainly hope they add a couple of guys with a MLB track record that speaks well of them. But, perhaps it is all about evaluation. There are some that will turn out to be pretenders in that group you mentioned; maybe all of them? In the near future those guys should be able to handle having their feet put to the fire. If not then address the BP in another manner. If it goes well, then perhaps the BP becomes their trading strength.
        At this point, who knows?

  • cubsin

    Based on their brief history with the Cubs, I’d expect the front office will be very interested in pursuing Carlos Villanueva and the Korean pitcher. They may kick the tires on Anibal Sanchez and Dan Haren, but that’s all I expect them to do there.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    Germano elected free agency.

  • http://Yes Dude

    GG announcement show starts in 30. Good luck Barney.

  • North Side Irish

    Jason Parks ‏@ProfessorParks
    The BP prospect list for the #Cubs is slowly rounding into shape. Top-heavy impact w/ bats, but several arms worth following. I like it.

    I’m sure Goldstein is disappointed in him…

  • Dustin

    Congrats Barney on his first gold glove award!! Hopefully many more to come for him.

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    Barney wins the gold glove. Rightfully so!!!

  • Chung

    For those interested in seeing Ryu’s stuff here is a video of his last game I believe. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQS_fQrv9Cw&feature=BFa&list=PL80CBEE821EB7666D

    Fantasy CPR also did a scouting piece on him.
    http://fantasycpr.com/2012/09/05/scouting-ryu-hyun-jin-off-the-radar/

  • ruby2626

    To me Kevin Youkilis would be the perfect Cub signing. If nothing else the “Greek God of Walks” could teach the other players the advantages of working the count and waiting for a pitch to hit. Make it a one year deal (yes we’ll probably have to overpay since it’s only one year) and if he’s having a good year and we’re out of the playoff hunt flip him for a prospect or 2 at the trading deadline. Remember when Fukudome first came to the Cubs, everyone seemed to embrace the way he worked the count, even Aramis Ramirez got a ton of walks that year.

  • ruby2626

    Out of curiousity I just looked up Ramirez’ career stats to see if my comment was accurate. Sure enough in 2008 he walked a career high 74 times, a whopping 20 more than his 2nd highest year. Maybe a guy like Youkilis could have the same effect on some of the younger players as Fukudome did his first year with the Cubs, sure wouldn’t hurt.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Fukudome was on the Cubs in 2009 &2010, yet ARam went back to normal in those years. That pretty much falsifies a “If Fukudome’s there then Aram Walks” hypothesis. Instead, I’d just chalk it up to chance. ARam always had a decent batting eye: his walk rates had been around 7% in the prior years. Yes, you’d expect such a big deviation about once in every 100 seasons. However, that’s about 9 players per year in all of MLB! Moreover, ARam did not maintain it, which indicates that whatever happened in 2008 was not repeatable: i.e., just like a chance event.

      Overall, it is extremely unusual for players to increase significantly the number of walks that they take. We had one big exception here in Chicago: Sammy Sosa. It’s a little more common for guys to see their walk rates drop later in their career: but that’s because they have to start swinging earlier, which necessarily widens their trigger zone.

      • ruby2626

        If you want a big deviation how about Cub walks as a team going up from 500 to 636 from 2007 to Fukudome’s first year on the team 2008, that’s a huge increase of over 27%. Obviously a lot of that can be credited to Fukudome himself but I don’t think it’s crazy to credit a lot of that to the influence he had on other players.

  • http://www.opportunity.org Seamhead

    According to MLBTR, the Haren/Santana talks are heating up, and several other starting pitchers are involved in trade talks before the Friday deadline.

    No mention as to who the Angels’ potential trade partners might be, but the note suggested that the other SP’s in play might be more appealing to teams than Haren/Santana.

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