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A couple of Chicago’s media men offered their thoughts on the Cubs’ offseason, including what we might expect over the next couple months. Bruce Levine did so by way of his weekly chat, and Dave Kaplan did so by way of a wide-ranging update on where he hears things are, and expects they’ll be.

First, the highlights from Kaplan:

  • As an overview, Kap says the Cubs are “far from done” overhauling the roster this offseason. I’d add that, at this point last year, the Cubs still hadn’t made the Sean Marshall trade, hadn’t signed Paul Maholm, hadn’t unloaded Carlos Zambrano, and hadn’t dealt for Anthony Rizzo.
  • Surprisingly, Kap says he hears that the Cubs are looking for a full-time, veteran center fielder, because they’d prefer that David DeJesus stayed in right field. Keep in mind that the Nate Schierholtz signing is not official, so we’ve never actually heard from the men in charge, themselves, that they plan on making him a starter. It’s a fair presumption, given the Cubs’ needs and currently-constructed roster (and the fact that Schierholtz reportedly turned down better offers from better teams on which he would have definitely been on the bench), but we’ll have to see how the outfield shakes out. You want my guess? The Cubs would like to pick up a right-handed outfielder to use in a platoon, possibly with Schierholtz in right. They’d also like to pick up a center fielder (Not too many cheap free agent options out there … what about Coco Crisp? assuming the A’s just want salary relief), which would allow them to shop DeJesus. Then, the outfield is improved, all while being able to freely shop a quality outfielder in DeJesus.
  • The Cubs do want to add another starting pitcher, but they’re not going to spend big unless it’s a “definite upgrade.” For me, Anibal Sanchez falls into that category, but I sense that I’m going to have to stop banging that drum at some point.
  • The pitchers in which Kap hears the Cubs are interested are, among others: Shaun Marcum, Jair Jurrjens, John Lannan, Joe Saunders and Francisco Liriano. All are flawed, none are big-timers, but each could provide value to the Cubs. You can understand. Random, probably meaningless exercise? Let’s rank ‘em. I’ll go with, when considering expected contracts … Marcum, Lannan, Liriano, Saunders, Jurrjens.
  • Ryan Dempster is not a fit for the Cubs, certainly not at three years. Kap hears there haven’t been substantive conversations between the sides since this offseason started.
  • The Cubs would love to acquire third base prospect Mike Olt from the Rangers, but the price is huge. If Matt Garza hadn’t been hurt last year, the two sides might already have worked out a trade. The Cubs would like to land a right-handed hitting third base option, though, to spell Ian Stewart. (I should point out, again, that Luis Valbuena, although a lefty hitter, has a reverse career split – that is to say, he hits lefties slightly better than righties. If the Cubs can’t find a better option, why not just work that platoon? It doesn’t have to be a strict platoon, if he doesn’t actually hit lefties better, of course …)
  • The Cubs can probably find a suitor for Carlos Marmol eventually if they make the money right (Marmol is owed $9.8 million in 2013), but it won’t be the Yankees.

And among the thoughts from Levine’s chat:

  • Carlos Marmol’s trade value will only increase as the offseason goes on. As the reliever market continues to dry up, the teams that missed out might get more desperate.
  • The Cubs continue to look to build up starting pitcher “inventory,” which could include more injured/reclamation project types like Jair Jurrjens. Outside of that, they may have to turn to the trade market soon. (Seems like there are still quite a few options on the free agent market.)
  • If the Cubs are able to trade Alfonso Soriano, a deal for Michael Morse could make sense (this was Bruce just answering a question, rather than him actually believing Morse to the Cubs makes sense – it really doesn’t).
  • Bruce, like others right now, projects the Cubs to be working with a Nate Schierholtz/Dave Sappelt platoon in right field next year. The Cubs would like to add another outfielder, preferably a right-handed bat to give them some balance (would set up the possibility of two platoons). Delmon Young, though, may not have “the right makeup” for the Cubs. Also, in the outfield, a “Bourn type” doesn’t appear to be in the plans. Scott Hairston could make some sense.
  • If Matt Garza shows he is healthy in Spring Training, Bruce thinks he’ll be traded, rather than extended. The Rangers have always had interest in Garza, but he has to show he’s healthy before any real conversations can take place again.
  • The offer the Cubs were talking about with Ryan Dempster (who is back in serious negotiations with the Red Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal) was a one-year, $10 million deal. That would certainly be the kind of hometown discount that would make you interested in Dempster, regardless of the “fit” with the Cubs. But you’d want the ability to trade him, and that seems like an obvious sticking point.
  • The nature of the Cubs’ short-term offers, coupled with the 101 losses last year, aren’t exactly giving the Cubs their pick of the litter on the free agent market.
  • Justin Upton remains the kind of player (emphasis on “kind of player”) the Cubs would target in trade – young, under control, and very good.
  • Andrewmoore4isu

    If garza stays healthy and pitches well I believe the cubs best choice would be to extend garza. We need pitching badlyyyy. Having garza as a #2 or great #3 would be awesome. I’d say 4-5 years at 14-17mill a year would work.

    I’d like to keep soriano until the trade deadline as a gamble. I mean what if he hits 20hrs by the deadline. That could bet us a serious prospect.

    When will chase Healy hit free agency?

    • Bridgeview Jay

      And what if Soriano hops and hurts himself. Last off season the Cubs were talking about eating his contract to get rid of him. Now we can get a decentprospect in return. Let’s not be greedy. I still think we keep him though to portect Rizzo if we can’t find a bat to replace him.

      • Andrewmoore4isu

        So we lose him get probably a organization top 20 above 10 prospect but we pay 30 million? No thanks

    • Nate

      I think the return Garza could net at the deadline (assuming a solid first half) would far outweigh his value as a starter for the Cubs.

  • ssckelley

    I agree that if Garza proves he is healthy in spring training that he will be traded. Since he is a free agent at the end of the season I think the Cubs will get a better deal for him now than waiting for the trade deadline. If the team trading for him did lose him to free agency they would still get a compensation pick.

  • CubFan Paul

    what’s Cody Ross’ asking price? Pagan got $10M a year, Victorino got $13M a year, Upton, got $15M, Gomes $5M, & Schierholtz $2M

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I don’t know if I’ve heard his expectations yet. Something in the 3/$24M range?

  • Noah

    I know I gripe about Bruce Levine every time Brett does one of these chats, but the analysis that Marmol’s value will go up as the off season continues is pure conjecture, and bad conjecture at that. The thing that Levine seems to forget is that while the supply of relief pitchers with late inning experience will dwindle as the off season goes on, so will the demand for them as teams fill those needs with free agents or other trades. If this analysis were true it would mean that Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn would be MORE valuable now than at the beginning of the off season. They are, after all the two high performance center field options left. Instead, everyone is wondering how much off their initial demands Hamilton and Bourn will have to settle for because the teams with a need at the position have largely filled those needs.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The only way he would be correct is if there are fewer late-inning relievers available than there are late-inning relievers needed. I don’t think that’s true, but maybe that’s what he was thinking.

      • Noah

        I think this is just a big example of Bruce’s strengths and weaknesses. He’s a very good ear to the ground reporter, but his analysis is often just wrong.

        • calicubsfan007

          @Noah, Most reporters aren’t good analysts. Hell, most analysts aren’t good analysts.

  • http://windycitysportswonk.blogspot.com/ Myles – WCSW

    I think teams will be too scared off by Garza to trade for him until right around the deadline. It sucks, but I think it’s the reality. You can still net a solid prospect for half a year of Matt Garza.

  • calicubsfan007

    I know this may sound ridiculous, but hear me out. Based on how upside-down the value of prospects have been, is it a plausible trade idea to send Sori and Marmol to the Rangers for Olt and a couple PTBNLs? Or maybe we can send Garza to them during Spring Training, after he has shown that he can pitch. The latter idea sounds more likely to me. I would like to get a 3bman prospect like Olt, I really don’t want to see another season of the “dynamic” trio of Valbuena, Stewart, and Vitters. I would love for any of those three to prove me wrong and actually be a solid 3bman, but I am trying to be realistic.

    • Ron Swanson

      You’re right. It sounds ridiculous.

      • calicubsfan007

        @Ron: At least I am right on something. (=

        • Nate

          How about Garza and Marmol in ST for Olt?

          • calicubsfan007

            @Nate: That seems like a fair offer, plus we get rid of Marmol.

  • ETS

    I’m on your Annibal bandwagon now that mccarthy is no longer an option.

    • calicubsfan007

      @ETS: It is a nice bandwagon to be on at the moment. Hopefully, we don’t have to worry about the teams like the Dodgers and the Royals to screw up this pipe dream for us. And yes, I am on the bandwagon too.

  • MightyBear

    Liriano, Lannan, Marcum, Saunders, Jurrgens. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Cubs get Jurrgens. Young and cheap. Low risk, high reward.

    • MightyBear

      Although I hate trying to spell his name – Jurrjens.

    • CubFan Paul

      I think Liriano can be had for a 1year plus Option-Maholm type deal. I like his upside and possible July trade value (’13 & ’14)

      i’d even do 2yrs for Liriano with cheap Club Options ($7M-$11M) if he’s willing.

      • calicubsfan007

        @CubFan: One has to remember, he was amazing a few years ago. If Theoyer goes for him, they believe that he is primed to return to that level of awesomeness.

  • ETS

    cubs claim sandy rosario

    • calicubsfan007

      @ETS: Dude’s ERA sucks.

      • ETS

        3.48era 1.316whip 4.16 k/bb
        pretty good minor league numbers (he only has what? 7 MLB innings. Not enough for that ERA to mean anything).

        • calicubsfan007

          @ETS: Good point. As Doc (I think) says, “Sample size”. My ERA point is withdrawn.

  • terencemann

    This might be the wrong opinion but I find myself having moral issues with signing Dempster to a hometown discount only to trade him again. I realize this is a business and this is what happens but it kind of rubs me the wrong way for some reason.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It would only happen if everyone was on board. Dempster wouldn’t come back in the first place if he wasn’t – and the Cubs would give him a no-trade clause if they weren’t.

  • MightyBear

    What are BN thoughts on signing Scott Rolen. The Reds are interested in bringing him back if he doesn’t retire. If he doesn’t want to retire and wants to play and the Reds don’t sign him, I think the Cubs should sign him. He could help Ian Stewart and maybe Vitters, then we could trade him at the deadline to a contender so he could play for a ring. I think his experience and mentoring playing 3B could be invaluable to the young kids and it wouldn’t cost very much and he would have one more shot at a ring. Win-win.

    • calicubsfan007

      @MB: I thought he said that if he doesn’t retire, that he wants to sign with a contender. I can’t remember where I saw that though.

      • MightyBear

        Well he could sign with the Cubs and if they don’t contend, they will definitely trade him to a contender at the deadline. That’s their MO anyway with veterans.

    • Chase S.

      I feel like Rolen is a clear target considering his first name.

  • willis

    I’m still, and have always been on the extend Garza train. It’s the same argument to go after someone like Sanchez…starting pitching is the weakest position up and down the system. Why would someone trade a solid #2 type when pitching is what they need more than anything? And why not go after that type of arm in FA when pitching is a huge need? I just don’t get what’s going on at this point.

    • ETS

      Neither sanchez nor garza have been known as “inning eaters”.

      • calicubsfan007

        @ETS: That is such an overused phrase though, like “scrappy”. “Inning eater” tends to be given to a guy that is not that great of a pitcher, but somehow manages to pitch many innings. To me, it is saying that someone has a great personality. It tends to say that the person is uglier than sin. (=

    • Alou and Vinegar

      Agreed Willis. I think Garza on an extension is more valuable to the Cubs than what they would receive for him in a trade (unless trade involves many more pieces). I like Garza but with current arm problem and the perception of “head” problems in his past I think Cub fans value him more than other teams

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    How about our own 4 team trade with the White Sox, Phillies, Rangers & Cubs :
    Cubs get : Olt 3B & Borbon CF from Rangers, also Viciedo LF from W-Sox.
    Phillies get : Soriano LF & Marmol from Cubs with Cubs paying at least half of both salaries.
    Texas : Gets Garza, from Cubs
    White Sox : Get D. Brown OF – Ruf LF/1B from Phils & B. Jackson from Cubs
    Cubs then sign Sanchez & Jackson for rotation.
    Cubs Lineup : Borbon CF
    DeJesus RF
    Rizzo 1B
    Viciedo LF
    Castro SS
    Olt 3B
    Castillo C
    Barney 2B

    • calicubsfan007

      @Lou: 4 team trades are just as awesome as they are a pain to set up. But if that works out, I could be on board with it.

      • Danny Ballgame

        Make it happen Louie. Somebody get Jed on the line

        • calicubsfan007

          @Danny: *Dialing phone*

    • BWA

      Texas would have to get more than just Garza to give up Olt

      • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

        i agree texas will want more

        • MichiganGoat

          And they can get more… Like Justin Upton.

    • Lou

      Well, since we’re playing armchair GM today. Let’s do this trade:

      Shark to Arizona for Skaggs and Daniel Hudson
      Upton to the Rangers for Olt (since my reading on him is that he’s going to be a better 1b), Martin Perez, Elvis Andrus and Leonys Martin
      Garza to Rangers for Buckels, C Jorge Alfaro, and Tanner Scheppers.

      Remember, I’m playing armchair GM here.

    • 2much2say

      Looks awfully weak in terms of Power hitters.
      Rizzo – Barney – Castro – 3rd??? LF Sori CF Bourn RF Dejesus C AJ
      Only will cost a 2nd rounder and some $, and 1 position to fill

    • MoneyBoy

      Damn that’s complicated but very interesting!!!

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    I actually had read the White Sox tried to trade last year with the Cubs for Campana but were turned down by Theo & company.

  • itzscott

    Okay, throw in Vitters

    Cubs need to add a prospect like Rizzo every year for at least the next couple.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    I’ll throw in Vitters for Olt with Garza. Won’t need him anyway if Olt works out at third for Cubs.

  • Jim

    Everything I seem to read has Baez playing 3B and arriving around 2014. If we make the trade for Olt, how does this affect the plan? I am all for the fact that this would be a good problem to have. Maybe move Castro or Baez to 2B? The thought of a 2014 infield of Rizzo, Castro, Baez, and Olt is pretty nice!

    • calicubsfan007

      @Jim: It would be like our first base “problem”, which is quite nice to have. Does that mean that you are suggesting that Barney is traded or allowed to walk in the near future then?

      • terencemann

        Start working Baez at second could be the answer. Olt could also possibly play a corner outfield spot in the long run which would lower his value some but he should hit enough for it to make sense.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Other lou – sorry but your trades make no sense from where I sit. D-Backs are set at first base with Goldschmidt & Olt has been rated very high for his defense at third. Hudson is coming off TJ surgery – & I think we have enough of those guys on the northside already with Baker, Vizcaino & Whitenack so I’m not giving up Shark for Skaggs & Hudson.

    • Lou

      Actually, I think you’re going to see Olt playing 1b for the Rangers and possibly not returning to 3b. The D’Backs would use him at 3b, though. Hudson coming off TJ surgery…hey, cmon Theo and Co loves these guys. Skaggs isn’t exactly a pushover as a SP prospect. Plus, the armchair GM wants to stack up prospects to give the Rays a variety of options when they make David Price available next year :)

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    If I could trade Barney today I would if the payback was good for our future. LH starter in high minors like Cingrani from Reds for example. Not that the Reds would make that deal – just for example purposes.

    • Lou

      That be nice. No way Barney gets that though. Don’t think Barney could nab Porcello at this point.

  • Njriv

    What’s the deal with EJax? Not on the radar?

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

    Our 40 man situation is super screwy.

    Besides the 42 player problem once we sign everyone we’ve come to terms with, we *still* don’t have a 6th MLB infielder on there. So unless someone like Lake or Vitters is going to be sitting the bench on the big league club in 2013 (unlikely), they are going to have to clear yet another space.

    They’ve got a *ton* of guys taking up 40-man space with little to no chance of contributing in 2013.

    • willis

      I agree. Also, the possibility of adding another starter is a good one (God willing). So there’s another spot. This roster is all out of sorts right now. Will be interesting to see the moving parts.

      • willis

        Some of the pitchers taking up roster space are awful.

    • terencemann

      Rosario will probably hit waivers again.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    I read Ian Kinsler has been asked to play first while Profar will take his spot at second. So Olt stays at third or is used for DH or is TRADED for Garza.

    • Lou

      Hmm…could be. Certainly, a fluid situation in Texas. I guess I was under impression Kinsler was going to start season in LF.

    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

      Did something happen to Adrian Beltre?

      • DocPeterWimsey

        No, Beltre is fine, and he is blocking Olt from 3rd. However, Beltre is not necessarily blcoking Olt from the Ranger’s starting lineup.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Or is traded for someone else altogether! There are teams other than the Cubs out there. Also, they did try Olt in RF last year. I’ve no idea how good he is at judging flyballs, but his arm almost certainly is going to be good, so RF or LF would be a possibility.

      I, too, had read that the Rangers were considering moving Kinsler to the OF, possibly even CF. He is pretty quick, after all, although the big issue would be what kind of jump he gets on flyballs. Texas does have a lot of in-house options that are sub-optimal, but not horrific either.

      It does occur to me that the reports of Olt being unavailable last July do not necessarily conflict with the reports that they would have given him up for Garza: if they were negotiating that trade, then the Rangers might well have said “no” to other offers involving sub-Garza pitchers.

  • phil knights

    Keep Garza, the dude rocks, even when he is not pitching he brings intensity to the team. We need more Garza’s- I believe thed quoted this and i am sure they have zero desire to get rid of him. I also think his injury was staged so his value would drop that way they would have to keep him. Cubs have the money they are just being patient in their choices so the team will improve.

  • João Lucas

    I suspect Valbuena’s reverse carrer split is just the product of a small sample size. He has 178 PAs against LHP for his entire career, and 931 against RHP.

    And, if we’re to talk small sampe sizes, last season alone his numbers were slightly better against RHP.

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

      This. His platoon splits are normal in the minors in a much larger sample.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I had it in my head that his minor league splits told the same story. Maybe I was mis-remembering.

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    David Murphy is going to get the bulk of the playing time in LF for rangers, he had a pretty decent year last year for them playing LF, RF & DH.
    Hey Phil – Garza’s antics play really well in HS or maybe college – not the pros , he needs to sit down & shut up & watch & learn. If you don’t believe me just ask his bosses.

  • Lou

    Brett, wondering what baseball folks you follow on Twitter. Any good recommendations aside from the national baseball writers?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Jonah Keri is a good one. Craig Calcaterra is also good.

  • 2much2say

    Here’s a question, If the Cubs were to sign Alphonso Soriano to 2 years 10 mil wouldn’t we think that was a steal? Why give a 25 HR + player away? Keeping him has much more value to the Cubs. Vet, hard worker, good clubhouse guy, short contract. We’ve come this far.

    • terencemann

      I think that’s what’s going on: they don’t want to just dump him at this point. He’s been more valuable than Cody Ross over the last 3 seasons but he’s still out there. Teams are always going to be more willing to sign a younger player for less money than to take on Soriano +16 MM which is what the rumors have been so far.

  • Blublud

    So in other words, the Cubs continue to sweep the garbage for players that the rest of the league doesnt want. This FO is starting to piss me off. I simply do not understand the logic of not going after Bourn or not going all out over Sanchez. At this rate, we’ll be competative by 2020 or so.

  • Byron Browne

    A pitcher coming off the disabled list, whose future skills are unknown.
    An over-paid 36-year-old outfielder who is one hop away from going lame;
    An aging relief pitcher whose velocity and control are sporadic and unpredictable.

    And in excahnge for the above, some Cub followers expect another team to give us top prospects, or proven major leaguers. Come on, in a fair world, we would get in return a pitcher coming off the disabled list, whose future…etc.

  • Matt

    @blublud – its not that people don’t want him…..they do and that is why other teams traded for him or picked him up on waivers. With all teams, the 40 man is pretty near full or not much room to manuever so when something changes for the team and they need to make room they try and sneak someone like Rosario through waiver so they can send them to AAA. Obviously that is why other teams have picked him up and the Redsox TWICE. Just no room on the other teams.

    And Bourn and Sanchez are not going to do anything for this team but hamper them with long contracts that we wish we didn’t have in 2 or 3 years. I like that Theo and Co. are trying to get things set up so we can go hard after Free agents with $$$ or offer prospects for guys like Stanton or Upton WHEN THE TIME COMES and not deplete our system and the time is not this year. If they could somehow get Stanton or Upton without trading Baez/Soler/Almora then i say do it but that is not happening now. Everyone will eventually look back at this time down the road and be happy that we did what we did. Just because a free agent is asking for $90mm – $150mm doesn’t make them needed commodities. When we are in the position that is when Theo and Co. will go after them but the time is not this year. People just need to be patient with the plan. They will eventually spend money and eventually go after guys like Stanton and Upton.

    • Blublud

      We are mot talking about Stanton and Upton. We are talking about Bourn and Sanchez. These 2 would cost us nothing but money. They all represent one step closer to contention. The way this front office is making it look, we are going to wait Baez and Solar are ready and then try and go sign 20 good free agents in 1 year. Well it doesnt work that way. I support the rebuild, but we need to start aquiring talent this year, so when the prospects are ready, the team to compete will be mostly intact. Not going after Bourn is one thing, not going after Sanchez is just ignorant.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Not Bourn: he has Chone Figgins written all over him. Bourn does not have much pop and his OBP is unspectacular. There is much too high a probability that Bourn will be an average fielding #8 hitter within a couple of years.

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