Day Two of the Winter Meetings is in the books. It was a surprisingly quiet day, outside of a couple moves (Victorino and Haren would be the biggest). It was particularly quiet on the Cubs’ front, though we did hear a few interesting rumors. Here’s the latest …
- Multiple reports have the Tampa Bay Rays as the favorites to land Yunel Escobar in trade, none of which even mention the Cubs as extant suitors. That means either that the Cubs have backed away, the Cubs were never involved, or the Cubs have gone stealth.
- Speaking of third base options, Jeff Keppinger’s reported asking price is three years and $12 million. Coming off a career year in an extremely weak third base market, I can understand that request. Seems incredibly steep for the Cubs’ purposes, though.
- Speaking further of third base options, Jon Heyman says the Cubs – among a very long list of other teams – have some interest in non-tendered free agent third baseman Mark Reynolds. He’s been discussed here before, and the story remains the same: intriguing bat, attached to a guy who almost certainly can’t play passable third base. Unless Cubs scouts have identified curable issues in his game at third base, I don’t really know that they should be all that interested. The offensive upside isn’t SO great that you completely ignore the deficiencies at third. A one-year deal with an option year? Sure, why not, given the market. But, thing is, a team that doesn’t plan to use him at third base might be willing to give him much more.
- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke suggested that reliever Jason Grilli, to whom the Cubs have been attached, is seeking a deal in the $5 to $7 million range (it was unclear if that was total, or per year – given his dominance over the last two years, and the market for late-inning relievers, I’m assuming that’s a per year figure). That would put him on par with some of the larger reliever deals handed out this Winter, including to a couple closers. There is some value to be had in getting Grilli, 36, for a couple years and no more than $5 million. Go higher than that in years or dollars, and you risk purchasing a middle relief egg that you can’t easily shed.
- There was a Justin-Upton-for-Cliff-Lee-and-cash rumor, sparked by Pedro Gomez, which lasted about 15 minutes before being shot down by every other writer in the industry, and the Phillies’ GM. That’s the kind of thing this year’s Meetings have been missing: crazy rumors that explode on the scene before being widely shot down.
- The Diamondbacks are reportedly making outfielders Jason Kubel and Gerardo Parra available, in addition to Upton. I’ve discussed Parra here before as a possibly intriguing target for the Cubs, but Kubel seems like a weaker fit. He’s on a decent contract – $7.5 million in 2013, $7.5 million club option in 2014 with a $1 million buyout – and offers quality offense, but defensive metrics say he’s terrible in the outfield. The best place to hide him, if you don’t have a DH, is in left field – but the Cubs have Alfonso Soriano (for now).
- Speaking of Soriano, the Phillies are reportedly dangling Vance Worley and/or pitching prospect Trevor May in their attempt to pick up an outfield bat. Could Soriano (plus a boatload of cash) net the Cubs Worley, who had surgery in September to remove bone spurs from his elbow (but who is expected to recover)? Eh, if everyone believes he’s going to be healthy, he’s a cost-controlled young started with middle-of-the-rotation upside. The Cubs would probably be very intrigued. It’s noteworthy that, in that Phillies piece about their outfield search, five outfielders are named, none of whom is Soriano.
- Buster Olney says the Diamondbacks have put together a four-team deal that would net them Asdrubal Cabrera from the Indians, but the deal, for now, remains dormant. Please pull it off, because four-team deals are a like a shooting star: rare and beautiful to watch from afar. And, hey, who knows? Maybe the Cubs are in there somewhere. There hasn’t been a single trade yet at the Meetings, by the way.
- The Cubs are considering Yuniesky Betancourt for third base says Carrie Muskat, which is borderline wretch-inducing. Given that he has been hilarious offensively and terrible defensively over the past, well, entire career, it’s not surprising to learn that he’s got a negative WAR since 2009. Maybe a shift from shortstop to third base would help the defense, but that wouldn’t help the fact that he was so undesirable in the clubhouse that the Royals dumped him for nothing last August (his manager essentially called him out for being selfish). This has minor league deal/Spring Training invite written all over it. He’s not even a good platoon candidate.
- Jed Hoyer took the ball tonight for the Cubs, meeting with reporters. He didn’t share too much, though I might have more on it later. The short version: Carlos Marmol is the closer if he’s still on the team, and the Cubs have spoken to more agents at the Meetings than they have spoken to other teams. So, if something happens, he says, it’s more likely to be a signing than a trade. But it’s possible nothing will happen this week (that’s always a possibility).
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