Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was a guest on “Chicago Baseball Hot Stove” on CSN yesterday, and he was asked a battery of questions about the Cubs’ offseason and expectations for 2013 (while looking a bit tired in the process – dude’s been working hard).
Among the bits he elected to share (the quotes come from the show, and from Patrick Mooney’s write-up), together with some of my thoughts …
- On the propriety of signing free agents tied to draft pick compensation: “Where we are as an organization, we want as many draft picks as possible. We want as much money in the draft as possible. [But] we would have given up a pick, theoretically, for the right player, the right fit.” That squares with what Theo Epstein has said: you can’t ignore the value of the draft pick and the associated pool money. But if the right free agent comes along at the right value, it could be worth it.
- HOWEVA … on when is the right time for the Cubs to start signing draft-pick-compensation free agents: “And we will [look at those free agents] going forward. But right now, I think holding onto our picks is something that makes sense and we’re looking to build as much talent in the minor leagues as possible. We need a lot going forward.” So, at bottom, it does look very unlikely that the Cubs will seriously pursue Michael Bourn, however many times they may have kicked those tires. It would seem that they’d have to get an incredible bargain on him to be willing to sacrifice the pick, and I still don’t think it’s likely that Bourn’s market sinks quite that low.
- On Matt Garza’s rehab, which currently has him throwing from 150 feet, and will soon see him back on the mound: “Right now, he’s following the normal pitching progression. He feels really good and we don’t see any reason he’s going to be restricted going into Spring Training. At this point, he’s gotten over some of those early hurdles in the rehab and we feel like he’s just going to be a normal pitcher, a healthy guy in spring training ready to go. He’s excited. I always joke: You can see how he’s doing. He talks about it on Twitter all the time.” I reckon the Cubs will continue to be fine with Garza’s tweeting his rehab … unless the rehab hits a snag. And then they’re going to put the kibash on any negative tweets with the speed of a thousand missiles.
- On Alfonso Soriano’s value to the club, and the lines of communication during a rumor-heavy offseason: “His preparation is off the charts. I think a dozen players in baseball went 30 homers and 100 RBI [last season]. What we got in our first year was terrific. He knows how we feel about him. We’ve had communication with him over the course of the Winter. We’ll keep having that communication. But all of our thoughts on Sori are positive. He was so good for us last year, both on [and] off the field. [It] wasn’t necessarily exactly what we expected going in. [It] was just a wonderful revelation for us.” That’s pretty much rumor-neutral there – equally consistent with speaking positively about a guy you really like and want to keep, and speaking positively about a guy for whom you’re trying to create a trade market. I suppose Hoyer could have said he fully expects Soriano to be the Cubs’ left fielder next year, but he wasn’t specifically asked about that.
- On the need for any additional moves in the bullpen: “We’ll probably go forward with what we have now. Of course, if there’s just a bargain, or a player that we feel like is at an incredible price, we might add him. But at this point, we feel really good. There also is a point at which we’re full on the roster – [where we’d be] taking a spot away from somebody. We really do like the way our bullpen and our rotation fit together now.” The Cubs whiffed on a few bullpen targets this offseason – J.P. Howell, Mike Adams, and Jason Grilli were all rumored to have serious interest from the Cubs before choosing other teams – so Hoyer’s position could be as much a reflection of the Cubs not being enamored by anyone else left on the market as it is a reflection of his confidence in the currently-constructed pen. If the Cubs end up dealing Carlos Marmol, I could certainly see them wishing they’d been able to add another quality veteran arm.