Lukewarm Stove: Pitching is the Order of the Day, Garza, Feldman, Norris, Papelbon, and a Bit on Puig

stoveThe rumor mill is awfully pitcher-heavy right now, not that there are a lot of pitching options out there …

  • Jon Morosi talks about teams that could be buyers or sellers this year, pointing out three that are on the fence right now: the Phillies, the Blue Jays, and the Padres. The latter team is playing so well that it might be hard to justify selling. On the Phillies, Morosi wonders whether they’ll really decide to keep onto closer Jonathan Papelbon, given the interest around baseball. Papelbon will easily be the best closer potentially on the market, but a team would have to pay for it: not only would he cost a handsome return in prospects, but he’s owed $13 million per year through 2015, with a reasonable vesting option (also at $13 million) for 2016. That’s very expensive for the back-end of your bullpen. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro still says he doesn’t want to trade Papelbon (or Cliff Lee, for that matter), which would be good news for the Cubs as they shop Kevin Gregg (which I looked into yesterday).
  • On the Blue Jays, Morosi points to Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle as potential selling pieces if the team decides it’s out of it. Obviously that would dilute the pitching market slightly for the Cubs, who presumably would like to shop Matt Garza and Scott Feldman as two of the best arms on the market. You’re going to want to pull for a Blue Jays turnaround.
  • Speaking of Feldman, he told ESPN that he’s not too worried about the trade season, since there’s nothing he can do. That said, he hopes to be able to stay with the Cubs. “Absolutely. Yeah. I’d love to [stay here],” Feldman said. “That kinda stuff always happens this time of year with a number of players, and I’ve never really been in that position before, but I hope we can get hot and get back in this thing a little bit and then it’ll be harder to trade away some of the guys. But either way I love it in Chicago, and I’m happy to put a Cubs uniform on.”
  • Jim Bowden’s take on the top 20 pitchers who could be traded features Matt Garza (listed as a number three starter) and Scott Feldman (listed as a number four). He gives Garza a 90% chance of being traded, and Feldman 70%. Those two stand behind only the Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco in terms of likelihood of being traded (which sounds about right).
  • Nick Cafardo reports that Astros’ starter Bud Norris is drawing heavy interest from all around baseball. He’s pitching well this year (3.54 FIP), but his peripherals are only OK, and it’s the best year of his career, at least by FIP. He’s only in his first year of arbitration, though, so an acquiring team would get control over him through 2015. That could make him a more attractive trade target than rentals like Garza or Feldman for some teams.
  • Cafardo adds that the Cubs are “remaining patient” with Matt Garza right now, and letting the market come to them. He sees Scott Feldman as a possible good fit for the Orioles, who are openly looking for a starter.
  • In terms of finding pitching in the long-term for the Cubs, Theo Epstein told ESPN that you can still find it on the trade market – even young pitching. ”Just a couple of years ago there were a lot of young pitchers traded,” he said. “Gio Gonzalez was traded and [Trevor] Cahill. I think teams will still trade their young pitching. That was our focus last year; we tried to get a pitcher in every deal. If we end up going that route this year, pitching will be a focus.” It’s been my belief for a while now that this was the route the Cubs would go to try and land impact pitching for the upcoming competitive run (hopefully beginning in 2014). If the Cubs do try to pick up a quality young arm in trade, you’ll have to brace yourself for the impact – Gonzalez cost the Nationals 3 of their top 10 prospects (a very good system at the time), plus another quality prospect.
  • Joel Sherman says that, yes, the Cubs were heavily in on Yasiel Puig when the now-star Cuban was on the market last year. The information available on him was incredibly scant, and the Dodgers went all out on him on the basis of a few interviews, a tiny bit of game tape, and workouts plus batting practice. That’s it. While it’s hard to feel bad about missing on Puig at $42 million given the risk (and there are still risks), credit the Dodgers for going balls out on a guy that, so far, has been worth it.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

65 responses to “Lukewarm Stove: Pitching is the Order of the Day, Garza, Feldman, Norris, Papelbon, and a Bit on Puig”

  1. mudge

    Easy to go balls out with infinite funds.

  2. Jay

    And there’s no guarantee that the whole thing doesn’t come crashing down on him after one time around the league.

    Meanwhile, given Garza’s recent injury history and the money we had to pay just to get an innings-eater like Edwin Jackson, wouldn’t it make sense to try to extend a front-line arm like Garza now at a discount rather than trade him for farm hands that aren’t guaranteed to see the bigs?

  3. bryan

    Brett when is the earliest do you think the cubs will start adding on the payroll? Will it be once the new revenue from the renovation kicks in or can we expect it to be sooner?

  4. bryan

    and by adding on I mean back to over 100 mil on the payroll. As a large market team I would think that the cubs could afford a top 5 payroll.

    1. Jay

      Marmol’s gone after this year—that’s 10 mil right there. And if we could ever get Sori out of town we’d receive some salary relief there, though not a whole lot.

  5. JulioZuleta

    Yasiel Puig played little league with Jose Contreras and Minnie Minoso. Team was STACKED.

    1. miggy80

      Thumbs up for the Minnie Minoso reference, one of the most under rated players of all time.

  6. Kevin

    Baseball America appears to be ultra conservative posting which drafted payers have signed. Is it true that the Cubs have only signed 3 players so far?

    1. JulioZuleta

      No. They just tend to wait until bonus figures are announced. Also, I don’t think they like to annoy teams by announcing signings when the team is, presumably for some reason, waiting to announce them.

      1. bryan

        Twitter says the cubs just signed 8 of them. It was on BleacherNation so maybe Brett is getting ready to post on that.

  7. Andrew

    I see Feldman as a good potential team friendly extension candidate. would anyone object to extending him for 2/20 with a team option on the end? Considering the lack of pitching coming up for a while, itd be nice to have a quality arm like his in the rotation to help make a 2014 run plausible and 2015 run as well, because he is still relatively young (year older than garza, who most people would love to get on a good 3 year deal). If he will sign a good extension like i mentioned, I think a Feldman in the hand is worth more than the two prospects in the bush you’d be getting back for him

    1. Kyle

      I would not object to that, no. Though I’d hope for maybe 2/$16 first.

      1. When the Music's Over

        People incorrectly assume that in spite of Feldman having established fairly positive value, that he will automatically want to return to a team (the Cubs) that might not be much better next year than this year. If the money is equal and he continues at 80% of his YTD performance, very good chance he signs with a team that is in a position to win in 2014.

        Also, given his age, if I’m him and I can continue to produce good numbers through the end of the year, I’m looking for far more than 2 years. As a 31 year old this off season, he should really try to cash in on a 3-4 year deal.

        1. Andrew

          Idk what kind of deal he could get as a FA though. The cubs would at a minimum give him a QO i think in which case he cant really expect a great offer at 3 years.

      2. SenorGato

        Agreed. I am not intrigued by a couple more Eric Leals. It’s a little much at this point – the Cubs have ton of lottery tickets to develop over the next 3-4 years. Major League talent should start becoming a priority at some point, and Feldman is worth a roster spot on a good team let alone one that desperately needs ML talent.

      3. Andrew

        id do 2/16 straight up but i imagine if you want a third year cheap team option, the cubs would have to go 2/20 which is a good deal to me

    2. cub2014

      Feldman is a better trade candidate he has having a
      very good year but his history suggests next year not
      so much. Where as Garza has been a 2-3 starter his
      entire career. That is who I would extend. (I know
      injury issues) more the reason. You will probably not
      be able to trade and get max value for Garza.

      1. Andrew

        Yes Garza is the better pitcher, but signing him will require many more years and dollars than Feldman.

    3. RicoSanto

      I would rather extend Feldman than Garza. We need to trade Garza ASAP. Before something breaks down. How much time has he missed since he has been with the cubs 50 % ? I think they have a plethora of trades to make. Soriano , Gregg, Feldman ,Marmol,
      probably Dejesus ( You can sign Sweeny for 1/4 the price of Dejesus) . Can you trade Sveum ? Just kidding Even Barney and Castro in the off-season, if need be.

      1. cub2014

        Garza has been a 200 innings guy until last year.
        He will more than likely be this year as well.
        Career ERA Garza 3.88 Feldman career ERA 4.68
        has never pitched more than 150 innings. And Garza
        is younger barely

      2. Carew

        Castro, no. Everybody else, absolutely

  8. Voice of Reason

    Why would you commit to someone for that amount of money for two years when the Cubs are going to still be in rebuild mode?

    Trade Feldman and get young talent to help this team down the road.

    1. gocatsgo2003

      Because, sadly, $8MM-$10MM really isn’t that much for a starting pitcher with some demonstrated track record of success in today’s MLB market. The most direct comparison I can come up with (without doing much digging) is Kyle Lohse, who was able to get a 3-year/$33MM deal at 34 years old even with the compensatory draft penalty. Another would be Ryan Dempster, who got a 2-year/$26.5MM deal from the Red Sox at 35 years old. At 31 years old, one would think that Feldman would slot in slightly below those signings, putting him smack dab in the $8-10MM per year window.

    2. willis

      But when do you start wanting to win? According to you and others who gives a crap if this team keeps losing the next couple-three years. That would be 6-7 years straight of dog shit on the field for a franchise who has no business with its following throwing it out there year after year like they have. I don’t think the window is as big as you and others do for this rebuild. You pencil in someone like Garza (or whoever) and build around that with Shark, Jax and Wood, the rotation is basically hammered out, and you can focus on the development of position players/acquiring of such to build this lineup so that every GD quality start isn’t wasted. JMO.

  9. cub2014

    Cubs could easily be in the hunt next year.
    1. Get a top of the line starter (Price?)
    2. Resign Garza
    3. Sign Ellsbury
    4. Rent a 3B man
    5. Sign a power hitting outfielder
    6. resign Gregg
    Their that was easy.

    1. Jay

      Wouldn’t touch Price with a ten-foot pole right now. Velocity is down–there’s trouble brewing in his arm/shoulder somewhere. Also wouldn’t want anything to do with Ellsbury who has had one good year his entire career and spent alot of the rest of it in the trainers room. As for a real 3B, I’m all ears—if there were any out there they wouldn’t have bothered with Ian Stewart this year.

      1. cub2014

        I had Price at top of shopping list until injury
        issue but top of the line guy like Gio, it
        will take a lot of prospects.

        1. Jay

          I wonder how much it would take to get Stanton from the Marlins? There’s basically nobody I wouldn’t give up to get him.

          If you’re going to go out and get a top of the line SP, you may as well re-sign Garza then and keep your prospects, rather than trade him for prospects and then send them all packing (along with other bodies) to land someone like Gio. No?

      2. Carew

        Apparently in a bullpen session, Price hit 99 on the gun. I know its only bullpen, but its still something

      3. Patrick G

        I wouldn’t say Ellsbury only had one good year. He had one great year 2 years ago and has had years where he stole 50, 70, 39 bases and he already has 30 this season. I’m not saying give him $20mil a year for 10 years, but I think something of like $10mil/ year for 3-4 years isn’t terrible.

    2. mjhurdle

      No on Price.
      Garza yes, but only at a fair deal. Not sure i want to resign him for the 5+ years he is probably looking for.
      No on Ellusbury, for the exact reasons Jay mentioned.
      Where is this mysterious quality 3B that the Cubs should be signing but haven’t?
      Again, where is this power-hitting OF that is available for the right contract?
      Gregg i am beginning to like. The only issue for me is that this will be Gregg’s last chance at a good contract. And after a year of league minimum, i dont think he will be quick to give the Cubs a discount. I wouldn’t go long term with him, but if he comes cheap, then im for it.

      I agree the Cubs needs are fairly defined, the tricky part is finding answers for those needs.

      1. cub2014

        mjhurdle, I didn’t say it would be easy. We all
        agree on their weaknesses. If they are planning
        on competing next year they will aggressively
        try to resign Garza. As far as 3b goes we need an
        RBI guy theyre a couple out there or you
        try Lake and Clevenger and wait on Bryant or
        Baez. The Cubs need run producers.

        1. Jay

          Clevenger is an emergency 3B….not an everyday option and he has nothing close to the bat needed for a CI spot.

  10. When the Music's Over

    Regarding Buehrle: The Blue Jays would have to eat a ton of money in that deal to get anything of value in return. He will be owed the pro-rated amount of $11M this year, $18M in 2014 and $19M in 2015. That’s roughly $42M for 2.5 years of a 34 year old (as of right now) #4/#5 pitcher.


  11. DaveY

    Papelbon has a pair of younger twin brothers of which the Cubs drafted one a few years ago. He never made it past Iowa.

  12. SenorGato

    I love that they are looking for their Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill, etc…More than willing to pay the price for it too. For instance, one of those three top 10 Nationals prospects from their very good system was traded back to them a little while ago, another is a low stuff HR prone guy pitching well in the cavernous Coliseum, and the other is hitting less than .200.

    Mimicking the Garza trade – a bunch of supposedly super duper amazing top prospects of the Future from a top 10 system for a guy who is on the right side of 30 and can get better here – should be a top priority here and I am glad to hear it is.

    There’s plenty of candidates…I can’t say enough about Porcello.

    1. steve123

      I really prefer Smyly over Porcello, although I wouldnt be too upset about Porcello.

      1. SenorGato

        Porcello is further along as a starter and has the higher upside anyway. Smyly isn’t a good pitcher so he isn’t riding THE high, but he is riding A high as he gets to hone his stuff in the bullpen. Smyly’s stuff doesn’t stand out to me like Porcello’s does.

        1. SenorGato

          Smyly *is* a good pitcher

      2. Spriggs

        Casey Crosby *still* intrigues me as sort of a throw in if they could include him with either of those other two. He’s lost some luster for sure, but I still like the possibilities.

        1. SenorGato

          Agreed on Crosby. 95 with a curve from a lefty will get you chances. Look how long Bruce Chen stuck around even after he stopped throwing his hardest.

          As far as physical talent he would be an addition.

  13. steve123

    It seems that some people don’t realize that we could actually get a solid pitcher from trading Garza and Feldman. Last year the Marlins received the Tigers #1 prospect (RHP pitcher in AAA) for Anibal Sanchez. For Liriano, the White Sox gave up their number 10 and 12 prospects and Feldman is pitching much better than Liriano last year. My proposal is to add Navarro to a deal with Feldman and possibly get a teams top 8 prospect. Eduardo Rodriquez of the Orioles is a good beginning target.

    1. SenorGato

      Turner is alright, but the White Sox’s 10th and 12th best prospects couldn’t possibly be less interesting to me.

      Feldman isn’t going to bring back a Turner, who really isn’t all that spectacular anyway. Sanchez has had a really good run as a SP the past 3-4 years that Feldman has not had.

      I’d rather a major leaguer with starter potential…like say Feldman+ for Matusz+, who would then get a chance to win a rotation spot. That said, as non-top tier LHSP prospects years away from the majors go – I do like Rodriguez.

  14. SenorGato

    Some questions on the Price thing:

    - Does anyone else notice that the average fastball velocity while injured, and the Rays don’t push injuries, was a strong (relative to starters in the MLB) 93 MPH?

    - Are we Cubs fans the only ones who noticed the velocity drop and injury? Why would his trade price and extension price stay the same as it was before the incidents?

    1. Jay

      Something was up with Price, regardless of what the gun said because he was getting rocked.

  15. X The Cubs Fan

    Hey what ever happened to that Shohei Otani guy? Are the Cubs still interested?

    1. Carew

      If thats the 18 year old Japanese pitcher, I think he decided to enter the Japanese draft

  16. FastBall

    Our problem hasn’t been starting pitching this year. If we had a bullpen that was even marginally effective we would have a better team and better results. Gregg has been a huge bonus. But the 7th and 8th innings do us in as well as when Marmol pitches in the 9th or at anytime. We can’t hit for shit with runners on base. I’m just guessing but we probably have the worst runners left on base percentage in baseball.

    I think we are pretty much screwed on Garza. If we trade him he will go back to his old form of two years ago. If we keep him he will live on the DL and be a syphon on the payroll fleixbility later. I can’t say he is a No. 2 starter anymore. He isn’t reliable at this point in time. Feldman we should just keep. He pitches well is injury free and he hit’s well as a pitcher. You throw Garza out of the mix and our starting pitchers hit probably better than any othe staff in baseball. Somehow we need to move our overstocked Minor League talent for pitching. Problem is most of baseball is looking for the same things we are. Except the Braves and Cardinals. I would like to see us not sign anymore TJ rebounds. We didn’t really realize anything positive trading Maholm last year. Vizcaino hasn’t appeared anywhere. Unless we have some info that Feldman is going to start a downhill trend we should sign him. We can’t go into the off season and get lucky as we have the past two years with the likes of Feldman and Maholm. Keep the base of starters and get a real no. 1 if possible. I’ll take Wood, Shark, Feldman and Jackson for now. Jackson and Feldman may become trade bait late next year if we get some of these college pitchers through the system quickly.

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