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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.
  • Marc N.

    I have zero problems with Bourn at 4/72 or something. Sets the top of the lineup really well…

    Bourn
    Castro
    Soriano
    Rizzo

    I would like a starting caliber OFer and the ability to trade DeJesus.

    • Muck

      Is he worth 18 million a year though honestly

      • Marc N.

        Over four years? Probably. Lowest he’s been is a 3 rWAR player over the past 4 years, and that’s sandwiched between 6, 5.3, and 4.7.

        I highly doubt anyone is getting him for 15.

        • Kevin B

          No way Bourn is worth 4/$72 Million. $18 million per year for Bourn? No way that is acceptable to our smart FO. Let some other schmuck GM’s get stuck on that bad contract. No way.

          You doubt you can get him for $15 mil per year? We will see. I say that would be easy to do, in fact at $15 million per year and the loss of our pick I would not be happy.

          Bourn is not the stud you think he is. I would take him only on a 3-4 year deal at less then $15 million per year.

  • Marc N.

    Also would not mind one or more of:

    KRod
    M. Lowe
    Lindstrom
    Howell
    Capps
    McClellan

    • Muck

      K-Rod is just another bad deal very inconsistent and will probably be overpriced just because of his name. Just another problem to try and get rid of

    • Marc N.

      Scrap McClellan except on an invite.

    • Kevin B

      Marc I would vote for either or both of Howell and Capps

  • GoCubs

    Mind boggling on some of the trade ideas proposed. I think there is some confusion between fantasy baseball GM’s and real baseball GM’s. In fantasy baseball some of these trades are done. In real baseball it doesn’t happen very often… Marlins being the exception.

  • JoeyCollins

    Love how the acceptable price on Bourn keeps going up on this thread. 4/50 4/60 4/72…. when really the sticking point will most likely be a fifth year.

    • Frank

      I’d rather have him for 5 years at a lower base salary, but do what we did with Jackson and make 15 or so MM upon signing so that the bulk of it is in the 2013-2014 baseball budget, and if the wheels fall of in the final two years we can cut our losses at a much lower dollar amount.

      • gocatsgo2003

        While I wouldn’t be surprised if this is off-base and may need correcting from those better-versed in this area, though EJax’s signing bonus hits this year’s baseball budget, I do not believe that it results in any change for luxury tax purposes (e.g. the luxury tax is computed with the money evenly distributed across the life of the contract). The signing bonus therefore may not make EJax any easier to trade from that standpoint, but the team to which he would be traded would indeed feel a smaller hit in its pocketbook.

        • GoCubs

          You are correct on the luxury tax issue.

          However, on the trade side it makes it more difficult to trade to some teams but easier to trade to others. For example, if a low revenue team is in contention at the deadline they would love a guy like EJax.

  • Nick

    Cubs are going to stink again, probably 2 more years till they are good. Let Rizzo get his experience and wait till our 3 big prospects are ready. Then hit the free agent market hard. Probably with Pitching since we have minimal pitching prospects.

    • gocatsgo2003

      I’m becoming a bigger convert to the “sign the free agents when they are available” school of thought. The Cubs don’t ever REALLY have to worry about losing a ton of money due to its relatively steady attendance numbers and its TV contract — the team can therefore afford to sign free agents whenever they are available to longer-term contracts that overlap with our supposed “competitive” years. The EJax signing fits that mold, as would a Bourn signing.

      • Kevin B

        Well said …..

  • Marc N.

    Amentjon on MLBTR is that they might trade one of their LHRP. I would like to trade for Andrew Miller and start transitioning back into the rotation by the second half.

    • Marcel91

      I like the idea of seeing if Miller can regain the form that made him a top prospect.

      • Marc N.

        I like Miller better now than when he was a top prospect. Red Sox have done some good stuff for him.

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