There’s a bit of rumor stuff to discuss today, which is a treat this time of year …
- The Tigers just took advantage of that non-guaranteed arbitration-level contract thing that we’ve been discussing ad nauseam with respect to Ian Stewart. The Tigers dumped outfielder Brennan Boesch, whom they tendered a contract back in November on the thinking that they’d be able to trade him. The never found a taker for the soon-to-be-28-year-old lefty-hitting outfielder, and they released him today in order to save about $2 million. Boesch is coming off a down 2012 season (but with a low BABIP, suggesting a bounce-back is possible), but he was pretty great in 2011. The thing is, though, his defense in the outfield is suspect. The Cubs might have interest in the sense that they’d kick the tires on anyone like Boesch, but it feels like he’s going to have better options than a team that would bury him on the bench (and that doesn’t expect to be any good in 2013). The Yankees seem like an obvious fit with their outfield/DH needs, though his lefty bat probably isn’t what they’d prefer. For the Cubs, unless they could commensurately deal Alfonso Soriano, I just don’t see a fit for Boesch, as attractive as it might be to pick up someone like him off the scrap heap. When all is said and done, I bet he gets a big league deal from one of several bidders.
- Another semi-interesting player who was released today is first baseman David Cooper, formerly of the Blue Jays. Once again, probably not a spot with the Cubs, but he’s a 26-year-old with good minor league numbers who is coming off a back injury. I could see the Cubs wanting to grab him on a minor league deal and stash him at first base at Iowa, as there isn’t currently an obvious back-up first baseman on the roster. If Anthony Rizzo goes down with a long-term injury, someone like Cooper might be nice to have as an insurance policy. HOWEVA, there are some concerns that the back injury currently troubling Cooper could have him out all season in 2013, and could actually be career threatening. So, that might trump everything else, depending on what’s what.
- Jim Bowden says that the Cubs are more likely to sign Matt Garza long-term than they are to trade him if he comes back healthy this year. He doesn’t cite a source for that statement, though, so he may just be guessing. If I were just guessing, I couldn’t tell you which way the Cubs would lean if he came back healthy. It would depend on the trade offers they can get, and the extension offers they can get from Garza’s camp.
- Bowden also throws out the possibility that the Cubs could pursue a Chase Headley trade midseason, which … I mean … ok? If Headley is shopped, I’m sure the Cubs will inquire, but so will most teams in baseball. And the teams willing to pay the steepest price for him are likely to be teams that are in the thick of a playoff run in 2013. That isn’t likely to include the Cubs.
- Bruce Levine chatted yesterday, and … (1) the Cubs are going to keep Ian Stewart and are going to give him a full chance to show what he can do in the first half (which is the right decision); (2) once Matt Garza and Scott Baker come back to the rotation, if Travis Wood is pitching well, the Cubs might have a tough decision; (3) Bruce says, plainly, that the Cubs’ first pick in the draft will be a pitcher (I’m not convinced – I’d say it will either be a pitcher or a positional player; definitely one of the two); (4) Bruce has finally changed his tune on Carlos Marmol, whom he no longer expects to be dealt by Opening Day: “The market for him has not been strong in the last week or 10 days. Unless someone loses a closer or primary set-up man, he might be sticking around a while.”; (5) Bruce doesn’t hear any interest in Soriano coming from the Yankees;