stoveThe weekend diversion that is the Cubs Convention stemmed the flow – at least around here – of rumors, but they’re back in force …

  • Ken Rosenthal looked to stir things up a little bit with a conspiracy theory in the wee hours of the morning, which he attributes to an anonymous executive: “[The Cubs’ hiring of Derek Johnson as Minor League Pitching Coordinator] did not escape the attention of one rival executive, who viewed the hiring of Johnson as possibly the first step toward the Cubs landing left-hander David Price. The theory might be a bit of a reach, seeing as how Price is not eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season and coveted by virtually every team in baseball. A lot could happen in the next three years. Specifically, a team such as the Rangers could trade for Price and sign him long-term. The Cubs, though, also could take a similar approach. Ideally, they would prefer to keep their top prospects, then add Price in free agency just as those youngsters were starting to mature. Either way, the hiring of Johnson certainly wouldn’t hinder the Cubs’ pursuit of Price. The two were close at Vanderbilt, and friends say that Price gives Johnson significant credit for his success.” At least Ken said it was a reach. It is. An extreme one. Setting aside the fact that the minor league pitching coordinator and the major league arms aren’t going to be working together on the kind of regular basis that would lure a David Price, it’s not like Price is available to go wherever he wants for another three years. In the interim, he’s as certain to be traded as any player in baseball. So, whether he wants to come to the Cubs or not, he’ll go where he’s traded. Perhaps the connection with Johnson – say he’s promoted along the way? – helps the Cubs have confidence that Price would sign an extension, and that pushes a deal, but even that’s a stretch.
  • Rosenthal’s piece also says the Mariners are weighing a four-year, $100 million extension offer to Felix Hernandez (who is under contract for two more years). Given the market, and the complete awesomeness of Hernandez, that would be a pretty favorable deal, all things considered.
  • Ken also says the Rangers are sticking to their “we’ve moved on” stance with the Diamondbacks regarding Justin Upton, but I have a hard time believing the two sides won’t re-engage. Michael Bourn still seems like an ill-fitting back-up option.
  • Speaking of Bourn, the Braves still have some measure of interest, but David O’Brien doesn’t think it’s going to happen. He notes that manager Fredi Gonzalez reached out to Bourn at some point in the last few weeks, though.
  • The months-long rumored dance between the Cubs and Phillies regarding Alfonso Soriano has another wrinkle: CSN Philly cites sources who tell them the Phillies are “seriously” considering signing free agent outfielder Delmon Young. At a superficial level, Young and Soriano are comparable players – questionable defense in left, power but no OBP, and imperfect types. Beyond the superficial, though, you’ve got the fact that Soriano is the faaaar superior defender, Soriano’s offensive numbers blow Young’s away in 2012 (and, generally, in the past, too), and Soriano doesn’t have off-the-field issues. Indeed, Soriano is regarded as one of the best guys in the clubhouse in baseball. Are the Phillies grabbing some leverage, or have they moved on from any possibility of a Soriano deal? I guess we’ll see. Young, although he’d come for only money (as opposed to prospects and some money for Soriano), is clearly the inferior option. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro was surprisingly candid when asked if the Phillies were considering Young – flat out admitting that they were – which sure sounds like a leverage ploy. Keep your eyes on this one.
  • Speaking of Soriano and the Phillies, Bruce Levine, who notes Soriano’s persistent desire to remain with the Cubs if possible, reports that back when the Cubs and Phillies originally discussed a swap in November, it wasn’t outfielder Domonic Brown on the table. It was some of the young pitching talent that went to the Twins in the Ben Revere deal. That trade sent young big league pitcher Vance Worley and nice pitching prospect Trevor May, so … ouch. Might have ended up being nice for the Cubs. I’m sure a variety of deals were discussed, though. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything was close.
  • Jim Bowden says that Soriano remains one of the most likely outfielders to be dealt between now and the start of the season, and lists the Phillies and Orioles as the most likely destinations. Not a lot of meat there, but it’s more info.
  • Chris Volstad signed a minor league deal with probably best team he could have chosen: the Rockies. With the possibility of their four-man-plus-four-piggyback returning this year, they could use as many as eight “starting” pitchers. Volstad, as a sinkerballer, is a good fit at Coors, too. He’s gotta, like, make the sinker work. He gets $1.5 million if he makes the team.
  • UPDATE: The Phillies have signed Young for one year and $750,000. So apparently Amaro was so open because the deal was essentially done. Does this mean Soriano to the Phils is absolutely dead? Not necessarily, given that Young was just signed for barely above the Major League minimum (in other words, he ain’t really blocking anyone). But there’s no plausible way Soriano and Young could play in the same outfield, so I’m thinking this is probably the Phillies’ move in left field for now. The Cubs clearly stuck to their guns on (their perception of) Soriano’s value.


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