It was a quiet day or two following the Winter Meetings, but things picked back up over the weekend and into yesterday and today. Mostly unfortunate news and rumors as far as the Cubs are concerned, even if not brutally so …
- The Yankees have signed Brian Roberts (OMG Brian Roberts!) to a one-year deal for about $2 million, which might not take them out of the market for an impact second baseman or third baseman, but I could see it taking them out of the market for a Darwin Barney trade. Although Barney’s glove is better, he provides more defensive coverage, and his bat might not be that much worse than Roberts’ given his decline and inconsistency, it’s hard to see the Yankees adding yet another tweener to an infield mix that already includes Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Brendan Ryan, Dean Anna, and Eduardo Nunez. They’ve gotta be all set at this point, unless they prefer Barney so much to some of those options that the involved swap sends the Cubs Anna or Nunez. Even still, I don’t really see it at this point.
- The Diamondbacks pulled off yet another trade, sending third base prospect Matt Davidson to the White Sox for closer Addison Reed. I don’t really love the deal for either side, which I guess maybe means it was a fair swap. Davidson isn’t likely to be a star at third base, assuming he can man the position in 2014 to begin with, and Reed is a pretty-good-but-not-great reliever. A quality every-day third baseman is worth a lot more than even a very good reliever, but it remains to be seen whether Davidson will be that. The upshot here is that it’s another arrow gone from the Diamondbacks’ trade quiver. No, the Cubs wouldn’t be targeting Davidson in a, say, Jeff Samardzija deal, but any reductions in the Diamondbacks’ overall asset pool make them more likely to find that last starter by way of free agency, not trade.
- Patrick Mooney writes about the impending Masahiro Tanaka madness, and it reads like the bleakest take on the Cubs’ chances you’ll see. The opinions on the Cubs’ chances of getting Tanaka therein range from “no shot” all the way up to “long shot.” We’ll see how far the Cubs are able to stretch. The desire to land Tanaka has generally not been questioned – just the financial ability. I will be very disappointed if the baseball guys really want Tanaka (who fits, man, he just fits), but the money isn’t there.
- Joe Frisaro writes, among other things, about the Marlins’ need at third base, and speculates that they could engage the Cubs in a deal for Mike Olt. That’s certainly interesting, given the organizational redundancy at third base for the Cubs and the quality pitching prospects for the Marlins, but it’s hard to see the Marlins giving up the kind of value the Cubs would need to part with Olt right now. Olt might be one of the toughest pieces to put a value on in all of baseball right now, given the eye issue. If his eye troubles are truly behind him, he’s once again a top 50ish prospect in all of baseball, and will get a shot to win the Cubs’ third base job in Spring Training. If the eye troubles are still present, how could the Marlins justify giving up anything of value for him? Indeed, why would the two sides even consummate a trade involving Olt unless everyone knew for sure where things stood? It seems to me that answers to those questions won’t be readily apparent until mid-season at the earliest.
- According to Mark Bowman, the Braves have found the asking price on Jeff Samardzija to be too high for their liking, and have now moved on. David O’Brien doesn’t go quite that far, but concedes that making a move for Samardzija is much less likely now that the Braves have Gavin Floyd in the fold (even though Floyd isn’t a lock to be available before May or June). Floyd, who signed with the Braves for $4 million plus $4.5 million in incentives for 2014, reportedly turned down a two-year deal from the Orioles that could have reached $20 million after incentives (but who knows how much of that $20 million was in incentives, and how much was guaranteed). As for the Samardzija piece, we’d already heard it with respect to the Blue Jays, but the price is sky high. Given the two years of control, the value Samardzija provides the Cubs, and the possibility that Samardzija breaks out in the first half next year, that’s precisely where I’d want to see the price.
- The Twins (SIGN ALL THE PITCHERS) have reportedly re-signed Mike Pelfrey to a two-year, $11 million deal. Even after adding Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and re-adding Pelfrey, the Twins may still look to add another starter (yeah, their rotation was bad last year). That could mean Korean righty Suk-Min Yoon, to whom the Cubs have been connected. It seems like he’s going to be a guy whose situation might not be sorted out until later in the offseason, after the big arms are sorted out, as well as questions on whether Kenta Maeda will be posted.