No Bullets today, as all of the interesting bits are rumor/transaction-related. So, it’s a Lukewarm Stove on this fantasy football playoff Sunday …

  • That R.A. Dickey trade still isn’t done, but it could be a seven player trade with Dickey, Josh Thole, and a lesser prospect going to the Blue Jays for top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud, top 100ish pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard, John Buck, and a lesser prospect. Everyone is screaming that it’s a rip off for the Blue Jays given just one year of control of Dickey, but I’d note that the year of control is dirt cheap ($5 million), and he’s open to signing a very reasonable extension in the two year, $26 million range. (For those who wonder about the value of a 38-year-old knuckleballer, I present the always brilliant Rany Jazayerli on just how good and valuable Dickey is.) D’Arnaud is coming off a very serious knee injury, too. Can’t discount that, or the fact that Alex Anthopoulos rarely gets ripped in a trade. That all said: the perception of a huge win for the Mets could help the Cubs in other sell-type trades, especially, for example, if they wind up deciding to shop Matt Garza in the Spring.
  • Also, if the deal goes down: the Blue Jays are going to be very, very good in 2013. Will the other AL East teams get desperate to respond?
  • Ken Rosenthal says the Phillies are “intensifying” their pursuit of free agent outfielder Cody Ross. That could impact the Cubs in a couple ways, first, in efforts to shop Alfonso Soriano, whom they’ve discussed with the Phillies, and in their own efforts to land a right-handed-hitting outfielder like Ross.
  • … but the Phillies have a bit of a salary crunch if they want to aggressively pursue Ross. According to Matt Gelb’s calculations, the Phillies have just about $7 million left under the luxury tax limit for 2013 ($178 million), and they have previously stated a preference for staying under that threshold. Will Ross sign on a deal with an average annual value less than $7 million (for purposes of the luxury tax, contracts are considered on an average annual value basis to avoid shenanigans in back/front-loaded to avoid the tax)? It’s conceivable, but it would leave the Phillies with very little mid-season flexibility.
  • On that – the Phillies’ presumed cash crunch, and the obvious connection (oh, hey, they can get Alfonso Soriano from the Cubs for just $5 million per! it’s perfect!), got me wondering about a procedural question: for the purposes of the luxury tax, how is a player’s salary treated when he’s traded together with cash? That is to say, when calculating the official “payroll,” does the player’s full salary count, even if he was traded together with a chunk of cash that made him a lot less expensive to the receiving team? Well, I dug out my lawyer pants (gray slacks) for a moment and reviewed the language of the CBA. And, what do you know, Article XXIII, Section (C)(2)(b)(iii) directly addresses this issue. I’ll spare you the language, but the gist is this: the cash a team sends along with a player counts against that team’s “payroll,” but only the amount actually paid to the player by the receiving team counts against their payroll. So, for example, if the Cubs sent Soriano (owed $18 million each of 2013 and 2014), together with $26 million to the Phillies, the Cubs would have to include $13 million each year in their own “payroll,” while the Phillies would have to include just $5 million each year in their “payroll.”
  • Speaking of the Phillies, and I mentioned this in passing yesterday, they’ve signed John Lannan to a very affordable $2.5 million deal for 2013, which includes $2.5 million in incentives. The Cubs obviously could have been involved at that price point – there’s some potential surplus value there – but it’s possible Lannan wanted only to go to a winner, or to a team that would guarantee him starts (ironically, the competitive Phillies may have been in a better spot to do that than the Cubs). The other possibility, which feels even more likely in light of the Anibal Sanchez pursuit, is the Cubs would prefer to pick up a quality rotation option at this point, rather than another “value” type. Of course, with Sanchez off the board, there aren’t too many quality options left (about which I wrote yesterday).
  • It’s of little value to know now, but apparently Tigers owner Mike Ilitch was the driving force behind the Tigers really stepping up their offer to Anibal Sanchez. That implies that the baseball operations guys didn’t think it was the right move. I guess you can’t fight an aging owner with a ton of money and desperation to win before his time is up.
  • Josh Hamilton’s deal with the Angels, in addition to being a really healthy five years and $125 million, contains a full no-trade clause. Mercy. There are reports that the Angels played hard ball, and told Hamilton he either accepted the offer right now or it was off the table, but that’s just fluffy narrative at this point – the offer, itself, was absurdly strong. That’s what convinced him, not an artificial time constraint.
  • Interest in Rick Porcello is extremely wide, with Danny Knobler listing the Angels, Rangers, Phillies, Pirates, Twins and Royals as potentially interested. You can include the Padres, and probably the Red Sox, too. If the Cubs want Porcello, there will be competition. What is Porcello’s trade value? I’ve never thought it was sky-high, given his escalating salary and mediocre performance so far (but, don’t get me wrong: he only 24 (next week), has interestingly-improving peripherals, and has upside), but it’s always interesting to see a local take. And Tony Paul of the Detroit News talks about possible Porcello trades, and it doesn’t sound like he sees the trade value as sky high, either. For example, in a proposed swap for Pirates closer Joel Hanrahan, who is a free agent after 2013, Paul says the Tigers would have to include more than just Porcello. Hanrahan is very good, but he’s coming off a down-ish year, and has just one year of control left.
  • nkniacc13

    I would like a trade for Porcello but i dont think the cubs and Tigers match up really well. Villanueva wouldn’t be a bad signing. I don’t like Jackson at 3 years thou.

    • Myles – WSCW

      Let’s play the Hidden Player game.

      Player A has pitched 610 innings over the past 3 years, and sports a 3.75 FIP over that time.
      Player B has pitched 587 innings over the past 3 years, and sports a 3.45 FIP over that time.
      Player C has pitched 506 innings over the past 3 years, and sports a 3.85 FIP over that time.

      Player A is Edwin Jackson.
      Player B is Anibal Sanchez.
      Player C is Matt Garza.

      I’d be comfortable giving Jackson 4/44 pretty easily.

      • MattM

        Yup think about that! Does a .30 FIP difference make up for 4 million a year? Because if Epstein does not go for Jackson that’s what he is saying!

        He is saying that that .30 FIP makes a player more valuable at 4 mil a year more plus an extra year! But at 4 mil less and one year less a 3.75 FIP isn’t worth 12 for 4?

        THis is idiotic if it’s true!

        • Brett

          Actually, the marginal difference between players at the top of the pay scale can easily make that much of a difference.

          • MattM

            Brett I understand you are trying to justify this but keep in mind that these guys AREN”T AT THE TOP OF THEIR PAY SCALES! So what you’re saying makes it a moot point! Yes if you have a 100mil contract four million is chump change but this isn’t!

            • Brett

              I wasn’t trying to justify anything – I was speaking in generalities.

          • Myles – WSCW

            Yeah, but not precisely in this case (the difference between 2.4 and 2.7 FIP is huge, the difference between 3.4 and 3.7 FIP much less so, the difference between 4.4 and 4.7 FIP almost nonexistent). I’d argue that Sanchez and Jackson are fairly similar pitchers; Sanchez is better when healthy, Jackson is more dependable. I’d definitely rather have Sanchez at 5/75, but that ship has sailed. If he’s worth 5 at 15 AAV, it’s pretty easy to justify Jackson at 4/12 AAV.

            • Brett

              I would absolutely consider Jackson at 4/$48M. Never disputed that one.

  • Abe Froman

    It would be interesting to see Soriano’s projected numbers for next year and those of last year compared to league average LF’s and DH’s along with their salaries (including LF defensive stats), I have a hard time not seeing big value for 5 million a year.

  • Ch1town23

    The phillies are stupid… If I was a phillies fan which I’m not I’d much rather see a 3-4-5 lineup with utley, Howard, and Soriano then with Ross in the mix.

  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Big story isn’t all the yipping on missing Sanchez, they took a shot and lost, but just how little so many Cub fans undervalue Matt Garza and a guy like Jackson. You’d have to know the arm condition of Jackson and reason he’s moved so often, but absent a startling revelation, I like the guy. He’s got a little edge to him, is a real competitor, and has come up big at big times. Garza to me is clearly the best of the bunch. I think there is a strong argument, amongst the 3, there’s not enough difference to justify some of the hand ringing about losing Sanchez. Not only is the appropriate question why all the negativity on Jackson, but why in hell wouldn’t people want to think long and hard about extending Garza?

    My assumption is they were looking to add Sanchez to make Garza more expendable in deal.

  • RickyP024

    WIth the Cubs openly shopping Marmol, and with the option that the mentioned writer proposed with Hanrahan, would it be at all possible for a Marmol for Porcello swap? Think the Cubs would even consider such a move?

    • nkniacc13

      Cubs would do it Tigers wouldn’t.

      • Myles – WCSW


  • ramy16

    Mike Pelfrey is now off the board…he just signed with the Twins.low risk high upside

  • MattM

    OMG! Reports are showing a 4 year 12 mil a year contract will get him! The Padres aren’t even contemplating a 4 year deal. This is a ridiculous steal and absolutely ignorant if Epstein doesn’t do it.

    I’ll be honest if he doesn’t sign this player for that price after going after friggen Sanchez at much more money a one more year for not less value on the contract to the Cubs than what the Jackson contract would bring! I would say that this is Hendry all over again! It would remind me of the Crawford signing!

    HOw quickly people forget that! Maybe Epstein isn’t as smart as we all give him credit for because clearly value is not what he is looking for if he passes this up!

  • KYCub

    I keep hearing about this BIG Master plan, however all I see is signing cheap “coming off injury” players. This plan stinks!!! Can they sign someone that a FANBASE can get excited about? Someone…….

    • Brett

      A great deal of the FANBASE recognizes that signing guys just because it’s exciting to sign expensive players isn’t a very good long-term (or even short-term, given the rest of the roster) plan.

      • RickyP024


      • KYCub

        Brett, i understand you are sold on the PLAN. However, I live with and talk to Cubs fans all the time that are looking for some type of commitment to being competitive NOW. I don’t se it. I come to Chicago once a year to take in a 9-10 homestand and want to see a competitive team. I am not excited about Stewart at 3rd, I’ve already seen that experiment. Our CF/RF situation is the worst in the baseball. Bullpen is relying on a bunch of kids or an old washed pitcher as set up man. I love the potential of Garza and Shark and wish they would commit to those guys long term. I think every year that the Cubs have the financial means to field a competitive baseball team, and another 100 loss baseball season doesn’t show a commitment. IMO, many Free Agents look at the Cubs as being on the CHEAP right now and don’t want to waste their prime years losing baseball games. I think a prominant agent has said the same thing recently. I admire those who want to believe that things will be better in 2014, I just don’t see it happening unless some investment in PLAYERS begin today.

        • MichiganGoat

          Curious what moves do you think the cubs SHOULD have MADE.

        • RickyP024

          Echoing Michigan Goat, what moves do you think they could have/should have made that would have solved your issue of competing now while still building the franchise for the future?

          • Hee Seop Chode

            Thais not KY’s job, and he doesn’t have access to the information the fo has.

            Just because someone can’t organize 4 team trades, doesn’t mean their concerns about short term competitiveness is unjustified.

            • Frank

              True–it’s not his job, and his concerns certainly can be justified–but your argument cuts both ways–because he doesn’t have the information the FO has, he can’t possibly know what they’ve done to try to field a competitive team. We do know that they came in 2nd on Cespedes, Darvish, and Sanchez, and have been in on others who certainly would’ve helped. But, as your argument implies, we don’t know what else was going on behind the scenes.

              • Kyle

                All we can judge the front office on is results, and the only results that matter are wins and losses.

                • Frank

                  True–and I understand Kyle, that you were against the teardown plan from the start, but given the route that was chosen, how much more competitive did anyone expect them to be this year? Was anyone really expecting a turnaround in one year? I can absolutely understand expecting to be more competitive than 101 losses, but a baseball team can’t be turned around immediately– a basketball team maybe, but not a baseball team.

                  • Kyle

                    A lot more.

                    If they can’t put together a competitive team in *two* offseasons with medium-sized resources being used, they aren’t doing their jobs well.

                    Baseball teams most certainly can be turned around immediately, though they didn’t help themselves by making it worse last year. The 2011 Cubs went 71-91. So did the 2005 Tigers and the 2008 Giants.

                    • DarthHater

                      Come on, Kyle. The 2008 Giants had been bad for four years in a row and the 2005 Tigers for six years in a row. If you comb through historical data and cherry pick the last year before each team had a big turnaround, then of course it’s easy to “prove” that a competitive team can be put together quickly.

                    • Frank

                      No–losing ten more games than the previous year doesn’t help, except in draft position and that’s a crapshoot anyway. Two offseasons haven’t been completed yet, so we’ll see, though it’s arguably more difficult now with the new CBA. I’d also argue that the 2008 Giants and 2005 Tigers were internally stronger in terms of things like farm system, scouting, and coaching than the Cubs were when this FO took over. I’d need to research that a little more though.

                      That being said, I do believe the team could’ve been more competitive than it was–I just don’t know how much more, again, given the route that they chose. You’ve argued all along that the route was the wrong one–ok, I get that and don’t totally disagree. But they chose the route they chose.

              • Frank

                Oh–and trades for Dan Haren and Randall Delgado that both fell through. Even a couple of those moves, had they worked, would’ve made a difference. They also got rid of Quade, traded for Rizzo, and let Samardzija settle in to see what he could do as a starter, and taught Soriano how to play defense. Stewart still might work out if he is truly healthy–or, he could just be bad. I think, all in all, they’ve tried to do a lot–but a lot hasn’t worked out either.

            • DarthHater

              If the FO has access to superior information, then maybe they have baseball reasons for not wanting a particular player, or not valuing the player particularly highly, even though fans, possessing less information, might think that player would be a great addition. I’m perfectly willing to be critical of management when there is a factual basis for it, but I think it’s silly to assume that every time they don’t pursue or sign a player, it’s because of cheapness, especially when they just made an offer on a free agent that, according to many knowledgeable baseball people, was on the high side.

              • MichiganGoat

                Nah foolish Sith Ricky just wants to line his pockets as we BAAAAAH our way through the gates. 😉

  • http://None Cubbieblue29

    Garza/Soriano to the Rangers? Im surprised theres not more talk of that since they missed out on Greinke/Hamilton it would be a good Plan B option. Plus it would probably take Olt, a top 20 pitching prospect, and one or two lower name prospects.

  • Fastball

    These are the years just like when the Wrigleys owned the team. players we like but players who lose. lovable losers. history repeats itself over and over

    • MichiganGoat

      Yeah that’s the plan obviously- lose, lose, lose.

      • mudge

        Misery and destruction. Dung and death.

  • jwalton

    Britt love your posts, but i get confused as i dont no the abbreviations you use, FA,WHIP, FIP etc. Help me out and provide a listing of thme so i canenjoy the posts better. thnak u

    • Brett

      FA = free agent.
      WHIP = walks and hits per innings pitched.
      FIP = fielding independent pitching, which is a stat that tries to take the luck out of ERA and describe only what the pitcher, himself, was responsible for.

    • DarthHater

      jwalton, Cubs Den blog has a nice glossary of these stats:

      Brett, you should consider adding something like this to BN. We don’t want those Cubs Den guys to be better than BN at anything, right? 😉

  • 2much2say

    How about Drew Smily for Castro and Marmol plus a 3rd base prospect from Tigers
    The Cubs are deep at SS

    • dudeski

      not sure if serious….

  • frank hutch


  • 2much2say

    Was thinking Castellanos as the 3rd base prospect

  • Bridgette

    I am truly glad to glance at this webpage posts which consists of plenty of helpful information, thanks for providing these kinds of data.