The first day of the Winter Meetings has been rather busy … but mostly quiet for the Cubs.
- Gordon Wittenmyer, among others, tweets that the Cubs view David DeJesus as their center fielder going into 2013, and are thus looking for a right fielder. Given that the center field market is easily as robust as the right field market this year, I don’t entirely understand that position, unless the Cubs are trying to create value by putting DeJesus in a more valuable position (and plan to be able to add a better bat in RF than they could in CF (I’m skeptical – who is that going to be? Swisher? I don’t really see them in on guys like him)). If that’s the plan, well, then, fine. But I’d like to see a credible right fielder added, in that case. Obviously DeJesus’s bat plays much better in center than in right, so, at a minimum, I understand that piece. But I’m not sure of the relative differences in defense – to my eye, he looked excellent in right, and just passable in center.
- ESPNChicago’s Jesse Rogers got the sense after meeting with Theo Epstein that the Cubs might be “closing in” on a deal or two, perhaps for a lefty reliever and/or a non-tendered starter. Not the most exciting stuff, but the Cubs could use another lefty in the pen to pair with James Russell. Jeff Beliveau might end up being that guy, but the Cubs could use some options.
- Theo added that third base is very hard to fill in free agency now, and the Cubs might have to fill the position from within or in trade. He also said the Cubs remain open to bringing Ian Stewart back. It could even be a platoon situation, which might also be the case in the outfield.
- The Rangers have reportedly signed Joakim Soria to a two-year, $8 million deal. The righty was once a dominant closer before a down 2011 and subsequent Tommy John surgery. The deal seems modestly pricey given the risks, which has the potential to further enhance the market for a guy like Carlos Marmol, whom the Cubs could offer in trade such that the price tag is like, one year and $4 million.
- The Marlins are clearly shopping shortstop Yunel Escobar, which is understandable given the market (and their deep-seated desire to unload anyone and everyone making more than $12 next year). He’s been an intermittently very productive player, is just 30, and has a contract that pays him just $5 million in 2013, plus team options of just $5 million in each of 2014 and 2015. If that were the end of the story, you’d be screaming at the top of your lungs hoping that the Cubs could figure out some way to get him, and transition him to third base. But that isn’t the end of the story – the Braves dumped Escobar in 2010 after whispers that he was a poor fit in the clubhouse. Those whispers have followed him for a long time, and he was suspended this past year for writing a homophobic slur on his eye black. He’s got some issues. All in all, when considering the issues, plus the expected cost in trade, I’m not terribly interested in going down this road too much further than this particular post. We’ll see if the Cubs ever become credibly attached to him in rumors.
- Speaking of the Marlins dumping players, Ricky Nolasco, signed through 2013 for $11.5 million, wants out of Miami. He’s been trending downward for the last few years, but, at 29, he’s still probably worth a back-of-the-rotation spot. If the Marlins want to receive anything even marginally useful in trade, though, they’ll have to eat some salary. I don’t really expect the Cubs to be involved here, though they might inquire.
- Touching on the earlier Phillies center field discussion, they’ve also talked to the Rockies about Dexter Fowler. It sounds like a deal is a remote possibility, but obviously the Phillies filling their center field need through trade could impact the free agent market for center fielders (which may or may not interest the Cubs, given the above DeJesus bit), and could make them uninterested in discussing Alfonso Soriano.
- Speaking of Soriano, Theo Epstein told reporters tonight that, much like with Carlos Marmol, the Cubs have been up front with Soriano that they’re listening to offers, though they really appreciate what he’s done for the team. (Kind of sounds like a guy headed out the door, but I don’t want to read too much into paraphrased quotes.)