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jose valverde crazy photoshopOh, you didn’t know that the Winter Meetings, scheduled for next week, actually started today? I kid, but today has been crazy (thus the random, crazy photoshop of Jose Valverde – just because).

For those who want a quick look at the trades made around baseball today …

  • The Astros acquired center fielder Dexter Fowler from the Rockies for pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes. It’s a thoroughly meh return for Fowler, but he’s had some serious home splits and BABIP-driven success. That’s not to say Fowler isn’t good; it’s just that there have always been red flags. Interesting that the Astros are grabbing a guy who is under control for only two more years. If you really stretch for Cubs implications, I suppose you could say that Fowler goes off the market to a team that probably wasn’t going to be in on Jacoby Ellsbury. So, Ellsbury’s market was not reduced by this trade. Like I said – if you stretch.
  • The Padres and A’s got together on a Luke Gregerson/Seth Smith swap. The latter was nearly a non-tender candidate, so it’s a bit of a surprise that the A’s were able to net one of the better setup men in the game for him. The Padres had been looking for a lefty bat with pop in their outfield, though, so this satisfies that need for them. Each player is a free agent after the season, and each will probably make a shade under $5 million this year.
  • The A’s also traded prospects Michael Choice and Chris Bostick to the Rangers for outfielder Craig Gentry (a really nice A’s type player) and pitcher Josh Lindblom. The Rangers are now even more likely than they already were to pick up a bat in the outfield. Shin-Soo Choo, perhaps?
  • The Reds, Rays, and Diamondbacks got together on a three-team trade that sent catcher Ryan Hanigan to the Rays (who promptly signed him to a three-year deal), Heath Bell (and $500K in salary relief) to the Rays, the Diamondbacks got minor league pitcher (maybe prospect) Justin Choate and a PTBNL from the Rays (and the joy of unloading Bell’s contract), and the Reds got lefty pitching prospect David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks (a very nice return for Hanigan). The Diamondbacks now have more financial flexibility, which could allow them to dip into free agency for the pitcher and/or outfield power they’re seeking. Previously, they’d been connected to both Jeff Samardzija and Nate Schierholtz. Holmberg’s was a name that came up connected to the Cubs, too.
  • The interesting upshot of all this trade activity is that, as more teams satisfy their needs via trade, free agent prices could, necessarily, start to fall. That would be an intriguing turnabout for a team like the Cubs, who are presumed to be sitting out the market unless “value” falls in their lap. That’s starting to feel like more of a possibility. Keep with the patience, Cubs.
  • MichiganGoat

    BRETT QUIT VISITING TWC’s FARM… YOU’RE FREAKING OUT MAN.

    Someone get se orange slices for Bert.

    • YourResidentJag

      So, how exactly does this comment inform anything????

      • Matty Ice

        It’s called hypocrisy.

      • wasssup

        +1

      • T-Bone

        Wtf is twc

        • Tony_S

          (twc is a regular commenter here)

      • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

        MichiganGoat has long ago earned the right to post whatever he wants. So say I.

    • wasssup

      1. to abuse, harass, threaten, impersonate, or intimidate other Bleacher Nation users

      In defense to TWC.

    • miggy80

      It’s funny that some don’t get this. Good one Goat!

  • SenorGato

    I’m still holding out hope the FO is just being selective. All the high impact talent that might and/or are available are yet to move or sign. Those are the guys the Cubs should be chasing – marginal talents are nice but they need impact on the MLB roster more than anything else.

    • MightyBear

      Probably not going to see much impact talent being signed Mr. Cat.

      • SenorGato

        Well yeah, but probably is not definitely! Cano, Ellsbury, Tanaka, and Choo are all still plenty available and teams seem to be fetishizing prospects this offseason. The direction this offseason is in is that teams are fetishizing prospects while fearing the FA market.

        • MightyBear

          Here’s hoping your right on Ellsbury and/or Tanaka.

  • JulioZuleta

    Sheesh. Not a seller’s market out there. Some really questionable trades have gone down in the last 24 hours. And Detroit? What is going on there? Trade a cheap #2 starter for pennies on the dollar and then sign an oft-injured closer for twice the price?

    • Tony_S

      Don’t. Just… Don’t.

  • SenorGato

    I love that teams are overrating the crap out of depth prospects – Cubs have that. Lets make use of that.

    • Jason P

      It’s kind of odd when you consider the rule 5 drafts coming up. Plenty of Steve Lombardozzi’s and Jordan Lyles out there for free.

      • SenorGato

        Wouldn’t go that far, the Rule V usually sucks. They’re JAGs in the even in the JAG world usually…

        • Jason P

          Yes, but Jordan Lyles and Steve Lombardozzi also suck.

          • SenorGato

            Less than Lendy Castillo and those of similar ilk that make up the Rule V.

  • Jason P

    Dave Kaplan complaining about the Cubs giving a million to George Kotarras on Sportstalk live. Because “his average stinks”.

    • Tony_S

      LOL

    • Jason P

      Speaking of which, Theo Epsteins going to be on Sportstalk live tomorrow.

    • ssckelley

      hmmmm, makes me wonder if David Kaplan has been posting here as Blackhawk.

  • WilliamGlass

    Who wants our meh prospects? Let’s ask the Rockies what they want for Cargo or Tulo before their drugs wear off! :-)

  • CubFan Paul

    The CenterField market was crazy effected by trades last year. I was hoping for the same so that Ellsbury would have to sign a Bourn-like deal

    • SenorGato

      I hope the whole Bourn-like deal isn’t too literal. Ellsbury’s clearly a better player and is a younger player heading into FA so he’s probably still going to beat BJ Upton’s deal.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    Cubs fans. What else do we have but patience Brett?

  • BenW

    Doesn’t 3/21 for Saltalamacchia seem a bit light? Not that the Cubs needed a C necessarily, but that seems awfully light IMO.

    • Tony_S

      I don’t think so. His brain and durability have been questioned over the years, he’s pretty far removed from being a high-end, bat-first catching prospect, so I think it’s between “decent” and “pretty good” from the Marlins’ perspective, so maybe closer to a bit light than awfully light.

      What I would immediately wonder is, wouldn’t a better team (Twins?) have given him the same contract? And the rhetoric the past few days has been that nobody else would guarantee that third year, and then someone said the Twins would have to pay more to “lure” Salty away from Florida.

      Meh. I feel like he’s generally regarded as an underachiever who gave it all he could heading into FA and still didn’t do a whole lot, but that’s just my gut.

      • BenW

        I don’t disagree at all. I just find it odd in an offseason where Marlon Byrd got 2/16, that Salty didn’t get a bigger deal. He did have an inflated BABIP last year, and he stunk in the postseason, but in all reality, he’s a decent C. Fangraphs has him projected for a 2.9 WAR next year, which would make his contract a steal.

  • Steve

    Do you think the Craig Gentry deal affects Nate Schierholtz’s value in any way? it seems like the A’s gave up a lot for him.

  • http://bleachernation Ferris

    Fowler an fister coulda both been had, i hope were fixin to do somethin soon…arizona freeing up money

    • SenorGato

      Yeah but realistically how good does Fister from 30-32 and Fowler out of Coors project to be?

      Epstein, king of crying poor, has even specified they can’t make MULTIPLE impact moves through FA. If they stayed away from paying Fowler/Fister to pay one of the three major FAs (or add anyone of significance through trade) then things are going alright.

      Of course I’m probably getting my hopes up and the Cubs will continue to be a joke.

  • http://bleachernation.com ramy16

    I hope towers throws in Martin Prado in any deal that we make with Az
    That would solve our 3rd base problem as well as young pitching in a deal for Shark

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Theo sure has been keeping his powder dry. With all of the early activity you have to believe that they have a specific target in mind. Whick makes me think Tanaka. I think plan B is to wait thing out and get some real value with maybe Ellsbury. Or plan C which would be to suck next year and compete for another first round pick. He may get run out of town if that’s the case.

  • Brains

    i predict that we’ll try to sign granderson, potentially fail, but not come in the top 4 for tanaka. we won’t make a serious bid for choo. why give that guy 100m and not sign cano, who’s significantly better? cubs austerity measures don’t dictate such a big contract is possible for a 32 year old. ellsbury is just way too expensive to be worth it. he’s the gary matthews jr of this offseason.

    • Tony_S

      Not sure I agree, but GREAT reference

  • Assman22

    Cubs didn’t feel the Blue Jays would non-tender Arencibia so they traded for Kottaras…Hoyer has made calls to the agents of Hudson, Arencibia, and Webb…regardless of all the activity lately, Cubs will wait out FA for awhile…Mets have asked about Castro’s availability, however so have a dozen other teams(Cubs won’t sell low on him)…Rangers are after Reddick…Royals were the team to offer 3 years/$48 mil to Beltran…

    • CubFan Paul

      Towers still wants a TOR pitcher & outfielder too

    • Rebuilding

      Well, Kottaras is better than Arencibia so I guess that worked out well

    • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

      Castro and Vitters to Mets for Syndergaard, Murphy, and Plawicki. Samardzija and Schierholtz and Soler to D-Backs for Bradley, Skaggs, Eaton, and Owings.

    • http://bleachernation.com woody

      So the Castro rumors resurface. I guess you could move Barney to SS and have Valbuena play second. But what would the Mets give us?

      • Rebuilding

        Baez’s bat should be ready by mid season. He might make 50 errors and hit 30 homeruns if he was up all year

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Teams enquiring about Castro (or any other player) doesn’t mean a lot. A lot of times, the sports media creates the illusion that a team wants to trade a player for some reason (personality, contract, whatever), and other teams start to sniff to see if there is fire to that smoke. (Damn, I mixed metaphors…) Remember how Hendry was supposed to “get it done” with Roberts and Peavy because they supposedly were available? Except that it turned out they really were not available.

        My bet is that this is happening with Castro right now.

  • Professor Snarks

    I don’t know if this has been asked, but what does the Fowler move mean for Springer? He has to be near ready.

    • Rebuilding

      It’s very curious. Houston has a huge centerfield to cover so I’m sure their computer graphs have told them something about Fowler. Both corner spots are open so Springer likely moves to RF

  • crazyhorse

    the Cubs will be making some moves its just a wait-and-see type of moment. I actually believe cub fans will be surprized. But i also feel if they sit and do nothing many more cub fans will be upaet.

  • Rebuilding

    I can say w/o a doubt that there is not one player that has moved in the last 48 hours, other than Fister and possibly Gregorson, that I would have wanted the Cubs to even sniff around about

  • nashvillecub

    Which club in mlb has the highest ticket prices? I think I know, but not entirely sure. How did Fister escape the FO? Do you think Vogelbach and Russell would have gotten that deal done? How about Vogelbach and Russell for Anderson? Waiting on prospects seems like a pacifier to me. I hope Bryant, Baez, Soler, Alcantara, Almora are superstars, but chances are some of them will be good, maybe one great. Why can’t we expect more from a major market team? It seems like expectations have been so lowered for a team that should be able to field a competitive team along with building the farm. Are we being duped?

  • When the Music’s Over

    I’m not sure practicing patience in the hope of getting free agents on somewhat cheaper “value” deals is a sound plan. If that’s the case, you could easily miss out on some great trade deals.

  • Fastball

    I don’t think the Cubs have the money or the desire to make a real competitive run at Tanaka. No way will they spend money on any of the upper tier free agents. Only way they get better is via trade. Late January there will be more scrap heap free agent signings. I can’t wait for the splash deal that sends Cubs nation over the cliff like last off season. All I want for Xmas is for the Cubs to make a deal that is worth getting excited about.

  • North Side Irish

    Jon Heyman reporting the Yankees are closing in a on 7 year deal with Ellsbury worth more than Carl Crawford’s $142M…

    At least that would put the Ellsbury-Cubs talk to rest.

    • Brains

      on a team like the yanks ellsbury can probably produce for 5 of those years. he’ll be lineup covered and have incentive. for the cubs he would have sunk with the ship.

  • AD

    Hopefully that ups are chances at acquiring Tanka …. although unlikely.

    • North Side Irish

      Either the Yankees know they aren’t going to be paying A-Rod this season or they changed their mind about getting under the luxury tax threshold.

      • kscubfan

        Or the new posting system will put them out of Tanka

  • Rebuilding

    It seems everyone is hoping we sell low on Castro. If he just gets back to previous performance he’s the 3rd best SS in the NL (behind Tulo and Hanley). It would be interesting if the Mets offered Syndergaard and Montero however

  • YourResidentJag

    Ellsbury to Yankees. 7 yr 150 mm. Sorry Cubs fans. #1 draft pick?

    • Rebuilding

      If the Cubs gave Ellsbury 7/150 I would have bought the pitchforks and started the bonfire

      • Kyle

        We’re kicking some serious butt in the projections for the Efficiency Series. It’s not as real as the World Series, but way more satisfying to win.

        • Jason P

          If you can’t have the latter, there’s nothing to be gained by not having the former.

          • Kyle

            You’ll never win the latter if you worry about winning the former.

            • Jason P

              The Cubs aren’t winning the latter in the next few years regardless of if they get the former.

              • Kyle

                And a big part of the reason is because they’ve stopped going after players like Ellsbury the last few years.

                • Jason P

                  That’s simply not true and you know it.

                  • Kyle

                    It’s completely true and I know it. You don’t know it, but that’s ok, you have me to enlighten you.

                    • Jason P

                      Enlighten me.

                • Jason P

                  I could point to the Michael Bourne and Carl Crawford signings, or the high attrition rates of big money free agents the past few years in general, or the fact that the Cubs had 66 wins last year, and short of a $300 million payroll, no amount of free agents were going to buy them 25-30 wins, but I feel like I’d just be pointing out what you’re well aware of and choosing to ignore.

                  • Kyle

                    Not ignore. Just value differently.

                    • Jason P

                      I think you just enjoy being a contrarian for the sake of arguing.

                      But whatever the case, what can you point to that says a 96-loss team giving a 30-year-old speedster 7 years and 153 million is a good idea?

                  • Kyle

                    “But whatever the case, what can you point to that says a 96-loss team giving a 30-year-old speedster 7 years and 153 million is a good idea?”

                    I never said it was. That’s the bad thing about being a 96-loss team. Things that would be good for you if you were good suddenly aren’t.

                    • Jason P

                      Now that I agree with. But in another comment below, you said “it depends on what other moves went along with it”. There really isn’t a logical or reasonable set of other moves the Cubs could make where this signing would make sense right now.

                      You also just got done arguing above that the Cubs aren’t competing for World Series because “they’ve stopped going after players like Ellsbury the past few years”. Again, that isn’t the case.

                • BT

                  So, to be clear, you think 7/153 for Ellsbury would have been a good move for the Cubs?

                  • Kyle

                    That’s impossible to answer in a simple “yes” or “no.”

                    It depends on what moves went along with it.

                    • BT

                      I see. So the “efficiency series” digs and implications that we need more guys like Ellsbury aren’t actual calls for signing a guy like Ellsbury, but rather a conceptual argument?

                      More importantly if the answer to the viability of signing Ellsbury hinges on a series of other moves the Cubs must make in order to justify it, couldn’t the Cubs reluctance to sign Ellsbury come down to not yet being ready to make the corresponding moves needed in addition to the 150 million dollar outlay? So complaining that we aren’t signing Ellsbury isn’t really fair or accurate, as it appears we aren’t initiating a series of moves, including signing Ellsbury.

                      Unless you meant something else.

                    • Kyle

                      Correct. They’re more directed at the glee that we’re letting other teams take this sort of inefficient signings.

                      The Cubs probably aren’t in position to make these sort of signings, and that’s a bad thing. I’d love for the team to be good enough to “overpay” like this on guys like Ellsbury.

                    • Kyle

                      But you also can’t run teams with excessive risk aversion. At some point, they are going to have to make moves that only make sense in concert with other moves, and those other moves won’t be guaranteed yet.

                    • BT

                      I agree, and I think it’s inevitable that that they will throw risk aversion out the window, but it makes no sense to do with with a table setter that has no one currently capable to drive him in. I could see them doing it if someone like Kershaw became available (however they still don’t have more money than the Yankees or the Dodgers), but there is very little upside in the Ellsbury signing and a ton of downside. I’d say it’s almost a certainty the Yankees regret this, at least as much as a team with almost bottomless pockets can.

        • Rebuilding

          I’m starting to feel more and more that we are getting Tanaka or at least going all out depending on the system. He’s exactly what the organization needs from a performance and publicity standpoint. And we can carry that contract when every position player is going to be cost controlled

        • When the Music’s Over

          The Cubs appear to be obsessed with “winning” every single move they make, both in short term and long term. That would appear to me to be a very limiting strategy.

          • YourResidentJag

            But that contract for Ellsbury is too much.

            • Kyle

              And the number of Ellsbury-like players on our roster is too little.

              • YourResidentJag

                Choo’s still out there.

                • Kyle

                  Well, I’m sure *he’s* going to sign for something reasonable and efficient. Probably 2/$30.

                  • YourResidentJag

                    Probably not but he’s out there though. ;)

      • YourResidentJag

        Oh I agree. These deals are crazy and some trades today are as well. Again, though, it doesn’t stop my thoughts about what this season should be for Cubs.

      • calicubsfan007

        Riots galore etc…

  • Andrew

    Ellsibury to yanks. Breaking news. Yuck

    • Andrew

      Sorry. Didn’t see already posted

    • calicubsfan007

      Eh, not the end of the world.

  • CubsSuck2014

    If choo signs with mariners than we might land both tanaka and cano.

  • CubsSuck2014

    Cano because there will be no suitors for him. Big market teams wont have cash.

    • Rebuilding

      I think he’ll be with the Dodgers eventually

      • YourResidentJag

        I think Tanaka will be with the Dodgers. Unforntunately.

        • Rebuilding

          I think you might be surprised. This organization needs publicity as much as performance right now. Tanaka gives you both and fits with the “timeline”. The Ricketts saw the stands last year – that’s a lot of lost beer sales and its not as “cool” to be a Cubs fan right now. The next Japanese “thing” who happens to have TOR ability has got to be awfully appealing to them. And don’t let them fool you – they have the money

          • Kyle

            I think if they cared about that sort of publicity, they wouldn’t have spent the last two years putting the team into this position.

            This front office gets boners over the thought of not giving a crap about what fans want.

            • Rebuilding

              I think you are wrong about that. They knew they had a few years of goodwill and they have used it to build a prospect wet dream. The base is now there. However, they can see the sand shifting. These aren’t dumb guys and believe me when I tell you that people who know have said Ricketts was very aware of the drop off in attendance last year.

              If the stock market moves up 2% in a day the Ricketts make $50 mil that day. The posting fee will be there

              • Kyle

                Could be. We’ll find out.

                • Rebuilding

                  I just think you misread Theo Epstein a bit. His motivation isn’t efficiency. His motivation is his ego. He thinks he’s the smartest baseball executive ever and is the reason the Red Sox have now won 3 World Series. These guys think they are building a monster to go toe to toe with Lucchino. They knew they had 2-3 years of goodwill to build the base and so they punted. Because what better way to look brilliant than start so low. Tanaka is the kind of talent that wins championships and he doesn’t cost draft picks…he also hits his prime when you have a 2b and 3b coming up that can hit 40 HRs a season

                  • YourResidentJag

                    However, Brett’s math with Tanaka to Yanks is rather convincing though.

                    • Rebuilding

                      The Cubs ownership has more money than the Yankees ownership. And it grows every day that people day trade

                    • YourResidentJag

                      But with all their reckless spending, the bigger question is do the Yankees care?

          • YourResidentJag

            Yeah, sorry Rebuilding. What Kyle said.

            • Rebuilding

              Sorry what? Kyle is wrong

              • YourResidentJag

                I hope you’re right. I just don’t think so.

                • Rebuilding

                  My bigger point is that the Cubs have the money to spend with anyone. They might have some debt covenants that restrict it somewhat but it can’t be that low or they would have breached it each of the last 2 years. I finally came to the conclusion that its their ego. They don’t want to win 81 games because it might look like they are trying. If they win 70 everyone knows they aren’t. They either want to win 100 or 70

                  • YourResidentJag

                    Maybe, that’s true. One thing that seems apparent to me is that, unless they can get FAs at their prices, they’re inclined to see how things go with their younger players and then sign FAs. Not as likely to do it the other way around.

                    • Rebuilding

                      Right now. They are still in the “we don’t care” phase. If they were trying to put together a roster to actually be decent they could have done much better. That’s why Kyle and I were banging the drum two years ago about certain players. But the fact is they didnt want to “try” then

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Oh, I completely agree with this.

                  • Rebuilding

                    And btw…I don’t necessarily think its a bad plan. They have 2 of the Top 5 hitting prospects in baseball and a potential 5 WAR CF (Almora will be Ellsbury with less speed, but more defense and hitting) already. And Soler is a wildcard. Tanaka is a missing piece and I’ll be surprised at this point if we don’t get him

                  • Dustin S

                    It’s not even just money though. Put yourself in Ellsbury’s shoes (or any other big name FA), do you want to go to a team that has averaged ~94 losses the last 4 seasons, and lost 101/96 the last 2? It’s the same reason Shark isn’t begging to sign an extension. The Cubs have to hope the pickup a middle-tier FA late with few other alternatives like Jackson last year, or they would need to overbid to try to overcome the uninspiring 2014 outlook. The path has to be prospects/trades->improve record->then free agents to fill the gaps once Wrigley is a little more appealing to them.

                    That said, I would want no part of 7 years and $153M for a 30 year-old speed player like Ellsbury. Unless his power of 2011 comes back, I don’t see how that won’t be a rough contract in the last half of it once he starts to slow down.

                    • DocPeterWimsey

                      My guess is that Els power will return. He was hurt (again!) this year; he still was able to play, but it really affected his ability to turn on the ball.

                      Of course, the “he was hurt” was a pretty common refrain during Els’ Sox career. That’s part of why I have such mixed feelings about him leaving the Sox (and equally mixed feelings about him not joining the Cubs).

      • calicubsfan007

        I agree, Dodgers.

        • YourResidentJag

          Didn’t they sign an IFA prospect to play 2b though? I don’t know if the Mariners can afford to extend Felix, then they can get Cano and probably need to do so.

          • calicubsfan007

            I think so Jag, just it seems like as of late, the Dodgers have kind of become the Yankees of the West. Wouldn’t put it past them.

    • Professor Snarks

      Cano will Detroit’s starting 3rd baseman in 2014.

  • Curt

    So much for the Yankees holding back sounds like they got ellsbury

  • Steele

    Glad we didnt pay thatcmoney for Ells. Hopefully we can out bid others for Tanaka. Adding Cano or Choo wouldn’t be the end of the world either. Still need to shape up that bullpen though

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