Baseball, with its games and players and rumors and trades, is, at its best, a pleasant diversion from an imperfect world. I suppose that’s why I write about baseball, rather than the ugly realities better left to persons more skilled in the craft than I. My heart goes out to everyone affected by the atrocity in Connecticut. I’m leaving soon to go watch my daughter sing and dance at a concert, and I’ll be hugging her twice as hard today.
But, because it is our diversion, we must diverge.
Alfonso Soriano’s name came up quite a bit in talks yesterday, but without any tangible rumors connecting him to other teams. On the one hand, with Josh Hamilton signing with the Angels, it was natural that Cubs fans would want to talk about the Soriano trade market, but Soriano’s name was coming up long before the Hamilton signing, and from non-Cubs-fans. Among the random bits:
- Soriano No. 1: Jon Heyman tweeted earlier that the Cubs are willing to eat $26 million of the $36 million left on Soriano’s deal in order to get the right prospect, and that all very reasonable given Soriano’s great production last year (Heyman has been banging these twin drums for a long time, and he’s said both of these things before … why did he tweet it again yesterday morning? Just drumming up discussion, or is he hearing things that don’t quite rise to the level of a full report?).
- Soriano No. 2: Phil Rogers asked – totally unprompted – whether Soriano to the Astros in a deal for Bud Norris could make sense. We heard Wednesday about the Cubs shopping Soriano to the Astros, and the Astros blanching because of the cost (and we never heard any indication that Soriano would consider a trade to a non-competitive team not on the East Coast where he might have to DH (three strikes against the Astros, per Soriano’s stated preferences for a trade (he has no-trade rights))), and I kind of figured that would be it. Why is Phil bringing Soriano back up together with the Astros? And why Bud Norris, specifically? Given the tenuousness here, I’m not going to dig too deeply into Norris as a trade piece – he’s a cheap, 27-year-old (will be 28 in March) modestly effective back of the rotation candidate. Shrug.
- Soriano No. 3: Rogers also said that Soriano would be a fit for the Rangers, now that Hamilton is gone, but that appears to be speculation that just about anyone could drop in the wake of the signing.
- Soriano No. 4: The Braves are still looking for a left fielder, which would allow them to slide Martin Prado to third base, but David O’Brien hears the Braves remain uninterested. Still seems like a perfect fit to me: right-handed power bat, short-term deal, very cheap ($5 million per year), and the Braves have surplus pitching to deal. Maybe the Braves don’t think Soriano can handle left field in Atlanta.
I’m not particularly enthused about laying out the implications of the Anibal Sanchez signing, since it wasn’t with the Cubs, but here they are …
- Yes, Rick Porcello is a near lock to be traded now. There will probably be a great many suitors, given his youth (24 in two weeks) and upside, even if his performances to date have failed to match the enthusiasm, and he’s set to get a healthy bump in arbitration in 2013 (he made $3.1 million in 2012, his first of four arbitration years). I’m sure the Cubs will inquire – indeed, I’m sure they already have. If the Cubs are willing to give up anything of substance, here’s hoping they push for Drew Smyly, rather than Porcello.
- The Cubs can probably be fairly attached to Edwin Jackson at this point, but only in the sense that they are clearly willing to spend on that kind of pitcher. Sanchez is the superior option, but they are just a few months apart in age, and very close in performance over the past few years. The Padres are rumored to be pursuing Jackson strongly, but might bow out if bidding reaches four or five years and $12 to $13 million per year. It would seem likely that Jackson would, indeed, receive something in that range. You’d like to see the Cubs stick to the four-year, $12 million end of that spectrum, but we’ll have to see how Jackson’s market shakes out – or if the Cubs are even involved.
- The Red Sox were apparently interested in Sanchez late (possibly even after signing Ryan Dempster), so you can probably include them among the teams looking at the remaining mid-tier starting options.
- I’d hazard a guess that we’re going to hear an uptick in the name Carlos Villanueva over the next week or so. I’ve written about him quite a bit before.
Random other bits …
- R.A. Dickey’s continued availability could help the Cubs in the starting pitching market (though it could hurt efforts to shop Matt Garza), if he winds up being traded. Ken Rosenthal thinks Dickey is going to be dealt.
- Cuban players Aledmys Diaz, a 22-year-old shortstop, and Dariel Alvarez, a 24-year-old outfielder, are now officially free agents. Neither seems like an obvious fit to immediately improve the 2013 Cubs, but they seem happy to dip their toe into the international market wherever they can, so I wouldn’t rule them out just yet. And 2013 might not be the focus at this point anyway. Assuming Diaz waits to sign until he turns 23 next month, neither player will be subject to the international spending limit restrictions.