The third day of the Winter Meetings still has teams waiting for the largest dominoes to fall, it seems  …

  • Jon Heyman reports that the White Sox are going to sign Jeff Keppinger to a three-year deal, as he’d been wanting. A career utility player – a good one, but a utility player – is expected to be the White Sox’s starting third baseman. The Cubs were connected to Keppinger a couple weeks ago, but I expect that, as the third base market shook out further this week (that is to say, as the Yankees became in need of a third baseman, and Yunel Escobar refused to play third), the price shot out of their “flippable candidate” range, and into the “you better hope he’s a quality starter at third” range. That price range? Three years and $12 million, per Ken Rosenthal. A whole lot of money for a utility player entering his mid-30s, but not a ton in this market for a third baseman. I guess it depends on your perspective, and your needs. The White Sox are in their window, and they needed a third baseman. So it is.
  • Nate McLouth, one of the many lesser outfield options to whom the Cubs had been connected this week – albeit very tenuously – is going to be re-upping with the Orioles on a one-year deal. That’s probably for the best, given that it’s the only place he’s had success the last few years. He gets $2 million plus $500k in incentives.
  • Teams are reaching out to the Rangers on Derek Holland, presumably in anticipation of them signing Zack Greinke. Obviously Holland will attract wide interest if he’s made available, and the Rangers might not be looking to just pick up prospects … but he’s a 26-year-old lefty on a good contract, has had Major League success in a tough place to pitcher … yeah, that’s very, very, very up the Cubs’ alley. He’d be mighty expensive to acquire, but if there’s a chance, the Cubs will explore it. The Brewers, Royals and Twins are mentioned by Morosi as suitors.
  • One of the Cubs’ presumed competitors for reliever Jason Grilli is the Brewers, who are not going to be signing him if he’s “close” to a deal, as has been rumored, says Tom Haudricourt.
  • The Brewers are also not currently able to sign Ryan Dempster. Although he’s thought to want to head to Milwaukee for a variety of reasons, they aren’t too keen on adding a third year to their offer. He’s not a Cubs target.
  • In what may be a relief to some of you, the Mariners are “close” to finalizing a deal with Jason Bay. The Cubs were exploring the possibilities there.
  • Justin

    I’m not saying trade the farm for him, but whoever we sign will be a free agent after this year anyways so what’s the difference? Throw in Soriano in the deal and see what we can get

  • mister_rob

    THe “we arent close to enough to compete” line could literally go on for years.
    We look to be filling all our holes with shortterm pieces that likely wont be here a yr from now. Plus we are looking to trade sori, which wont net us anything great

    So in theory we could be sitting hear this time next year with no CFer, LFer, 3B, and needing 3 starting pitchers

    THen everyone can say “we arent close enough to compete” for the 3rd year in a row

    Time to start filling some holes with actual above average major leaguers who will be here for more than a few months

    • Brett

      Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I don’t think they’ll credibly be able to use that line next year. And I don’t think they’ll try.

      • MightyBear

        I agree. That dog will only hunt for awhile. Maybe year 3 but I doubt it. Definitely not year 4. Then the owner will get involved.

      • Internet Random

        You see Elaine, Brett was a simple country boy. You might say a cockeyed optimist, who got himself mixed up in the high stakes game of world diplomacy and international intrigue.

        (You saw that coming from a mile away.)

        • Brett

          What is the written equivalent of the sounds from ‘Seinfeld’?

      • Lou

        I don’t know, Brett. It really depends on how much Theo values this farm system. I’m not so sure Theo wouldn’t be inclined to try to build around just the farm system alone and nothing else. Why? Well, for one, just look at the crazy prices of FAs. Do you really think that’s going to change with all the additional TV money coming into baseball. And two, look at how difficult trades are to make in the age of social media (MLB Network has had multiple segments on this topic today.) That could take 4 years of hearing the same “company line.”

        • Brett

          If the Cubs built only by way of the farm system, the payroll in 2015 would be approximately $30 million. That’s never going to happen.

          Further, there’s no reason not to pursue free agents when you’re ready to compete. Increasing salaries doesn’t change that.

          • mister_rob

            There’s also no reason to not pursue good free agents a year or two before you are “ready”

            There is a strong possibility we have the same amount of holes next winter as this winter. If that happens the only progress one could point to is that our top prospects have gone from A ball to AA

            Sorry, but that isnt good enough

      • Kyle

        I’m not really sure why it would pass two times but not the third?

        • Brett

          You’re not? With each passing year of suck, there are more yous. The Cubs are not ignorant to this fact, and, at some point, it does start impacting gate receipts (and, worse, if they’re negotiating a new TV deal, it could impact TV ratings).

          • DarthHater

            With each passing year of suck, there are more yous.

            Thank goodness the Mayan apocalypse is almost upon us.

          • Kyle

            I will always be one of a kind.

    • scorecard paul

      I think your post might make sense to you, if you read it again.
      We simply are not a god enough team yet!!
      The Cubs have to many wholes to expect them all to be fixed this year, period.

  • #1lahairfan

    I hop they don’t sign Jason Grilling.

  • #1lahairfan

    I hop they don’t sign Jason Grilli

  • Tim

    Brett/Luke, just wondering what you think about if the Angels don’t get Greinke, if Matt garza proves himself healthy in spring training, trading him to the angels for kaleb cowart, mike clevinger, and Taylor Lindsey? Too much/ too little?

  • cubsklm

    Did anyone expect the Cubs to make absolutely no moves during the Winter Meetings?

    While we’re throwing out names, how about Roger Bernadina from the Nats to play CF?
    He’s young, cheap, I think he has decent upside. He should be available with the recent acquisition on Span.

    • Lou

      I’ve also heard Bonifacio may be available. He could play CF or 2b should Barney be traded? I wonder about 3b as well?

  • frank hutch

    cubs arent going to sign anyone or trade for anyone

    • Lou


  • fastball

    Must be nice being the Bats. They already left the winter meeting’s and went home. Davey Johnson said they had no work left to do.

  • mister_rob

    So does the Angels signing of Burnett take them out of the loop for marmol?

    • Brett

      I think they were already out.

  • MightyBear

    I say the Cubs sign McCarthy as another starter, Youkilis to play third, Ichiro to play right and Grille in the pen. Sign John Lannan as a swing starter/insurance/left handed bullpen guy. Pickup Shields in the Rule 5. No prospects lost and playoffs here we come.

  • Bud Bleachers

    First off, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Cubs didn’t make a move at the WMs. When I start hearing talk about “eating salary,” much like last year with Zambrano, with regard to Soriano and Marmol, then I know that the 2013 Punt is in progress.

    The Cubs are at the WMs to find any serviceable arms/position players and to feel out the market for the future. Someone mentioned (obtaining) Youk and Choo, well, that would be a best case, in my opinion.

    While we pat the new regime on the back, just remember, that the lack of success by this organization came at the expense of an incompetent GM. It’s very easy to open up the check book and be the players’ and agents’ friends in pro sports. If Hendry were half as pragmatic from a business standpoint (as Theo), then we wouldn’t be writing about the subject.

    Chicago is a major market and “win now” and “win later” are not mutually exclusive under the right leadership; both objectives can, and should, be attained on an annual basis. The Cubs are in one of the most enviable financial positions in pro sports.

    BUT, sales are trending downward, and they will feel the lack of support again this season, probably more than in recent memory, in the event of a fifth consecutive down/losing season. There will be much pressure on this new leadership group to start winning in the near future as a result of any financial shortfalls. Personally, I think Cubs TV is in order, but that’s another topic.

    The FA market, for the most part, has been pretty weak the past few years, and guys like Pujols and Fielder are simply not the kinds of contracts this regime would want to entertain, especially with Soriano and Zambrano still on the books.

    The Giants are a perfect example of what this current Cubs leadership would like to be. Great pitching and defense, a top-tier player or two, home-growns, and some serviceable fill-in-the-blanks pridefully playing on a winning team (Pagan, Scutaro, Theriot, Pence, Huff, Ross), all the while, keeping a valued payroll.

    Whether they can be or not, the Cubs will simply not be the Yankees Midwest. This is your new Chicago Cubs, ladies and gentleman. Don’t play the cards, play the men, and you’ll start understanding what kinds of moves and players you can anticipate seeing. This regime challenges the current fan base to be cerebral, pragmatic, and patient, all the while not giving a rip about what you think the timeline for winning is supposed to be.

    Let’s “hope” it all works out. I have confidence it will.

  • cubchymyst

    Question to anyone familiar with the close out games portion of fujikawa’s contract. It has been said is that the incentives to close out games is suppose to be a proxy for saves. My question is can he still rack up close outs by pitching say the bottom of the 8th if the cubs are down and do not come back in the 9th. This has no barring on the trade deadline just wonder if Marmol is keeped if fujikawa could end up closing out the games in which the cubs are down or non save opportunities and still get his incentives.

    • Brett

      I believe the answer to your question is actually yes, but I don’t think there would be as many opportunities like that – if he’s good, Cubs aren’t going to be using him in a ton of games that they’re losing.

  • cheryl

    The cubs need to take another look at what’s on the field now and decide if its worthwhile trading what we’ve got for someone who can help get us up to a 500 ball club for next year and a better ball club in 2014. Castro may be good but he’s one of the few who’d attract interest from other clubs, same with Barney. As it stands, neither Castro or Barney will make this current team that much better in 2013. If we want someone that will help now and in the future a trade for either one of these players should be considered. I’m not saying it should be made but it should be considered. Its frustrating to think that the present team may only win 68 games.

    • Noah

      I could understand trading Barney because I think there’s a good shot someone on the market is going to overvalue him, but how is Castro not going to help the team be a better ball club in 2014? Or 2017 for that matter? The Cubs signed him to a pretty team friendly long term deal, and he’s going to be all of 23 this season. And all of 27 in 2017.

      • cheryl

        Noah, I’m looking at the team as a whole, not Castro in terms of what he can do. No one can say he’s not a talented player but it takes the whole team to improve on games won. Castro could hit 350, bat in over 100 runs, but he can’t do it alone and basically its Castro, Barney and Rizzo who could bring in more talent. I wish we could not even consider trading them, but other teams aren’t going to look at other players on this team. They’ll look at our better players.

        • Frank

          But in trading someone like Castro, you won’t get anyone who will make the team any better now (since you mentioned the current team possibly winning only 68 games, I’m assuming you’re looking for improvement now), unless another team overpays for him (not very likely before the in-season trading deadline) and even then it’s likely to be with prospects.

          • cheryl

            You’re right. But what if they were able to put a package together to get a player who could step in and make more of a difference? They might have to give up V and Baez along with Barney-that would get one extremely good playe in the majors now (That’s an awful lot to give up but it would allow Castro to continue in place, Maybe a top-of-the-line starter could be had like Price (I may be dreaming there.)). Then combine Soriano and Marmol with Vitters for another major acquisition. That should net two players that could step in now. Try and preserve the recent acquisitions to the farm system and see what you can get for Garza, hopefully another up-and-coming pitcher with about three years experience, plus prospects. These deals would take us over the bridge to 2015 when the current talent in the minors start to kick in.Does this sound like anything?

            • cheryl

              I’m thinking that instead of Castro, Rizzo and Barney you’ll have Castro, Rizzo, a number one starting pitcher,,another excellent starting pitcher and a position player that could b a 3, 4 or 5 batter. So, I’ve basically expanded from three top-notch players to five.

        • Noah

          No, Castro can’t do it alone, but let me put it this way. Let’s say you trade Castro, a very good 4 WAR player, for two other starters who are 2 WAR players. You’re at a net negative, because you’ve needed two roster spots to get to the same win total you got from one guy before.

          It’s not just having a number of average to good players. You really need some superstars too. So the real key is keeping you’re great players (and Castro is not far from being great) around while they are (a) young and (b) inexpensive, and to keep them inexpensive(ish) for as long as possible.

          Players like Castro (young players who just signed pretty team friendly extensions) don’t hit the trade market for a good reason: it’s essentially impossible for other teams to put together a package of prospects that equal the value that players like Castro will provide to their team.

  • Chris

    With Keppinger to the Sox, where does Youk land? I keep hoping all these contending teams settle on their 3rd baseman and the Cubs can snatch him up on a 1-2 year deal that would be movable at the deadline, if need be. He’d be an ok stop gap, and maybe he’d get them a prospect or two down the road. Best of a bad bunch…

  • Fastball

    Youk isn’t going to sign for less than 3 years. He is on the downside of his career but he isn’t washed up. He has been a high profile player for a long time. He is going to want 3 years and then it’s off to retirement. I said earlier sign him to a 3 year deal. Make him a player coach and when we have a prospect that is ready to take over 3B he can move into a coaching position. He can also play 1B in the event anything ever happened to Rizzo or even when he needs a day off. It’s an insurance policy we can afford so why not buy it. I am sure Theo has already given him the speech on having WS rings from the Redsox and the Cubs. Nobody else in MLB would be able to make that claim.

    • Dustin

      I will crap my pants if we win a WS in 3 years

  • Curt

    so Brett, with the winter meetings almost over will the cubs sign anyone like Bourn, or grilli, and any clue who’s on 3rd base.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Yankee fans have declared that no other team may do anything about third until they receive their rightful due as Yankee fans and fill that position. In fact, I think that Brett will be receiving an injunction forbidding us from discussing it, or even using the number three until such time as The Baseball Team has it’s need met.


  • Dustin

    These are most of the available free agent 3b :Youk, Inge,Rolen (if he dont retire),Wigginton,Stewart,Figgins,Hannahan. Who would you want the Cubs to go after? I would want them to go HARD after Youk, my second choice would be Wigginton.

  • Brad

    I would go hard on youk for only a 2 yr deal or 1 yr deal which he won’t accept. ANDREW CASHNER SLIGED A LIGAMENT IN HIS THUMB DRESSING HIS KILL WITH A FRIEND AND WON’T BE READY NEXT YEAR. Nice trade by theohoyerstein!!!!!!!!!!!