Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

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.

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