To my mind, the real meat of rumor season kicks off after the Draft (June 6 to 8 this year), but there’s already plenty to discuss, as the Cubs struggle to translate their underlying stats (decent) to the W/L column (not decent).
- I’ve noted for a few weeks now that the midseason trade market is shaping up to be exceptionally thin on the pitching side, which could benefit the Cubs, should they decide to sell. And, what do you know, Buster Olney dug into the prospective pitching trade market, and the Cubs show up heavy at the top. In a ranking of the top potentially available pitchers – in terms of the best options, all things considered – the Cubs claim the top two spots, with Scott Feldman and number one and Matt Garza at number two. Buster concedes that, by the time Garza shows what he’s got, it’s possible he’ll take the top spot. For now, though, given the contract and the solid performance – not just in results but also in form – of Scott Feldman to date, Buster gives him the nod. Nice to know.
- The rest of the list is a mish-mash of castaways like Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, and Jason Marquis. Yes, the Cubs are in a good position. That said, the market hasn’t fully developed yet, largely because we don’t really know who’s going to be buying or selling. Buster’s list is heavy – understandably – on guys on teams that are obviously going to be sellers. In a month or two, there are bound to be some surprise sellers, and thus some surprise entrants onto the market. Your hope, in that regard, is that teams don’t run away with divisions, and that as many teams tread water as possible heading into July.
- Ken Rosenthal discussed possible Cubs trade pieces, including Feldman and Garza, as well as Alfonso Soriano. The latter Rosenthal describes as a better trade option for teams this year given that he’s got only one more season on his expensive contract left after 2013. Rosenthal questions whether Feldman’s great performance is just good luck, and wonders whether the Cubs might opt to hang onto Garza to collect draft pick compensation after the season (they would do that only if (1) they wanted to try and re-sign Garza, or (2) the trade offers were worth a fair bit less than the draft pick (which, remember, still costs you money to sign)). Not a lot of meat. So, the relevance here, I suppose, is more the simple fact that Cubs players are being highlighted as trade candidates. Positive national media attention doesn’t really make a deal happen, but it probably doesn’t hurt.
- Last week, upon the news of David Price’s triceps injury, I wrote, among other things, this: “It could certainly impact the Rays’ asking price on him, but here’s the problem with that: if his value sinks too low because of the risk associated with the injury, the Rays may decide they have to keep him at least until the Trade Deadline next year (and eat half a season’s worth of another arbitration raise). Even if they don’t, the reason the Cubs would be getting him at a bargain [this offseason] is because of the injury risk. Given the expected financial investment (a big reason to trade for Price now is to have the first crack at extending him), is that really a bargain at all? So, in short, the Price injury makes me nervous, and I was already nervous. The upshot of a reduced trading price isn’t really all that appetizing.” Unfortunately, the local media in Tampa Bay seems to see things the same way. Marc Topkin writes that the Rays have a real problem on their hands with Price, who will now probably command less in trade AND be a harder sell in trade because the Rays have got to convince teams that he’s worth taking a big risk on in the first place. In other words, Tampa fears that other teams will view this situation exactly as I did. We’ll see how Price looks when he gets healthy. If he has a strong second half, maybe my interest returns to what it was. But this nervousness – as we saw with Matt Garza – will never fully abate.