The offseason is still a ways off …
- Apropos of yesterday’s extensive financial discussion, the Cubs have been mentioned as a possible landing spot for expected Japanese free agent Masahiro Tanaka. Peter Gammons wrote that a number of MLB clubs are scouting Tanaka, the 24-year-old righty who has been dominating in Japan for years, and suggested that the Cubs – together with the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, and Mariners – could be involved. Gammons’ tweet in reference to his story seemed to more directly imply that the Cubs are scouting Tanaka, but that could just be an inconvenient headline coupled with a hashtag (you’ll understand what I mean if you look at the tweet, and then the article). Long story short: Gammons didn’t quite say the Cubs are definitely scouting Tanaka at this point, but he did suggest they could be involved if and when Tanaka is posted this offseason. In case you missed earlier discussions of Tanaka, who is expected to be quite pricey (so, query how involved the Cubs would really be at this point (… but I tend to think they’d make an exception for someone like him)), you can read more about him here. We likely won’t hear much in the way of solid rumors on interest in Tanaka until after the season. Heck, it remains possible that he won’t even be posted.
- Buster Olney takes an early look at free agency, discussing ten free agents who’ve helped their stock, and ten who’ve hurt it. Ervin Santana and Jacoby Ellsbury top the former list, while Josh Johnson and Michael Morse sit atop the latter, along with guys like Corey Hart and Roy Halladay. I have a feeling that the Cubs will be more active on the “down” list – reclamation types – than the “up” list. Depending on the price tag and years involved, two names on the “down” list jump out at me immediately as intriguing buy low, short-term opportunities: Phil Hughes and Curtis Granderson. We’ll have to discuss them more later.
- Bruce Levine chatted yesterday, and, among his thoughts … (1) Darwin Barney remains a trade candidate, given his elite defense (Levine has said for a while, and I agree, that Barney fits a lot better on an offensive-heavy team; that said, I think Barney underperformed his peripherals this year at the plate, and was probably a bit better than we think – trading him now would be a pure dump); (2) Levine doesn’t think it makes sense to move Starlin Castro to another position – it’s either shortstop or a trade (I agree in the sense that I don’t think Castro’s bat is going to do much for you outside of shortstop, but I think it’s going to be tough to get much value for him this offseason, even with the upside); and (3) it doesn’t sound like from Levine’s response to a question about Cuban slugger Jose Abreu that the Cubs will be involved.
- Steve Adams chatted at MLBTR, and the biggest thing that will jump out at folks is his comment that the Cubs “will be huge players” for Robinson Cano this offseason. I didn’t expect that to be the case before Theo Epstein’s payroll comments earlier in the week, and I definitely don’t expect it now. Cano is a great player, but he’s going to be most valuable in 2014 and 2015, when the Cubs are least likely to need someone like him. Further, the infield is where the most crowding is going to occur in the next few years, so Cano only adds to that difficulty. That said, I can get past all of that stuff (maybe the Cubs make a couple more moves to make a surprise push in 2014; maybe they trade away some of that infield depth; maybe they acknowledge you’ve got to sign guys when they’re available). The part I can’t get past is the expected $150 to $200 million contract. I just don’t see that being the right investment for the Cubs right now.