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.