I wonder how frantically the Cubs’ front office is handling phone calls right now. I assume they’ve got contingency plans for contingency plans for contingency plans – I just hope that the last contingency isn’t: do nothing, add no Rule 5-eligible players to the 40-man, roll the dice on Rule 5 Draft day. Or, if that is the last contingency, let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
- Jeremy Guthrie re-signed with the Royals for three years and $25 million, which is of tangential interest to the Cubs. No, they were never really connected to Guthrie by rumor (fine by me), but his price tag has implications for the middle tier starting pitcher market. Setting aside the odd structure of the deal ($5 million in 2013, $11 million in 2014, $9 million in 2015), he gets $8.333 million per year after a great half season in Kansas City. Of course, before that great half season he was a below average innings eater, working on a 76 ERA+ in Colorado. He’s an adequate 4/5 on a non-playoff team, and he’ll be 34 next year. If that’s a guy who draws a three-year deal worth more than $8 million per year, the Cubs’ Scott Baker signing is looking better and better. I’m reminded of the market as it stood back in 2007, when the Cubs gave Jason Marquis a three-year, $22ish million deal when he, too, was coming off a stretch of being a below average starter with meh peripherals. He was an adequate back-end starter, and his price tag reflected a boom in free agent prices that would span the next couple seasons. In other words, the market is the market, and the rate for Guthrie is the rate for Guthrie. Be prepared to be surprised by the price tag if and when the Cubs ink someone like Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, or Francisco Liriano (with the former two obviously coming at a much higher rate).
- The Royals are still looking to trade for a veteran starter, by the way, according to Buster Olney. That’s probably of little import to the Cubs, though. While the Royals were previously connected to Matt Garza (last offseason), that was before his elbow troubles, and back when he was under control for two more seasons.
- Kyuji Fujikawa, the dominant Japanese closer in whom the Cubs have expressed interest, has upwards of 10 offers already, and is seriously considering five teams. No word on which teams fall into which categories, but we know the Cubs liked him enough to bring him into Chicago to tour the facilities (which I’m sure were compelling (have I mentioned lately that renovating Wrigley Field is very important for a variety of reasons?)).
- Bruce Levine just wrapped a chat a little bit ago. Among his thoughts: (1) He amplified his comments yesterday poo-poo’ing the rumors of a “big trade” involving “young players” – “Never predicted a trade of Cubs prospects, only that there was some interest in Chisenhall for a while. Sources told me yesterday that the Cubs are not intent on trading their young players at ‘this’ particular point or time” – which doesn’t really mean a whole lot, since we don’t know what is meant by “young players” (are we talking Javier Baez, or are we talking Junior Lake? Huge difference there), we don’t know what is meant by “intent on trading,” and we don’t know what is meant by “this particular point in time”; (2) Bruce is not a B.J. Upton fan and doesn’t think the Cubs should pursue him (or Justin Upton, given the expected cost in prospects, for that matter); (3) the Cubs are “definitely” stretching Michael Bowden out, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll come to camp next year as a starting option – the Cubs might just be having him work on different things; (4) there is nothing new to report with respect to Francisco Liriano or Ryan Dempster; (4) the Cubs’ interest in Fujikawa would make more sense if interest in Carlos Marmol picks up later in the offseason, but the Cubs aren’t looking to dump Marmol for nothing; (5) if the Cubs could go back in time and not trade Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu, according to Bruce, they would take it back; (6) the Cubs’ doctors didn’t like what they saw in Dan Haren’s medicals, so the Cubs are unlikely to pursue him as a free agent; and (7) Grant Balfour is not a good fit for the Cubs.