stoveTons of bits to discuss in the first Lukewarm Stove in a little while …

  • If the Cubs hope to go big after Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka – the 24-year-old righty who could be posted this offseason, and who makes a lot of sense for the Cubs – they’re going to have serious competition. George King says the Yankees will be big players for Tanaka, and executives expect the posting fee on Tanaka to reach $60 million, with a contract to match. One talent evaluator told King that the other teams involved will include the Red Sox, Rangers, and Dodgers (duh). Although Yu Darvish is believed by most to be the superior talent to Tanaka, his posting fee was just $51.7 million. The economics of the game keep changing, though, and it’s not inconceivable to see the price on Tanaka surpass Darvish, even among teams that view the latter as better than the former.
  • USA Today mentions the Cubs as a possibility for Jacoby Ellsbury, but, as I’ve written before, I’m not sure I see him as the best use of the Cubs’ resources this offseason. To that point, Ken Rosenthal recently speculated that a team like the Mariners could go hard after Ellsbury to the tune of six or seven years and more than $20 million per year. I think spending solidly in the outfield over the next two or three years makes a lot of sense for the Cubs. Locking into a commitment of that length, though? For a “speed” guy in his 30s? I just don’t think I’m on board.
  • Another mention of a possibility for the Cubs, Nick Cafardo connects free agent pitcher Bronson Arroyo to the Cubs (along with a huge number of other teams). Arroyo, who doesn’t expect to receive a qualifying offer from the Reds, falls right into the Cubs’ wheelhouse of the last couple years. Although he’ll be 37 next year, Arroyo isn’t expected to receive a particularly long contract, and could present flip value should 2014 mirror the previous two seasons. Arroyo never misses a start, but he’s a clear back-end starter at this point in his career, averaging a sub-2.0 WAR the past five years with the Reds. His ERA always betters his FIP, and he’s heavily dependent on the defense behind him (which is to say he doesn’t get many strikeouts). Cheap, back-end, innings eater? On the right deal, why not?
  • The Tigers may shop stud Max Scherzer this offseason, per Danny Knobler, largely because they have the depth to absorb it and he’ll be just a year away from free agency (an experience agent Scott Boras is likely to want to see Scherzer reach). It would take a ton to land him, and it’s a strict one-year rental unless you can get him to ink a very expensive extension. Given the Cubs’ projected level of competitiveness in 2014 – “meh” – I can’t see them pursuing Scherzer.
  • Speaking of tradable pitchers, David Price – who is connected to the Cubs with questionable frequency – is preparing himself to be traded this Winter, per MLBTR. It’ll be a story to watch, if nothing else. I’d think the Cubs would kick some tires, given that Price is under control for two more years, and could be a pre-free-agency extension candidate to whichever team acquires him.
  • Looks like Patrick Mooney has also heard whispers of the Cubs looking to upgrade with a left-handed bat at catcher this offseason. We heard that a little earlier this month from Tim Dierkes, and it seems no less strange now (absent a trade). Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be getting huge paydays this offseason, and I’d think the Cubs could allocate their limited resources a little better than “upgrading” from a top defensive catcher with a decent bat like Welington Castillo (getting a solid back-up catcher? Absolutely. Spending big on a new starter? Uh … ). But, hey, who knows? Perhaps the Cubs get Salty on a reasonable deal and work out a 50/50 platoon behind the plate with Castillo (the Cubs sure could use the depth). Or perhaps they work out that reasonable deal, and then make a trade involving Castillo. Hard to know what the plans are when the rumors don’t fit into a preconceived box. That said, the front office is crafty.
  • Andrew Marchand lists the Cubs 5th among possible non-Yankee destinations for Robinson Cano. You can dream on it all you want, but I just don’t see it. The money for a Cano isn’t going to be there right now, and, even if it were, I’m not sure his contract demands/length would make sense given the Cubs’ time line (and abundance of near-ready infield talent).
  • Jose Abreu – the slugging first baseman from Cuba – is now officially a free agent, and can sign with any team. Once again, the Cubs are not expected to be involved, but Abreu is a huge name on the market.
  • Speaking of first basemen on the market to whom there is no direct Cubs connection, Kendrys Morales expects to receive a qualifying offer from the Mariners, which he will then reject, according to Jon Heyman. A qualifying offer (worth almost $14 million) would really drag down the market for Morales, given that he’s a 1B/DH-only who hit just .277/.336/.449 this year (with similar numbers last year). To be clear, those aren’t bad numbers – it’s a 123 OPS+, believe it or not – but it’s hard to see him receiving a contract FAR beyond a one-year, $14 million deal when you factor in the loss of a draft pick/pool money. If he really does reject a qualifying offer, I could see his free agency lasting deep into the offseason, and culminating in one of those two or three-year, $10/$11 million AAV deals that you wonder if it’s all that much better than one-year, $14 million.
  • http://It'searly Mike F

    Baez and Bryant probably absent setbacks are in Chicago in 2014. People keep throwing out Olt though and that is currently pretty far fetched. He was given eye drops to cure double vision. It is mixed as to whether it worked, but was short term only. Apparently the double vision came back, what is certain is performance was as bad as it gets. He had an Iowa level that would have landed him in AA had it not been for the concussion level.

    Could he come back? Yeah if they solve his issue, but he’s 25 and if indeed this all from the concussion he wouldn’t be the first to have his career ended. Anyway you cut it, his performance at AAA and the eye/concussion issue make it clear he’s not a guy that is that high on the prospect list and he has as good a chance to be out of baseball next season as playing in the ML. They will have to fix what is wrong before he should even be in the discussion.

    • cubfanincardinalland

      Olt had to stop taking the eye drops, because they can have long term side effects, so you can only take them so long. That is why he was having problems again late in the season.
      He is now seeing a specialist in the New England area that the Cubs found for him, and the long term prognosis is very good. They apparently have determined that it was all tied into the concussion. If you look at him objectively, it is really pretty amazing he was able to perform as he did without being able to see. Guy has a ton of talent, don’t count him out yet.

      • http://It'searly Mike F

        Concussions have ended plenty of careers. I’m not counting him out or in. But the fact remains Texas needed bats even though he was blocked at 3B. And clearly many scouts believe Bryant can be a very good 3B. I think you have to view Olt as anything he does is a plus. And most importantly while most have thought he will have power at the ML level they almost always admit he will strike out a lot and never be a high OBP guy. Seems to me OBP on the Cubs should be more of a priority.

  • http://BleacherNation Dean

    Apparently there’s nothing to be discussed today.

  • Assman22

    Multiple teams have asked about Castro including Rays…

    • http://It'searly Mike F

      What are they willing to trade for him/


    • Funn Dave


    • Eternal Pessimist

      I wonder if the Rays would expect to extract a high end prospect along with Castro (for Price) which would make it a non-starter for me. I would rather put in a bid for Tanaka, and even over-pay a little for him.

      If we give up Castro + high potential prospect for Price for 2 years of service time (and not cheap at all), and take on the risk that seems associated with his recent injury/velocity concerns, we could really stunt our long-term plans.

      • http://It'searly Mike F

        likely Castro, Castillo and Almora is about as cheap as would get.

    • praying the cubs get ready to win

      I suggested Castro be put in a trade to Tampa a few weeks ago as the major piece to land Price. Add a couple of other minor leaguers who are blocked.

      Rizzo, Alcantara, Baez and Bryant or Olt and Castillo is a nice young potential infield for years to come.

      Almora, Solar and Bryant with all the number 4 OFers looks promising as well.

      Solid sub Lake, so you can see Price or a top SP is so important.

      Cubs will have A bright future.

      • MichiganGoat

        It will take more than Castro as a centerpiece, Tampa will want Baez or Almora paired with Castro when we call if not more.

        • DarthHater

          Bah! Humbug! Don’t they know that Castro’s OPS will be over 1.000 by the end of next season?

  • Kevin

    Castro for Price?

    • N.J. Riv

      Castro for Maddon?

      • Josh

        Hell no. Rays would never do Price for Castro straight up, and why trade one of your “Building blocks” for a manager that needs these building blocks to be successful

        • http://It'searly Mike F

          Not as complicated as you are making it. Castro had a negative WAR, not exactly as much of a building block as people want to make him. His value to teams who aren’t as concerned with plate discipline and working counts is probably higher and should be than it ultimately is to the Cubs. It is an important distinction. The Boston Red Sox WAR of their first 2 batters in 2004 compared to the Cubs this season with Castro, Barney and Rizzo was 8.1 higher. Add in closer issues and trading 40% of your starters and you really have the difference between the Cubs and competitive.

          Once you win 82-84 games everything becomes possible. Castro just doesn’t fit.

      • YourResidentJag

        I would do it, but would the Rays. The are due to lose offense if Loney signs elsewhere.

  • Kevin

    Where do we sign?

  • Stevie B

    I trade Castro for Price….all day / twice on Sunday.

  • Voice of Reason

    I’m not trading Castro for price and its not because I love Castro.

    I’m not taking on price and have to sign him to a big extension for big bucks.

    The guy had arm trouble last year. Why in the world would you want him?

    • http://It'searly Mike F

      It’s why I don’t understand why so many prominent writers are connecting the Cubs to Price. Just for the sake of argument, if you could get the Rays to trade for Castro, at a minimum you still have to add to the package, likely one of the 4 good ones and that probably would mean Almora.

      The problem I have is you really have no good clue as to which of the 4 excel and history tells us not all 4 are likely. And as you say you have to sign him. And then they are talking major dollars. One thing acquiring Price would say, they aren’t planning to lose forever, but his pushing the ball in his delivery and drop in velocity would scare me off.

      • Brains

        Just for the record, I would definitely trade Castro for Price – if we also get an extension out of him, perhaps 5 years 90 million. Castro is immanently replaceable. Mediocre fielding, good contact hitting but low doubles, low power, low clutch. He has talent but Price is a #1 on a team desperate to have anything at all.

  • Die hard

    Barney to Phillies for John Mayberry Jr?

    • macpete22

      That actually wouldn’t be that bad. We could sign Infante or a Mark Ellis until Alcantara is ready and then trade off the veteran for a prospect. Not sure the Phillies would do the trade though

  • Stogie

    What a depressing story. Thanks Brett.

  • jeff1969

    Any opinions on whether Tampa Bay & the Cubs would do this deal: Price for Castro, Castillo, & Almora? Cubs could then attempt to sign Saltalamacchia at C to replace Castillo. I’m thinking the market is too down for Castro right now for that deal to happen, but as a Cubs fan who is crossing his fingers that Theo & Jed can get it done, I’m not sure I would give up much more if I were them for Price.

    • BWA

      I think the Rays would take that in a heartbeat, and the cubs would regret it. If you take out Castillo or Almora, then its a pretty good deal for the Cubs assuming Price immediatly signs an extension.

    • Jono

      i wouldn’t give up Almora for price. Castro, sure, but they’d be selling low. Id still do it, though

  • Chris M

    Why is everyone in such a hurry to trade for Price. The Cubs are at least 2 to 3 years away from really starting to contend and seeing which of these prospects are gonna be able to help the team. If we trade for price now by then his arm might blow out or fall off who knows. For what maybe a extra win or two next year when it dont mean much. Every couple years there’s always some big arm on the trade market. I say we wait to make the move till it can really make a difference.

    • DarthHater

      Well, about half the comments on Price are opposed to trading for him now, so I’d say not everyone is in such a hurry to trade for Price.

  • Dewitt Kassebaum

    An excellent time Saturday night. We surprised my parents and they were thriled when they got there..Thank you! I had been instructed by the photo booth person that pictures would be online. Where are they?