It’s Day Two of the Winter Meetings, and the morning has already featured a flurry of rumors …

  • Carrie Muskat, who typically doesn’t get into the rumor mongering business (which is to say, when she mentions rumors, I tend to listen a little more closely), offers a few thoughts this morning: (1) She discusses the Yunel Escobar interest, mentioning that putting him at third base is “a possibility;” (2) apropos of nothing, Carrie brings up Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who is under contract through 2013 and whom the Indians are shopping (he’s arbitration eligible and figures to make upwards of $7 million or so), which is obviously very interesting (Carrie says the Cubs are “talking to teams” about right fielders, and then immediately says the Indians are shopping Choo … I doubt that was a coincidence); (3) the Cubs are believed to still be interested in Brandon McCarthy, who …
  • … has a bunch of teams interested in him, according to Susan Slusser. The Cubs’ competition for McCarthy is believed to include the Red Sox, the White Sox, the Royals, the Diamondbacks and the Twins.
  • That article also notes that the A’s could be pursuing Japanese free agent infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima. The 30-year-old shortstop was posted last year, in a bidding the Yankees won for a relatively small amount, but the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement (if memory serves, one issue was that the Yankees viewed Nakajima as a utility type, while he viewed himself as a starter). Perhaps he’ll find a starting job this time around – would the Cubs look at him for third base? He puts up decent, albeit unspectacular, numbers in the NPB, and I tend to doubt his bat would play at third base in the States.
  • Ken Rosenthal reported just a bit ago that the Nationals have agreed to terms with Dan Haren (pending a physical) on a one-year, $13 million deal, which is right in the range the Cubs would have been paying for him if they’d been able to complete a trade with the Angels. That takes the Nationals out of the market for another starting pitcher, presumably, but there wasn’t a ton of overlap between the Cubs’ rumored interests and the Nationals’. So this might be a market-neutral move, as far as the Cubs are concerned. (Except for the fact that Haren got $13 million – that’s a really healthy amount, given the hip/back concerns, but, then again, it’s a mere one-year deal. Again, pros, cons … probably market-neutral.)
  • Carlos Marmol’s agent, Paul Kinzer, wants to have a meeting with Theo Epstein to discuss Marmol’s future with Kyuji Fujikawa arriving soon. Marmol is a free agent after 2013, and undoubtedly would like to be somewhere that he can see his value increase before hitting free agency. If the Cubs aren’t going to keep him in the closer’s role, then perhaps Kinzer will push for a trade. I’m not really sure I see the Cubs fighting that.
  • There are various reports of the Rangers making big-time third base/first base/outfield prospect Mike Olt available in trade, which would be swell news for the Cubs … if I didn’t think that what the Rangers were wanting in return were big-time, big league pieces. That is to say, they aren’t “selling” Olt – they’re looking to use him to buy a premier starter or outfielder. No, I don’t think Alfonso Soriano classifies in the latter category, and I don’t think the Rangers are going to want Matt Garza until/unless they see him throw healthily again.
  • The Rays seem more and more likely to move at least one of their starting pitchers – James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Alex Cobb, Jeff Niemann, and … David Price are the possibilities.
  • FanGraphs’ Eno Sarris runs the numbers on Alfonso Soriano, and concludes that, to make Soriano a palatable trade target, the Cubs will have to eat $10 to $15 million of the remaining $36 million in his deal. If it meant a quality return, I can easily imagine the Cubs willing to eat upwards of $20 million. Think of it this way – that’s a quality return PLUS $16 million in salary relief. Yes, the Cubs may have troubles in the outfield in 2013 without Soriano, but that’s a huge return compared to what we were looking at last Winter.
  • Bob Nightengale says Anibal Sanchez is drawing as much interest as anyone, including looks from the Dodgers (natch), Royals, Tigers, Red Sox, Angels, and … a mystery team. Is it this Cubs? Probably not. Le sigh.
  • Nightengale adds that Ian Stewart has been given a clean bill of health, and is drawing “wide interest” from teams looking for a third baseman. If true, the Cubs may not be able to count on him as a fall-back option. (Then again, rumor pro-tip: if someone reports that they’re hearing about wide interest in a lesser free agent like Stewart, sure, it’s possible that the reporter has spoken to several teams who just happened to mention interest in said lesser free agent. But, it’s far more likely that the reporter spoke with one source – the player’s agent. And, as we all know, agents have certain incentives in spreading things like, “we’ve spoken to tons of teams about Player X, all of whom are interested in having him start at third.”)
  • Scott Kazmir, who’s been trying to come back for a few years now, is reportedly hitting 90 to 94 in Puerto Rico this offseason. If true, he’ll finally get a Spring Training invite from a team with an actual interest in giving him a look. You can rightly assume that the Cubs are/have been investigating.
  • The Yankees are expected to listen to offers on Curtis Granderson ($15 million in 2013, free agent thereafter) and Phil Hughes (arbitration eligible in 2013 ($5 million-ish), free agent thereafter), given their short-term deals. The Cubs would conceivably have interest in both players, but would they want Granderson for just one year and $15 million? Maybe he becomes a flippable piece, but you’d have already paid a healthy sum in prospects at that point just to get him. Hughes is an intriguing option, and is just 26. With a solid 2013, he could actually be in line for a huge payday.
  • The Orioles are expecting to land a middle-of-the-order bat in trade for young pitching, but I’m not sure Alfonso Soriano is a fit. The O’s have openings at first base and DH, the former of which is a position Soriano’s never played, and the latter is a “position” he doesn’t want to play. With his no-trade rights, he can block a deal.
  • Spencer

    I guess I just don’t see the Cubs being in on Sanchez or McCarthy anymore, which is a bummer. I don’t doubt the Cubs will add more SP before the season starts, but I don’t think it’ll be one of those two because of the additions of Feldman and Baker. If they add more SP, it’ll be from the lower echelon of the FA ranks.

  • Ben

    The problem with acquiring some of these guys (like Choo, Granderson, Hughes) is that they would immediately require large extensions to stay with the Cubs. Combine that with the prospects that would have to be sent away, and I saw no thanks. I’d rather try to sign Choo next offseason, if he makes it to FA. Since he is a Boras client, I could easily see that happening. Granderson doesn’t seem like he would add a ton of future value over a guy like Brett Jackson. Sure, Granderson is a better player now, but the skills are similar. And if the Yankees are serious about their 189 million cutoff, both Hughes and Granderson will be FA in the not so distant future. Cano will require a massive extension to stay, leaving no money for anyone else on that team.

  • Mac

    Rangers are shopping Mike Young too

    • Bridgeview Jay


  • Dr. Percival Cox

    The thing about Olt-Garza though, we saw with the Loux case that the Cubs and Rangers have a very good working relationship with one another and will re-work trades if a party ends up being injured. Obviously, Garza-for-Olt is a much bigger deal than Soto-for-Brigham, but they might be able to put some preconditions in place so that the Rangers feel comfortable.

    • Spencer

      I sorta think that a stop gap type player for 2013 is the way to go for 3B. It’s one area where the Cubs actually have some organizational depth, so I’m not sure trading away Garza or others for someone like Olt would be the way to go.

      • ssckelley

        What do you mean the Cubs have organizational depth at third? Jeimer Candelario is the only legit 3rd base prospect the Cubs have and he will not be ready for a while. If you are counting Baez at 3rd he is still a shortstop. You still counting Vitters as a prospect?

        If the Cubs can get a player like Olt for Garza then they should be all over it.

        • Dr. Percival Cox

          Villanueva is a legit prospect, too, although your typical home run hitting third baseman. On a team with power from Castro, Baez, Soler, and Jackson/Almora, though, he could provide 15 HRs and 40 2Bs consistently from third base with GG defense. He only fits into very specific team builds, but the Cubs may be one of them.

        • Spencer

          Christian Villanueva? Recently ranked as the Cubs’ 8th best prospect. And I think it would be foolish to give up on a 23 year old who has played less than half a season in MLB. So, Villanueva, Vitters, Candelario, and yes, eventually Baez. There’s depth at third.

          • willis

            Yeah I agree, there is some depth. Baez eventually will be the man over there, but past that there are a couple good prospects. It’s just such a black hole with such awful results last year, I think that kind of blinds us to the depth at that position.

            Stop gap is the answer, but hopefully it’s a somewhat productive one, and not anything like we saw last season.

          • ssckelley

            I admit I forgot all about Villanueva. But with the lack of talent at the MLB level stockpiling third basemen is not a bad thing.

  • ETS

    You want sanchez? He will be the most overpaid pitcher (at least from a nominal amount) this off season.

    • Brett

      You say that like it’s a provable fact. It isn’t – certainly not right now. He may eventually prove to be overpaid, but the market is what the market is.

      I think the market is shifting dramatically, and I think pitchers of Sanchez’s caliber – and, no, I don’t think he’s an ace by any stretch – are going to become harder and harder to acquire before they are well into their 30s. So, yes, I do wish the Cubs would be involved.

      • ETS

        How about I restate it as the amount of hype surrounding Sanchez (already) is beyond my perception of what his hype should be and leads me to believe people are putting too much stock in his post season starts which will lead to a lucrative contract for Annibal, but I do not believe fits the cubs’ current model of finding “value” in free agents?

        Is that fair?

        BTW I’d totally be all for overpaying mccarthy – I’m comfortable with my hypocrisy.

        • Brett

          Very fair. We just disagree (I think the post-season hype has died down, and and been seen for what it was – a few good starts, nothing more).

          (That said, if Sanchez ends up clearing six years and $100 million, then we agree.)

          • ETS

            Wilson went for less than I expected last year. Apples and oranges and all of that, but I could be wrong on sanchez.

            • CubFan Paul

              you better stop disagreeing with him or he’ll ask you to leave his site. i kid :)

              • ETS

                I think any discussion I bring is healthy (at the least) albeit lacking in substance (at times).

  • Kubphan82

    The Rangers move with Olt has to surround the Upton rumor… So, no, Soriano doesn’t fit the mold of the type of trade they can pull for Olt.

    • Brett

      I really think so, too.

      • Kubphan82

        The rumors are like a giant puzzle piece… Some pieces look like they could go together, but you soon realize a different piece goes there…

        (I thank my grandmother and here 2,000 piece puzzles, I helped her with as a kid, for my current insight)

        • CubFan Paul

          Soriano could work for Olt if he was free (Sori plus $34M)

          • Kubphan82

            I’d doubt they trade Olt for 2 years of Sori when they could net Upton through his prime years, he’s not a FA until 2016.

            • CubFan Paul

              the deal could always be made bigger to include Garza and whatever else from the Rangers side. we match up well with the Rangers, assuming they like Garza’s medicals.

              • Kubphan82

                Not saying a trade with Texas is impossible, it’s improbable that the current trade rumors offering up Olt have anything to do with a possibility for the Cubs…

                The puzzle piece that is this rumor is for Upton.

                As for Garza, the Cubs aren’t trading him until he pitches. Hopefully he pitches well enough to extend him and we can have 3 #2’a in our rotation: Shark/Garza/Baker…

          • John

            I think they will want a piece that has longer term value like Garza or Shark + a decent prospect or two. Keep in mind they would be giving up six seasons of a potential middle-of-the-order bat.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Not from the Ranger’s point of view.

    • Spriggs

      What are the D’Backs asking for from Texas? Elvis and another prospect? What have you heard?

      • sclem21

        elvis or profar

  • John

    I think it would have to be Garza + a decent prospect. I know after his premier last season, Olt lost a little luster, but he is still one of the best prospects out there. Depending on if there are any deals out there for sp involving Garza, I would probably consider making the deal depending on the additional pieces going to Texas.

  • ReiCow

    Man, I’d love to have Choo.. .289/.381/.465? Yes please! Sign me up.


    • John

      I like Choo as well. As with any trade, it depends on what we’re sending their way as it’s more than likely for one year. I’m still not convinced that BJax isn’t a younger, more cost controlled version of him (without the really nice bop) in a couple of years.

      • John

        obp. Auto correct…

  • Frank

    We have the money so I don’t see why not bringing in a guy like Granderson if the exchange (Marmol?) isn’t too steep. If we don’t bring in guys like that, even for a year to substantiate paying too much for tickets, it’s only so our new “owners” can pocket more cash instead of make the team competitive.

  • Kevin

    Just want to say thanks so much to Brett, being a journalism student I know the kind of effort he has to put into a website this awesome. So thank you for your tireless effort and keep up the amazing work!

    • MoneyBoy

      ^ THIS…. cubed!!

  • Tyler

    Jerry Crasnick reporting the Cubs, along with the Indians, Red Sox and Yankees, have checked in on Victorino.

    So, whatever that’s worth.

    • John

      I hope not. I keep hearing he has three and four year offers and that doesn’t make sense for us in my opinion as he should get similar money to Pagan (probably 3/30 or 4/36).

      • Tyler

        I agree. Sounds like a lot of money for a guy whose value primarily comes from defense, who’s also aging. I’d rather take Bourn for more money. At least Bourn will get on base and steal more bases (and is a better defender).

        • mudge

          all players are aging.

  • Rich

    I am all for a deal for Olt. I just don’t see us having the horses to match up with they want.

    Now the Upton trade might be something I would be all in favor of some moves to get the players that Arizona would want ( a certain SS in Miami maybe?).

    I also am still in favor of working out a deal for Young to play 3rd. His experience on the infield would be a godsend to Castro and Rizzo. I know he is way overpayed at 16 million but if we can move Soriano in a deal it would be a better need in Young and outfielders are easier to come by than 3rd baseman.

  • MightyBear

    Nate McClouth is an outfielder that no one is talking about that could help the Cubs next year. He fits the Theo mold.

    • Spriggs

      Yeah, he sure looked good in Pittsburgh after they decided to play him full time. Always liked him. He hasn’t really repeated that early success he had in 2008, but I agree that he might be worth talking about…

  • Fastball

    Maybe we trade Shark for Olt .. Rangers get a young pitcher and we get our franchise 3b.
    If it takes a little more so be it. Shark isn’t unreachable.

  • Fastball

    I would give up a fair amount for Holland and he becomes our Ace. maybe send Marmol and Vogelbach and Jackson and Sitters

  • Fastball

    Trade Lake and Watkins for Choo

    • Rich

      I may be in the minority but if the Cubs trade Lake be prepared to look like a fool in a couple years. If the kid gets the focus thing under control and becomes more consistent in his approach he has to tools to be a monster for somebody. I just hope that it is the Cubs.

      • Norm

        You can say that about hundreds of minor leaguers.

  • Justin

    A Victorino deal is expected to be done by the end of the winter meetings! Possibly Cubs signing him?

  • daveyrosello

    I’m increasingly pessimistic that the Cubs will be any better in 2013 than they were in 2012. I’m really not sure about Theo’s approach at this point. The fault likely likes with the skin-flint Ricketts reducing payroll from 140MM to 80MM in two years time. For one of the 5 big-market teams in baseball. Sad to think that we may actually long for the days of Tribune ownership.

    • Cubbie Blues

      I blame Hendry.

      • Internet Random

        Blame Canada.

  • cubsin

    Is there any chance that Junior Lake would be considered for the interim 3B job? He’s been primarily a SS, but his future is probably going to be at 3B or RF. He should be adequate defensively, and I have to believe he’d be more of a force on offense than Valbuena.

    • Cubbie Blues

      He could be a late call up. He hasn’t had any AAA AB. If he keeps progressing and does well there, he might be given a shot (depending on where 3B stands at that time).

      • willis

        I’m going to say that Lake is going to kill it in AAA. But, I just don’t know if that will be enough for the FO to bring him up until he has a year of ABs. We’ll see, but I’m higher on him than some. Excited to see him in Spring Training and when he comes to Memphis with Iowa.

        • Cubbie Blues

          Remember, the FO could have only been saying the one year of ABs thing to help out with the Rizzo call-up timing.

    • Kubphan82

      He’s being placed in the OF.

      “Hoyer said the Cubs also are trying out third baseman/shortstop Junior Lake in the outfield in the Dominican Republic, on a team veteran Pirates scout Dave Jauss is managing.

      “We don’t know exactly what his final (position) will be, but it’s nice to get reports from Dave Jauss in the D.R. talking about his development,” Hoyer said.

      Lake had 26 doubles and 10 home runs at Double-A Tennessee last year, hitting .279. He isn’t in line to make the Cubs yet, but is one of their more interesting prospects in the upper levels.”

  • Scott

    Alex Cobb is at the top of my wish list. A 25 year-old with 58.8% GB% 2.65 K/BB? Yes, please.

    Not sure the Rays would give him up, but I would start talks with Barney and Marmol (all expenses paid). I’m sure something else -of value- would be added, but this is a solid, long term move.

  • Kyle Levier

    I would love Alex Cobb. Great young arm, with tons of potential.

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