lukewarm stoveThe items to discuss had been building over the last few days until my poor Chrome browser was about to explode. That’s when it’s time for an absurdly long Lukewarm Stove …

  • All remains quiet on the Jacoby Ellsbury front. Probably partially for that reason, David Schoenfield recently wrote an interesting piece at ESPN arguing that the Cubs should sign the speedy center fielder. The primary arguments? The Cubs need a player like Ellsbury (top of the order, center fielder), the market looks much worse next year (a variation on “sign them when they’re available”), and Ellsbury is probably going to live up to his contract. I’d take some issue with the certitude on that last one, given Ellsbury’s injury history, but my biggest beef with signing Ellsbury has always been that he’s going to be most valuable in the years the Cubs don’t really need a valuable center fielder. Unless they plan to figure out a way to “go for it” in 2014 and (please) 2015, Ellsbury’s best years – the ones where he’s really making up for the meat of his contract – will be played on crappy teams. What’s the value there? I stick to my long-standing position on Ellsbury: if the Cubs want to lay in the weeds and try to pounce on the cheap late in the offseason if Ellsbury hasn’t been able to land a big contract, then that sounds great to me. But committing $100+ million to him? Without other nearer-term moves in tandem, I don’t think it makes sense.
  • Similarly, in a chat at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron notes the continued lack of serious Jacoby Ellsbury rumors out there, and wonders if the Cubs, specifically, will eventually get involved. From my perspective, that’s about the only scenario in which you could see the Cubs get involved: the $150 million suitor isn’t out there, and Ellsbury lingers on the market on into January. The Cubs kick the tires on a four or five-year, $15 million per year deal, and Ellsbury has to settle. I don’t think that’s at all likely, but hey, if it happened, we should all be thrilled.
  • The San Diego Padres are looking for a lefty bat and a lefty reliever, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. Given the Cubs’ relationship with the San Diego front office, and the generally-believed availability of Nate Schierholtz and James Russell, yes, in this case, it is fair to speculate about a possible trading connection. Padres GM Josh Byrnes went as far as to say that he expects to have something done – who knows what, exactly – by the end of the Winter Meetings. Maybe we’ll find out soon just how available guys like Schierholtz and Russell really are.
  • According to a report out of Kyodo, there’s still no agreement between MLB and NPB on the posting system, but talks are expected to continue this week. Masahiro Tanaka’s future – and the offseason plans of at least a half dozen MLB teams – continues to hang in the balance.
  • Speaking of which, with all of the mid-to-lower tier arms coming off the board, and with big fish waiting on Tanaka, Buster Olney wonders who is going to step up to sign the biggest three starter pitchers left on the market – Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez. Garza won’t be coming back, and Santana is out there reportedly asking for nine figures. I can envision a scenario where the Cubs consider Jimenez, but probably only if they miss on Tanaka and Jimenez’s market crumbles to the point where he’s got to take a short-term, relatively inexpensive deal. His velocity is gone, but he really reinvented himself last year.
  • On the mid-tier front, Ken Rosenthal reports (like, right now, it’s an ongoing reporting kind of thing) that the A’s are closing in on a deal with Scott Kazmir. He would have been an interesting option for the Cubs, but a Kazmir signing would make the A’s virtually certain to trade Brett Anderson, who could be even more interesting. More about that if a deal goes down.
  • Robinson Cano is no longer seeking a $300 million contract, and has lowered his demands to a Cyber Monday price of $252 million over nine years, according to Buster Olney. That still puts him some $80 million north of what the Yankees are believed to be offering, so the possibility that he goes elsewhere remains.
  • David Schoenfield knows how to get folks talking irrationally on the Internet. How? Crazy three-team trade proposals! He does his best to keep the proposals realistic, even if three-team trades are, by their very nature, extremely difficult to pull off (especially the star-caliber trades he proposes). Here’s his offer involving the Cubs:

Cubs: Trade Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Jorge Soler, Dan Vogelbach, acquire Chris Sale, David Phelps

Yankees: Trade Gary Sanchez, Zoilo Almonte, Vidal Nuno, Phelps, acquire Addison Reed, Olt, Vogelbach

White Sox: Trade Sale, Reed, acquire Edwards, Soler, Sanchez, Almonte, Nuno

  • I think the White Sox would probably want to do better than that in a deal involving Sale, but the Yankees and Cubs portions seem doable. If you’re the Cubs, you do that deal without thinking, right? Phelps is an intriguing option, and Sale – even with the wonky delivery-related injury concerns – is a true ace who is just 24 and is under reasonable control for the next six years.


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