Rounding up the latest rumors from the second half of the week, and there’s plenty to discuss …
- Buster Olney says the Diamondbacks do like Mike Olt, which would seem to make a Justin Upton trade with the Rangers plausible, assuming the two sides could make the other pieces work. Obviously this impacts the Cubs, who are believed to have interest in Olt, a natural third baseman who is blocked by Adrian Beltre on the Rangers. Of course, just a couple days ago, we learned that the Rangers made a “final offer” to the Diamondbacks, which was rejected. “Final” is rarely “final,” and the Diamondbacks are nearly certain to move Upton at this point. If the Rangers could actually get Upton for a package where Olt was the center piece, they’d do it. I doubt that would be enough, though.
- The Mets are apparently interested in Upton, too. Before you call that crazy, they’re in a similar rebuild spot as the Cubs, so I suppose I can understand them wanting to pick up a 25-year-old corner stone. Makes you wonder about their pursuit of Scott Hairston, though.
- Bruce Levine chatted this week, and among his thoughts … (1) the Cubs and Phillies talked seriously about Alfonso Soriano eight weeks ago, but nothing has changed since then; (2) the Cubs need an annual “small man’s camp” to teach their smaller, fast players how to best utilize their skill set (this is obviously a Tony Campana question); (3) Carlos Zambrano will have to take a minor league deal or wait for a rash of injuries to find a job; (4) Bruce has heard the Cubs/Tigers/Orioles/Porcello rumor, but has not been able to substantiate it; (5) it’s hard to see Robinson Cano coming to the Cubs next year unless they really look like they’re going to be competitive in 2014 (or unless they really overpay); (6) Travis Wood will have a chance to earn a spot in the rotation once again in Spring Training; (7) Bruce re-emphasized the tricky spot the Cubs are in with respect to Matt Garza (more detailed thoughts on that here); (8) with health, Bruce sees the Cubs as a 75-80 win team; and (9) Bruce thinks other organizations probably like Josh Vitters better than the Cubs do.
- MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith also chatted, and … (1) Giancarlo Stanton trade talks probably don’t really heat up until next offseason; (2) Andre Ethier probably does not get traded; (3) Kelly Johnson might have to settle for a minor league deal or a very small guarantee (there isn’t an explicit Cubs connection there, but if he comes dirt cheap, he’d be an interesting bench/flip option); (4) Ben thinks 75 wins is a fair over/under for the Cubs, and he’d take the under thanks to the weak offense and some question marks in the rotation (I agree on all counts); (5) it wouldn’t surprise Ben to see the Phillies trade for Alfonso Soriano; and (6) a team trading for Matt Garza is probably going to want to pick him up before Spring Training ends, so that he can qualify for draft pick compensation if he walks at the end of the year (players traded mid-season do not qualify for compensation).
- That Mike Napoli deal – three years, $39 million – which the Red Sox have not yet been able to finalize thanks to concerns about his hip, it could be changed dramatically, if the Red Sox get their way. Jim Bowden says the Red Sox are trying to reduce the deal to a mere one-year pact. If true, it’s easy to see why the two sides haven’t been able to come to an agreement. The Red Sox have also recently been attached to trade rumors involving Michael Morse.
- Remember the deal rumored this week that would have seen the Cubs get together with the Orioles and Tigers on a three-way trade, netting the Cubs Rick Porcello? Well, a component piece of that was shortstop J.J. Hardy heading to the Tigers. Manager Buck Showalter was asked about the possibility of dealing Hardy, and he responded by asking what would be a word stronger than “overwhelmed,” indicating the extreme unlikeliness of a deal involving Hardy.
- Jim Bowden writes that the Cubs and Mariners are the most logical fits for Michael Bourn, but neither is willing to surrender the draft pick required to sign him. I still think folks are making too much of that issue (there’s a difference between recognizing that a draft pick shouldn’t be surrendered lightly, and being completely unwilling to do so), but obviously I’ve said my piece on Bourn (unless the Cubs can get him on a very friendly deal, it’s probably not a great idea). Wherever he lands, it isn’t going to break my heart.
- In the same piece, Bowden mentions the Cubs as a possible fit for a Shaun Marcum or Joe Saunders, which seems pretty unlikely given the pitching depth. That is say, if I’m one of those guys, I’m not signing with the Cubs unless they paaaaaaaay me. And the Cubs won’t be doing that.
- The Rangers say they’re OK with opening the year with their rotation as it stands, but, boy oh boy do they not sound convincing about it.