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lukewarm stoveWe were going to see a lull in rumor activity over the next few days as folks take a break for Christmas, but with the possibility that the Rakuten Golden Eagles make a posting decision on Masahiro Tanaka this week, I’m not so sure we’ll get that lull.

  • Very little discussion on the Cubs/Scott Baker front lately – makes you wonder if the Cubs aren’t all that into any additional back-end rotation competitors right now (save for Tsuyoshi Wada, who got a mere minor league deal) until they know for sure what’s up with Tanaka – but the Angels might be considering him. Baker will find a deal eventually, and I think he can probably get a cheap, big-league deal, too. He may have to give up an option year to get it done, though, and that’s the kind of deal I wouldn’t mind seeing him on if he comes back to the Cubs. (That Angels piece reminds me that Jason Hammel is still out there, and I do still think he’s an interesting option for the Cubs, depending on how things shake out.)
  • The Cubs were reportedly among a small contingent of teams scouting former big league starter Joel Pineiro, who is pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The 35-year-old righty hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2011 following shoulder surgery, but at least one anonymous scout thinks he’s worth a Spring Training invite. He was a decent starter before the shoulder problem popped up. As always, a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite never hurts, but the upside here is very limited given his age and recent out-of-baseball-ness. Even if he dominates in the first half, it’s not like you’re going to get much in return for him as a flip piece.
  • Random synapse connection as I thought about this morning’s piece on the lack of spending by the Cubs, together with the relative bounty of pitching that could theoretically be available in free agency next offseason (Kershaw, Scherzer, Shields, Masterson, Bailey, Billingsley, Cueto, McCarthy, Gallardo and many more): maybe that’s why the Cubs were seeking someone like Jason Heyward or Justin Upton in a deal for Jeff Samardzija. There aren’t many of those types available in free agency next year, but if you can kinda sorta approximate Samardzija in free agency, then you’ve net improved your team by swapping out Samardzija/scrub for Masterson/Heyward. And your team is in a great position to “go for it” in 2015 without having spent huge on both halves of that equation.
  • Joel Sherman suspects that, if Alex Rodriguez’s suspension is not upheld at least for all of the 2014 season, the Yankees will no longer be able to go under the $189 million luxury tax limit, and will thus go spend crazy for the rest of the offseason. In other words, if you’re rooting for the Yankees to be out on Tanaka, it might actually be best for you to root for ARod to be suspended for the full 162 games in 2014 (because then the Yanks might take a crack at staying under $189 million).
  • Speaking of the Yankees and Tanaka, there was a report late last week from ESPN New York that the Yankees are planning to move on without Tanaka … but that report is more about the Yankees coming up with plans to move on without Tanaka if they have to. As in: if he’s not posted at all. All in all, I’m just going to go ahead and assume the Yankees will be in on him big if he’s posted, no matter what.
  • Darth Ivy

    About Baker

    There was no discussion about him coming to the cubs until his deal was already done. It’s definitely a possibility that the lack of discussion is due to there being a lack of interest from the Cubs, but it’s just as likely that their interest is simply not being discussed.

    • Darth Ivy

      I mean, maybe there were general things written like, “these are the free agent pitchers, these are the teams looking for pitching.” But I don’t remember anything discussed specifically referencing the talk between Baker’s agent and the Cubs until the deal was officially announced. There wasn’t even an unofficial announcement.

  • TulaneCubs

    I don’t see the fit with Upton and Heyward. They’ll each enter free agency the same year Shark does. The only way that it makes sense to me to acquire those guys is if they think they’ll have a better chance of extending Upton/Heyward on a team friendly contract or if they think they can later flip those pieces for a better return than Shark would get. Getting either back and thinking that the wins those guys are going to give you over Shark is going to put the 2015 team on another level doesn’t hold water to me.

    If they trade Shark, I’d prefer they do it for players that are going to help the most in 2016 and beyond.

    • Blackhawks1963

      It looks highly improbable at this point that Samardzija gets traded this winter. Lets see if he performs well to start 2014 and can be flipped at the July trade deadline.

      • TulaneCubs

        I disagree that it’s highly improbable that he gets traded. The free agent market for pitchers has been held hostage due to the Tanaka bidding hold up. I still think of all the possible outcomes with Shark- extension, trade in offseason, trade during the season, etc. that him being traded this offseason is the most likely of all of those.

    • Noah_I

      The bigger problem is that Upton at least has a history of being a much better player than Samardzija, and the Heyward definitively is a better player than Heyward. If I was Frank Wren, someone asking for Heyward for Samardzija would be a non-starter.

  • Jay

    My biggest takeaway from this: Joel Pineiro is only 35?

  • Edwin

    Oriels claim Liam Hendricks?

  • X The Cubs Fan

    Cubs claim Brett Marshall. I knew it!

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Cubs claim Marshall P from the Yankees.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Why on earth do we want Scott Baker back? He got paid $5.5 million in 2013 to rehabilitate courtesy of the Cubs. When he did pitch in September his stuff clocked out at 89 MPH. This is a guy who used to rely on pitching in the low 90′s to be successful in Minnesota.

    We’ve given enough to the Scott Baker Charity. Lets move on.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    The only reason I can see to sign Baker is if Shark is traded. And only for a one year contract that is friendly to the FO. It’s crazy how some people develop resentments towards players. For example remarks about Baker. Theo knew he was rolling the dice when he signed him. Anytime you gamble on a TJ come back pitcher it’s a crap shoot. You win some and you lose some. I remember listening to Navaro in an interview and he said that this is a business and it owed it to his family to take the best deal. So baker’s rehab didn’t go as expected. Neither did Viscaino’s rehab go as fast as anticipated. I think people need to realize that there is risk involved in every contract and every player. Baker didn’t have good velocity in the few starts he made, but his command was good and he seems to have a good idea how to set up hitters.

  • Michael

    he had a pretty poor season last year in aaa…they must have seen something they really like in him…he could be a nice project for theo and co.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    I still think Cubs should pursue Bruce Chen or Maholm for competition at that # 5 spot in the rotation and as a possible flip candidate in July. They are both experienced lefties who had pretty decent years last year.

    • Carew

      Im all for bringing Maholm back

  • Noah_I

    If Baker’s velocity hasn’t improved, I’d prefer the Cubs have no interest in him aside from a minor league deal with a spring training invite. Yeah, his results were pretty good in 15 innings at the end of the season, but he struck out no one and only had the good results because of a .136 BABIP. That’s not a recipe for long term success.

  • cubsin

    I think it was a very bad decision by Theo and Company to sign Baker or anyone else coming off TJ surgery for $5.5 million without having at least one option year in the contract.

    • Edwin

      If it’s a team option, it would mean paying more than 5.5MM, at least for the first season. Teams pay to have that.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      They tried. He refused.

      • DarthHater

        Cubs could have walked away. I’m not saying I definitely think they should have walked away. But it’s an arguable point.

      • tj

        Made sense to sign him nonetheless, right?

    • hansman

      And then you’d wonder why they either:

      1. Paid him $500k to go away

      Or

      2. Gave him $5.5M to play after missing most of last year injured.

      Heads they lose; tails they suck.

  • Barroof

    Hansman shoots …….He Scores !!!!

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