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It’s not looking like there will be Bullets today, as the majority of items meriting discussion are of the “Lukewarm Stove” variety. So, feel free to consider this your “Bullets” for the day, even though it is, in reality, a Lukewarm Stove. (Most meta intro ever.)

  • Now that Zack Greinke has agreed to terms with the Dodgers (more on that, below), I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a dramatic uptick in activity this week – perhaps more, even, than at the Winter Meetings last week. He may have been the log-jam-inducing guy at the top of the board, from which a great many other things trickle down (which impact other things, which impact other things, etc.). With that in mind, if you haven’t already followed BN on Twitter and liked it on Facebook, you should. They are handy ways to keep up with things this time of year.
  • This is really interesting: in an off-hand tweet, Jim Duquette says he hears that, prior to re-signing with the Reds, Ryan Ludwick was also negotiating with the Giants and … the Cubs. Ludwick, a righty-batter, hasn’t played anywhere other than left field with regularity since 2010 (when he played some right field). What would the Cubs’ intentions have been with Ludwick, 34, who last year played exceedingly well in Cincinnati in a non-platoon role? Does he split time in right field with Nate Schierholtz? Does he displace Alfonso Soriano in left, because there was a Soriano trade in the works? Was he simply a guy the Cubs thought they could get on the cheap, and who could contribute in either corner outfield spot and off the bench? It’s probably that last one (or the Cubs were negotiating with him before they inked Schierholtz), but it makes you think. It also makes you think the Cubs are either very committed to David DeJesus in center field or very committed to trading DeJesus and picking up a full-time center fielder in free agency. Because, by adding another outfielder who cannot play center, the Cubs would be locking themselves even further into one of those two options for center field (DeJesus, or a free agent). Ludwick wound up getting two years and $15 million.
  • Oh, and if the Cubs were seriously considering Ludwick, you can safely assume they’re seriously considering Cody Ross, who offers a very similar skill set, and the ability to play occasionally in center field.
  • Phil Rogers speculates that Michael Bourn may have to settle for a one-year deal if the market for his services keeps falling by the wayside. I still think you’re going to find a small handful of teams interested, but it’s possible that no team will be interested at the five-year, $80+ million price point. If that happens, maybe Bourn will indeed decide to take a one-year, $18 to $20 million deal in the hopes he can find a more receptive long-term market next year. (As a speed guy who will have just finished his age 30 season at that point, I don’t think he’d find the market as rosy as he’d hope.) If that happens, the Cubs will probably be in on him, but strictly as a flippable piece – and Bourn will know it. Maybe he’ll like the idea of a one-year deal that virtually guarantees he’ll be on a contender come August. That said, I don’t think it plays out this way. I think Bourn gets a healthy contract somewhere.
  • Speaking of which, the Mariners make a lot of sense for Bourn if they can’t land Josh Hamilton. But Ken Rosenthal wonders if the organization will be scared off by the Chone Figgins deal (another “speed guy” entering his 30s). I’m not sure I see the similarities there (for one thing, Figgins was a full two years older when he signed as Bourn is now, and wasn’t an obvious Gold Glover at one of the most important defensive positions), but organizations get spooked by weird stuff.
  • A source tells Jeff Passan that the Phillies very well could still do something “big,” liking signing Josh Hamilton (wha?) or going after another outfielder in trade. Does Alfonso Soriano count as “big”? I wouldn’t call it big, but we do know that the two sides have very likely had conversations about a deal.
  • Teams are apparently very “cool” on Edwin Jackson right now, which could be a reflection of a guy whose numbers don’t pop, and who’s been on six teams in the last five years. If so, here’s hoping the Cubs are keeping in close contact with a guy whose price may have to drop a little bit.
  • It sounds like 18-year-old Japanese pitching prospect Shohei Otani is going to stay in Japan after all, which is a neutral move for the Cubs, who probably weren’t going to be able to pursue him as aggressively as you would have wanted, thanks to CBA quirks.
  • Holy crap, Zack Greinke got two ridiculous clauses built into his contract with the Dodgers, according to Jim Bowden: (1) Greinke can opt out of the deal after three years for any reason, and, (2) if he’s traded during the deal, he can opt out after that season. If he’s dominating and prices have continued to skyrocket in three years, he can bolt (making the deal, essentially, a three-year deal with a three-year player option). If things go south and he’s hurt or ineffective, he stays and collects his checks. And that second clause, I mean – that’s worse than a no-trade clause. At least with a no-trade clause, you can still get great value in return if you find a team to which the player wants to go. With this clause, you’re never going to get great value, because the other team is trading for, at most, just one season guaranteed, because he can bolt immediately after the season in which he’s traded. That’s a rough clause for the Dodgers, and is probably a huge reason why Greinke chose them. It might as well be the best no-trade clause in baseball (until that final year, at least, during which he’ll have 10/5 rights anyway). Assuming Bowden’s report is accurate, that is. This is the kind of latent stuff that doesn’t make a lot of headlines when Team X “outbids” Team Y for a player’s services, but I like that the Cubs have a tentative policy in place to not offer these kinds of shenanigans-inducing clauses (the first, of which, of course, is the basic no-trade clause). The day might come when playing around might be necessary (like, when Clayton Kershaw reaches free agency? he shares an agent with Greinke), I suppose.
  • According to his agent, Ryan Dempster would like to sign with an NL team who Springs in Arizona (on a three-year deal). The list of NL teams that spend their Spring Training in Arizona are: the Diamondbacks, the Reds, the Rockies, the Dodgers, the Brewers, the Padres, the Giants, and, of course, the Cubs. You can count out the Diamondbacks, Reds, and Giants as plausible suitors based on a lack of need. The Rockies and Padres are looking for starters, but Dempster seems like a stretch for their plans. The Dodgers would only consider Dempster if they can’t finalize a Hyun-Jin Ryu deal today (and then can’t get Anibal Sanchez), so Dempster’s market might be the Brewers and the Cubs. And, as we’ve discussed repeatedly, the Cubs might not really be all that interested. I think he’s either going to have to accept a sweet-heart deal from the Brewers or Cubs, or will have to expand his preferences a bit.
  • AP

    Hearing about that Greinke deal makes me glad the Cubs aren’t heavy in the top end of the free agent market this year. All it takes is one crazy team to ruin everything and the Dodgers sure are that crazy team. Hopefully in a year or two they’ll cool their guns a little bit and stop throwing the market out of kilter.

  • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

    The interest in Ludwick is perplexingly similar to the interest in Delmon Young. There’s got to be a Soriano trade paired with a guy like that, unless they just think they can teach anyone to handle RF and/or 1b credibly and want a 1b/LF/RF guy to round out the bench.

    Dempster is *exactly* what this roster needs right now (well, besides a real 3b, but that isn’t happening). He’s made 28+ starts five consecutive years, and he’s a freaking metronome (sp?) with an xFIP between 3.69 and 3.77 for every single one of those years. That’s the kind of stability you need when the rest of your rotation is either coming off injuries or never started a full season in the majors. Something like 3/$33 should get it done.

    Obviously, there’s a reason all the teams involved would rather go two years than three, but I think the Cubs are in good position to offer him three. If age starts to get to him, he can transition back to the bullpen at the end of the deal. We’ve currently got about $10.6 million committed for 2015. An $11 million risk on 2015 Dempster isn’t going to mortgage the future or ruin us or anything, especially since I think there’s a good chance he provides positive value that year.

    • J-Nasty

      If we are going to offer a three year deal to a veteran pitcher I would rather go after Edwin Jackson. He is younger and doesn’t have the bad history from the trade deadline like dempster.

      • King Jeff

        I’d rather have Jackson too, but how willing would he be to come to the Cubs. Dempster seems like a good fit at that cost.

      • bluekoolaidaholic

        What you said!

    • baldtaxguy

      I think Demp is a clown, but I must admit, I think this is a move the Cubs should make.

    • cub2014

      cubs need him this year he is the right fit. The FO isnt going to sign him
      with no trade clauses and more than 2 years (maybe3) they arent holding any grudge
      they want what is best for the team

  • Spoda17

    … I hope the Dodgers lose 100 games…

  • Bren

    Forgive my ignorance, but if this team is slated to lose 100 games, why not let Jackson and Vitters, for once and for all, sink or swim? Why bother with middle of the road veterans, this team is going nowhere in 2013, might as well see what these two have.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com/ Kyle

      Because they aren’t slated to lose 100 games.

    • WGNstatic

      Further, these guys need to work things out in AAA. With Jackson, for example, he is completely reworking his swing, those types of changes may be tough to work on while also battling a higher level of play.

    • hogie

      Because Vitters needs more AAA at bats and Jackson just retooled his swing. I think you will see both up after the allstar break at the latest, when other pieces get sent sent out. They are not ready, so you might as well sign someone who you might be able to get something back fo, right?

    • Scott K

      What they said. Plus, neither of them is at a point in their career or development where sink or swim really makes sense. With LaHair last year, it was time for him to either contribute or be sent elsewhere based on his age (28 I think). Jackson (22) and VItters (23) are still young enough that they should be given time to develop. The average age for an MLB rookie is ~24, so they’re right in there.

      Guys like Castro, Harper, and Trout (20-years old or less) are unusually young for rookies, so they shouldn’t be used as benchmarks. The last thing we want to do is move too quickly on young assets and then potentially miss out on their skills.

  • cjdubbya

    It’s a stove inside a bullet…STOVECEPTION!

  • MichiganGoat

    I’m getting the sense that the Cubs are going to be very aggressive with Sanchez

    • J-Nasty

      I hope you’re right, but not getting my hopes up.

    • mysterious4th

      I sure hope so! For the better part of last season I have been saying he is the free agent pitcher to target. He is a good fit for the cubs.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    I always thought Ludwick would have been great for the Cubs. Someone on here can find the stats on it for sure, but he used to completely rake at Wrigley. Bet he would have loved to come to Chicago.
    Cody Ross is a good hitter, and supposedly a great character guy. But that on base percentage has always given me pause.

  • ssckelley

    It is good to hear the Cubs were in on Ludwick but seeing he got a 2 year deal worth 15 million. For that kind of money I do not blame the Cubs for passing, he has been to up and down through out his career to take a chance at spending that kind of money on him in a 2 year deal.

  • Patrick G

    I would of liked to see the Cubs get Inge at 3B. Although he is hurt a lot, he did a great job with a young team last year and carried them for some time.

  • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

    if ryu doesnt sign with la when can we bid for him again

    • JBarnes

      He goes back to Korea or Japan whichever it is for a year and can be posted again next season.

    • hcs

      The Cub fan’s eternal refrain. Wait ’til next year.

    • hcs

      regardless, he signed.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        And the odds of the Cubs (or any other one team) winning the next posting for Ryu would have been low, anyway. No doubt several teams posted a bid, and chances are good that the same cast of suspects would have done so in 2013.

        Still, this leaves the Dodgers as the only team in MLB with too much starting pitching. Obviously, there will be some trades. I wonder what the value on Billingsley will be: he didn’t turn out to be the next Drysdale as LA fans hoped (shocking, that), and he’s had arm problems, but he’s still a better than average MLB starter. He will be 29 this year, so he’s no longer a “young stud” type by any means. It’s possible that he could be had cheaply.

        • Andrew

          I remember reading something about how the MLB and Japanese leagues were considering changing the whole posting system. Would’ve been interesting to see if the rules got changed between this year and next what the implications would be for a Ryu contract

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    If that happens, maybe Bourn will indeed decide to take a one-year, $18 to $20 million deal in the hopes he can find a more receptive long-term market next year.

    $18 to $20 million for Michael Freakin’ Bourn? It seems to me that baseball has completely lost it’s marbles…again. No matter how good/bad a free-agent crop is, I guess GM’s think they have to pay a certain amount for the top guys. Ridiculous.

    Another overpaid player for the Dodgers just ensures that they won’t win the World Series this year. After the Angels signed Wilson & Pujols last year, Angels fans were rejoicing. They didn’t even make the playoffs.

    I know people on this board have a totaly woody over Anibal Sanchez, but at the price he’s asking, I’d take a pass. He’ll be the 2012 version of Carl Pavano when NY overpaid him based on the market for SP.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Makes you think about how valuable Darwin Barney would be if he could put up a .340 OBP, eh?

    • Blublud

      And if you were our GM, we would never win a World Series. Good players are over paid. Good players are required to win Champion. We should spend the money. “Trying” not to over pay players is the most overrated statement in baseball, considering there is no salary cap. Id take bourn at 4yr 68 or 5yr 80 all day.

      • Tommy

        I agree that I’d like to see the Cubs take a flyer on Bourn. Your statement that good players are overpaid is a bit of an over-generalization, though. That’s probably true of good free agents, but if you develop them within your own farm system, you can easily have good players that are underpaid for a time.

        The whole spend or don’t spend argument is never going to go away, but hopefully we can all agree that you can win with either plan.

      • Adventurecizin’ Justin

        And, if you were our GM, we probably wouldn’t win a World Series, either. A willingness to give Bourn 5 years/$80M all day is insane, in my opinion. If no one else is offering close to those years and money, you’d be doing what Hendry did with Soriano…going unneccessarily overboard.

  • Carew

    off topic…reading about all these stupid-long deals, stupid amounts of money (Votto, Fielder, Pujols, Grienke with the stupid clauses, etc.), makes me think Soriano’s deal is a steal-ish. I know back then it was bad, but the guy was coming off his best year so I dont blame the management. He has some good years with the Cubs.

    The NTC is dumb, but Soriano knows what’s up and is willing to help; he seems to be a high-character guy.

    Sorry, I just to had to say it

    • Eric

      don’t appologize for that. Yeah Soriano at the time I think was the largest MLB contract ever given. But I think we signed a good guy, and he was a good bat in the middle of the order. You need a couple guys like that on your team, and his attitude was just a bonus.

  • Jay

    No…he goes back to his team and has to go through the samec process next year

  • Ivy Walls

    I see the strategy is to keep seats warm and lockers occupied until the bet is down on the farm, so this is merely a delay tactic. Cubs need to rethink their product marketability as this goes forward.

    Q Would you rather have 2.5M in the seats paying rates closer to Milw and below ChiSox or have less than 2M and have a meme of the highest prices and falling attendance.

    This is why I think they sign Dempster but 2 yrs and and a player option for the 3rd, no trade 1, limited yr 2 and wide open 3.

  • Jeff1969

    I like the Cody Ross idea. He’s played as many games in CF as RF in his career & has also played some in LF, so…considering his age, experience, & production, I think he’d make a heck of a lot of sense for the Cubs. An he’ll most likely be very flippable if need be. But what about the Cubs looking at a couple of the White Sox players supposedly available? Gavin Floyd & Alejandro De Aza?

    • Rcleven

      White Sox looking for prospects. Would like any of the three but not happening.

      • Carew

        Personally, I dont want any Cubs players ever going to the white sux, even if they are minor leaguers

  • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

    trade garza and jackson for teheran and J.R.Graham trade soriano and marmol for juan francisco and delgado i like that trade we get young pitching and young 3rd baseman

    • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

      teherhan and delgado coming off bad years with soriano at lf prado can play third and yes he can play 3rd. graham promising young player

    • CubFan Paul

      I’m not sure if the Braves need a set-up man/Closer (Marmol), but I have gotten the feeling the Francisco is on the trade block along with some of their young pitching (for a LF).

      • Whiteflag

        Braves bullpen seems pretty set. Lot of young hard throwing arms. Kimbrel at closer.

    • http://deleted cub2014

      keep garza he is young enough, you know his skill level and he is coming off injury.
      if they plan on starting to win in 2014 and 2015. He is the type of guy you want to have
      as a starter. they have really no one ready to be a top off the line starter from within.
      But if garza is healthy and you can get a ready for 2014 starter and another low level
      high prospect then they should do it, and probably will.

  • CubFan Paul

    Brett when the offseason is over can we get a Dodger’s payroll post? Their payroll & future commitments will be crazy

    The Ludwick rumor pretty much confirms the Soriano talks. Why wouldn’t Theo&Co trade Sori after 30/100 in this OF market.

    If Michael Bourn can be had for 5 years and no more than $80M, he has to be a Cub. The AAV of his contract should be no more than $16M, because of Upton’s $15M AAV

    I could see Bourn picking the Cubs over the Mariners if he wanted to make the playoffs within 5 years…

    Do the Phillies have quality pitching in the upper minors (Top 15ish)? If Sori goes anywhere, I want it to be Atlanta, who has a LF opening and not a lot of money to spend.

    Damn@Shohei Otani. Without the silly CBA rules he would have gotted PAID Cespedes style. Not Gundam.

    If the Cubs were to sign Michael Bourn, wouldn’t we want an out-clause after the 3rd year? If he opts out at age 33 that’s doing us a favor.

    LOL@the Brewers having Dempster by the short hairs. Maybe they’ll settle on a vesting option for a 3rd year

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      On opt-out clauses: no, they’re horrible for teams. The player only opts out if he thinks he can make more money elsewhere (which means you had him on a good deal), and doesn’t opt out if he thinks he’s well paid by your team.

      In other words, an opt-out clause guarantees that the player will either be overpaid by your team, or will walk. They are horrible.

    • cjdubbya

      As it stands today, the Dodgers have about $115M already tied up for 2017. For six players. Good Lord.

  • kmr1453

    I’m still bitter about how things went down last season with Dempster, so, I have no interest in bringing him back to the North Side. He can continue to hold out waiting to see if a team will offer a 3-year deal, which may or may not happen, or he can just retire.

    • mudge

      Bringing Demp back would work out about like bringing Kerry Wood back last year did.

      • kmr1453

        Maybe another lucky fan, can get Dempster’s glove this season.

    • CubFan Paul

      no thanks. Dempster was a douchebag in the dugut *many* times last year when Sveum pulled him. He knew he was getting traded in July and he acted liked it (a jerk teammate) in May & June …the little things you notice when u watch all 162

  • Jon

    For someone who can’t even get a 3-year deal, Dempster seems overly demanding in his requests.

  • http://bleachernation.com frank hutch

    If bauer is really available what would it take? do the cubs have enough to get him without giving up baez?

    • Njriv

      I wouldn’t mind if we had to.

  • http://bleachernation.com frank hutch

    Bauer is exactly the type of pitcher we need

    • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

      My first question regarding a guy like Bauer is why are the D-Backs willing to move him? What’s the catch? Obviously, there’s something they don’t like and I would want to know what before giving up the haul they will require.

  • afinch

    I still say see if Yanks are interested in Soriano + cash and see if there’s a chance of getting Hughes or Nova in return. Both are rumored to be on the trade market, both are young. Hughes only has 1 year left which may be an issue but young pitching is the Cubs biggest need. That and a CF, a RF, a 3B, a bullpen, a decent bench, some luck, etc.

  • Blublud

    I dont really think Soriano has been all that over paid. His first 2 years and last year, compaerd to some players, we may have had him for a bargain.

    I didnt say I would give it to him if nobody is offering anything close. I would pay it if that’s where the Market is at. Also, if I value a free agaent at 10 mil per, but nobody else offers more then 5 mil, if it takes max value for him to choose you over the other team, then its still worth it.

  • Fastball

    He is not as good as he thinks he is. He was nothing to talk about in Texas. Pitching against the big boys in the AL west he was no more than a 4 or 5. I don’t want him because I think he is about done not because of how he handles things at the deadline. I give Jed half the blame.

  • jim

    Cubs are AAAA team

    • cjdubbya

      Thanks for the amazing insight.

  • T Larson

    Bauer was notorius for doing his own thing. Marched to the beat of a different drummer. I’m not sure I would call him a cancer in the club house, but he wasn’t popular. It seemed like he didn’t want to listen to his coaches.

  • JP

    Brett, Is the Nate Schierholtz, and Ian Stewart contracts, the same? Non-guaranteed? They were both nontendered, free agents, I have seen the explanation but why would anyone sign a non guaranteed contract?

  • mudge

    Only Stewart’s is non-guaranteed. He may have signed it because he felt he didn’t earn his money last year. Or he may have been offered less guaranteed but felt it was worth the risk for the higher non-guaranteed deal, trusting in his health.

  • daveyrosello

    Bourn is only as good as his legs, so no way, no how do I offer him more than a 3-year deal, period. But if he’ll take a 3-year, then yes, the Cubs should sign him.

    If you look around, as the CF market has settled via FAs and trades, Bourn isn’t exactly in the strongest of bargaining positions here. The only definite suitor left standing will be whichever of Seattle or Texas does not get Hamilton. Other than that, who needs a CF and can afford one of the FA variety? Maaaaybe the Brewers or Mets. And the Cubs.

    Stick to your guns Jedstein, 3/45 for Bourn, no more.

  • Robert

    I’m a Cubs & Tampa bay Buccaneers fan. We just got upset by Philly……. When does baseball season start? Not soon enough…….

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