With the Braves and Diamondbacks getting together on a huge deal yesterday, it’s fair to wonder if some other trade pieces are about to shake loose.
- Of direct relation to that trade and to the Cubs, the Diamondbacks have now said that, with Justin Upton dealt, they will be hanging onto outfielder Jason Kubel. You’ll recall, when reviewing the remaining market for power bats in the outfield, the two guys who looked like the best comps for Alfonso Soriano were Kubel and Scott Hairston. With Kubel staying in Arizona and Hairston signing with the Cubs, Soriano may have suddenly become one of – if not the - best outfield power bat available on the market. Teams like the Orioles, Rays, Yankees, Indians, among others, could still have interest, and they may have no other options available if they want to upgrade.
- T.R. Sullivan reports that the Rangers are not in on Michael Bourn or Kyle Lohse anymore, which would be something of a surprise, even though the two are connected to draft pick compensation. The Rangers haven’t done a whole lot this offseason to improve their club – arguably, they’ve gotten markedly worse – and it will be interesting to see if they stand pat, or if they focus on upgrading via trade. Obviously the name you’ll hear connected here is Matt Garza, particularly as the Spring goes on.
- Speaking of Bourn, the Mets are charging hard for the center fielder because they’ve got money to spend and a need in center field. The hold-up is the potential loss of a draft pick. Since the Mets pick 11th – and only the top 10 picks are protected – they stand to lose the most valuable possible pick that can be lost if they sign Bourn. They’re making an argument to MLB that their pick should also be protected because they had the 10th worst record last year, and the pick fell to 11 only because the Pirates failed to sign their first rounder last year (Mark Appel). This is, of course, an utterly absurd argument when you read the language of the CBA, which explicitly says the first 10 picks are protected (and only the first 10 picks), and changed the previous version of the rule which exempted comp picks like the Pirates’ from the calculation. In other words, the players and the league went out of their way to change the rule so that a pick like the Mets’ would not be protected. The former lawyer in me is getting riled up, and I’ll be pissed on principle if the Mets succeed in signing Bourn without losing their first round pick.
- Ken Rosenthal came out with a piece saying largely the same things, and indicating that he doubts MLB will side with the Mets on this one. If not, they’re probably out on Bourn.
- In that Bourn article, Jon Heyman lists the Cubs as one of eight possibilities for the free agent, saying only that, “[The Cubs] are thought to like Bourn very much and have interest at some level. They have a pending two-year deal with Hairston, though they are a team full of surprises.” I think the Cubs are fading from view on this one, unless we see a Soriano or David DeJesus trade in the near-term. I doubt that series of moves happens.
- Reports suggest there may be another Cuban defector to keep an eye on. Shortstop Alexander Guerrero, 26, has apparently defected to the Dominican Republic, and is likely seeking residency. He’s been one of the best players in Cuba for years now, putting up huge numbers, so you can assume that if he reaches free agency, he’ll at least get looks from many teams. We’ll have to see if more on him comes up.
- For those who’ve been asking about the last two Cuban defectors, shortstop Aledmis (sometimes “Aledmys”) Diaz and outfielder Dariel Alvarez, there hasn’t been any update since their public workout was pushed back to some time in late January – heck, it could have just recently happened. I expect we’ll hear more on these guys – the Cubs are reported to have interest in at least Diaz – in the coming days. Susan Slusser reports that the A’s have interest in Diaz, and says the workout will be “later this month,” so it probably hasn’t happened yet. It’s all a little mysterious right now.
- Cross Jair Jurrjens off the flyer list – he has reportedly signed with the Orioles. Surprisingly, he gets a $1.5 million Major League deal, with incentives that could take it to $4 million. Given his struggles, physical issues, and always ugly peripherals, in no universe would I have been on board with the Cubs giving him a Major League deal, so … good luck, Orioles. There is a chance he could be effective again, in the sense that there’s a chance that, in any given season, a MLB-caliber player can surprise. But the odds are extremely poor.
- Also off the market, assuming the deal holds up, is Shaun Marcum, who has reportedly signed with the Mets. No terms are available yet, but I bet it’s a relatively modest deal. Dave Kaplan told me that he heard “the medicals were really shaky,” suggested that the Cubs, when they originally looked at Marcum, were scared off from pursuing too aggressively. He’s had a litany of arm issues in recent years.