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stoveA word on rumors, generally: this time of year (and in November/December/January), and in the Internet age, you will be inundated by “insider” reports. Some are legit, some are not. Some come from major media types, some come from regular folks. Hell, some come from the comments on this here site. It’s important to receive all of these reports with the right perspective. They are a part of the fun of this time of year, and there is sometimes a grain of truth, but they should not be counted on as anything conclusive – either before a deal happens, or after one happens.

I mention that second one with particular emphasis: when you’re judging the things that do happen over the next couple of weeks, try not to judge them solely on the basis of the rumored things that did not happen. “What? Why did the Cubs deal that guy to that team? That other team was willing to offer Super Awesome Prospect X! Those idiots!” “I can’t believe the Cubs didn’t trade that guy at all … there were so many interested teams!” Certainly, over time, and in the aggregate, some consensus starts to build, which can fairly be considered something resembling the truth (the Rangers really are probably interested in Matt Garza, even if we can’t say for certain what they are/would have been willing to trade for him). But I would recommend that you avoid leaning too heavily on any one rumor or insider report. Try to maintain a broader lens, and you’ll be happier for it (and better informed) in a month.

  • The Braves are considering their bullpen options according to Mark Bowman, and their particular emphasis is lefties. The two guys they’re looking most at, says Bowman, are Mike Gonzalez from the Brewers and James Russell from the Cubs. The first place Braves’ bullpen has been hit hard by injuries, so I think it’s safe to say they’ll do something. If it’s Russell, the price tag would certainly be interesting, for reasons we’ve discussed before: he’s go two more years of (cheap) team control after this one, he’s effective against both lefties and righties (well, maybe not so much this year, but last year he didn’t have much of a split), and he’s young enough that he could easily remain and important piece of the Cubs’ rebuild/next competitive team. Gonzalez, 35, has been up-and-down in recent years, and is a pure rental. If money this year is a consideration, Gonzalez would cost the Braves about $1 million the rest of the way, while Russell would be less than half of that. Gonzalez’s FIP is almost a run higher than Russell’s this year, too. In other words, Russell is the more valuable piece by a wide margin.
  • (In tandem, Bowman notes that the Braves would also like to add a back-up infielder, preferably one that hits from the left side of the plate. The Cubs have that guy – Luis Valbuena – but he strikes you as tricky fit for many of the same reasons as Russell (cheap, two more years of control, very useful to the Cubs going forward).)
  • Jon Heyman remains amazed that teams aren’t expressing more interest in Alfonso Soriano. He’s had that position for over a year now, but his sources aren’t budging, I guess.
  • In the same piece, Heyman describes how Kevin Gregg’s value has taken a hit over the last two weeks. After looking unhittable for much of the season, he got roughed up a bit by the Cardinals, and saw his ERA climb almost a run and a half in the last two games before the break. He remains, to my eye, a nice bullpen option for needy teams, though not necessarily a sure-fire closer.
  • Jerry Crasnick and Jeff Passan reported (almost simultaneously) that the Blue Jays are no longer expected to shop free-agent-to-be Josh Johnson. Does that mean they plan to try and stay in the race? Does it mean they’ll go all out on someone like Matt Garza? Eh, not necessarily. According to Passan, holding him as much to do with a lack of any meaningful trade value as it does with the Blue Jays’ plans for the Trade Deadline (in that case, the Jays might just hope he pitches much better in the second half, and then they can make him a qualifying offer). Either way, Johnson not developing into a nice trade chip is good news for the Cubs. And if it does signal that the Blue Jays might try to buy? Well, hey, even better.
  • A little bit on Matt Garza, while you’re here: Carrie Muskat ponders the price tag on Garza and sums up where things stand; Patrick Mooney also gives an expansive take on where things stand (with a money section on the Jurickson Profar stuff, which actually came to Mooney from an industry source last week – in short, Mooney asked a Cubs official about it, and the official responded with … well, extreme disbelief); a USA Today blog says the Pirates should trade outfield prospect Gregory Polanco (a top 30 type) for Garza. The Cubs could use some upper level pitching, but I’m not sure you say no to someone like Polanco, just because he’s a position player.
  • MLBTR’s Zack Links was on ESPN radio, and, among other things, he thinks the Cubs really will hold Garza right up to the Deadline to try and drive up the price. The market is so weak for any kind of impact additions, according to Links, that Garza is the “belle of the ball.” (h/t BN’er Ross) I can see the incentive to wait on Garza, but obviously we all know the flip side of the coin: risk of injury.
  • Not trade related, but Ken Rosenthal is connecting impending free agent Robinson Cano to the Cubs – among other teams – because of their perceived ability to accommodate him at second base, and in the payroll. My gut tells me the Cubs won’t be involved in the 31-year-old big-money infielder, but I suppose you never know.
  • Bruce Levine chatted this week, and among the non-Garza thoughts, he mentions that he does think there’s a chance that Alfonso Soriano is actually dealt this time around. The Cubs will be “generous” in how much of his contract they’ll eat, according to Levine. Levine was also on Buster Olney’s podcast this week, noting that Kevin Gregg makes for a nice back-up closer/set-up man for a contender. If you get a 5 to 7 organizational prospect for Gregg, you’re happy (I’d be ecstatic). On Nate Schierholtz, Levine and I mostly feel the same way: given his control for next year, the way he performs in a platoon, and the need next year for a credible outfielder, the Cubs might be better off keeping him.
  • Tim Dierkes chatted at MLBTR, and … (1) Carlos Villanueva could be a good “under the radar” starter that is traded, though Tim pegs the odds at below 50%; and (2) the Cubs and Dodgers are the best guesses for Cuban Dalier Hinojosa (and I’d probably add Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, too).
  • Rebuilding

    I guess never say never, but if we even do more than put in a courtesy phone call to Cano’s agent (Isn’t it Jay-Z now?) I would be surprised.

    • ETS

      Scott Boras you over baby, Robinson Cano you comin with me.

      • dumbledoresacubsfan

        +1

      • Njriv

        Crown!

  • ETS

    the Cubs and Dodgers are the best guesses for Cuban Dalier Hinojosa (and I’d probably add Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, too).

    Maybe he means there’s teams outside of dodgers and cubs that are in on Alfredo Gonzalez as well, but hinojosa the cubs and dodgers and far above everyone else?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He was only asked about Hinojosa.

  • Jorbert Solmora

    KLAW Chat piece I found interesting..

    Kevin Goldstein, now that he’s a member of the Astros, doesn’t leak any info. Kevin Goldstein, the writer, probably had a ton of league sources. Does this bother you as someone who’s been in both places?

    Klaw (1:52 PM)

    How do you know he doesn’t leak? He just told me yesterday how hard he’s trying to convince Jeff to acquire Junior Lake and Matt Szczur.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ha. He’s making a little joke there.

      • Jorbert Solmora

        *goes straight over head*

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Goldstein was notorious for getting questions about Lake and Szczur again and again, and then criticism from Cubs fans when he wasn’t high enough on them.

          • pete

            Downplaying Lake and Szczur are one thing but Goldstein lost all credibility with me when he downplayed TWC.

            • MoneyBoy

              He’s got a point there !!!

        • http://www.shadowsofwrigley.com Tommy (TC)

          Cubs fans were *REALLY* excited about Lake and Szczur a few seasons ago, and were asking prospect guys on twitter about them constantly, and KG started getting really upset about it, to the point of mocking those two constantly with @jorgearangure. it was usually really funny

          • Kygavin

            A few years ago? People are still too high on them

  • Jay

    There is absolutely no way they even sniff at Cano. He’s exactly the kind of free agent Theo insisted they will avoid unless he’s the final piece of the puzzle. Wrong side of 30, price and years will be astronomical, you’re paying for past performance instead of long-term future results (ala Pujols).

    • Carew

      I’m sure they would check-in. All good GMs (presidents in Theo’s case) make a call to the best players available.

      With that said, Cano ain’t becoming a cub next year

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      I don’t want Cano for 8-10yrs for $200+mil. No thanks. Great player but that contract will really suck when you paying Cano $20mil when he’s near 40 with diminish skills at the plate and in the field

      • Ben

        I’m not saying I disagree, but look at the new market in FA. The next bat off the market will be Ellsbury, and he will get a ton as well. At least Cano is elite for his position, and durable. Ellsbury is a no-power CF, benefiting from the Green Monster, who will probably command at least 70% of what Cano gets. FA players are going to become more and more overpriced in the next few seasons.

        • Serious Cubs Fan

          Yeah agreed. You gotta overpay for talent in free agency these days. At least for the elite free agents

          • Ben

            And I don’t think the Cubs are ready to do that, which is why they should avoid Cano. In general, though, it seems like prices are shooting up, and guys that probably shouldn’t get 80-100 million in contracts probably will. Heck, right now Garza is shaping up to be the prize of the offseason among SP. If Johnson is retained by Toronto, he will receive a QO, which depresses interest/value in him. Garza could easily get over 100 this offseason.

          • Kygavin

            Hows that strategy working for the Angels?

            • Hawkeye

              That strategy works pretty well for Boston and the Yankees.

              • Kygavin

                Arod and jeter deals looking good? How about Teixera or CC who is signed until 2017 and losing FB velo and having one of the worst years of his career?

                How did those Agon and Crawford deals work for the Sox?

                • Hawkeye

                  Yeah the Yankees only have 51 playoff appearances and the Sox won 2 TittleIf and have made the postseason something like 8 of the last 10 years. But let’s copy the Royals approach even though we’re the 3rd largest Market in Baseball. Also you your thought on the Cardinals signing Beltran and Holliday. Crazy, right? I don’t think the Cubs will or should necessarily sign Cano, but it’s so tiresome seeing some fans downgrade every notable free agent that come up.

                  • Hawkeye

                    Sorry for Grammar, wish there was an edit button.

                  • On The Farm

                    Although you used the Cardinals as an example, you make a good point

                  • Kygavin

                    Beltran was a 2 year deal, something i have no problem with. They can throw all kinds of money at guys as long as the length is right. Holliday is signed til 2017 and is having his worst triple slash line of his career, but still on the books for 4 more years. Think Card fans are excited about having a declining player makin 17 mil a year?

                    • Hawkeye

                      Beltran got a two year deal because he was 34. Say Cano gets a 7 year deal. That puts him very close to the same age when deal is over. My point is you will very rarely if ever get a player of note without spending and probably going longer than is ideal. The Cardinals may not have even made the postseason without Holliday, so they should be to sad over his deal. Manny, schilling, Pedro all bad contracts in your book?

                    • Hawkeye

                      If I’m a Cardinals fan yes I would rather spend 17 mill on Holliday as opposed to have that 17 mill to back to the owners profits.

                    • Kygavin

                      Baseball has changed quite a bit from the early 2000′s, There is more emphasis on youth now than there was (not counting steroids and things like that that extended careers) I do agree that you wont be able to sign guys without paying over the top but thats a huge risk which shows in the guys i used as examples

                    • Hawkeye

                      While it is a risk I feel it is almost impossible to win the World Series without taking that risk. I can’t think of a single champion in past 20 years without a “bad/too high contract”.

                    • Hee Seop Chode

                      Well based upon the WS he helped them win, I’m guessing Red bird fans feel great with the backloaded contract.

                      Wouldn’t you?

          • Voice of Reason

            The cubs are in no position to complete next year and cano won’t be signed.

            If the cubs were one player away then he is a great sign.

            We need to let the youngsters develop and then sign free agents where they are needed. We have a pretty solid second base prospect on the farm now.

        • Cheese Chad

          I tend to disagree. I think teams are starting to realize that spending big money for the later part of careers is not helping them win championships. Look at the Yankees. They are going opposite of what they were doing just a few years ago. I can see big money being thrown around but I don’t see anyone above 30 getting a contract passed 6 years.

          • Ben

            Teams have money to spend in FA due to limitations in the draft and international market now. As more teams do what the Cubs did (lock up young players), fewer high tier FA will hit the market. Supply and demand will cause the prices to inflate.

            It’s not as good as developing homegrown talent, but in the 2014 offseason, the Cubs better overpay a few starters to come here. Our farm is severely lacking, and if we are going to compete, they will need to sign some guys.

            • Kygavin

              The money isnt my issue its the length. If they throw 30 mil for 3 years at Cano i wont be mad (wont happen), but if they give him 20 for 7 that looks like a bad deal. The Cubs starting LF would be my example BTW

              • Cheese Chad

                Yeah, I’ll agree with that. They money will continue to go, but the length of these contracts won’t. Just like Ben said though teams are locking up their young talent across the league and the Garza’s and Grienke’s are less likely to be out there. E. Jax is a good comparison. Even though his per year seams high, it’s only 4 years. And honestly I like the signing still because he is likely to have 200 innings with an E.R.A. around 4 for the next 3 years. If he’s our number 4 or 5 for those last 2 years, that’s awesome.

                • Kygavin

                  Couldnt agree more

              • Hawkeye

                As horrible as the Cubs starting LFs contract is perceived to have been he’s been arguably are best offensive player and productive most of his years here. Not a good deal but not anywhere near the worst in baseball.

                • True blue

                  Agreed

  • Casty

    Could Neftali Feliz be a part of a possible return for Garza if the Rangers and Cubs made a deal? Or have the Rangers made him more of an untouchable?

  • Mick

    I have no idea what the Cubs are doing w/Garza, my boy Crockett said it was a done deal two days ago and so I’m lost. It wouldn’t surprise me though if they took it right up to the deadline, balls the size of cantaloupes this front office.

    I don’t get the insistence of a SP prospect as the centerpiece to a Garza deal. If a team, like, the Pirates, want to offer up a top-30 positional prospect, TAKE IT, Polanco’s an absolute stud. I’d also be on board with Joc Pederson from the Dodgers, that kid can hit and run and would make a perfect leadoff hitter which is what we need almost as bad as pitching in this organization.

    • Sandberg

      I agree, it should be like the draft. Take the best player available.

  • BD

    In terms of trade value/choosing a trade partner, how long does the position of a prospect not matter? What I mean is, clearly the Cubs need more higher-end pitching prospects. But do they ever say “We’re going to try to meet this need, rather than get the best player.”? Is there ever a point where that becomes a possibility?

    I was wondering specifically about Olt, and the idea of getting another 3B. Wouldn’t he have less value to the Cubs because of how many potential 3B they have in the system? So a P who is ranked #100 or a little lower could be more valuable to the Cubs than a #70ish 3B. (which would be different than a #70ish catcher, etc.)

    I guess I’m just weighing the possibility of ever choosing need over talent, or if that need impacts the value to the club, and just curious what anybody else thinks. (for the record, I still choose talent. I’m just bracing myself for the Garza trade to net us position players)

    • Kyle

      At the individual position player level, it doesn’t matter at all until the guy is essentially ready for the majors. I don’t care if he’s mashing AA, he doesn’t get into the conversation. Olt’s value sucks because he sucks, but our 3b situation in the minors means nothing to it imo.

      Pitching is more fungible, and a lack of it is a bit more of a problem.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        I don’t care if the Cubs win with great offense, great defense or a combination of both. 6-5 win is just as good as a 3-2 win to me. I guess my thinking is an team overloaded with offensive talent can still challenge for the WS as long as the pitching is not ridiculously bad. Maybe a few #2-3 pitchers plus a four and a five…and hopefully a bullpen w/o Marmol, Camp, etc…

    • ssckelley

      I don’t think so, the Cubs have some solid 3rd base prospects but they are young and it is a position of high demand. Olt is close to being MLB ready, Villanueva I still think needs a couple more years, defensively he is solid but the question still remains if he can hit enough and Candelario is still a few years away. Both of them are still fairly young. If the Cubs did land Olt I would think he would compete for the starting 3rd base job next season.

  • When the Music’s Over

    I love how buyers can say that hot performances leading up to the trade deadline do NOT improve a player’s value, but that negative performances during the same time period do.

    It sounds a whole lot like a self-evalation during a performance review process in the corporate world. I can say all the nice things I want about myself and my contributions to the firm, but that won’t have one iota of positive impact on my review, however, if I point out my negatives and/or any specific mistakes, you can bet your ass those will be taken into consideration in my performance review.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Keith Law is going to be talking Cubs Prospects on the ESPN 1000 radio @3pm today, Waddle and Silvy show. Tune in. should be interesting.

    • Serious Cubs Fan

      Keith Law is also going to be taking questions from phone callers. 312.332.ESPN (3776). Give BN a shot out if you call

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        Shout out*

    • Jp3

      3 ET or 3 CT?

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        3pmCT

        • Jp3

          Thanks serious Cubs fan

  • North Side Irish

    Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN 47s
    Other teams say CHC are asking for last and best offers on Matt Garza, and they think he’ll be traded before he throws another pitch for CHC

    • Jp3

      I’d say FINALLY!!!but that would be premature with this FO, they’ve got a pair and they aren’t afraid to lay them out on the table

    • ssckelley

      Great, the madness will be coming to an end soon.

      Garza, Vitters, Jackson, and McNutt for Profar……it will happen!

      :D

      • Chad

        That would be simply amazing.

        • ssckelley

          I wonder how much extra garbage I would have to throw in to snag Olt also. hmmmmm, do the Rangers need a closer?

      • CubsFaninMS

        A 13-start rental and all of our failed/nearly failed prospects. I’m sure the Rangers crowd would be tickled pink!

        Can we ask the Indians for Robert Whitenack back so we can add that little cherry on top?

    • Rebuilding

      Also, Boers just said on The Score that his Cubs source just told him the Cubs are “this close” to completing the Garza deal

      • Jim L.

        So they are not “thisclose” yet?

    • Mark S

      Something similar to the RA Dickey trade between the Jays and Mets perhaps? Garza agrees to an extension and the Cubs perhaps pay some money toward it in order to get a top prospect back (Profar). Does that sound crazy? Or in the realm of possibility?

    • CubsFaninMS

      I try to keep a distance from all of the Garza rumors, but I agree with Olney on this one.

  • WNebCub

    As far as trade returns go i don’t think it should matter whether it’s a sp or position player that’s a center piece for Garza. Especially when you consider that we’re not even two full seasons in with this front office and look at the type of pitching we’ve been able to acquire.

    These guys obviously have a good feel for the reclamation type SP’s…Maholm, Wood, Villanueva, Feldman, hopefully Baker can make it back and perform well. So even on a year to year basis they’ve already proved they can acquire pitching talented enough to contend. As of now we already have 3 of our 5 starters moving forward. They can fill in the holes.

    Let’s get Joc Pederson or Polanco if they’re available.

    I just think they’ll have to roll the dice and hold Garza right up to the deadline to get the type of package they’re hoping for.

  • AlwaysNextYear

    Dealing with the Braves is like dealing with the Devil you will never win.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Unless you’re the Rangers.

      • X The Cubs Fan

        Ha

      • AlwaysNextYear

        Very true that trade is why the Rangers are who they are today.

  • North Side Irish

    Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN 8m
    TEX said to be in middle of Garza talk. TEX has range of pitching prospects other than Perez, including C.J. Edwards/Luke Jackson (more)

    Buster Olney ‏@Buster_ESPN 7m
    (cont.) so if Cubs focus on pitching for Garza, Rangers will have various options for them to discuss (if they’re willing.)

    • Die hard

      Has anyone ever seen Olney and Theo in same room at same time standing together? Doubt it as believe they are the same person

  • Ballrock20

    C.J. Edwards is listed at 155 pounds and is 21 years old. Amazing numbers in A ball, but that doesn’t mean a lot. Has anyone seen him pitch?

    • Brunsmk

      Sickles had him as number 73 in his mid season prospect list.

      • Ballrock20

        Thanks.

  • James

    This FO blows extend Garza!! 5 years 80mil lock it up!!

    • On The Farm

      But what would be the point. They can trade him now and resign him later!

    • Die hard

      They can’t as IRS is breathing down their necks and could attach a lien to the Jumbotron

  • baseballet

    In Levine’s chat he was asked to take a wild guess as to where Starlin Castro would be playing in 2015 and Levine guessed he’d be playing for the Phillies.

    He also says, “I don’t believe Castro is necessarily a player they’re going to build around. He has a lot of baseball skills but he’s not at this point a talented shortstop.”

    And he says Castro has gone back to his old hitting approach of “see ball, hit ball.”

    • Chad

      I think that is a lot of people’s opinion right now. My opinion has been all year if you can get some great value out of him trade him but if not keep him around. If he keeps sucking well then you missed an opportunity. If he turns it around great, and you can either keep him or trade him when you find a better in house option. I agree that I don’t think he’s a centerpiece.

      I do like him going back to his old approach for now. Maybe the FO is trying to build up trade value. Also, at earliest he’d get traded this off-season.

    • Die hard

      At least I’m not the only one who see this and yes Levine and I have appeared together at same time same room somewhere

    • billy

      which is when he was doing best. the cub organization tried to change him into a different kind of player, and they failed miserably. now that “Castro has gone back to his old hitting approach”, Levine even says it himself in his criticism, he has recently been doing his old type of approach at the plate, and he is steadily increasing his average

      • Die hard

        Only worry is old approach in field

      • Chad

        His average is going up, which is good and he is hitting better, but I think this is the biggest reason he will end up getting traded. He couldn’t get the FO way of playing to work so he had to switch back. That’s fine because it works for him, but it doesn’t work for this FO and I think they will see the value there and trade him. I think they let him get back to doing what he does so he can become better trade bait. Man trade him to Boston for Bogaerts and some pitching prospects

  • Funn Dave

    I really hope we keep Russell around. I can’t imagine a Cubs team with Jeff but no Russell.

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Interesting: Keith Law says of the Big 4, Soler is the most likely to fail and not make it

  • Die hard

    Did Heyman check East sources as Yankees may bid on Soriano if Lake too

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