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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.)
  • http://www.justinjabs.com/blog/ justinjabs

    I like the new Stove. Is that new this offseason?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That’s the “hot” version – pretty much only shows up during the Winter Meetings.

      • TWC

        I kinda miss the old lukewarm stove. Seemed more … catastrophic.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          You mean the really old one?

          • TWC

            The one that was, like, *Ka-BOOM*, burned and melted.

        • TC

          I miss that one too, maybe it should be pulled out on slow news days?

  • Myles

    I really, really hope we come out of the meetings with more than a non-tendered starter and a reliever.

    • Matty Ice

      Unfortunately that would go against Theo’s plan to lose 100 games again next year

      • King Jeff

        Sign two starters and a top level bullpen arm before the winter meetings begin = plan to lose 100 games next year.

        • When the Music’s Over

          The Cubs can sign pitchers 5 more arms, but until they address their offensive issues, it’s very fair for people to think this team will once again lose a bunch of games. Maybe not 100, but doubt it would be less than 90.

  • cubz23

    My hope is tha the cubs do try and get Bourne. If they are trying to contend in 2014 why ot Bourne is just the type of guy you want manning CF. Defense and speed on the bases even with a .335 OBP.

  • http://bleachernation John

    Brett,
    I must admit this week is one of my favorites in sports besides March madness. But I must say that it is hard to get exited this year about the winter meetings. In your honest do you trust what Theo and company are doing? And why can’t they pUt at least a competitive team out there by stepping up and paying someone to at least compliment Castro and Rizzo? If they do that and add a descent pitcher then they may surprise someone.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I do trust it, but I agree with you that there is unlikely to be any “exciting” moves this week for the Cubs. Like I’ve been saying all offseason, I just don’t see the Cubs “going for it” in 2013 – instead focusing on undervalued assets, building up the young core, and then possibly hitting the free agent market harder next year.

  • http://Bleachernation.com Frank

    I’m kind of skeptical too about the whole right field-centerfield idea. A week or two ago,I can’t remember if it was theo or Jed said if they put dejesus in center it would weaken their defense. I hope this is not another year of watching the other teams make trades and sign fa’s while we get little or nothing.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think folks may have mis-heard/mis-understood Theo. I’ve started to see full quotes, and it looks more like he was saying the Cubs *can* get a RF if they want, because DeJesus can play CF – rather than saying the Cubs definitely will get a RF.

  • Muck

    Back on that Fowler thing, lets get Colvin back I loved that guy lol. Or LeMahieu. If we’d still have them they’d both fix our outfield and 3rd base problems. I don’t know if Theo didn’t like how they played or anything. Maybe. who knows.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      LeMahieu doesn’t have the power to stick at third. He’s probably a 2B going forward, but he isn’t in the same league as Barney defensively.

      • Muck

        True you’d probably almost rather stick Valbuena or Vitters in there than him and still get the same production. And ya he’s not even close to Barney

    • Eric

      Look at Colvin’s home/road splits and you’ll see his overall #’s were a product of his home ballpark. That trade didn’t work out but it doesn’t really bother me the way it does some.

      • Kyle

        That’s true, but his even his road OPS would have made him a very nice option as a left-handed 4th outfielder that can play CF (incidentally, something we are looking for this offseason). And LeMahieu is a nice utility infielder (while we trotted out Joe Mather’s -2 WAR). And both are still pre-arb.

        We got utterly fleeced on that deal, plain and simple.

        • Muck

          Where the hell is Casey Weathers anyways?? The pitcher we got in the deal

        • bbmoney

          Can we not rehash this trade again? It’s been talked about ad nauseum.

          Cubs clearly lost the trade. But the quality of the players they lost is not exactly killing them. I think that’s as far as we need to go.

  • http://Bleachernation.com Frank

    I like the pitching depth they are adding but unless they add offense,it’s only trade chips. We will lose games 2-1 or 3-2 instead of 10-2 or 9-1. It will make us look better. Let’s be optimistic, maybe we can win 65 games this year.

  • King Jeff

    Do you think they are considering adding a corner outfield because that’s where the potential “middle of the order” bats are available? With the third base market playing out like it is, we are more than likely looking at a platoon there, and likely not a lot of production. So, maybe there is a better match for what they feel the team needs from the free agent RF’s as compared to what’s available for CF.

  • gutshot5820

    Our outfield is going to be the worst in MLB. No Soriano, a mediocre Dejesus and strikeout machine Jackson. Even if we think Almora and Solar are going to be stars, that’s 3 years away.

    Why can’t we overpay on three-four year contracts and let the kids transition to the Cubs at the tail end of veteran contracts. And what if both have hiccups like Vitters and Jackson? What then?

  • MightyBear

    Is there any truth to the rumor that the cubs may have interest in Roberto Hernandez “the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona “?

    • daveyrosello

      God lets hope not. Ugh.

  • KYCub

    I just threw up a little thinking of Vitters playing 3B again this year. The thought of Ian Stewart gives me GAS!

    Can you tell I don’t have a good feeling about 3B next year?

    • leroy

      Why is 3rd base Such a hard position to fill? I mean I know a lot of people soured on Aram but he was our best 3rd basemen since Ron Santo—sadness.

  • Zachary

    The free agent class next year is also pretty weak. The top free agent most likely sign extensions. So it could be awhile til we see a good product on the field. I don’t see us cubs fans taking two more seasons of this.

    • Holden

      I just looked at the 2014 crop also, and it was terrible. There is nothing at 3rd or the outfield. There are some decent SP options but that is it. They will probably get locked up.

      • Lou

        This could easily be the trend with teams locking up FAs and guys at the top of the FA class going for top dollar. So, anyone who just simply feels that all Theo will have to do is simply acquire some FAs to fill holes once younger players are coming up is dreaming. Also, those young players that are coming up, other teams will want them in trades if they’re going to give their top player to the Cubs. So, the other teams are going to ask for guys like Lake or Maples, more like Soler or Almora. When I read this website, I think people here believe that the farm system is being built to trade some of those players. I’ve always contended that Theo wishes to keep his farm system intact. Gonna be 2016 at the earliest before the Cubs contend. Maybe even 2017 or 2018.

  • cubsin

    Fearless Prediction: You’re all going to love our RF platoon of Dave Sappelt and Ryan Sweeney.

    • TonyP

      Oh hell

  • Coolbeans

    Here is something to consider:
    If I’m Theo, I’m signing Grilli, Sean Burnett, and McCarthy/Marcum and here is why. First, it would be the first time we will have a respectable bullpen. Lets see
    Bullpen: fujikawa, marmol, Grilli, Burnett, Camp, James Russel.
    Now that is a respectable bullpen. On to the rotation.
    Rotation: garza, shark, McCarthy, baker, feldman
    With decent bounce back years from baker and Feldman, we might be ok. If you remember, the cubs would have started out like 8-2 if the bullpen didn’t blow like 5 games right off the bat. That’s demoralizing to a club. Ya, our hitting is bad but if theo can pull of something and bring in one more middle of the order bat, then we are looking at a competitive team. For me, I see something good if we have a respectable bullpen. Call me crazy, but if starlin and rizzo break out in a decent way, a little momentum/groove with the pitching staff and bullpen, then you might see an 85 win team right here.

    • Lou

      Not sure the Cubs will be able to get McCarthy or Marcum, though. Sounds like Theo wants someone more like Lannan.

  • TonyP

    I was really hoping that we would go after Soria… Oh well

  • ruby2626

    Per Dave Van Dyke, Soto reupped with Rangers one year $2.75M. Story also says Brewers have offered Dempster 2 year contract but he is holding out for 3. Japanese exec says new guy could definitely close but has lost a bit on his fastball previously 96 or 97.

  • http://bleachernation.com frank hutch

    no way in the world the cubs win 85 games next year even with those additions. We have no offense

  • fastball

    If they are looking for a RF they better be looking for a pretty good LF as well. If they trade Soriano this team is gonna be so weak hitting and run producing it will be pathetic. I know dammed well they are not going to sign a 30 Hr and 100 rbi replacement for Soriano and they are not going to sign someone who can do it in RF either. Its like we are being waterboarded over and over. Sign some poser from the Pirates if you want but trade Marmol for some garbage prospect. It sure does smell like the path they are on. I pray that I am dead wrong. We don’t have a RF so we need somebody who can play and produce. We aren’t going to get these players dumping Soriano and Marmol. I don’t want to see some garbage prospect that’s something like we already have 40 of in this system. I hope this works better than last years trades minus Rizzo for Cashner

  • Brad

    Why are we all worried about our win loss record? You either win the World Series or you go home and try again next year. As much as I completely and utterly hate watching the cubs lose game after game I would much rather see our assets short term aka soriano and MARMOL flipped for potential beneficiaries that can potentially help to contend/possibly win a World Series from 2015 and beyond. Someone tell me I’m not completely crazy.

  • fastball

    If you dump Soriano and flip these pitchers at the deadline again they wont win as many as this year. We couldn’t score runs even when we had good pitching. If we have Valbuena st 3b we are going to absolutely be terrible. They cant sell me that garbage. We as fans deserve betterthan valbuena. Our pitching staff is made up of a TJ rehab another bad elbow rehab a guy who they picked up Dempster forbecause he wasn’t good enough and 2 guys with a season and a half between them and they were inconsistent all year. With this team as it is currently assembled 62 wins in 2013. They will have to bring up a bunch of scrubs like last year and the last three months are s repeat of this year.

    • Matty V

      I’m curious as to what you think they should do instead. Keep Soriano and Marmol until their contracts run out and get nothing for them? Those two couldn’t get them to the playoffs last year and will not put them over the top this year. If they can get the Cubs valuable players with which a consistent winner can be built, I’d gladly endure your 62-loss scenario next year.

    • Brian Peters

      Lol!!! When have the Cubs had a decent pitching corps?? Demp and Garza?? REALLY? So the Cubs need to address the offense? How do teams win World Series rings? Wait for it, wait for it….pitching and…..? What’s that? Defense? Bingo!!! Now, the pitchers they’ve picked up aren’t going to win Cy Young awards. They are here to fill gaps. The defense isn’t horrific, but it could be better. Now, let’s get back to the idea of picking up FAs who can add some pop to the Cubs lineup. Let’s spend millions and millions to get Hamilton, Bourn, Superman, my favorite Avenger Thor, and won’t they pile in to see ‘em play. That kind of thinking has us in the hole we’re in. Now, I implore you, allow Theo & Co. A chance to dig us out. At the end of the day, does it mean we won’t spend money in a year or two on some big-time FAs? Nope. Does it mean we’ll win a World Series? No guarantees there. For the love of Tinker, Evers, and Chance, give those hired to turn the Cubs around time to work a plan. That’s all.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Teams do not win WS with pitching and fielding: several bad fielding teams have won WS in recent years (’11 Cards, ’09 Yanks, ’07 Sox). Several others (e.g., ’12 Tigers) went deep into post-season.

        Insofar as there is a common denominator, it is slugging and starting pitching. Out-start and out-slug your opponents, and you can make post-season.

        • Lou

          Sox didn’t win the WS in 07, try 05.

          • Cubbie Blues

            Try ’07 and ’04

            • TWC

              Why do you have to be such a hater on anyone that has a different opinion than you?

              • Cubbie Blues

                Haters gonna hate. You know me, always the serious one. ;D

            • Lou

              Sorry this bothers you–thought he was talking about the White Sox. Never thought the 07 Red Sox to be poor defensively.

    • CycloneColin

      Did you combine for and because as one word? And then totally roll with it?

      That is more impressive than anything I’ve seen so far.

  • John

    I think there could be something brewing that we don’t see (or hear) coming. The dearth of talent in the next couple of fa classes could force us to move on a player or players now. The fo won’t sacrifice the long-term for a slight gain, but I get the sense something bigger is brewing…not Stanton big to clarify.

  • Lone Ranger

    Hey Brett, CubsDen mentioned a FA darkhorse, a guy the Cubs were interested in signing last year is 29 year old Japanese IF Hiroyuki Nakajima. He is a SS who many think can play 2B or 3B. What is your opinion on this?

    • cheryl

      He was menioned earlier and both Luke and Brett commented on him.It looks like interest in him is picking up. One thing that hasn’t been said is with Fujikawa coming another Japanese player may make him more comfortable.

      • Lone Ranger

        Agreed. I think that the Fujikawa signing could help sway Nakajima to the Cubs (if they are even interested)

        • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

          The only problem is where do you play him. His arm is reportedly weak at SS, moving to third will not help that unless Barney has the ability to shift to third.

  • THEOlogical

    Yeah, Escobar is a lost cause. Right after he was traded in Atlanta, Bobby Cox spoke at a press conference for Glavine or Smoltz and said “Glavine (Smoltz) is clearly a team player, that’s why we held onto them for so long. If your not a team player and want to be selfish, well, you see what we do with guys like that.” Obviously everyone knew what and who he was talking about. Escobar also doesn’t play to his true potential and is a cancer in the clubhouse.

  • Tim

    Anyone notice the year bill James projects for Anthony rizzo? 33 home runs 99 rbi’s .346 OBP. I don’t think the offense will be as terrible as people think. I think the changes in castros approach will be much more noticeable on 2013. If Soriano sticks around and we get quality 3rd base production, I think we will be better than this past season

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    baez/jackson/vitters to clev. for cabrera/masterson an move castro to 3b…..hes got the arm…problem solved, cabrera best def. s.s. in the game.

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

    I found this little bit interesting on MLBTR “Texas would prefer to build a package around players like Mike Olt and/or Derek Holland rather than giving up Andrus or Jurickson Profar, according to Rosenthal.”(That pertaining to a Justin Upton deal.)

    What would we have to give up to get Olt?

    • Brian Peters

      Everybody but Harry’s ghost.

    • Lou

      Actually, I thought Garza, Jackson, and Shark for Olt and Holland. Can HARDLY WAIT to get blasted.

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

        Im not an expert so I have no clue if that’s unrealistic or not but IMO that trade only makes sense from the Cubs side if they intend on making Holland a future piece of their rotation. It wouldn’t make sense to give up Garza and Shark + Jackson for Olt which they would be doing if they didnt intend on extending Holland in that deal. I like the trade idea but im sure it’s completely unrealistic.(Especially with Garza having to show he’s 100%, which no one can see until spring training.)

        • Lou

          Actually, Holland could be a future piece already. He’s already signed an extension for several years, which would be lucrative for the Cubs. Plus I think the Cubs could get David Murphy possibly out of the deal to play CF, especially if the Rangers resign Hamilton.

    • Brad

      Garza and Baez

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

        That’s tough… I would trade Garza and Baez together for Olt AND Cody Buckel. Garza and Baez for just Olt, that in my opinion is a lopsided deal going the wrong way.

        • Brad

          I agree but that’s what it would take. I wouldn’t even do garza and Baez for olt and Hairston. Andrus and Olt for Garza, Baez, Jackson and Vitters

          • Brad

            Not Hairston I mean Holland

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

            How about Garza, Soriano, Vitters and Jackson for Olt and Buckel?

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

              …(Yes any deal including Garza would have to wait till at least spring training.)

  • Tobias

    One name to keep in mind for RF would be Garrett Jones of Pittsburgh. One article on MLBTR was that the Orioles were inquiring about Jones in return for pitching. I’m not sure what kind of return Pittsburgh is looking for, but Cubs should put out a feeler.

    • Lou

      Agreed.

  • WGlass

    I love this site so much! Whenever I see a rumor on ESPN or any other major site, I always come here for confirmation. Brett, I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your dedication and work ethic. You’re doing such a phenomenal job! Stay classy,man!

  • Idaho Razorback

    Wow! Been away from the internet for 24 or so hours. Lot’s of great reading! Thanks Brett.

  • Walter Sobchak

    Anybody here think that Ludwick could be a target for the cubs (solid in the field, and good for 20-25 bombs and 80 plus) in right? Another option might be to try and get with the royals in trade……I think there is something there in trade with a package of…..Garza, Marmol, Vitters and a maybe an arm for Chen, moose and Francouer,,,,two salaries that the Royals want to dump and a 3B for the future.

    • Spriggs

      I hope they are targeting Ludwick. I really do. And that is whether they keep Soriano or not. However, I would expect to see an incredible Garciaparra/Bradleyesque transformation take place in his game the minute he signs. New recurring leg problems, no walks, horribly slow start, sudden inability to see and hit certain pitches that ALL pitchers easily and continuously exploit, etc., leaving us to say things like: “is this the same guy…?”; “F’ing cardinals”, etc.

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