stoveIt’s not a particularly Hot Stove-y time of year, so I’m not even sure you can call it “lukewarm,” but it’s been a while since we checked in on the doings around the league, and there are quite a few bits that touch on the Cubs. And, hey, don’t forget: Marlon Byrd was traded on April 21 last year. It does happen.

  • The New York Mets were always among the teams listed as potential trade partners for the Cubs in an Alfonso Soriano deal this offseason, but that had more to do with their clear outfield need (speaking of Byrd, he’s currently the Mets’ right fielder) and Soriano’s presumed willingness to go to New York than it did with any specific rumors of interest. Well, turns out that the Mets did inquire about Soriano this Spring, according to Andy Martino. The inquiry was of the “checking in” variety, and sounds like it was part of the Mets’ due diligence as they investigated lots of options. A deal was probably unlikely at that time from both sides’ perspective (the Mets’ and Soriano’s, at least), but it’s a reminder that, if he has a decent, healthy first half, there will be interest in Soriano come July.
  • This will require more discussion down the road as the offseason approaches, but Paul Sullivan says there is “little doubt” that the Cubs will be interested in center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury if he doesn’t re-sign with the Red Sox at some point before reaching free agency after the season. Ellsbury is a tough nut to crack, intermittently looking like an MVP candidate and a very good fourth outfielder. Ellsbury, who turns 30 in September, will probably be on the Cubs’ radar even if Brett Jackson breaks out, given that the Cubs could have as many as three open outfield spots after this season.
  • The Cubs will probably see a couple familiar names on the waiver wire this week, with the Rangers designating lefty reliever Jeff Beliveau for assignment, and the Indians doing the same with Robert Whitenack. Each is a talented by flawed young arm, and ones the Cubs felt were worth risking. The Rangers gave Beliveau a long look, but had a crowded staff, making his presence on the 40-man superfluous when they went to pick up a catcher from the waiver wire (another former Cub, Robinson Chirinos). There was a great deal of hand-wringing (present company included) about the loss of Whitenack a week and a half ago, which came as the result of Darwin Barney’s knee injury, and the Cubs’ refusal to call up someone like Logan Watkins for a couple weeks in favor of Alberto Gonzalez, who wasn’t on the 40-man already. So, I was wrong, right? The Indians just dumped Whitenack, so clearly the Cubs were right to waive him. No. This is exactly what I said would happen: the Indians claimed Whitenack in the hopes that they could stash him for a week, let rosters¬†stabilize¬† and then slip him through waivers. Free pitching prospect. And it will probably work unless, for example, the Cubs do want him back and are ready to boot Gonzalez from the 40-man (Darwin Barney returns early next week), or if another team wants to try and play the same game. I suspect we won’t see either of Beliveau or Whitenack back with the Cubs.
  • Tim Dierkes chatted over at MLB Trade Rumors, and … (1) There’s only a 35% chance Robinson Cano reaches free agency at this point, though Tim doesn’t expect the Cubs to be in on him anyway; (2) Jacoby Ellsbury, on the other hand, probably will reach free agency; (3) Tim guesses that Jeff Samardzija would be looking to top Matt Harrison’s 5-year, $55 million deal in an extension with the Cubs (which is a comparison I’ve made before) – a few more starts like he’s had already this year, and he’ll get it, easy; and (4) the Cubs will probably focus on getting Matt Garza out there for a solid, healthy two months and then trade him (I think they’ll try one last time for an extension before committing to a trade).
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