As noted this morning, although the Winter Meetings are in the rearview mirror, the rumors are going to keep churning along, because most of the biggest pieces are still looking for a home. And the Cubs, although they’ve picked up some pieces, are still going to be making additional moves.
- Bruce Levine mentioned, almost in passing, that the Cubs actually have an offer on the table for free agent starter Brandon McCarthy, according to a big league source. McCarthy is wisely waiting out the market, presumably looking to fall to a desperate team after Zack Greinke and/or Anibal Sanchez go elsewhere for big bucks, but hopefully he’ll sincerely consider the Cubs (and they him). There’s an awful lot of upside there for both the near and long-term, as we’ve discussed before.
- Jon Morosi – apropos of nothing – suggests that the Mariners might pursue a trade of David DeJesus, if they can add other pieces to their offense. It’s a pretty strange suggestion, if it comes completely out of nowhere. Sure, the Cubs will listen on anyone, but there hasn’t been a credible suggestion yet this offseason that they’re shopping DeJesus. For that reason, I can’t help but wonder if Morosi caught wind of a whisper or two, but not quite strong enough to come out and say that this is something “sources” are telling him. If it wasn’t that, why did he choose DeJesus, specifically? He could just be throwing darts, though. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open on this one. I don’t want to dig in too deeply unless there’s something more here than one pundit pontificating.
- (I will say this: I haven’t been crazy about the idea of having DeJesus as the regular center fielder in 2013, however that might theoretically improve his value. I’m not really sure how well he can play in center field (indeed, it was questionable enough that Jed Hoyer has remarked, in reference to DeJesus in center field, that Wrigley Field is easier to play for a center fielder than other parks because of the short power alleys – that doesn’t sound like confidence), and he was so good in right field last year. He’s a tricky one – love his approach at the plate, and love his defense in right, but obviously you’d like to be getting more production out of your right fielder. His numbers would be just fine for center field, but can he handle it capably for a full season? If the Cubs picked up a center fielder in free agency, having already signed Nate Schierholtz, DeJesus would obviously then become a very attractive trade piece. I’m not saying that’s how I hope things play out, but it’s interesting.)
- The Cubs – together with the Blue Jays and Pirates – are still waiting on reliever Jason Grilli’s decision, which was expected intermittently yesterday, but never came. Sources tell Gordon Wittenmyer that the Cubs aren’t optimistic about getting Grilli, and that was my read of the tea leaves yesterday as well.
- That Wittenmyer piece also indicates, as I’d guessed, that Ian Stewart’s deal is “not guaranteed” in the same way that a contract received by way of arbitration is “not guaranteed.” Essentially, you can release a guy on such a contract in Spring Training, and pay him 30 days termination pay. It almost never happens, though, for at least one obvious reason: you’re without a player at that point without a reasonable opportunity to fill his position, because it’s too late. Of course, with Luis Valbuena in the fold, the Cubs may have a built-in back-up plan, should things not work out with Stewart. So, to button things up, Stewart essentially received from the Cubs what he would have received if he’d gone to arbitration (but slightly less money in salary ($2 million instead of $2.5 million), which he can make up in incentives ($500K)).
- According to Buster Olney, the Tigers are targeting relievers capable of closing in trade talks. Well, not to be a rumor monger, but the Cubs just happen to have a very tradable back-end reliever, who would come on a one-year deal (probably inexpensive in salary, too, if the Cubs ate a portion), and can capably set up or close. That’d be Carlos Marmol. Think about it, Detroit. You can foreclose any hopes of Nick Castellanos in those trade talks, but the guy I’d like to see the Cubs target is Drew Smyly. A young, cost-controlled lefty starter who may not have a spot in Detroit’s rotation when all is said and done, Smyly is an ideal target for the Cubs. No, Marmol, alone (no matter how much money the Cubs include) isn’t going to get Smyly. But maybe there’s a package possible there. Just spitballin’.
- ESPNChicago’s Jesse Rogers, newly put back on the Cubs’ beat, enters the rebuild fray with a look at how it’s gone so far, and where it’s going in the future. I thought this was pretty fair: “Here’s the bottom line: As long as the Cubs sign middle of the road players to cheaper contracts then we know that Hoyer, president Theo Epstein and owner Tom Ricketts don’t have high hopes for the upcoming season. When they start to expand that free agent list or make some bold trades then we’ll know that they believe they’ve turned the corner and can contend. And if they do nothing but draft players and ‘develop’ them for 4-5 years then we’ll know they’re just in it for the loads of money coming in off television deals.” I remain largely unconcerned that the “just in it for the money” part will ever reveal itself, though. It’s only been one year.