stoveThe latest from the rumor mill as moves continue to trickle along …

  • The Rangers just signed lefty Matt Harrison to a five-year, $55 million extensionΒ (with a vesting option on the end), which is most notable from the Cubs’ perspective as they consider extending Jeff Samardzija long-term, most likely after the 2013 season. Harrison, like Samardzija, is 27, and had two more years of arbitration remaining (just as Samardzija will have after this season). After becoming a full-time starter in 2011, Harrison put together back-to-back dominant seasons for the Rangers (which could be the case for Samardzija after this season), and made $2.95 million in 2012. Samardzija will probably make a bit more than that in his first year of arbitration, so that’s where the comparison breaks down slightly, but I can guarantee you that this is going to be one of the comps that comes up in any extension discussions.
  • The Red Sox and Mike Napoli have finally come to an agreement … one year, and $5 million. Yowsah. Quite the pay cut from the original three-year, $39 million agreement, which tells me that Napoli’s hip issues were serious enough to not be able to get a better deal, and the Red Sox felt boxed into locking Napoli down after Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse went off the market. It’s fair to wonder now if the Red Sox will use some of that “saved” money on one of the remaining free agents like Kyle Lohse – if they’re willing to lose the draft pick. The deal contains incentives that could take it up to $13 million, for what that’s worth.
  • FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron looked at center fielders who derived a great deal of their value from their defense, and analyzed how much value they provided defensively after age 30. The results were quite ugly, and raise yet another red flag regarding free agent Michael Bourn.
  • Ben Nicholson-Smith chatted yesterday at MLBTR and … (1) Ben doesn’t think Jim Johnson’s value is as high as Rick Porcello’s, so there’s another data point in trying to discern just how much Porcello would cost in trade; (2) Kyle Lohse’s price tag probably won’t fall far enough to take him into the Brewers’ range; (3) the Rangers are still likely to do something, and that could be a free agent signing like Bourn or Lohse, or a trade for Justin Upton; (4) David Price is probably traded before the end of 2015 (the final year of Rays control), but 10 to 20 teams would have interest; (5) Ben thinks the Cubs will win at least 76 games in at least one of 2013 or 2014 (yeah, they’ll win more than 76 in 2014); (6) if the Cubs deal Alfonso Soriano, their return will probably be a decent (but not great) prospect or salary relief (I don’t think that’s a particular helpful answer – if the Cubs deal Soriano, it’s going to be for bothΒ some salary relief and a decent prospect/player, and those two pieces are obviously correlated); and (7) Ben lists the Cubs as one of four logical Bourn destinations, together with the Rangers, Mariners, and Braves.
  • As you plan for 2013 free agency, know that the Giants haven’t given up on the idea of re-signing Tim Lincecum. His season will be watched very closely after being among the worst starting pitchers in all of baseball last year.
  • daveyrosello

    No interest in Bourn at this point. Unless Theo takes a flyer on another bullpen arm, free agency is dead from the Cubs perspective for this year. Need to look into trades if any improvement is to be made.

  • Kyle

    That article jives pretty well with other estimates of Bourn’s decline that we’ve seen.

    What people need to remember is that Bourn’s decline is already being priced in with the contracts being bandied about. Nobody’s expecting him to still be a 6-win outfielder at age 31-33, but he’s not going to be paid like one.

    • CubFan Paul

      prediction on contract?

      • Kyle

        I’m terrible at this. I’ll say 4/50 but heavily backloaded. Huge bargain at that price.

        • CubFan Paul

          You were off by $2M. Close but no cigar on Price is Right.

    • DarthHater

      (side note, since we love our semantics around here, it should be “jibes,” not “jives.”) πŸ˜‰

      • Kyle

        Guilty. I forfeit 10 internet points.

      • True(ly) Blue

        Dear DV, I’m going to send you my retired red pen so that you can continue to grade our replies. (Actually, I kind of like it.)

        • DarthHater

          (pointing at Kyle) HE started it! πŸ˜‰

  • CubFan Paul

    I wish I had hair to pull out every time a lazy journalist lists ATL as a Bourn possibility. I don’t care what Wren says (now, after signing Upton). Can’t afford Justin either.

    • CubFan Paul

      Damn you Frank.

  • BD

    I like Jeff Samardzija. I wouldn’t be heartbroken if they traded him, but I would be happy with him in the rotation for the foreseeable future. I was encouraged by what I saw from him this year, although I don’t have him locked in as our ace yet (not saying others do, just stating my viewpoint).

    However- does it mean anything that his ERA+ last year was just 103?

    I’m trying not to worry about it, and maybe ERA+ isn’t as important as other stats. I’m not terribly familiar with some of the new stats (I am in the process of learning them), but that seems like a low number for how highly many thought of his season last year. So this isn’t a challenge to him, or your thoughts about him- more for me to learn about that stat.

    • Kyle

      The modern stathead idea is that ERA is pretty variable and that some other stats are better at predicting how well a pitcher will do in the immediate future.

      So while Samardzija’s ERA+ wasn’t that great, his strikeouts and walks and HRs allowed indicate that he’s likely to have a great ERA+ in future seasons.

      • Seth

        Plus take away June where he had a 10.41 ERA in 5 starts his ERA would be much lower. Also, take a look at his last post-all star stats they are pretty solid. I think if he builds on that, I could easily see him being a No. 2 for this team.

      • BD

        That’s part of what confused me- I loved his K rate, BB rate, and WHIP, but it didn’t translate to the ERA+. I just wasn’t sure if I was missing something.

    • Edwin

      ERA+ works better when you are looking at several seasons worth of data together, or when using career numbers.

  • CubFan Paul

    That Harrison extension ($55M) lineups almost perfectly to the extension i tossed out here for Samardzija and got blasted for it.

    • TWC

      Pauly haz a sad.

      • CubFan Paul

        I worked hard on that…

    • bbmoney

      Was your extension of Shark for this offseason or next?

      Because the comp only really works after next year assuming Shark pitches well. If the Cubs signed him this year, in theory the extension would be lesser in value for a 5 year deal because he only stands to make what ~$4M this year? and has only one good year as a started compared to Harrison’s two.

  • Bigg J

    Like you said before, if the Cub’s grab Bourn then they might as well grab Lohse too and see if they are contenders at the deadline. If it is “postseason or bust” then you might as well try to get to the post season first.

  • Southern Cub

    Red Sox trade for Soriano?! Perhaps?!

    • Gopher Cub

      Is this real or just your prediction.

    • MichiganGoat

      Only if they can convince the world that Theo compensation is still not complete πŸ˜‰ I’m sure Nicky C could make an arguement to support that.

  • Crazyhorse

    What i find amusing is that players between the age 20 and 27 are usually team controlled thus their salaries will always be low. on average. I understand that teams want to pay for expected performance ,but when a team has needs. sometime a team will need to overspend to get that type of production.

    Is Bourn worth 3 years at 39 million to 42 million I think yes
    4years at 52millioni to 55 million I think Yes

    I dont think anybody wants to sign bourn for 5 years

    Do i think signing bourn will help the Cubs -yes
    Do i think it will make them a better team – yes
    Is he a sexy player to sign -no
    will he have trade value – yes and no
    will that one signing break the bank- no

    • DarthHater

      Do I sound like Donald Rumsfeld? – yes πŸ˜‰

    • MightyBear

      Do I agree completely with CrazyHorse – yes

    • MichiganGoat

      After reading the fangraph article I’d have a hard time saying Yes to anything beyond two years.

  • Tremendous Slouch

    Just curious – I’m not as familiar with the rules of the MLB draft, the compensation picks tend to throw me off… Do we know yet where the cubs will be drafting in the second round (what number I mean)… I assume they get the second pick in the second round, but that slot depends on Compensatory picks??

    My outlying reason for asking this… Several have made the assumption that Theo would be willing to sacrafice the pick for the right free agent signing (i.e. Bourne). However, does the fact that the pick is essentially a late first rounder, give him additional pause?

    • Kyle

      I think right now we’re at No. 38 overall, and that drops to No. 40 once the two remaining pick-tied free agents sign with new teams. Give or take a spot.

      “Late first-rounder” sounds a lot more impressive than it is. In baseball terms, late-first rounders have roughly a 4% chance of becoming useful players.

      • cubsin

        We’re actually at #40 now, and would move down a pick if either Bourn or Lohse signed with a team either with a protected first-round pick or one that had already signed a qualified free agent and lost their first-round pick. Picks 40-42 would have been mid to late supplemental first-round picks before the CBA changes

      • daveyrosello

        Define “late” first-rounder. Pick #16 and later? Pick #21? Does the 1 in 25 chance you refer to excuse the Hayden Simpson Experience (a #18 IIRC)?

  • Crazyhorse

    sorry please delete

  • DarthHater


  • Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Michael Bourn does not belong on the Cubs. He would have no trade value. He’s down-trending and not a good investment, especially if we have to give up a late 1st round pick.

  • cubsin

    To put our #40 (or 41 or 42) pick in perspective, last year we took supplemental first rounders Pierce Johnson at 43 and Paul Underwood at 56, while our second round pick was Duane Underwood at 67. Our third-round pick this year will be somewhere in the mid-70’s.

    • DarthHater

      Raise your hand if you think Pierce Johnson has a better than 4% chance of becoming a useful player. (Kyle, you don’t get to raise your hand).

      • Dave

        I think he does, but part of that may be a Missouri Sate bias.

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