Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

stoveChristmas is in the rearview mirror, and the Lukewarm Stove starts smoldering again …

  • The Red Sox and Pirates finally officially consummated their six-player trade centering on closer Joel Hanrahan. The Red Sox also pick up Brock Holt, a 24-year-old so-so infield prospect, while the Pirates are getting outfielder Jerry Sands, infielder Ivan De Jesus, Jr., reliever Mark Melancon and meh pitching prospect Stolmy Pimentel. It’s a quantity over quality return for the Pirates on Hanrahan (who I previously discussed as a similar, but slightly better and slightly less expensive Carlos Marmol (but, of course, the Cubs can do something about the expense part, by eating some salary)), and probably sets the upper bound on what the Cubs could hope to get in a Marmol deal. Ideally, obviously, you’d like to see just one quality piece coming back, rather than two or three fringy/AAAA types, but the Pirates were probably shooting for this kind of a return, given their desire for cost-controlled pieces. Ultimately, they replaced Hanrahan with a guy who could become Hanrahan (Melancon), picked up a guy who could be a possible corner outfield or first base starter, but might be a really nice bench piece (Sands), upgraded Holt to De Jesus, and got a why-the-hell-not pitching prospect thrown in.
  • Gut response on this deal as a precedent for a Marmol trade? If the Cubs eat enough salary to make Marmol a $3 million guy (he’s set to make $9.8 million), I think they can probably get a prospect that might fall at the back end of their top 10/15, or a mid-20s bat whom they could maybe give a shot in the outfield. No, I’m not thinking they could get a Gerardo Parra for him, though. That would be awesome, but I don’t quite see it (if the D-backs were into Marmol at all anyway).

  • The deal, by the way, suggests a belief by the Red Sox that they can compete in the AL East this year, so you wonder where else they might look to upgrade. They might soon be looking for a right-handed power bat, as the Mike Napoli deal is still being held up by some questionable hip-related medicals.
  • Yuniesky Betancourt’s agent says there are four teams interested in signing his client to a Major League contract – not a minor league/Spring Training invite deal – and a deal should be finalized soon. The Cubs are probably not one of the interested teams, but I’ll let you linger in fear until something official is decided.
  • The Rays continue to look for a bat, and I continue to wonder why the Cubs and Rays can’t figure out a way to get together on an Alfonso Soriano deal (unless he doesn’t want to go there, which, well, maybe). Having signed Roberto Hernandez nee Fausto Carmona, the Rays still could easily move a starting pitcher in a deal for a bat. That said, if they wanted Soriano, I don’t know how much interest the Cubs would have in someone like Jeff Niemann anymore (unless they wanted crazy pitching depth and the ability to trade pitchers with impunity, which, well, maybe). And I don’t think Jeremy Hellickson is a reasonable target in a Soriano deal (even if he’s not all that attractive to begin with). It’s likely the Cubs would just be looking for prospects.

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