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cubaProbably because of the constant pins and needles associated with the Matt Garza rumor circus, Cuban Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez’s free agency isn’t getting as much play as it probably should be. While his ability may be a bit cloudy, given the limited information available, we’re still talking about a 26-year-old power righty in whom numerous teams have interest, and whom the Chicago Cubs could probably use as much as any other organization. This is a fairly big deal.

And Jesse Sanchez reports that the Gonzalez market is taking shape, with an agreement possible next week. The interested teams, according to Sanchez, include the Cubs, Dodgers, Rangers, Red Sox, Phillies, Blue Jays and Braves. The report adds a new potential wrinkle to the Gonzalez pursuit, however: “Scouts believe Gonzalez needs only a few Minor League starts before he pitches in the big leagues and his addition would be similar to acquiring a top pitcher before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.”

That could pose two distinct issues for the Cubs. First, a subtle and lesser issue: if Gonzalez really can help a team in the second half of this season (a half season in which the Cubs don’t really “need” his help), his value to other bidders – like the Dodgers – will be higher than his value to the Cubs. That means the Cubs will, in a manner of speaking, have to pay “extra” to get him. I say this is a lesser issue, though, because we’re talking about six years of control (presumably), and I doubt the Cubs would be scared off by having to outspend the other teams by a little bit, even considering the higher price those other teams are willing to pay, assuming the Cubs really like Gonzalez in the first place.

The second potential issue: Gonzalez’s presence could gum up the trade market a bit. Crediting Sanchez’s report, if other teams really do believe Gonzalez can step right in after a few minor league starts and be an effective rotation upgrade, then interested teams might prefer to wait on making a trade for a guy like Matt Garza until they know where Gonzalez is going to sign. The Cubs, in turn, may want to wait to move Garza until all interested teams have an opportunity to make their best offer. If the Dodgers, for example, are waiting on Gonzalez’s decision to make a Garza offer … well, it’s just another potential complication.

(Interestingly, this gives the Cubs an extra incentive to sign Gonzalez, though it’s a highly speculative one that assumes there are teams out there that view Gonzalez as a preferable pick up this year to Matt Garza.)

That all said, the ball is really in Gonzalez’s court. He’s reportedly got plenty of suitors, and he could decide that it would be financially advantageous to wait until after the Trade Deadline to sign – when there might be a bit more desperation. It just depends on how highly the teams think of him, and how confident he/they are that he can contribute meaningfully this year.

Gonzalez is expected to get a huge contract, in part because he’s a true free agent that is not subject to international spending restrictions.

(Sanchez’s report also discusses fellow defectors Dalier Hinojosa (who may not sign until after Gonzalez) and Odrisamer Despaigne. We’ve already heard about Hinojosa, and we’ve also heard a bit about Despaigne. Sanchez adds that 24-year-old lefty Misael Silverio has also defected, and is “exploring his options.” That defection actually just took place this week in Des Moines as the Cuban National Team was in the States to play a few exhibition games. You can read about Silverio’s defection here, but it will presumably be quite a long time before he’s eligible to sign.)

  • ETS

    (Interestingly, this gives the Cubs an extra incentive to sign Gonzalez, though it’s a highly speculative one that assumes there are teams out there that view Gonzalez as a preferable pick up this year to Matt Garza.)

    This is my first instinct.

  • David

    Its not my $$$, sign him up!!

  • Beer Baron

    I read that Gonzalez very much prefers a warm weather city, so if the Cubs and Dodgers (for example) offer close to the same amount, it sounds like he would opt for LA (or Arizona, Texas or Atlanta). Of course if the Cubs are offering him $10 million more than anyone else, I suspect he would buy some very nice blankets to keep warm and tough it out.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I always find that an interesting decision point for baseball players. You spend half of your season on the road, regardless of where you play, and Chicago is plenty warm in the summer (which is when you play). So, we’re talking about a month or two, tops – and what, four starts at home total? – in cold weather.

      Just seems like a silly reason to choose a baseball team. It’s not like choosing a college.

      • MichiganGoat

        exactly, plus I always think that being in the midwest/central US is advantegous because you don’t have to do any coast to coast road trips… you’re always closer to “home” than you are if you are on the coast.

        Now I can understand why someone from Cub would want to play in Miami… but yeah know its the Marlins… so yeah that ain’t going to happen.

        • TWC

          “plus I always think that being in the midwest/central US is advantegous…”

          Yeah, you landlocked midwesterners keep telling yourselves that.

          • Cubbie Blues

            Do Lakes count?

            • TWC

              Only Tahoe.

              • Cubbie Blues

                Dammit.

              • Hebner the Gravedigger

                Minnesota has more waterfront than CA and FL combined.

                • TWC

                  But no dolphins.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    Oh, they have plenty of other fish to eat though.

          • hansman1982

            Here is a list of things that we do not have to worry about since we are landlocked:

            1. Tsunamis
            2. Mutant creatures from the depths of the Pacific destroying our neighborhoods.
            3. Space aliens landing in the Pacific and then taking over.
            4. Invasion from the Chinese Army
            5. Sunsets over the ocean
            6. A earth-destroying asteroid hitting the ocean and then creating massive tsunamis
            7. Seagulls
            8. Taking a walk on the beach and stepping on a bottle containing a long-lost message.
            9. Sharks attacking us using tornadoes as a means of transportation without warning.
            10. Tourists flocking to our area
            11. Accidentally swallowing sea water
            12. Hippies

            • Cubbie Blues

              Speak for yourself about the hippies. We have plenty here in B-Town.

              • hansman1982

                Here we have hipsters, which are even worse.

                • TWC

                  I cannot imagine a worse hipster than a mid-Iowa hipster.

                  It’s like irony cubed.

                • Jono

                  much worse

                • Crockett

                  You have hipsters? Move to Denver. Oh my god…they’re taking over.

                  Have you seen this? It’s amazing.

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhhq90eJNdA

                  • hansman1982

                    Where do you think we are deporting them to? But they multiply so rapidly we are losing the war.

                  • cjdubbya

                    Holy. Effin. Crap. That’s beautiful, man.

                  • hansman1982

                    BTW, this video is epic.

                  • Jono

                    how do I express my standing ovation through text?

                    That video is amazing! Thank you for sharing

                  • TWC

                    Heh. Looks like much of that video was shot at Dolores Park in SF. Not shocked.

                    • hansman1982

                      Umm, where else are you going to find a large crowd of independent thinkers doing the same thing?

                  • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

                    that’s a classic.

                  • MoneyBoy

                    Crockett, me boy, *that* was marvelous!!!

            • Jono

              LOL

            • TWC

              “7. Seagulls”

              Tell that to Wrigley.

              “10. Tourists flocking to our area”

              The engine that drives our economy!

              “12. Hippies”

              Have VW Bus, will travel.

              • hansman1982

                Well, Lake Michgan is like the ocean to us land-lubbers.

                • frank

                  Actually, geologically speaking, I’ve heard that Lake Michigan is considered an inland sea.

              • Cubbie Blues

                Wrigley doesn’t have Seagulls, they have Ring-billed Gulls.

                • Fishin Phil

                  Thank you Mr. Audobon.

                  • Cubbie Blues

                    Your Welcome. :)

            • CubFan Paul

              Did a black person make this list? Hilarious.

              • hansman1982

                Damnit, so I’m racist too?

              • Cubbie Blues

                What????

            • cas-castro

              #9 Sharknados of course

      • Beer Baron

        Of course those late October games can get awfully chilly….or so I’ve been told.

      • Ash

        I wonder how much having other Cuban players in your system (i.e. Soler, or Cespedes for the A’s) that will be in the major’s soon may affect where a Cuban player ultimately signs.

      • butlerdawgs

        I never buy the whole “there’s better weather there” argument. I remember when Charlie Weis, ugh, was the coach at Notre Dame and his response to hearing that from recruits was well I guess you don’t want to play for the Patriots, Jets, Giants, Bears, Packers, or any of the northern NFL teams then, too.

      • Hee Seop Chode

        Brett –

        I couldn’t disagree more. If the terms are financial terms are comperable, and you’ve got an opportunity to sign somewhere where:

        A) you’ll be more comfortable a couple of months a year
        B) taxes are lower
        C) there’s a thriving Cuban and or Central American community

        how could that not effect your thought process?

  • Smackafilieyo

    If we’re able to sign him, this could make Garza’s stock shoot up a little.

  • Oswego chris

    That picture of Cuba looks like that slide thingy the Marlins have in left field

  • Jon

    ABTY had this to say on PSD

    Cubs brass has incredibly strong bid in on Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez… Unlikely to be outbid- really just a matter of if he wants to be here…

    • CubFan Paul

      With what money? It may come down to how big the signing bonus is to sign MAG. If Theo&Co are “maxed out” funds wise, the Dodgers will win easily with more money up front.

      • Cub Style

        You do realize he’s exempt from the bonus system, right?

        • CubFan Paul

          “Maxed Out” on dollars, dinero, funds, resources, shrinking payroll. I’m talking about the overall budget (& so was Theo when he said “Maxed Out”).

          So we’ll see.

  • CubsfanMike

    Maybe we sign him and keep Garza ( I know not probable), then you are looking a a 2014 rotation of Garza, Shark, Gonzalez, Wood, ???….I’d sign up for that.

    • Tim

      Jackson would clearly be the 5th guy there, but that rotation will never come to fruition because Garza will be gone before Monday.

      That rotation is the reason I think the Cubs should pony up to keep Garza. That rotation is relatively young, and would be pretty good. They would have a lot of money tied up in the rotation, BUT when all your big time prospects coming up being of the everyday variety(position players) that’s OK. Then as the rotation ages, hopefully some of the Cubs pitching prospects start to break through at the major league level. Basically, it gives your pitching prospects more time for seasoning, while the BIG 5(I’m including Alcantra) are contributing at the big league level. I wish we were going that route.

  • Mr. B. Patient

    I wouldn’t over pay to get him if all it meant was their was 1 less suitor for Garza. Over him what you think he’s worth, and move on. Plus, do these contending teams really think he’ll be ready for a pennant race in his first taste of baseball in the states? I’d worry about what shape he would be in and how many pitches he’ll throw.

  • Jono

    I just posted this link in another thread, but I think it also applies here since there’s probably more minds interested in Cuba-related information. Not that it has anything to do with this player, but it’s a report on the status of the Cuban “business” community. I figured people who are interested in Cuba-related topics might like this article and or the 3 minute video on the page. What I find the most interesting are the “more socialsim” advertisments meant to ease people into the idea of individuals owning businesses. http://www.cnbc.com/id/100882235

  • SteveDillard

    Show me a GM who really believes that a 26-year-old from Cuba who has never pitched in MLB can step in during the heat of the pennant race and be successful, and I’ll show you “fired.”

    I think Gonzalez would be a nice but risky addition for a rotation, but I don’t think he’s a realistic option instead of Garza.

    • Jon

      Aroldis Chapman

      • Jon

        Of course not suggesting MAG’s stuff is nearly as good, just saying that it has been done before, (the Cuba directly to MLB jump)

        • Beer Baron

          Actually Chapman spent most of that first year in AAA. Still came to the majors late in the season but wasn’t a direct jump. And if I recall he was signed in the off season so had all of spring training to get the rust off and still went to AAA first.

      • gocatsgo2003

        Uh… when Chapman signed in 2010 he operated exclusively out of the bullpen (and he has never started a game in MLB. Ever.). A bit of a different situation in that Gonzalez is pretty much universally regarded as a starter.

    • http://www.gravatar.com/avatar/653cc0c5f0eded621ab13b4f631de7da.png Cizzle

      Didn’t El Duque do it for the Yankees? I think he signed a little earlier, but it was kind of the same situation.

  • http://twitter.com/bleeinternets Brandon

    Could the Cubs also have to throw in a “we won’t be a contender until 2015″ bonus, in addition to the “two months of cold weather” bonus? If Gonzalez is of the mindset that he wants to pitch for a contender now, in the heat of a pennant race, that’s extra incentive for him to sign with the Red Sox/Rangers/Dodgers/Braves/etc.

    That said, I don’t think the Cubs would mind giving a little extra, and I hope they do.

  • caryatid62

    This would be a massive get for the Cubs organization. From what I’ve read, he projects as at least a 3 and, at 26, will likely have a lot of good years ahead. While this isn’t Yu Darvish, it’s about as good as it could get for the Cubs in terms of solidifying their pitching at the major league level, allowing them more time to develop minor league pitching options. Furthermore, the fact that he’s a free agent means the team wouldn’t have to part with any of it’s young hitting talent to get him, paving the way to maybe use it for other potential upgrades (possibly a true #1 when the time comes).

    This is one they really need to go all out for, even with the potential risks.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Tunney is getting to the point of clown show. Today he threatens to shut the whole project down. Is opposed to a bridge from the hotel, because somebody might throw a beer and hit a car. And he is serious. As though somebody could not throw a beer and hit a car from one of the rooftops. At the point of absurdity.

    • Cubbie Blues

      Heck, I’m pretty sure someone could throw a beer from the street.

      • hansman1982

        What if I bought a glass-bottle of Pepsi and wanted to throw it at a car? Is this ok?

        • willis

          I miss glass bottle soft drinks.

        • Cubbie Blues

          Oh, that is totally permissible. To be a problem it would have to have beer in it. Throwing Jameson however is frowned upon, only because it is a waste of a perfectly good drink.

          • hansman1982

            Ok, thanks. I think another caveat is that you are ok throwing beer bottles so long as you are not planning on attending a Cubs game at some point. That doesn’t matter.

    • Mr. B. Patient

      I’m sure a post on this will be coming soon, but, ya, this guy is nuts. He wants some kind of 10 yr moratorium on signs, too.

      If the Cubs had to move (they won’t), could they name their new stadium ‘Tunney Field’?That way, everyone would remember who drove the Cubs out of Wrigley.

      • MichiganGoat

        They should just rename the piss troughs “Tunney.”

        “Hey bro watch my beer I have to hit the Tunney”

        And of course the “TUNNEY SLIDE”

  • cubchymyst

    Are all of the defections to play a result of the US embargo on Cuba or is there a rule in Cuba against them playing elsewhere?

    • Cubbie Blues

      I think the defections may just be because they have been under a dictatorship for their whole lives and would like to be free individuals (and get *PAID*).

      • cubchymyst

        So a rule in Cuba.

      • TWC

        Plus, if they stay in Cuba, they’re just fectors, and nobody wants to be a fector. There’s real worth to being a successful defector, however.

      • cubchymyst

        Probably should of put more thought into that before asking.

    • aCubsFan

      For decades, Cubans have been attempting to leave the island due to the dictatorship of F. Castro. They are willing to risk their life to be free in the United States. I believe the latest rash of baseball players defecting is due to seeing their countrymen (Puig, Soler, etc.) getting enormous contracts to play in MLB so they want to get paid as well.

  • Jon

    Leveraging diimplomatic policy stemming from the early 1960’s is the new market ineffciency

  • Jon

    Not asking for the whole thing, but can someone w/ access post the Cub relative rankings in Keith Law’s latest 50?

  • Mick

    He looks really good, here’s his last start in Tijuana: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py566m8xD6M

    You can see him settle down after his first 15 or so pitches and it looks like he has very good command of the strike zone. He mixes his fastballs really well, it looks like he uses both a 4 and 2-seamer. The 4-seamer looks to come in on a RH batter and sits between 91-94 mph (he hit 96 once) and the 2-seamer tails away from a RH batter and sits between 87-89 mph. He’s also got a slider he throws in the low-80’s and a slower curve he throws around 75. These seem to be his off-speed stuff because I didn’t see any change-ups.

    The thing that impressed me the most was his advanced command, this is no recent draft pick that can’t throw strikes. This guy is polished, worked the strike zone hard for his entire start, and has a smooth, repeatable delivery that hides the ball nicely until its release. His arm looked really fresh and I didn’t see any herky jerky arm action that put undue stress on his elbow or shoulder. I would definitely agree that his move into a MLB rotation or bullpen would be swift. Although, I don’t think he’d be a difference maker for a playoff contending team this season because he just doesn’t have wipe-out stuff and there are a couple of things he needs to work on.

    Such as, he didn’t seem to have a good strategy to get LH’s out. Also he started to lose a little command later in the game. The command thing might just be a conditioning issue with however long he’s been playing this season.

    If I were Theo and Jed, I’d definitely pursue this guy. In my estimation, he’d be a solid #3 SP with the ceiling of a #2. His floor would be a #4 because he definitely needs to work on getting LH’s out. What kind of contract should the Cubs offer him? I’d compare his abilities to a lighter version of Anibal Sanchez who just received about $16 mil/year. I think an offer of 5 or 6 years at $9 mil/year could equate to great value.

  • Kevin

    Gerardo Concepcion

    • Mick

      Yea, I hope the FO isn’t gun shy on MAG because of Concepcion because these are two completely different pitchers. I’d compare MAG to a younger Anibal Sanchez.

      • CubFan Paul

        With no wipe-out stuff…

        • Mick

          Is a 94 mph located fastball or a 81 mph slider wipe-out stuff? With some tweaks, he might develop a better strikeout pitch like, for example, if he threw his slider harder. I’d just be hesitant to plug him into a playoff rotation without a go-to strikeout pitch.

          • CubFan Paul

            I was quoting you. I should of typed “With no wipe-out stuff?” Not sure i’d offer $9M a year either. Cubans have never gotten a market rate contract.

  • itzscott

    Just wondering….

    For what it would cost for the Cubs to sign this guy, wouldn’t it be much less of a gamble to pay a little more and re-sign Garza??

    • Kyle

      That’s hard to answer until we know how much he costs *and* see him pitch.

      • caryatid62

        Although Garza will be 30 next year, versus 26 for Gonzalez. A 5 year deal for Garza has a higher likelihood of being an overpay in years 4 and 5 based upon age, whereas a 5 year deal for Gonzalez takes him through his prime and allows you to make a decision on him at the age of 31.

        However, if Gonzalez isn’t any good, it’s all moot.

  • RD

    My hope is that he and Soler are best friends and he never cared much for Puig… Puig does seem to be very cocky and make a lot of headlines off the field. Soler will persuade him to wear a Cubs uni.

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