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Ah, the annual pre-Christmas uptick in the rumor mill. Baseball players (and executives) are people, after all, and as many celebrate the Christmas holiday, they prefer to have things settled, if at all possible, before Christmas. For some guys, it just won’t be possible, but for others (Edwin Jackson?), we could see things wrapping up soon.

  • Speaking of Jackson, in addition to Ken Rosenthal’s mention this morning that he didn’t think the Rangers were going to be the high bidder on Edwin Jackson, Danny Knobler jumps into the fray and adds: “[The Rangers are] thought to be interested in a shorter rather than longer-term deal with Jackson, who may find a better offer from the Cubs.” If the Cubs are the only team willing to go four years on Jackson – and I could get into a four-year deal if it isn’t too far north of $12 million per year – they might just get their man this time. Or not. You know how these things go …
  • Jon Heyman adds, by the way, that the Padres are indeed out on Jackson because the price rose out of their range, confirming at least part of Jim Bowden’s original report, which held that the Cubs and Rangers were Jackson’s final two suitors.
  • The Phillies are certainly ranging wide for their outfield needs, most recently exploring a deal with the Angels for Vernon Wells. To be clear, Wells is a far inferior option to Alfonso Soriano – although Wells is a few years younger, his deal pays him $3 million more per year than Soriano, he is a probably-worse defender, and his OPS the last two years has been .660 and .682. That said, he’s available for a song, and maybe the Phillies are content to stick with the current Brown/Mayberry/Ruf outfield, with Wells playing exclusively against lefties. The report, though, paired with their increased interest in Cody Ross, certainly does help them grab some leverage if they *were* having any trade talks with the Cubs about Soriano. I can’t say the two stories are entirely unrelated, but let’s not go too far. The Cubs still may elect to hang onto Soriano, at least to start the season.
  • MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith lists the Cubs among the remaining possible landing places for free agent outfielder Michael Bourn, and although I still don’t think he’s a perfect fit, the teeny, tiny chances that he falls into the Cubs’ lap on a reasonable deal are increasing slightly. Recall, the Cubs were previously – albeit tenuously – connected to Bourn earlier this offseason. I’ve mentioned this before, and I may yet do a full write-up, but it’s worth noting: as Bourn’s price falls, the Cubs are in a better position to land him thanks to their protected first round pick. That is to say, signing Bourn costs the Cubs only a second round, while it costs – for example – the Mariners a first rounder. If he has to settle for a short-term deal, it seems less likely that a team with a first round pick at risk is going to want to give it up to get Bourn for just a year or two.
  • Bruce Levine chatted yesterday, and among his thoughts … (1) Speaking of Bourn, even on a short-term deal, he might not make much sense for the Cubs because his trade value mid-season isn’t too high if he’s a free agent again in 2014; (2) Anibal Sanchez chose the Tigers because they’re closer to winning, and that’s the kind of thing the Cubs are going to run up against until they’re good again; (3) the Cubs are finding a soft Alfonso Soriano market, regardless of how much they eat, because teams are gripping their prospects tightly (eh – we’ve seen plenty of prospect deals lately; I think the Cubs’ asking price must just be very high); (4) Bruce thinks there’s no sense in talking about moves that may or may not happen next offseason like a David Price trade (I agree with him on Price, but moves in general? Of course you’ve got to be thinking/planning ahead – I sure hope the Cubs are); (5) the Tigers don’t have any interest in Darwin Barney after the mid-2012 deal that brought them Omar Infante; (6) Bruce thinks Carlos Marmol being dealt for a small package of prospects is the most likely move they’ll make before Spring Training; (7) I’ve talked about it a lot lately, and Bruce says he’ll investigate the hold-up in the Nate Schierholtz signing (hear my theory in the latest BN Podcast); and (8) Andre Ethier is probably too old and too expensive for the Cubs right now.
  • Wrigleyvillewest

    Jan. 7th on that list. Am anxious to see improvement over last year. Wonder if Lake’s DWL performance alters it at all – He is KILLING lefties btw…

  • T Larson

    When you are a rebuilding team, you just don’t give away draft picks like that. There is a reason no one has signed him. I think a lot has to do with the draft pick.

    • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

      I don’t care if you are an expansion team that won’t field a team for another two years, you never pass up control of a worthwhile MLB player to save a 2nd-round pick. Second-round picks are mostly awful and nearly meaningless.

      • DarthHater

        Second-round picks are mostly awful and nearly meaningless.

        According to a June 2012 report in Bleacher Report, 66% of first-round picks and 49% of second-round picks reach the major leagues. Of course, we don’t know how many of those guys are good in the major leagues. However, a quick look at just the starting lineups for the 2012 All-Star Game shows six players who were drafted in the second round or later: Votto (2); Beltran (2); Uggla (11); Bautista (20); Napoli (17); Granderson (3). I’m sure that it would not take long to come up with dozens of additional examples of equally awful and meaningless players, but some things are just really not worth the trouble.

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

          The vast majority of those 49% are cup-of-coffee and career backup guys.

          Just going back 10 years as an arbitrary number, 5 of the 30 players picked in the second round have gone on to 5 career WAR or more.

        • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

          The key here is that you said “or later.”

          The MLB draft is essentially two phase. Your first-round pick, and then about 40 picks of flinging poo at a wall and hoping something sticks.

          Second-round picks are the beginning of the poo-flinging phase. If you give it up, you still get 39 poo flings to find your late-round luck.

          • DarthHater

            If you have data to support your assertions, feel free to share. But trying to make your assertions seem more authoritative by using phrases like “poo-flinging” is not effective.

            • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

              I just shared some data.

              Pick a year, and let’s examine what percentage of second-round picks became impactful MLB players (I like to use 5 career WAR as a standard. That’s two good starting seasons or four or five decent backup seasons, or some mix of the two).

              The dropoff between the first and second rounds is huge, and then the curve smooths out a bit on a long decline to nothingness.

              • DarthHater

                Okay, I take back my smart-ass comment about poo-flinging. and i have to hit the road before the snowstorm arrives, so I can’t continue to discuss. But can I infer from your data that roughly one in six (5/30) second-rounders is “impactful?”

                • http://thecubcontrarian.blogspot.com Kyle

                  More or less.

                  Though the Cubs have brought down the average quite a bit. IIRC, we haven’t had a meaningful 2nd-round pick since Maddux.

      • Kevin B

        Kyle I disagree. Second round picks are valuable. How valuable is something you of course need to weigh against the player you are getting.

        You say dont pass on this type of MLB player since you can control the player. Well I am not sure 100% your meaning but I agree with you that if the Cubs can sign Bourn for a 3 year deal (even 4 at the most) I would gladly surrender the 2nd round pick.

        But if Bourn wants a one year deal so he can test the market again? Then that is not controllable, then I value the 2nd round pick more. A 2 year deal for Bourn? I value the 2nd round pick more. A 3 year deal? I value Bourn more then the pick.

  • http://Cubkid jdblades7

    Baker could only hit lefties and not even that good and his defense is aaverageat best. Give Logan Watkins a chance or somebody else that is younger and can get better not worse like Baker will.

  • http://bleachernation.com Ramy16

    Wrigleyville West..great point! Lake should get a great look at 3rd this spring!

    • MichiganGoat

      Lake needs some seasoning at Iowa first, Luke has addressed the need for Lake to spend more time in the minors before getting a look.

  • http://bleachernation.com Ramy16

    Also I think Juan Francisco can be had From the Braves.. They could push our old buddy reed johnson to left.. And Prado to 3rd!..Juan Francisco is 25 yrs old young and has serious pop!

  • Bigg J

    I think it is funny how Rafael Soriano thought he was going to get more money on the market then what he was getting and now can’t find a job. That’s what you get for being greedy and listening to Boras who is a money hungry machine

    • Kevin B

      Ooh Bigg J I could not have said it better!

  • cRAaZYHORSE

    Would it not be funny if Bourn sign with Chicago , I guess weird stuff has happen like Wood signing at the CUbs Convention last year. NAh Everybody said . Bourn is the best fit for the Cubs this year and 4 year from now.

  • T Larson

    so if he loses his speed and becomes untradeable then what? You have nothing to show for it and you lose out on all that money. Why waste your money on Bourn now? He is on the wrong side of 30 and will have less value in a few years. The Cubs and not us are better off spending their money elsewhere. I’m more concerned why Soriano and Marmol haven’t been traded yet.
    I wish the Cub fan base would just be a little more patient. It’s really sad to see the desire to have instant gratification by trying to win now and jeopardizing not waiting for the FO office plan come to fruition.

    • bbmoney

      I’m pretty patient. My original response was not…I’ll be pissed if the Cubs don’t sign Bourn because it shows management isn’t into winning.

      It was if you can get Bourn for 4 yrs or less at a reasonable amount (to me 15-17M per) that is >>>>> than a second round pick. For any number of reasons and really should be strongly considered.

      Maybe i’m off on my $$$’s, he’ll likely sign for at least that, but to me that makes sense given Upton’s signing earlier and that Bourn is an outstanding defensive CF and will likely be for at least a couple more years.

      • cRAaZYHORSE

        At this point if the Cubs get Bourn its strictly a luxury player. If the Cubs Sign him it will because he signs a 3/4 years deal . Bourn is not the best lead-off hitter ( low BA and high pct of K) but for the most part he advances himself towards scoring situations.that the top of the order has been missing and he his defensive WAR is outstanding

        Bourns glove and speed is what makes this deal a good fit for the Cubs. Having a top notch outfielder that can motivate and mentor the Younger Cubs that will eventually roam Wrigley field is A plus. OnE plus that this allstar outfielder brings stability in CF for the Cubs rebuild period. It gives the Cubs A focus point in help teaching its prospects to illuminate Bourns defensive makeup.

        Anyway If the Cubs sign Bourn his style of play meshes with the current roster and in a short few years he can help with the development when the CUbs rookies emerge.

        Now signing Bourn to 5/90 million contract is dumb. 3/33 or 4/ 46-48 is good enough wiith vested /buyout option at the end of the 3 year

    • Kevin B

      T;

      I agree and have faith in our FO. But Bourn is not on the wrong side of 30 – he is uner 30 – he is 29. A 3 year deal takes him through age 32 – still his prime. a 4 year deal takes into age 33 – as far as i would go. That 6-7-8 year crap they were looking for just plain silly.

      My point is a good defensive CF and LEAD OFF man is wonderful, gotta have the leadoff man and he is young enough for a multi year deal. But I agree with you not too long of a deal. 3 years in a heartbeat. I would not be unhappy with 4, though others and yourself may disagree.

  • tobias

    I just read on MLBTR that the Cubs have signed Carlos Villenueva. Any thoughts on this signing and the possibilities of also getting Jackson?

  • Melrosepad

    So, Heyman reporting that we came to terms with Villanueva. I would assume that means we are out on Jackson as that would give us a huge rotation.

    • tobias

      I wouldn’t rule out Jackson completely. Cubs could have a descent rotation with Garza, Shark, Villenueva, Jackson, and Feldman/Baker.

    • tobias

      I believe if Cub do end up signing Jackson then the Cubs can move Wood to the pen which the Cubs are lacking LHRP. The Cubs would then be set and could move Garza at the trade deadline which should be around the time that Baker should be fully healthy. The Cubs would still have a rotation of Shark, Villenueva, Jackson, Feldman, and Baker.

  • http://Cubkid jdblades7

    It’s conceivable that we will be sellers not buyers at the trade deadline. So, why not get another outfielder and utility guy that is defense first. That way our SP with one year left will have a better ERA and will bring better quality prospects our way.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Most GMs won’t use ERA: they’ll go by xFIP, or it’s constituent parts (K’s, BB & GB:FB numbers). That makes the fielders irrelevant.

  • BWA

    According to MLBTR, Cubs sign Villanueva.

    • ottoCub

      Cubs new motto: “Sign all the pitchers!!”

  • Tim

    Cubs sign Carlos Villanueva!

  • https://www.facebook.com/anotherspacesong Bret Epic
  • nkniacc13

    Cubs will have some interesting battles for rotation spots. Makes me wonder if they know they won’t get jackson and also if they are about to make a trade to clear a bit of room

    • Kevin B

      What does one have to do with the other? Are you suggesting they have to sit and wait on Jackson and if Jackson signs they do not need pitching anymore? Villanueava can start and relieve. He would be a great sign in addition to Jackson, a ground ball pitcher I believe too.

  • http://Cubkid jdblades7

    I like the Villanueva signing. He can start or go to the bullpen and with Baker probably starting on the DL that gives us five solid guys and when Baker gets healthy you can move him or Woods to the pen. A career 4.00 + ERA and Versatile.

  • http://facebook #1cubsfan2013

    wow nice pickup Villanueva

  • Joepoe123

    Not so fast don’t get your hopes up we have had a lot of signings and trades that have fallen through

  • nkniacc13

    Interesting as now you have Villanueva, Feldman and Wood who have been both starters and relievers so I wonder who stays in rotation

  • http://bleachernation.com Ramy16

    For how many years??

    • Kevin B

      Great comment Rammy – of course the morons on Twitter do not say and they do not say because the Cubs have not signed him yet. Pure speculation. I do not see a huge market for him and the Cubs have liked him for a long time. Since the Rays made the Dickey trade I was hoping this would happen, Jays have no use for him anymore. Not sure who we are competing with so I assume he will sign but he has not.

  • http://a T Larson

    my bad about the age. The point I was trying to make is I don’t trust his speed for 3 or 4 years ala Soriano. At least Soriano had enough power to overcome is declining speed.

  • Kevin B

    T;

    Valid points. Personally I trust it for 3 years for sure. Even 4. But 4 may be too long, you could be correct. But your main point that the issue is speed and that is his tool is right on. He plays good defense too but then again part of that is the speed.

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