The 2012 Winter Meetings are in the books. The Cubs saved their activity for the last 18 hours or so, agreeing to terms with outfielder Nate Schierholtz last night, picking reliever Hector Rondon in the Rule 5 Draft this morning, and then re-signing third baseman Ian Stewart late this afternoon. Nothing glamorous or sexy, but adequate complementary moves, especially given the expectations for 2013. As for the rest of the league …
- The biggest news of the day was the Phillies picking up their center fielder for 2013 – speedy 24-year-old Ben Revere from the Twins for pitcher Vance Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May. That takes them out of the market for a center fielder (like Michael Bourn, for example), but could leave them with money to spend elsewhere.
- (And if that sounds like a good haul for Revere, it is. I reckon that, with escalating payroll commitments for aging players, and an urgency to keep trying to win in the next three years, the Phillies put a premium on a big league center fielder whom they could control for a while cheaply. Revere’s numbers don’t knock your socks off, but his defense is excellent and he’s cheap as all get out. Couple that with Worley’s elbow bone spurs surgery, and it’s a little more understandable.)
- So, about that Bourn piece. As others are speculating, without the Phillies in the bidding, Bourn could soon run short on legitimate options for 2013. I don’t think it’s likely that the Cubs will make a serious play for him, but I certainly don’t think signing Nate Schierholtz would preclude it if the right opportunity came along. If Justin Upton ends up traded to the Rangers, and Josh Hamilton ends up signing with the Mariners, it is fair to start wondering whether Bourn may have to settle for a shorter-term, lower-dollar deal. It’s happened before.
- And it isn’t just Bourn. With trades happening in the outfield, the options for guys like Nick Swisher and Cody Ross could be diminished as well. Like I said this morning, the Cubs could come out of this smelling like roses in a couple months when they snatch up a guy looking for a job on the cheap. It’s something the A’s have done well for years, and something the Cubs historically rarely did – more often, the Cubs were leading the market, and getting their team set by December, because that was lower risk. Well, with a potentially rough 2013 on the way … why not take a little risk and wait?
- (A couple cold water bits on Bourn, though: (1) Teams pop up out of nowhere in these situations all the time, so don’t assume he’s just going to fall into the Cubs’ lap, even if there’s a perfect storm of Upton and Hamilton (remember last year when the Tigers entered the bidding for Prince Fielder out of nowhere, and had him inked within a week?); (2) he, alone, doesn’t make the Cubs a winner in 2013. I’m still not crazy about him at five or six years and $80 to $100 million, so it isn’t like I’m pushing for the Cubs to start aggressively bidding. This is only if his market shifts such that it looks like he can be had on a shorter, cheaper deal, and become an undervalued asset.)
- What about the Alfonso Soriano impact? Well, the Phillies have been connected to the Cubs about Soriano, but does the Revere acquisition take them out of those discussions? I don’t think so. Revere is being acquired as a cheap, leadoff center fielder. If the Phillies aren’t sold on the Ruf/Mayberry/Brown trio, there’s no reason to think they don’t also want to add a right-handed-hitting power guy in the middle of the lineup, and a corner outfielder would be an obvious fit. In other words, I don’t see the Revere trade as having any impact on possible Soriano talks, if there are any.
- And don’t rule out the Braves for Soriano. Jon Heyman says they, too, were trying for Revere, in the hopes of getting a left fielder who can lead off. Soriano fills half of that equation, at least. And the Cubs would be willing to eat plenty of cash for the right return.
- There is a bidding war for Jack Hannahan, which should tell you everything you need to know about the third base market. He could choose a team later today, and Cubs have not been connected.
- [This is not terribly relevant now, in light of the Ian Stewart signing, but I’d already written before he re-signed, so, here it is.] Speaking of that market, Kevin Youkilis, the best option, has a one year, $12 million offer from the Yankees, as well as some two-year offers in the $16 to $18 million range from other teams, according to Ken Rosenthal (one of those offers is believed to be the Indians, as well as, probably, the Mariners). Obviously that would be a fine deal for the Cubs, but I think you’re not going to see them connected, because they aren’t close to winning. Youkilis wants to win, and he wants to win immediately. That should point him toward the Yankees’ offer, though he might be displaced positionally when Alex Rodriguez returns from hip surgery mid-season. So maybe he won’t like that offer after all.
- The Braves have re-upped with Reed Johnson, whom they really liked after acquiring him from the Cubs mid-season. He’s a quality bench bat and leader in the clubhouse. He got a one-year deal with an option for 2014.
- That link also notes that Randy Wells, who was a minor league free agent, signed on with the Rangers on a minor league deal. There were rumors a few weeks back that that was happening, so there you go. Best of luck, Randy.