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stoveThe latest from around the rumor mill …

  • Another day, another Chase Headley to the Cubs rumor (is he the new David Price?). Ken Rosenthal writes about Headley from a variety of angles, one of which is specifically connecting him to the Cubs. Rosenthal says Headley would be “perfect for the Cubs” when paired with a young core featuring Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, and Albert Almora. Setting aside the fact that any deal for Headley would cost the Cubs at least one of those three prospects, I’m not convinced Headley is a “perfect” fit so much as a “pretty OK one.” Headley, to be sure, is a great, great player. But, for one thing, if he’s traded midseason, it isn’t going to be to the Cubs. A team that could use Headley for a playoff chase is going to be willing to pay a lot more for Headley than the Cubs should be willing to pay, since his value to them starts in 2014, not 2013. For another thing, the Cubs would be trading a huge chunk of the farm for one year of Headley, and then the right to extend a guy who will be 31 in the first year of that extension. That’s not to completely rule it out, but unlike the long-term pitching situation, I can conceive of a number of quality third basemen coming up through the Cubs’ system by 2015. If the Cubs are going to do the trade-a-ton-and-then-extend-for-a-ton thing with anyone on the market, I’d still rather it was someone like David Price,* rather than Headley. If the Cubs could pick up Headley after the season without decimating the system, however, it’s not like I would necessarily shake my fists in anger (especially if it was paired with a couple other savvy moves that position the Cubs to be much improved in 2014).
  • *Subject to keeping a very close eye on the problems Price is having this year. It isn’t just poor performance – his velocity is down, and he’s getting hit. A lot.
  • Patrick Mooney writes, generally, that the Cubs can’t afford to miss out on the next Yu Darvish. Mooney is writing about the concept of a “Darvish,” but I’ll take the opportunity to remind you about the next facsimile to come out of Japan: Masahiro Tanaka, who is doing Yu Darvish-y things in the NPB, and could be posted after the season. The 24-year-old righty is someone you’ll hear much more about as the offseason approaches, so you’re advised to keep his name in mind.
  • For whatever it’s worth, Buster Olney reports the Cubs were in third place in the blind bidding for Hyun-Jin Ryu with a $15 million posting bid. The Rangers bid $18 million and the Dodgers won with a $25.7 million bid. The only thought I have: if the Cubs bid $15 million and lost because they believed that, coupled with the expected contract, was the most Ryu was worth, then OK. If they end up being wrong on that, well, then, they whiffed. It happens. But if they believed he was worth more, and were constricted in the bidding for financial reasons, then I’ll be deeply disappointed. I’ll also not be very optimistic for the anticipated Tanaka bidding.
  • As a prospective free agent and/or Trade Deadline piece, Scott Feldman is coming in for some heavy praise from Buster Olney. The possible return on a Feldman trade is going to be interesting, as he does not come with any team control for 2014, so he’s a pure rental. And he doesn’t have a long, consistent track record of success. So, if he’s sporting a 3.00-ish ERA with good peripherals at the Trade Deadline … what’s a guy like that worth? A great deal will depend on the market – who else is available, how many teams are buying – but I’ve got to believe the return would be markedly less than, for example, the Cubs got for Paul Maholm (more established track record, extra year of control). A top 10 organizational prospect, maybe? A top 10 and a top 20? Certainly not a top 100 overall, right? Unless it was a guy with a lot of warts, I guess.
  • California Raisin

    Brett, I know you weren’t doing this with your blurb on Tanaka but I wanted to just add that Tanaka isn’t a Darvish-level prospect. Ben Badler over at BA said scouts highest on Tanaka see him as a #2 here.

    • JB88

      I ask this sincerely, because I don’t remember scouts saying that Darvish was a #1 as BA uses that term, but isn’t that what Darvish is also?

      • Cyranojoe

        I thought most people predicted Darvish would/could be a #1/ace. Maybe many hedged their bets by saying 1/2…?

        • snakdad

          This whole posting thing is ridiculous. No pitcher from the Orient is worth the amount in costs you to get them when you add the posting fee to the team on top of what you’re going to pay the pitcher.

          And same argument for Headley as I made for Price. You’re fielding a AAA team currently with the sole purpose of stocking your farm and now you’re going to raid that farm before you’ve even come close to accomplishing your primary goal? I don’t think so.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            A reminder: the point of stocking the farm system is so that some of them will help you in the bigs, and some of them can be traded for guys like Headley/Price/whoever.

            • Kyle

              Meh, I mostly agree, but Headley/Price aren’t the ideal candidates for that sort of trade. Too close to free agency.

              It feels like we are averse to signing 29-year-olds to 6/$120 deals (just as a completely generic example), but eager to trade a bunch of prospects for the privilege of giving a 29-year-old a 6/$120 extension.

              There’s a disconnect there.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Who’s “we”? Find me the right such 29-year-old free agent, and I’m fine with it.

                (That’s not the deal Greinke got, by the way. Also, Greinke ain’t Price.)

                • Kyle

                  Nobody is we. I know I’m cheating a little bit.

                  I’m fine with trading prospects for pre-prime and early-prime players.

                  I’m fine with paying FA prices for late-prime players.

                  But paying prospects for the right to sign a late-prime player to an FA-sized extension? Now I’m getting pretty iffy.

            • DarthHater

              Given the poor odds of any prospect ultimately making a significant contribution in the bigs, I think the PRIMARY purpose of stocking the farm system should be to accumulate assets that can ultimately be traded for proven big league performers who are as young and as cost-controlled as you can get. If one of your prospects naturally progresses to the big league team and succeeds before he gets traded, then great – keep him. But the odds are such that those players should be considered the exception. The smart move is to try to make other teams bear the risk of prospects who don’t pan out.

              The Cubs’ current problem, as I see it, is that they don’t have enough assets on the farm to trade for big leaguers who could make the team succeed now and if they trade their meager assets prematurely, the guys they get will begin to diminish by aging before the team becomes consistently competitive at a really high level. So we all have to suffer through the pain of a prolonged initial period of asset accumulation which hopefully will subsequently be followed by a serious of blockbuster trades for a bunch of really good players, after which we cruise to a dynasty. :-P

              Okay, that last part may not be quite likely, but I think it’s more likely than banking on Baez, Soler, Almora, Vizcaino, and Appel/Gray all panning out in the long run.

              • Kyle

                See, I don’t know if I can agree with that.

                The best result of any farm system is to give you awesome players with six years of indentured servitude. The fact that they miss so often is why you have so many of them.

                Trading for players is a nice option to have, but being able to plug in a fresh young 23-year-old who can put up 3-6 WAR while making $400k? That’s the dream.

                • DarthHater

                  I know, but when those guys are still in the minors, don’t you have to discount that 3 to 6 WAR by 30-40% chance (or whatever the actual number is) of actually being that good in the bigs? In which case the 3 to 6 guy is really only worth 0.9 to 2.4 WAR?

                  • Kyle

                    I don’t know if it’s as directly linear as that, but yes.

                    The issue is that trading for the pre-prime, pre-FA MLBers is pretty rare. Usually, what you are trading for is essentially a slightly early free agent.

                    • Justin

                      I still can’t believe what the Dbacks got back for Upton. It seemed like a pretty shitty package for him to me. But they had an idea of the type of players they wanted back, and the Cubs didn’t have them. #runthruawallguy #towersisadipshit

                    • DarthHater

                      Agreed.

      • California Raisin

        Yes, he was thought of as a bonafide TOR ace (anyone who couched his ability was primarily doing it in CYA mode after Matzusaka ultimately disappointed). Darvish was thought of us a Japanese “generational” talent.

  • JB88

    “I’ve got to believe the return would be markedly less than, for example, the Cubs got for Paul Maholm (more established track record, extra year of control). A top 10 organizational prospect, maybe? A top 10 and a top 20? Certainly not a top 100 overall, right? Unless it was a guy with a lot of warts, I guess.”

    I expect that market factors will certainly dictate what the Cubs could get for Feldman. You get the right team with the right needs and Feldman pitching similar to what Dempster was doing last year, maybe you can haul in someone like a Randall Delgado. Of course, that would have been the perfect storm — a team like the Braves with a glut of young pitching and financial problems that wants a cost controlled vet for the playoff run. Looking at the market this year, I don’t see another team that fits that model so I’m not sure those conditions exist this year, but who knows.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Doesn’t Price seem like a guy who is aging fast. He looks like he is 35 years old.
    Anybody know how Bryan LaHair is doing in Japan? Always liked that dude.

  • hansman1982

    “his velocity is down, and he’s getting hit.”

    At this time, pass on Price, 100% absolutely completely totally and utterly pass on Price. Velocity is everything to pitchers.

    • Featherstone

      His babip is a touch high at .354 but the rest of his stats look scary. Definitely something to watch if we are trading the farm to for him.

    • Rebuilding

      Agreed. A drop in velocity like he has had this year is usually followed shortly by arm surgery. Our FO seems very adept at identifying good arms available for a variety of reasons (injury, lack of opportunity). I would rather they continue to do that than overpay for Price. If Wood continues to emerge it really helps our rotation situation

      • Kyle

        If that’s the case, we should be thankful it happened a year earlier than it could have, and mark this down as another cautionary tale why you don’t pay double (first in prospects, then in massive contract extension) for a pitcher, ever.

  • Dynastyin2017

    ” Headley, to be sure, is a great, great player.” Can I disagree? I think Headley is a good player who had one great year. Is he an upgrade? Yes. Is he worth trading the farm? Who knows? That’s why Theo gets the big bucks.

  • Frank F.

    Chase Headly is perfect for a lot of teams. I’m sure the Padres will take full advantage of that if they’re unable to extend him.

  • Justin

    I really wish the Cubs could combine guys like Feldman and Barney and get a very good prospect or two instead of the meh type returns.. At this point I think I am good with a Baez for Headley deal. Chances of Baez ever being a more effective player than Mark Reynolds are very slim. I don’t see the K’s going away. Although, Baez could be much better defensively than Reynolds at 3rd.

    • snakdad

      What makes you think adding Barney to Feldman brings you any more than Feldman alone? Nobody’s giving the Cubs their top prospects for what we have available to trade.

  • Ryan

    Brett,

    I really have to give you credit. You were right in calling the Fieldman signing a good one when it happened. At the time I just didn’t believe it. When he pitched all over the place to start the year, you kept saying you liked his raw stuff, and I sort of thought you were giving him an easy pass.

    But you were right. The movement on his fastball is truly a beautiful thing to see, and he looks like he can be really, really good on stuff alone. So, good call.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Well thanks. Blind squirrels and nuts and all that.

      • waittilthisyear

        i begrudgingly offer a similar sentiment. i thought the best thing feldman would offer is the chance to say “Feldman” like in the bizarro seinfeld episode. but he has done well, you called it partner

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Well, it’s still very early (and his peripherals leave some question marks) – so there’s still plenty of time for him to flame out. I never thought he’d be *this* good – just that he had a chance to be a surprisingly nice piece.

  • Rebuilding

    The president of the Padres was quoted as saying that they plan on making Headley a big extension offer and want to build around him as a cornerstone. Whether that is just talk is open to question

  • On the Farm

    What are the rules of signing a Japanese FA? From what I understand he could be posted by his team and then could be bid on, bid accepted, then try to be signed by the Club that won the bid. But how does that effect a teams international pool?

    Also, I don’t remember all the details, but I thought Tanaka was near the end of his contract, so is he a legitimate free agent if he never gets posted or is he still considered a international free agent?

    • bbmoney

      There’s an age cap or certain number of years of pro experience where the signing no longer counts against the int’l cap. I want to say 23 and 5? Give or take a year on each.

      • On the Farm

        Thanks, I was too lazy to google it.

  • AA Correspondent

    I had season tickets to the Padres for 10 years, and believe me…the San Diego discount is a part of all negotiations there. I actually believe there are a lot of players who want to play in San Diego and would take less to do so. Chase seems to be a piece that they want to build around and San Diego’s farm system is finally paying dividends. From what I’ve read, Chase Headley wants to remain a Padre and my guess is that he will likely sign a below market deal in order to stay. I think this is a non starter for the Cubs. If Tony Gwynn and Trevor Hoffman can stay for less…..so will Chase Headley.

    • oswego chris

      ummm…I have only been to San Diego twice, and I would think that no one would ever want to leave there…

      • snakdad

        Sure, as a resident. As a player trying to win something, I think it would be hard to lure premium talent there.

      • Jimmy James

        I went once…..it was on fire lol

      • DarthHater

        I was in the Long Beach area at New Years and tend to agree with Chris.

  • JoeyCollins

    If price doesn’t return to form soon does that increase the odds he gets traded at the deadline instead of the off season? Is there a chance Tampa Bay will sell early when he only has half a season of bad stats, instead of a full year?

    • Featherstone

      That’s a good question. Do you as the rays hope this was just a bad year and he can bounce back for 2014? Or do you accept quarters on the dollar for a player half a year removed from his Cy-Young winning season with 2 more years of control at an early age.

      The Rays being payroll constrained are already paying 10mil this year for him, can they afford to pay for another year to wait and see?

  • Da_Cubs

    Interesting lineup today.Barney and Soriano out.Sweeney in and Valbuena batting 3rd.

  • Brad

    NO on HEADLEY and NO on PRICE. After seeing his velocity drop this year and his age, it would not be worth it to gut the farm for him and turn into the Yankees. We just have to be patient and picky and spend out FA $$$ wisely and wait for our developing superstars in the farm to get up. I know we are not stocked with arms, but hopefully we sign shark and sign a #2-3 starter in the offseason and DO NOT SIGN GARZA. Unless it is a super friendly deal which it will not be. Take a shot at lincecum? Try to get him back to cy young style? Shark, Jackson, Viz, Wood, Lincecum.

    • lukers63

      Lincecum has lost a lot of velocity too I believe….

      • snakdad

        I’d take Price long before I’d take Lincecum.

        • bbmoney

          well….yeah. But i think the point was you can sign lincecum as a free agent this offseason (assuming he isn’t extended before y/e) and not give anything up.

          Can’t do that with Price.

          • Cubbie Blues

            I’d take Lincecum for the bull pen.

          • Brad

            Exactly.

  • Rich H

    My thoughts on Headley are all about value. If you think that we have to part with one of our top 5 prospects to get him I would go for it. I would think it would more depend on what you want to give up though. If they want one of the top 3 we need to look at each player in terms of immediate impact of return.

    The problem is with Gyrko looking to take over at 3rd they will not want a 3rd baseman. They have 2nd base filled with Corey Spandenberg. They have some serious top of the rotation arms about ready with Kelly and Fried. They have their young catcher with Grandal if his return from his suspension doesn’t show his warts.

    All this is being said because unless they see Baez as a Shortstop he is not going to be their target. So I think we are probably looking at a trade that involves Soler just to get the conversation going.

    But there may be another trade proposal that could get the job done depending on when it comes around that Headley is actually on the market. This like most stuff is all conjecture on what value is going to be placed on some of our farm hands after this season. If Alcantara (I see him raising into the top 5 prospects after this season) continues to show he has to be in the conversation as a legit prospect and SD has not found their short stop of the future in house then is it possible to center a trade around him and through in a few other bottom of the top 10 types will that be enough to get it done?

    Like Brett said if he is traded mid season we need to stay away because a gutting of the system will have to happen for it to work.

    • Justin

      Good thoughts, but Soler probably doesn’t have much trade value because of his contract. Soler’s has a chance to be a stud, but not a lot of teams would want to pay a prospect that type of money..

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        I don’t think his contract is a deterrent. The most he’ll make is $4M/year in 2018-2020.

        • Kyle

          No, that’s the *least* he’ll make.

          If he bombs out, he makes that.

          If he succeeds, he can opt out to arbitration each year and make a lot more.

          For small-market teams (and any team really), a big part of the value of a prospect is the chance to get him for $450k for three years, and you’ll never have that with Soler.

  • cub4life

    Brett,

    In 100% agreement with you on this. Headley is an interesting guy and a solid player but @ 6 years older then our “core” isn’t perfect. I would also say that IF and that’s a big if Baez is moved over to 3rd that is a better fit for us. And for those that say what about 2B for Baez, I say if Watkins continues to tear it up (as Luke has shown him in almost every Iowa post so far) that he is the air apparent for 2B and that is IF and only IF they decide that Barney is not the answer.

    And for those that say what do we do until then, well I am going to say something I thought I never would, IF Valbuena continues to play the way he is (and not revert back to his “norm”) that he could hold 3B down for the near future until we find some one better.

    I will agree that if we get him without giving anything really up I so yeah lets do it, but we have “better” in our minors, that is if the perform to what we expect (no saying that if we had Headley he would).

  • David

    Price’s declining effectiveness just adds to the list of pitchers having similar issues : Halladay, Danks, Floyd, Marmol, Zito, Lincecum. Granted some are due to injury, but my point is it seems like there is a 3 or 4 year window of starting pitchers in which they are truly effective. Seems scary to sign any free agent starting pitchers to a long term deal. Is Samardzija worth signing an extension to? Can he be next on the list??

    • Kyle

      This article always sticks out in my mind.

      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=1658

      For simplicity purposes, they defined attrition as a pitcher throwing 50% or fewer of his previous year’s innings, figuring that accounted for both injury and ineffectiveness.

      For starting pitchers, the risk is huge in the early 20s, reaches a low of about 9% at age 24, then steadily climbs for the rest of their career. For most of their career, the attrition rate is going to be around 15%.

      • jt

        Perhaps you posted this or at least alluded to its arguments some years ago on a different board.
        Seems to be a good guide post on which to tether thoughts on the subject
        Thanks.

  • mak

    Headley for Baez straight up. As the Sports Guy says, “Who says no?”

    • Stinky Pete

      Pretty sure San Diego says no.

      • mak

        Probably, but are they going to get a better single prospect out of Headley? If they like their depth (and I have no idea if they do), shouldn’t the go for the highest ceiling?

        • Kyle

          It’s really tricky to try to predict how individual organizations will value individual prospects, but my guess is yes, they can get a better prospect than Baez for Headley.

        • Justin

          Is Baez even a top 20 prospect anymore after struggling again at the plate at High A? And he’s added massive amounts of errors to his game this year too.

          • Kyle

            Eh, that’s also really hard to say.

            He wasn’t a universal top 20 prospect before this season, although I think he met that level for the majority.

            Most of the people who are making the lists don’t keep that close of attention during the season. (This is also why I think we, as fans, shouldn’t be too quick to defer to prospect pundits. They may know the minors as a whole better than us, but they have to divide their time and attention between 30 teams).

            A decent number of the pre-season top 20 should be graduated, but Baez has definitely lost some ground as well. And we haven’t added any draft picks yet, and you’d think definitely the No. 1 pick and probably the No. 2 will break in as top-20 and push guys down.

            If I had to guess, I’d say Baez has dropped out of the top 20, but either answer is defensible.

            • mak

              Assuming Baez plays like this all year, sure, he’ll fall out of the Top 20. But if he regresses (progresses?) to the mean, and puts up similar numbers as last year, I think he’s safely in top 20 due to graduations.

              • DarthHater

                If Baez doesn’t get any better, what makes you think that other prospects currently ranked below him won’t progress right past him and knock him down in the rankings?

                • mak

                  I’m not sure if you misread — I said if Baez DOES get better (and puts up numbers similar to last year, which were very good), then he’d be in the top 20.

                • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                  Definitely NOT a Top 20 at this point.

                  • hansman1982

                    I think if most guys were forced to re-rank the top-100 right now, you wouldn’t see a whole lot of movement.

                    • Kyle

                      I think that’s more because they haven’t followed all the prospects they’d be ranking as closely as they’d like.

                      There’s a reason these lists are mostly done in the offseason, when the scouts and contacts they rely on have time to compare notes and passo n more comprehensive information.

    • Rich H

      San Diego already has Infield help other than Short Stop. Do you see Baez as a future Short Stop? Do you think San Deigo does? I still think they will want outfield and short stop. Neither is Baez right now.

  • Timmy

    I think everything here is all right on. We need a player *like Headley, if not several, but to trade away the farm system before we know who will be the best one to keep seems like a desperate move to make up for last offseason’s transgressions against sportsmanship.

    I’d take Headley, Price, and anyone who can help the team. We don’t need a savior, we need a solid lineup of experienced, happy, and comfortable contenders.

  • Bill S

    Can someone please explain to me why everyone thinks Headley is so “great”? He is an above average player who had one good year. Granted he does play in San Diego, but still does not seem worthy of Baez or Almora. He is also going to be 30 years old tomorrow.

    • DarthHater

      I agree. I think that, as much as possible, you try to jump on those rare opportunities to trade minor leaguers for a 23 to 25-year old player like Stanton or Justin Upton. Forget about 30-year-olds unless your big league team is already good and in its window to win big.

      • Timmy

        Yeah this is right. He’d be great for three middle-level prospects, but this one’s a pass. I’d still trade a top prospect for Price, though not with a 10 year contract. Then again that’s what it takes to win these days and I’d rather see a player cash in than the Ricketts family buy another failed Bison hot dog stand.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor (no relation)

    Headley is a good fit, but someone will snag him this season (when we don’t need to / when his trade value is higher), or he’ll sign an extension in the off season. I think the Padres value him more than the return(s) in a trade for him in the off season.

    If the Padres do get Baez +1 for Headley (in an off season trade), Baez and Gyorko can battle it out to see who plays 2B or 3B. Headley can play LF for us when we trade Soriano and Valbuena sticks at 3B (until Vitters/Villanueva/Lake/whoever is “ready”).

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Hmmm…. well as Valbuena has played (and he has played pretty well), I think that you keep Headley at 3rd and get someone else for LF!

      I am curious to see how this plays out if the Pads don’t re-sign Headley. The Tigers and Phils (possibly as well as the Cubs) supposedly made big pushes on Headley in the 2011/12 off-season: but the Tigers closed that door by signing Fielder, and the Phils are now looking at a rebuild rather than a shoring-up.

  • jt

    Perhaps it is useful to project needs a couple of years down the road:
    Without up-grades 2015
    My assumptions are that they resign Shierholz after 2014
    Move Valbuena to 2B
    use Arodys in the pen
    Solar hits AA this year and spend most of 2014 in AAA.
    ——————————————————————-
    form of
    position player age
    1B Rizzo 25
    2B Valbuena 29
    SS Castro 25
    C Castillo 28
    LF Solar 23
    RF Schierholz 31
    SP Shark 30
    SP Wood 28
    SP 2nd pick draft
    RP Arodys 24
    RP Russell 29
    —————–
    needs
    —————-
    Bench 7 players
    3B, CF, 3 SP, 3 RP
    ————–
    Seems like a pretty normal turn over.

  • North Side Irish

    Jon Heyman’s article on the SP trade market this season includes FIVE Cubs starters…out of 21 names.

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/jon-heyman/22218158/trade-market-will-be-filled-with-starting-pitchers-but-who

  • North Side Irish

    Carrie Muskat ‏@CarrieMuskat 3m
    Ian Stewart cleared waivers, assigned outright to Iowa. He’s now off #Cubs 40 man roster

    • TWC

      ::pops champagne cork::

    • Kyle

      Does he get another 72 hours to report?

  • nkniacc13

    ha

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