The Winter Meetings are underway, and the rumors are starting to bubble …

  • It’s a natch, but the Justin Upton rumors have started to swirl again, with Buster Olney noting that the Diamondbacks have already been aggressive in Nashville, and other executives saying they expect Upton to be dealt.
  • Speaking of which, the Rangers still want to figure out a way to pick up Upton, as well as another starting pitcher. If the Rangers can pick up a big-time starter, they could look to move Derek Holland, as I noted last night – but they could do so as part of a larger move to get a guy like Upton. I doubt the Cubs could be of assistance there.
  • According to WEEI, the Red Sox are closing in on a three-year deal with Mike Napoli, who is expected to play first base primarily. The signing is notable for a variety of reasons, if it goes through, because Napoli had been seeking a four-year deal, while teams would only go to three years. If he has to settle for three years, it could bode well for teams looking at other free agents wanting deals on the longer end of the spectrum – because those free agents, too, may have to settle for shorter deals. Obviously the Cubs are looking almost exclusively at shorter term deals. It’ll be interesting to see how much money Napoli gets, and whether it kicks the free agent market off a bit. (Fast and furious: Jon Heyman says Napoli is getting three years and $39 million, which seems about right on the shorter, three-year deal.)
  • It sounds like Alex Rodriguez has a very serious hip problem, dealt with it much of last year, and is going to require surgery in January. That’ll force him to miss a portion of the 2013 season, and, with Derek Jeter on the mend, the Yanks’ left side of the infield could be in serious trouble. It’s a bit of a bummer that the Yankees could become desperate for help at third base, because the Cubs can’t offer much help there (of course, if they could, they’d be helping themselves, or would be dealing with any of the other 15 teams that need an upgrade at third base). Perhaps, though, the loss of ARod will push the Yankees to seek offensive upgrades elsewhere (not that ARod’s bat was all that impressive last year)? Alfonso Soriano, maybe? The Yanks might be looking that way of Nick Swisher goes elsewhere, anyway. Of course, maybe now the Yanks just feel more incentivized to pay Swisher whatever he wants.
  • Maybe the issue pushes the Yankees into the Jeff Keppinger sweepstakes? The Cubs have previously been attached.
  • And speaking of Soriano, the Braves appear to have a preference for the trade market in left field, rather than the free agent market. That would bring Alfonso Soriano squarely into play, particularly given the teams’ alignment in abilities and needs: the Braves have surplus young pitching, the Cubs need it. The Cubs have money they can eat on Soriano’s contract, the Braves don’t have tons of spare cash.
  • The Nationals may be shopping Danny Espinosa and Michael Morse for pitching.
  • Rich Harden and Brandon Webb are still trying to make it back to the bigs. Each will probably look for a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite with the right team, and I’m sure the Cubs will consider guys like that.
  • Jon Heyman says the Tigers initially offered Anibal Sanchez four years and $48 million, which his agent term “an insult.” Yeah, I’d say so.
  • Japanese prospect Shohei Otani, in whom the Cubs would probably have some interest, may now be leaning toward staying in Japan.
  • Your reminder: follow BN on Twitter, like it on Facebook. You will thank yourself as this week goes on.
  • Troy

    What impact will the Napoli signing have on the Cubs if any?

    • calicubsfan007

      @Troy: As Brett said, it will probably impact the amount of years FA are going to ask for, but I don’t think it will impact any certain player we are looking for per se. We already signed a FA catcher, so I don’t think it really impacts the Cubs directly.

      • Troy

        Yes I definitely see the contract of the deal possibly translating into driving up the price up on folks like Keppinger, who I think could be a nice short term solution at 3rd.

  • Cedlandrum

    Look I mean 4 years and 48 million might not be what they are hoping for, but to say it is an insult is frankly insulting. 12 million a year for a guy that has been pretty good but not great is not an insult, it is the beginning of a negotiation.

    • MightyBear

      I agree. I’m sick of these agents and players saying they were insulted by the contract offers. If the offer is too low that’s fine, say it’s too low but to say its an insult is ridiculous. Here’s an insult – His agent is an idiot.

      • sclem21

        I agree with you guys, generally, but this is also just an agent doing his job. If you want your guy to be viewed as a top tier FA, you need to treat him as such. The offer seems reasonable to me, but can’t blame them for expecting more either. All parties just doing their job, you probably shouldnt be so offended by it.

      • Can’t think of a cool name

        Your last linw made me laugh out loud. Now people are peering into my office wondering what the hell I’m doing.

    • Dougy D

      I agree, Ced. He hasn’t been a top of the rotation guy. And while he pitched well after being traded, the history just isn’t there, in my opinion.

      Great work, Brett. With all of these articles I may just not get anything done at work today!

    • TWC

      The agent’s public claim of insult is just as much a part of the negotiation as was the original 4/$48m offer.

      • Cedlandrum

        You can’t say, hey it is too low and they are going to have to raise the offer if they want to get our guy. To say it is insulting is just dumb. There is nothing insulting about 12 million dollars a year.

        • TWC

          It’s just hyperbole, Ced. Nothing more than that.

          • Cedlandrum

            Oh I know, but the strong reaction you want is from the team you are in negotiation with. Telling them it is insulting is fine. Telling a reporter the same thing for them to publish it to the masses where the average fan might make less then 1% of that is a risky use of hyperbole.

          • MichiganGoat

            Dare we call it AgentSpeak?

            Insulting = we are looking for more and still want to negotiate but I need to get on ESPNy sites so I need a sound clip, still friends right?

    • DarthHater

      I feel insulted by all these insults about what is and is not insulting.

      • Spriggs

        Which reminds of the great PC joke: 2 guys go into a bar. No one says anything because they don’t want to offend or insult anyone.

        • DarthHater

          I’m insulted that it was two guys. Sexist. 😉

          • Spriggs

            good one!

  • Justin

    If Soriano is not gone this week, he is going to stay with the Cubs until trade deadline. I can see the Cubs making some big noise this week though.

  • Simon

    Sadly this next year seems like it will be only slightly better than this one was. I wish the Cubs could make big moves right now, but i fully trust in Theo to keep them on the right path

    • Mike Taylor (no relation)

      We’ve already:
      Signed a backup catcher (Dioner Navarro)
      Signed a starting pitcher (Scott Baker)
      Re-signed a relief pitcher (Shawn Camp)
      Signed a starting pitcher (Scott Feldman)
      and pending a physical, signed a closer (Kyuji Fujikawa)

      What we did last year:
      Signed a 4th OF (Reed Johnson)
      Signed a relief pitcher (Kerry Wood)
      Traded a SU pitcher for a starter and 2 minor league position players (Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt, Ronald Torreyes)
      Traded an IF and an OF for 3B and a minor league pitcher (Ian Stewart, Casey Weathers)
      Signed a RF (David DeJesus)
      Signed a left handed starter (Paul Maholm)

      There’s more moves to be made…

    • Jeremy

      Don’t forget about Rizzo too. He was our long term asset acquisition

      I think to remain on the current timetable for sustainable competitiveness we need to add at least two long term assets this offseason and I think we will.

      But we also need to focus on putting together a competitive team for 2013 as well. I will not sit through another 100 loss season.

  • Rizzofanclub

    Does it bother anyone else that on message boards (not bleacher nation) anytime someone mentions the cubs moving Soriano a million people always write “the cubs are going to have to eat a lot of that contract to move him” or “for 18 million a year, cubs keep dreaming” I just want to scream “WE KNOW WE HAVE TO EAT SALARY” Sorry all I just had to get that off my chest.

    • Simon

      after the season he had I think his trade value is the highest it will ever be, which still won’t get much

      • CubFan Paul

        Sori will fetch a lot if the Cubs pay all of his salary minus the major league minimum ($34M) which is what they’ll have to do for a (alleged) 37yr old OF who doesn’t want to DH

        Sori plus $34M should get us Randall Delgado or equivalent

    • Boogens

      I think that you’re right on. There’s no way the Cubs will pay $34 million for him to play for another team next year. What we’ve been hearing just doesn’t make any sense. There’s no compelling reason to move him if he’s still productive, isn’t blocking anyone, would be costly to trade and wouldn’t net much in return. We should just get used to the fact that he’ll be with us for the remainder of the contract. Let’s hope that he maintains the same productivity level going forward.

      • Justin

        This was the one year he was prductive and had a great year defensivley. You got to trade him when his trade value is this high. This is as high as he going to be and if we wait too long and he has a “normal” Soriano year next year then we missed out on a potential good prospect. If they are looking to add Bourn then I say trade Soriano to Phillies for an outfielder in return. If someone can pay any money for him that saves us that much more.

        • Boogens

          I agree with your point – strike while the iron is hot. But it makes no sense to trade him if we’re going to have to eat $34 million of the $36 million remaining on his contract (as was suggested by another person).

          • CubFan Paul

            why doesn’t it make sense to trade him plus all his money for a top package?

          • Can’t think of a cool name

            Depends on the return.

      • CubFan Paul

        but Theo&Co would pay $34M for Sori to play for another team for the next two years. he’s already been acknowleded as a sunk cost, so paying all but the minimum for a top package is no problem.

        • Justin

          What has Soriano really done for the Cubs? Nothing. He had one good year and the Cubs are rebuilding. He is not part of the Cub’s future so get someone in there that is. If the Cubs can pay a huge chunk of his contract to get a future (potential) star then why not? The Cubs have the money to pay his contract. The Cubs have been over a 100 million pay role for the past few years, so keeping Soriano on the books isn’t that big of a deal.

          • Chris

            I don’t think they want to keep Soriano. I think they would absolutely eat most or all of the contract to get a future potential star. But who’s giving them a future potential star for Soriano? His value is highest right now, so it makes some sense to move him at the top of his market. But most teams that were interested in him wanted the Cubs to eat most of the money and get a fringe prospect, at best, back. If they swallow the salary, they also need to find a team willing to part with a valuable long-term asset. I don’t think anybody is advocating keeping Soriano any longer than they need to, but he’s more valuable than dumping him for a bag of balls. Given his leadership in the clubhouse and improved play, it just doesn’t make sense to dump him, eat all or most of the money, and get nothing of value in return. There was a point in his contract that trading him for another bad contract might have been acceptable, but that is no longer the case.

          • Frank

            Let me start by saying that I believe if you can get a potential star for Soriano, then go for it. But–some other points–first, he’s had more than one productive year. His production might never have matched the contract he was given, but to say he’s only had one good year is a misstatement. The other thing is whether anyone is going to be willing to give up a future star (or potential star) for an aging outfielder–even if he did have a good year. Probably not. So, you end up paying a huge chunk of his salary, you get probably an average prospect, and you lose one of the very few power bats you have with no one in the organization ready to replace him.

  • cubsin

    Otani’s threat to stay in Japan sounds like a negotiating ploy to me.

  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    I’m surprised that no one has said that the Brewers have offered Ryan Dempster a two year deal, but he’s holding out for three.

    • Troy

      I’m not sure the Dempster report is confirmed. I heard that earlier also but I thought it was more of … The Milwaukee media thinking it would be a good fit.

  • Johnny

    I know Espinosa is a stud at second, but god damn I wish he could play 3rd.

  • Fakko

    What about trying to sign Drew to play 3B? I would guess he would rather hold out for a SS job…but is that a viable option for us to fill 3B? Trying to think outside of the box. Long time reader, and I should post more. Enjoy the work you put into BN. Thank you Brett and Luke.

    • Marcel91

      Does not hit enough for 3rd and likely wants to and will play SS. At 3rd he’s a poor mans Ian Stewart(the healthy one)

  • Troy

    Does anyone else get annoyed By Harold Reynolds?

    • Simon


      • Lou

        No, I like him.

        • clark addison

          He needs to get back on Ritalin.

          • Lou

            No, Millar needs to do that.

  • Njriv

    I think they should go after Cabrera from the Indians, I think he can make the transition to third base, his power numbers are food enough to make the move.

    • Justin

      If the Cubs are looking at the indians, they are looking at Chisenhall and that’s about it.

    • Marcel91

      Why? aside from all the highlight espn plays his defense actually isn’t that good and he won’t be worth what the indians are asking for him.

  • OCCubFab

    Brett, thank you for all the hard work. Since I’ve been reading BN, I have learned so much from you, Luke, Doc Whimsey, Kyle, and (almost) all the other posters. But the thing that I am most grateful to have learned from you is Chick-fil-a’s Peppermint chocolate-chip shake. I just had one, and it’s as unbelievably good as last year.

    • calicubsfan007

      @OC: I was thinking about getting one after I saw an ad for that. How would you rate it?

    • Brett

      Thanks, OCC – and, yeah, it’s the greatest food item ever made.

  • Tyron

    2x Harold Reynolds annoying !!

    • Lou

      Millar is worse.

  • Troy

    I was talking to a Philles fan a few moments ago, that mentioned lots of talk in Philladelphia about soriano. Not anything earth shattering I know but it makes you wonder how high Soriano stock might actually be right now. Some of these teams need a bat and Soriano may net us a pretty good haul!

  • JL

    I find it interesting that A-Rod still has 5 years left on his deal (signed a 10 year contract in winter 2007). The bigger body guys just don’t hold up as well. Look at Sosa’s quick decline. The Angels better get ready for Pujols to have issues down the road. All of this makes Soriano’s solid season look even better. I wonder who teams would rather have: A-Rod or Soriano?

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Next person to ask what has soriano done for the cubs deserves to be slapped. He carried the team when it was loaded with vets and he is carrying a shitty team. What has he done? That’s laughable.

  • Melrosepad

    Why not look at some other pieces for 3rd base and potential outfield help. I haven’t heard these names brought up before but they seem decent at least in AAA.

    KC – Johnny Giavotella (.331/.397/.477 at AAA in 921 ABs) and can play 2nd and 3rd

    San Fran – Conor Gillaspie (.289/.368/.447 in AAA in 968 ABs) and primary 3rd

    LAA – Kole Calhoun (.298/.369/.507 in AAA in 463 ABs) can do RF or CF

    Indians – Jared Goedert (.286/.365/.464 at AAA in 1043 ABs) primary 3rd and stuck behind Chisenhall

  • Holden

    What about Omar Infante at 3rd?

    • Marcel91

      rather resign Stewart. But Infante could make a decent platoon with Valbuena. Don’t expect any offense from there though.