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.