Tons to discuss on the rumor front …
- Like I said last week: the Justin Upton rumors are going to be coming. Buster Olney reports that some executives believe Upton is now more likely to be traded than Jason Kubel, as the Diamonbacks un-glut their outfield. Interestingly, and presumably because of the deal that netted them shortstop Didi Gregorius, their specific demands in an Upton trade have changed, says Olney. That could put the Cubs back in play, as previous discussions about Upton would almost certainly have centered on Starlin Castro, a guy the Cubs weren’t going to trade for Upton. But, let’s all be realistic: teams like the Braves, Rangers, and Mariners are believed to have “strong interest” in Upton, and each have much better farm systems for putting together a trade. Even if Upton is dealt, the odds he’s dealt to the Cubs are small. I can’t see why they wouldn’t be interested, though.
- Speaking of big-time outfielders on the trade market, Ken Rosenthal hears that the chances Giancarlo Stanton are traded are as “close to zero as they can be.”
- Freaking Dodgers. They’re set to sign lefty reliever J.P. Howell, who had previously been attached to the Cubs (but was thought to be going to the Nationals), because they sign everyone. Oddly, the deal is reportedly just one year and $2.85 million, with another $1.2 million in possible incentives. Seems like a dirt cheap contract for a guy who pitched very well in 2012, but perhaps teams were a little concerned about that labrum, which cost him all of 2010 and forced some struggles in 2011. Would have been very nice to get him on a deal like that. Oh well.
- An update on the Jed Hoyer interview a couple mornings ago on MLBN Radio, in which he discussed the Cubs’ pursuit of free agent position players: I got a chance to listen to the interview yesterday (but was too under the weather to post), and although he did say that the Cubs were looking for a solution in center field in both the short term and long term, he did not say they were considering a current free agent on a deal similar to Edwin Jackson. What he said was that the Cubs would be willing to consider, in this offseason or next offseason, a position player on a deal of the length of Jackson’s. It was really just a generic comment, and not one you could tie to someone like Michael Bourn, specifically.
- Those two Cuban free agents - Dariel Alvarez (24-year-old outfielder) and Aledmys Diaz (22-year-old shortstop) – will be holding a public workout in Mexico today, and I’ve got to believe the Cubs will have someone in attendance. If so, we’ll likely hear a little bit about them in the coming days, and we can chat about them a bit more. For now, it’s worth knowing that Diaz is considered the better prospect, and is turning 23 in a few days (at which point he is no longer subject to signing restrictions). The two players are not considered Soler/Puig caliber prospects, but they’ve been scouted very little. In other words, they might be a lot better than we think, or they might be fringe types. I’m hoping we’ll know more by the end of the weekend.
- This didn’t get a lot of attention, but at the Edwin Jackson press conference this week, Jed Hoyer said that, although the Cubs were pursuing both Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson simultaneously, they did not plan on signing both. While I don’t really understand why you’d limit yourself to just one (if the guy fits, he fits), I think the fact that the Cubs were looking at just one says they were not necessarily planning on signing both with the intention of trading Matt Garza, as some had previously speculated.
- BN’er savant makes an interesting point in the comments, on which I’d like to expand: if the Cubs did end up signing someone like Michael Bourn, and gave up their second round pick in the process, they might be wise to go ahead and try to also sign Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano on one-year deals. The Cubs would lose their third and fourth round picks (a much lower “price” than a team that would lose a first round pick), and could give Lohse and Soriano the added incentive that they’d almost certainly be traded midseason (meaning they wouldn’t be dragged down by being attached to draft pick compensation next year), so maybe they would end up taking that one-year deal. Between the two of them, it would seem pretty easy to project that the Cubs could net a better return than a third and fourth rounder in July. Obviously this is unlikely for a variety of reasons (makes sense only one one-year deals, makes sense only if Bourn was already being signed, there are roster concerns, and also the Cubs might actually accidentally be too good to trade them come July), but it’s certainly interesting.