Where Things Stand: Who’s Left, the Cubs’ Needs, What Could Happen

michael bourn bravesIt’s been my experience that the offseason is largely marked by a division in moves: pre-Christmas, post-Christmas. Obviously there’s nothing inherent about that particular holiday that divides baseball moves, but it just so happens to fall about half-way through the offseason, and, because many players like to spend a worry-free holiday with their families, most of the free agent signings are done by Christmas.

So it was this year, with the majority of free agent signings – including those by the Cubs – probably completed by now. Only a handful of quality free agents remain – Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse, Shaun Marcum, Adam LaRoche, and Rafael Soriano among them. The Cubs aren’t terribly likely to be in on any of those guys, but, hey, they’ve surprised us before.

But the post-Christmas/pre-Spring Training period is often fertile ground for trades, as teams have figured out what they’re going to be able to do with money, only, and now turn to potentially giving up assets to acquire others. On the trade front, I do expect the Cubs to be active, both as buyers and sellers. Whether they can actually finalize any deals – it takes a couple willing parties – remains to be seen.

Where things stand ..

  • The Bullpen: the Cubs have re-signed Shawn Camp, added Kyuji Fujikawa, and whiffed on Mike Adams and Jason Grilli. They’ve been connected to J.P. Howell, who remains a free agent. Given the Grilli and Adams pursuits (which came after the Fujikawa deal), I’d think the Cubs would like to add another veteran reliever, though the quality options have dwindled dramatically. Howell, a lefty, might be the best fit, given that the bullpen currently features only one lefty (James Russell). Travis Wood, Brooks Raley or Chris Rusin could wind up being that other lefty, depending on how things shake out.
  • The Outfield: The Cubs very much would like to add another outfielder, potentially a righty who can play in center or right field, spelling presumed center fielder David DeJesus, and presumed right fielder Nate Schierholtz. I’m of the mind, though, that the Cubs wouldn’t hate the idea of picking up a starting-caliber outfielder, which would afford them the flexibility to shop DeJesus (and Alfonso Soriano), and/or to use Schierholtz in a fourth outfielder role. Of course, at least in free agency, there aren’t too many quality starting outfielders left, except for perhaps …
  • Michael Bourn: Generally speaking, I still don’t love Bourn for the Cubs. While I do think they’ve got to sign free agents when they’re available, and I also think they’ve got an advantage over some other bidders by virtue of having a protected first round pick, I’m just not sure Bourn is a great fit. As a 30-year-old “speed” guy, it’s fair to say the best years of whatever deal he signs will come in the first one/two/three. How useful is he to the Cubs over that stretch? Well, it’s debatable. It all comes down to the contract, really. If the fact that he’s tied to draft pick compensation really beats his price down such that he’s limited to four-year offers in the $50 to $60 million range, I suppose I could see some value there, even for the Cubs. I bet he gets five years and a bunch more money, though.
  • The 40-Man Roster: At last check, the Cubs’ 40-man roster stood at 39, after some serious roster maneuvering over the last couple weeks, which saw them lose Jeff Beliveau and Sandy Rosario on waivers, and outright Gerardo Concepcion, while officially adding Ian Stewart and Nate Schierholtz. Carlos Villanueva and Edwin Jackson still need to be added officially, so more moves are on the way.
  • Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol: The Cubs could trade any number of players this offseason – no one is safe. But, of the possible trade candidates, Soriano and Marmol remain the most likely. The outfield market, particularly right-handed power bats, has really dried up, and Soriano (at two years and $10 million) has to look really attractive to a team like the Phillies or the Rays, among others. The Red Sox just traded for a guy very similar to Marmol, so maybe the Cubs can find a taker for Marmol, too, if they make the money aspect palatable. Otherwise, the Cubs will break camp with both Soriano and Marmol, and see what happens in the first half.
  • Utility Infielder: With Ian Stewart recovering from wrist surgery and Luis Valbuena a lefty, the Cubs would probably like to have a right-handed hitter on the roster who is capable of playing at third (and everywhere else on the infield, if you had your druthers). Someone in the mold of Jeff Baker would be ideal, if not Baker himself – sure, he was terrible after the Cubs dealt him in August, but, before that, he was crushing lefty pitching, as he often does.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

103 responses to “Where Things Stand: Who’s Left, the Cubs’ Needs, What Could Happen”

  1. Berselius

    Things are pretty crowded in the AZ outfield…I’m hoping the Justin Upton rumors heat up again.

    1. Noah

      Even if the Upton rumors do heat up, the Cubs probably don’t have the firepower to get a trade done unless it was essentially an Upton for Castro trade, which the Cubs don’t want to do.

      And based on everything we’ve heard, it sounds like the D-Backs have turned from trying to trade Upton to looking to move Kubel or Parra instead.

      1. fromthemitten

        I could go for Parra in the outfield

  2. Ben

    I disagree on Bourne getting anything close to that. With the draft pick compensation he has tied to him, and the fact the trade market is still flush with cheap and decent options (Soriano, whoever AZ ends up trading), I can’t imagine a mystery team stepping up and giving him the money. His only real shot is Seattle, and I just don’t know if they will pony up or not.

    I’m also interested to see who our other 40 man casualty will be. Guessing Campana, just because of the sheer number of OF on the 40 man. Could be another pitcher, but I’m not sure who they would let go at this point.

    1. baldtaxguy

      At 4 years @ $50m, I’d welcome Bourn. I think we would get good legit CF, top of the order production, for Y1-Y3 and in Y4 could very well be a 4th outfielder option if a prospect develops strong for CF. Let’s dooey.

      1. itzscott

        another Neifi Perez for the Cubs?

  3. mudge

    they could trade 2-4 players for 1-3 players

    1. blublud

      maybe a couple IF for one less OF. I would like that.

  4. blublud

    I would Pay Bourn. I think he’s worth the money. I also think Bourn at the top of the order could make us legitimate contenders in the Central. If you look at our staff, our pen and our Lineup, we have legitimate players at every position but CF and 3B. We are a good one and a decent one away, at either position, from being a good, but not great team. Hopefully we can land Bourn and somebody’s third base prospect.

    1. Nate

      He’s 30. Take away his speed and you have a mediocre hitting outfielder with very little pop. I don’t think he’s worth it for the Cubs, would rather take a chance on whoever Arizona has to offer.

      1. MightyBear

        Arizona is not offering anyone that won’t cost the Cubs a bundle of prospects. His speed will diminish some over the life of a 4 year contract but not enough where he won’t be a solid defensive outfielder with a better than mediocre bat. Cub fans need to realize that looking just at a players offensive stats is all a ballplayer is worth. Defense is a big part of this front office’s MO.

  5. mudge

    Definitely need a center fielder who is one if this team wants any kind of a prayer of a long shot. Guessing he or she comes in a trade.

  6. Melrosepad

    I’d still like to see Adrian Cardenas brought back for the bench (or minor league deal with invite). I know he didn’t have the best numbers, but it would be hard to have your first major league experience be mostly pinch hits. That is hard enough as it is without it being your first time up. Unless there were some personality conflicts I just don’t understand why at least look at bringing him back.

    Maybe see if Josh Bell could be had for depth at 3rd.

  7. Rizzofanclub

    No way do the cubs get Upton without Castro or Rizzo in a deal to somewhere. I am just hoping the cubs sign another bullpen arm or Marcum to a 2 or 3 year deal. I know they would have more pitchers then they know what to do with but they could throw out a 6 man rotation: Garza,Shark,Jackson,Marcum,Feldman,Baker. You put Wood and Villanueva in the bullpen until some trades start happening. I agree with Brett I don’t see Bourn signing for anything less then Upton did. If and thats a big If the cubs signed him to a 4 year deal I would be very happy but It won’t happen. I am also a big fan of the cubs having a lot of pitchers going into next offseason b/c if you look at other teams $ the yankees and Boston both have a lot of money coming off the books and will need pitching. Sign pitching now.

  8. Xavier Rice

    Cubs Trade: Matt Garza, Carlos Marmol, Trey Mcnutt, Hayden Simpson , and Shawn Camp. To Texas Rangers for Mike Olt and Martin Perez.
    Then trade Alfonso Soriano, Cash and Junior Lake to Atlanta Braves for Julio Teheran.
    Then Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Daniel Vogelbach and James Russel for Wade Miley, and Justin Upton and Patrick Corban.
    Trade Deadline unload pitchers, Scott Baker and Scott Feldman to the Twins for prospects.
    Travis Wood moves to pen.

    , David Dejesus and Ian Stewart to A’s for prospects

    1. Adam

      This is hilarious.

      I’ve been thinking about starting a blog of hilarious fan proposed deals from around the internet, and you may have just given me the inspiration I need.

      1. baldtaxguy

        Send a link, I’m in.

      2. Jim L.

        DO IT!

      3. EQ76

        then we can trade “Xavier Rice” to the White Sox Nation fan page for 2 free google ads and a bucket of KFC extra-crispy chicken.. 16 pc. with mashed potatoes, gravy and corn on the cob on the side.

        1. DarthHater

          Even White Sox Nation isn’t foolish enough to accept that trade.

          1. EQ76

            that is a lot of chicken in that bucket.

    2. Melrosepad

      No way Atlanta does that deal and if memory serves, Almora can’t be traded till one full year after being drafted.

    3. Josh

      I can’t decide which deal is the worst of your proposed (which is a bad thing)

  9. mudge

    I don’t see Travis Wood doing well out of the bullpen. Like to see him get another year of starts. C Villanueva a better choice for swing man.

    1. nkniacc13

      Be very interesting to hear when Villanueva has his press conference if they promised him starting or not. I would think that If they did the Cubs most think they can trade Garza before ST ends.

    2. baldtaxguy

      I think you have to look at whoever is the hot hand coming out of ST as to whether Wood and/or Villanueva is in the bullpen. I think they both should get ST starts, along with Feldman and (if healthy) Baker, and see who is ready early. Take the two hottest and and them to the backend of the rotation of Garza (if healthy), Shark, and Jackson. I would not like Wood penciled in to the bullpen now or before ST just because we need another RP’ing left arm – if he’s Mesa hot, let him burn early in the rotation. If need be, there are other lefty options for the bullpen with the youngsters.

      1. baldtaxguy

        …”add” them to the backend of the rotation….

  10. MightyBear

    I’d like to see the Cubs land Bourn. I think he is a good fit for this team and the Cubs do want to be competitive by 2014 so a 4 year deal fits in the plan. I wouldn’t want to see them sign him for “5 years and a ton of money”. However, they paid Edwin Jackson 4 years and 52 million. A similar contract for Bourn wouldn’t bother me. He does need to get his OBP up some.

    1. nkniacc13

      Don’t want Bourn would cost a pick.

      1. gocatsgo2003

        A second-rounder, as our first-round pick is protected due to top five status. Though that’s obviously not ideal, signing Bourn to a four- or five-year deal would indicate that the front office had found its center fielder for the near future and, in my opion, found sufficient value to sacrifice a single draft pick for a (relatively) known commodity atop our order.

        1. nkniacc13

          A 2nd rder this year is equivant to a supp 1st in the last draft If you sign Bourn you got to trade jackson then I think

    2. ISU Birds

      Plus he isn’t getting any younger.

  11. 2much2say

    The Cubs need Soriano and a CF / Bourn and 3rd Castellanos. Detroit needs a closer Marmol. Make it happen Jed.

    1. nkniacc13

      Detrit doesn’t want to spend a bunch of money on a closer and why would they want marmol and trade Castellanos when Marmol has 1 year left on deal

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      The Tigers already nixed a trade for Joel Hanrahan because the Pirates were asking too much: and that might well have been Castellanos (who would be much too much for a closer). Castellanos will be playing 3rd in 2014 for the Tigers and possibly LF or RF this year: and he’ll go to 3rd sooner than that if the Tigers move VMart.

    3. Josh

      Why is everyone so antsy to make a trade for a 3B? We aren’t doing anything in 2013 anyway and Baez is one of the top prospects in all of baseball let alone 3B. I know he currently plays SS but I’m sure he will move to 3B unless the Cubs have Castro do so. Rizzo/Barney/Castro/Baez would be a dynamite infield. No need to waste players trading for an elite prospect when we already have one. I’d rather use our talent/prospects to trade for starting pitching if you want elite prospects.

      1. Dr. Percival Cox

        Because Baez has yet to hit high A ball pitching and is showing real warts in his pitch selection. Hopefully he gets through all of it, but having someone like Mike Olt of Nick Castellanos to pair with Rizzo and Castro would make the near future much brighter and gives the team options regardless of how Baez develops.

        Having said that, both look like extreme long shots at this point. Curse you, Garza’s elbow.

        1. gocatsgo2003

          You can make that assessment based off of Baez seeing 86 plate appearances at high-A at 19 years old?

          1. Dr. Percival Cox

            What assessment do you think I’m making?

          2. DocPeterWimsey

            Baez’s inability to draw walks showed itself before the high A level. His poor-showing in A+ was probably bad luck: his K-rate (24%) was in line with his track record (21.5%) and his BB rate was actually up a tick (6% vs. 4%: but this was an insignificant blip), and his XBH per AB rate was in keeping with normal (10% vs. 11.9%). His singles rate (9%, usually 17+%) was what plummeted: and that means bad luck.

            That said, the walk rate and K rate are very worrisome.

        2. DocPeterWimsey

          The batting eye issue is particularly troublesome: Cubs’ history is littered with guys who hit well in low-levels despite bad batting eyes, and who subsequently did not amount to much when facing higher level pitchers with good control.

          1. Dr. Percival Cox

            Agree. He’s young enough and talented enough that he absolutely can, if he takes coaching to heart and works hard on it. I believe Luke said this a few days ago — I know I read it somewhere — but how he responds to this adversity will be the first real test of how coachable he is.

            1. DocPeterWimsey

              My concern is a bit deeper: I’m not convinced that batting eye can be learned or taught. If there were coaches who could teach it, then they could turn farm systems into veritable war machines, at least offensively.

              And Baez really hasn’t faced adversity: when only half the grounders, flares, etc., are sneaking through for singles that usually do, then that’s just bad luck. He’s almost certainly hitting the ball solidly at the same frequency: otherwise his XBH rate would drop. And he was not swinging and missing much more frequently than usual: he had all of 3 more K’s than his career average would have predicted in that many PAs. That’s about as meaningful as the fact that he had 1.5 more walks than expected!

              Indeed, the worse thing that Baez could do is try to alter his swing to “guide” more singles through: that would probably jack up his K rate and cut down his power rate.

  12. 2much2say

    Bourn Dejesus Castro Soriano Rizzo Stewart/3rd Barney C

  13. Me

    Bourn at 4 year at 60M makes sense for the Cubs. I would then love the Cubs to deal Marmol to Arizona for Gerardo Parra and a mid-level pospect then deal Soriano to one of the many teams interested in an right handed bat. I like this lineup even though it is pretty left-handed and low on power.

    1. Bourn CF
    2. DeJesus RF
    3. Castro SS
    4. Rizzo 1st
    5. Parra LF
    6. Castillo C
    7. Stewart 3rd
    8. Barney 2b
    9. Pitcher

    1. gocatsgo2003

      What in the world makes you think that one year of Carlos Marmol is more valuable than controlling Parra through 2016 (albeit through arbitration years)?

      1. Me

        rumors circling about Matt Thorten for Kubel or Parra. Why not Marmol. Plus look at what the buccos got for Hanrahan. I would think the Dbacks would jump at the thought of getting Marmol especially for Parra giving their outfield depth.

        1. DocPeterWimsey

          I don’t want Parra on the Cubs. Yes, he is an excellent fielder: but he makes a ton of outs without generating much power. The Cubs scored 70 fewer runs than the average NL offense last year: someone like Parra will not make much of a dent there.

  14. 2much2say

    Catcher 2nd base and 3rd are the weakest hitting link.
    Get creative and go Bourn Barney Castro Rizzo Dejesus Soriano Stewart Cleffinger

    1. baldtaxguy

      Assuming “Cleffinger” is Steve “Clevenger,” is the “getting creative” part simply signing Bourn and benching Castillo and ignoring Navarro?

  15. 2much2say

    Detroit would get maybe Marmol some cash and Vitters for Castellanos

    1. Me

      They value Castellanos too much. The Cubs would have to include Marmol plus Shark or Garza to get the Castellanos ball rolling.

    2. baldtaxguy

      Simply not a chance.

  16. hutch

    detroit would never do that

  17. Melrosepad

    Why not check with the Giants and see what it would take to get Conor Gillaspie? He has a .289/.368/.447 slash line at AAA and they have Belt and Panda blocking him. Doesn’t have the power numbers of an Olt or Castellanos, but I think it would be a good pickup. Probably wouldn’t be as expensive either.

  18. Jason

    Trade the entire team for Giancarlo

  19. hutch

    detroit is maxed out too and cant take on any more money

  20. John78154

    Red Sox get Hanrahan from Pirates in 6 player deal

    1. nkniacc13

      none of the other players are very interesting tho not a bad haul but not great when looking at it from a cubs fans perspective of what a Marmol deal could be

  21. james

    I still wonder if one of the starters will be traded before spring training. As I say that the only starter at the moment would be Jeff Samardzija to bring the Cubs back top prospects. I could see a fit with Jeff Samardzija in Texas for Mike Olt and Martin Perez coming back.

  22. nkniacc13

    Until ST starts Shark or Wood are the only 2 that could get traded. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Garza dealt if he looks healthy by the end of ST and I fully expect baker on the DL when season starts

    1. james

      I don’t disagree with Shark or Wood being the only 2 that could be traded by spring training. Jeff is the only one of the two that will bring back value at the moment. I’m not sold on the Cubs feeling that Baez as being the thirdbasemen of the future. I still see Baez best value as a shortstop. That means that Castros best value will be bringing back a top pitching prospect or two in a trade. Castro is young and has a very low salary over the next years to come.

  23. lou brock lives

    The Rockies are overstocked at CF & 3B. Look at their depth chart & they are looking for relief pitching. Trade Marmol & cash & Dolis for E. Young Jr. CF switch hitter, & Jordan Pacheco (R) 3B, 1B, C with some decent power numbers. These could be nice productive & cheap bridge players till youngsters are ready.

  24. Xavier Rice

    If cubs can get Castellanos and Rick Porcello without giving up a top prospect or infielder that’d be awesome.

    1. gocatsgo2003

      And that would happen… how?

    2. DocPeterWimsey

      you misspelled the word “impossible” very badly. It begins with an “i,” not an “a,” then an “m,” not a “w,” then… well, actually, you got every letter wrong!

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Seriously, this is another case where you have to remember that there are 28 other teams: if such a deal could be had, then one of the 29 teams other than the Tigers would have made that deal.

        1. baldtaxguy

          Good golden rule – “Fantasy GM’ing requires considering the real GM’s”

          I like.

          1. DocPeterWimsey

            It’s also called “Bayesian probability,” but maybe “the other 28 GMs” might work better for baseball fans!

  25. daveyrosello

    Garza for Olt and Perez makes a whole lot of sense for both teams.

    1. nkniacc13

      yeah last june im not sure the cubs can get that much for garza unless there is an extension in place for texas

  26. frank

    Through a miracle of Biblical proportions.

    1. frank

      Sorry – response to gocatsgo2003.

    2. EQ76

      “Through a miracle of Biblical proportions.”

      Well then, let’s ask DeJesus to make it happen!

      1. MightyBear

        Hey, nobody F@$%’s with DeJesus!

  27. BD

    While we are at it, let’s trade Matt Szczur and Doug Dascenzo to the Tigers for Justin Verlander…

    I mean, I personally feel that prospects are over-valued, and would not be worried about seeing some traded for the right pieces. But it costs something to get something. If you want a great player/star/superstar, you’re not sending 5 pieces of junk to get that guy. If so, there would be a lot more trades going on.

    1. OregonCubFan

      I don’t think I could part with Dascenzo for Verlander. Maybe if they throw in Fielder or Cabrera I’d consider it…

  28. Njriv

    I don’t think the Cubs really need to get a 3B this off-season. Let’s see how Stewart does, and if he does bad again, then focus on getting one next off-season when we will probably have more prospects to use as trade bait. I wouldn’t hate Bourn at a 3 year deal, but I doubt he signs for that.

  29. Greenroom

    Question about Soriano? I cannot understand why he cannot be moved to another team. It seems $5 million a year for a team would be ridiculous. Even at $10 million. His defense has improved, last year he had a re-emegence of old self, minus the steals. I don’t see the steals ever coming back, but a guy who can easily hit 25 hr and 80 rbi’s would be an upgrade for a lot of teams. Especially considering the contracts that are out there for guys who may be less valuable then him, imho. Do teams believe he is injury prone? His WAR will not return to 2? I don’t think he will ever be the old player he was, but he is still very much above average. Thanks for the comments. Happy holidays everyone~

  30. Mike Taylor (no relation)

    The deck is stacked against us when it comes to acquiring Bourn.

    #1. We’d need to have a trade in place for David DeJesus or Alfonso Soriano.
    in all likelihood, Soriano is moved this off season and DeJesus is an at-the-deadline trade, so…if that happened, we’d see an OF of LF Nate “I don’t need a platoon partner” Schierholtz / CF Michael Bourn / RF David DeJesus-Dave Sappelt, that’d be a projected ISO OF of: .158 / .090 / .125, After a DeJesus trade, Jackson would come in and play LF, while Schierholtz (if not traded) would platoon with Sappelt in RF. That’s horrible…

    CF Bourn
    RF DeJesus (L) / Sappelt
    SS Castro
    1B Rizzo (L)
    C Castillo
    3B Stewart (L)
    LF Schierholtz (L)
    2B Barney

    #2. Bourn would have to agree to a contract with less than five years.

    I’d rather see us sign Scott Hairston to a two-year deal after (if) we trade Soriano. It’s less risky and we’d be replacing power with power, not power with speed (and a large contract).

    1. brickhouse

      You don’t need to make a trade before signing Bourn. Just move Dejesus to RF where he is better suited and move Schierholtz to the bech which should be his role.

      1. MightyBear

        Plus you get plenty of AB’s and playing time for everyone because when the Cubs have a late lead, you pull Sori and have an outfield of DeJesus LF, Bourn CF and Schierholtz RF which is very talented defensively.

    2. Edwin

      What if you had Soriano and DeJesus platoon?