lukewarm stovePop the champagne: it’s (possibly) the last post of 2013, and it’s a Lukewarm Stove. In a year that has seen the Cubs make more trades, signings, waiver claims, flyer grabs, amateur moves, and pool acquisitions than I can count (well, I mean, I could count them, but I won’t), it’s appropriate to end on the promise of MOAR MOVEZ.

  • Roch Kubatko discusses the possibility of the Orioles trading for Jeff Samardzija, a pairing that has made sense for a long time (if the Cubs were going to move Samardzija), but hasn’t popped up much in rumors. The Orioles could very much use a quality starting pitcher, and they have very little to work with in the way of payroll flexibility. But, as Kubatko notes, the Orioles aren’t likely to consider moving young pitcher Kevin Gausman (who would be among the Cubs’ first targets). Then there’s Tommy John-recoveree Dylan Bundy, who was the clear top pitching prospect in baseball before his injury, as well as AA lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who figures to be a top 50/75 type prospect when the lists come out. There’s also Mike Wright, who looks like a future starter in the bigs. This is all to say: the Orioles have the ammo to get a deal done, but the Cubs have shown no signs of softening what has been a very high asking price. A deal without Gausman or Bundy is conceivable, but the Cubs would have to be in love with Rodriguez (and the two or three pieces behind him) for it to make sense. A Bundy/Rodriguez package would make you explode with squeals, which probably means it’s far from realistic.
  • Speaking of Samardzija, there’s a very interesting report out of Toronto suggesting that other teams are now wary of trade discussions with Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos because they are never sure whether he’s actually interested in a trade, or if he’s just gathering information to be used later (and maybe that’s why Anthopoulos was cut out of the loop when the Tigers traded Doug Fister to the Nationals). Presumably, given the Blue Jays’ need for a starter, whatever talks took place between the Cubs and Blue Jays were legitimate. Still, it’s interesting.
  • Nothing ever happened on Korean righty Suk-Min Yoon, who was in the States recently meeting with teams about a possible contract, and the Cubs were heavily connected. He recently returned to Korea without a deal, and Arirang reports that the free agent might now engage Korean teams about staying there. Yoon dealt with shoulder issues in 2013, and I wonder if he was unable to find a guaranteed big league deal, as opposed to some kind of minor league split deal (minor league deal that pays more than the Major League minimum if and when he makes the big league roster).
  • Things are still quiet on reliever Jesse Crain, who might be a stud in 2014 or might be a lost cause. The Cubs were connected to him recently, and there are presumably many teams involved. One of them could be the Red Sox, according to Peter Abraham.
  • Ken Rosenthal reports on the Yankees’ financial situation. It sounds like, after two years of moves that were dictated by trying to get under $189 million in payroll in 2014 (to stay under the luxury tax cap and reset their escalating luxury tax rate), the Yankees may be ready to give it up and just spend crazily again (especially if it means getting Masahiro Tanaka). Whatever. Fine. It didn’t feel like baseball the last two years with the Yankees sitting on their hands. The spending this offseason felt right. More villainous.
  • Wondering whether Japanese pitcher Kenta Maeda will be posted this offseason? (The Cubs have been connected to him, should he become available.) Doesn’t seem likely now that Masahiro Tanaka is going to absorb a lot of the available dollars (and Maeda is a year further away from true free agency than Tanaka). Ben Badler guesses we won’t see Maeda posted until next offseason. The trick for Maeda’s team is that, although Tanaka is on the market this year, the rest of the free agent pool in the States is relatively weak. Next year, the free agent pitching pool could be much, much deeper. (And I’m once again reminded why it could have made a lot of sense for the Cubs to deal Samardzija, if they were going to deal him, for an impact outfielder like Jason Heyward or Justin Upton. The pitching can be replaced in free agency next year by spending some money. The bats, maybe not.)
  • On that last point, perhaps the Cubs’ revised plan is to punt on 2014 because (1) there wasn’t the kind of impact free agent talent they wanted this year (except possibly for Tanaka); (2) the core prospects are at least a year away; (3) quality pitching can be secured in free agency next year (when the Cubs should still have a protected first round pick, by the way); (4) in-house pitching can be traded for offense not provided by the prospects in the near-term (since that pitching can be replaced with just money); and (5) more money will be available next year. If you knew all of that was the plan for next offseason, wouldn’t you feel a whole lot better about punting on 2014? I sure would. And it makes a lot of sense, too. Hey, Cubs: do that stuff.
  • BenW

    The article on the Blue Jays sure makes it seem like they should be interested in Jeff. If AA is potentially fighting to keep his job, then acquiring good major league talent seems like a must. I don’t think he should make a bad deal, but I think they do need to make some moves. Their core is getting very old (Bautista, Buerhle, Reyes, Dickey), so their window may be closing fast. Tanaka isn’t going to end up in Toronto, unless they offer significantly more than any other team.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Toronto emptied its farm system last winter, all for the privilege of imploding and finishing at the bottom of the AL East. Their prospects for 2014 are similarly dismal, meaning the front office probably get fired next offseason. I can’t see AA trading for Samardzija. Nor if I am their ownership group do I even allow him.

      • CubFan Paul

        “Toronto emptied its farm system last winter”

        False (by a country mile).

      • BenW

        They still have plenty of ammo to make a deal. They have a nice stable of young SP, which is exactly what we are looking for.

        And if ownership is tying his hands from making deals, he may as well walk away now. I’m not saying ownership doesn’t veto deals now and then, but if his job is on the line, and he needs to win, he should have some freedom to improve his team.

        • YourResidentJag

          They have stage fright over what happened last yr.

  • miggy80

    Happy New Year Brett and BNer’s!

  • Bluz Cluz

    I don’t understand why they would wait to post Maeda. Now would be the best time for him and his team. They could probably demand the whole 20 mil, and he would be able to maximize his contract by being a year younger and in a weaker market.

  • Edwin

    “The pitching can be replaced in free agency next year by spending some money. The bats, maybe not”

    Wouldn’t this also be a good reason for other teams not to give up young MLB position players for Samardzija?

  • MaxM1908

    Just came across this article about a top-50 high school prospect from my home town (and old high school prior to the split). Any chance he could be on the Cubs’ draft boards? It would be pretty cool to cheer on a prospect who comes from my neck of the woods:

    • gocatsgo2003

      Pretty sure any top HS prospect with a pulse is on the Cubs’ draft board at this point.

    • cubsin

      I’m sure he’s on the Cubs’ draft board somewhere. If he stays at #50 among high school players, he’d probably go in the late third round or early fourth round. But he could rise to the second round or fall far enough to prefer college, depending on his season.

      I did not understand the paragraph about him leaving his high school team early. He would have until July to sign a professional contract.

      • C. Steadman

        Iowa plays high school baseball in the summer(until-late July if they go all the way to the championship), if he is taken high in the draft the team that signs him could tell him to quit HS baseball to go to the minors

        • Chad

          even into early august.

          • C. Steadman

            true, usually is into august a couple days for final couple rounds

    • THEOlogical

      I have to say I’ve been pretty lucky. My hometown (where I still reside) and the surrounding cities have produced a lower level Reds prospect, Dustin McGowan (Toronto reliever), Adam Wainwright, Kwame Brown (remember him?) and Byron Buxton.

    • Chad

      He’s legit and I hope the cubs do snag him in one of the earlier rounds. Obviously he’s not 4th pick material, but I think he could sneak into the second round, but more likely 3d or 4th round.

  • Edwin

    For the reasons for the revised plan, couldn’t most of those reasons still exist come 2015? There probably won’t be the impact talent (at least at a price the Cubs are willing to pay) in 2015, the Core Prospects might still not be ready to fully start contributing, a protected pick could still be a real possibility for 2015, in house pitching will still be available to trade, and there’s always more money to spend next season.

  • mdavis

    i long have been beating the drum for an Orioles-Shark trade. But without Gausman, i don’t think it gets done. I’m not as high on Bundy as others (size, TJS). would love a Gausman headline and some combo of Rodriguez, Wright, Hunter.

  • Spoda17

    Happy New Year everyone. Thanks Brett and Luke for a great Cubs blogging year. The Cubs stink, but you guys are quite swell.

  • Chad

    “A Bundy/Rodriguez package would make you explode with squeals, which probably means it’s far from realistic.”

    I literally giggled at the thought of this deal.

  • When the Music’s Over

    “(3) quality pitching can be secured in free agency next year (when the Cubs should still have a protected first round pick, by the way);”

    I wonder just how many of attractive 2015 starting pitching free agents actually make it to free agency.

    • Brett

      Certainly not all. The good news is that quite a few who don’t now look like attractive free agents will by November. Happens every year.

      • When the Music’s Over

        I dream on Homer Bailey, but fear he takes another sizeable step forward this year, pricing him out of the Cubs range.

        • Brett

          Oh yeah. Good year from him, and he becomes SUPER expensive. I like the possibility of Masterson, and maybe a healed Billingsley.

          • When the Music’s Over

            Morrow would be interesting as well. With both of him and Billingsley having such nasty stuff, if you can get both them to throw more strikes and maintain health, they could both be beasts.

        • Jon

          Bailey would get 17-18 for 5-7 years on the open market today

          • When the Music’s Over

            Yep, and if he takes another step forward you can bet he’s at or surpasses the $20M/year range.

  • Jon

    I guess you could make an excuse to punt every year for the next 5 years but that’s kind of a losing mentality

  • North Side Irish

    Crain signs with the Astros…let’s hope the Cubs didn’t want him too badly.

    • Edwin

      Crain struck me as one of those guys that if the shoulder checked out, enough teams would probably be interested in him that he’d quickly be priced out of the Cubs’ range. If the shoulder didn’t check out, then he probably wasn’t as good of a risk/reward anyways.

  • Indy57

    Brett, thanks for a great year on BN in 2013. Glad you love what you do because we love following you. Happy New Year!

  • woody

    Seems to me that aside fron Tanaka who fits the long term plan that the FO is content to punt on 2014. Next year the Soriano money is freed and they are another year closer to the new revenues. I see 2014 as a year where a lot of evaluation will be taking place on two levels. First whether Castro and Rizzo live up to their contracts and if Junior Lake makes an impact. Second if all the top prospects continue to improve and get some playing time this summer or fall. With a new manager and hitting coach it seems that there will be a multitude of people under evaluation.

    • When the Music’s Over

      Payroll is so low, the Soriano money should have absolutely zero impact on this year as well. Thankfully I have not heard any messaging from the front office to date saying that it is adversely impacting team plans. If that message does come out, it will be very interesting to see how they spin how it’s hamstringing the team.

      • woody

        18 million isn’t chump change.

        • TOOT

          Sadly, it might be.

        • When the Music’s Over

          No, it’s definitely not, but when payroll of one of the biggest market teams in the sport could find itself near the bottom quartile (say around $70M), Soriano’s contract has absolutely zero impact on the strategic vision / competitive capabilities of the organization. If the team payroll were at $120-130M or so and the Cubs were saying the budget was done for the year, then 100% his dead money would be an issue.

          • TOOT

            Um, where is that money coming from?

          • TOOT

            “Soriano’s contract has absolutely zero impact on the strategic vision / competitive capabilities of the organization”

            Again, the money comes from fans. No fans, no million dollar contracts. Hello.

        • When the Music’s Over

          Also, the Cubs only owe him $14M this year as the Yankees picked up part of the tab.

        • wilbur

          its not the money it is the roster spot, that is a real chump change and not a myth.

  • Niklas

    Happy New Year, Brett! And thanks for an awesome 2013. I’ve really enjoyed reading everything (especially the minor league stuff) here all year long. And next year will be really special for me when I will be visiting Chicago and Wrigley Field for the first time ever. Really looking forward to it. :)

  • Curt

    Brett I have a question I’m sure has been asked before but most of the cubs future is based on the prosepects, the renovation of wrigley and thd redoing of the television deals but with the tv deals exploding wil MLB at some point step in and curb the deals before the cubs can get their tv deal done.

    • Luke

      Why would MLB curb the size of TV deals?

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Is it really prudent to just punt on 2014? Can you expect your fans to watch a third straight season of historically bad cub baseball?

    • jsorensen

      Yes. I think many Cubs fans are willing to put their faith in Theo & his ideas. Speaking as a lifelong Cub fan, being constantly disappointed & lately just amazed that they can never even just get to a World Series, I for one am more than willing to try it this way. Bring on another 100 losses because I have faith that in a few years the Cubs lovable loser image will be permanently erased. It’ll still be in the history books but part of the past, not part of the future anymore. Ever hear of the Curse of the Bambino? Who even talks about that crap any more? That friggin Greek goat can go to hell in a few years.

  • frank

    Read that the Astros have signed Crain.

  • 1ski

    Happy new year, brett

  • johnny chess Aka 2much2say

    The Cubs rebuild starts in Single A and up, it doesn’t matter how much they spend, it only matters how much Depth they can create.

    • 70’scub

      Yep 2much2say the rebuild needs a “foundation” of impact talent depth dominating at all minor league levels spread out from age 18 through 24. At this time Cub impact talent is capped at the age 21/22 (AA) and still is pitching depth light. Two more drafts with top 10 pick, will load out the system. The impact wave of talent will arrive end of 14 and the real start spring training 2015. Year 2015 I would expect a young core to develop in Chicago, with loaded system depth, payroll dollars and excellent player management system in place.

      • jsorensen

        I don’t doubt that, I love it, but don’t forget the international talent & what the Cubs did just this year by grabbing 5 or 6 of the top 30. The naysayers are always saying things like teams would be lucky to have even one of say those 6 make it to the majors and that’s fine. Most won’t make it, but some will, and a few really big. But by signing all the good young talent they can, making smart decisions, and developing the talent they acquire, the Cubs will be reborn!

        • BWA

          Those guys will be in the second wave, hopefully coming around 2017-2018

  • TinLV

    Jesse Crain signed with the Astros today..

  • Commander bob

    I thought Brett said that the Red Sox were after Crain. Houston outbid the red sox?

    • jsorensen

      Crain is from there. I think that made a difference for him. Believe it or not.

  • Reality Check

    well fans; let’s hope we see a championship in the next decade worst case. cubs fans deserve it. as an almost 40 year fan of this team, who lives and dies with this team, we deserve it. is losing on purpose the answer?? i think in the 3rd largest market there are other ways; so the angst of soon to be 106 yrs of losing only is more painful and less enjoyable.

    Happy Holidays.

    GO Cubs(fans) Go.

    p.s. this will be my final post as i’ve been blacklisted. why; i do not know. i register and nothing gets posted. as a 46 yr old, father and husband, 22 year banker and current vp of lending of a financial institution, i highly doubt i should be. freedom of speech? censorship?
    if you are not calling people racists, or dicks, as i saw in the last week or making racial comments, is there any blog site worthy of blocking people?? do we cure cancer, create jobs or anything of substance here. we do not. i’m not a fan of this losing on purpose. perhaps that is it.

    Peace. Out.

    • Brett

      What a bizarre comment. Which wasn’t censored. And did get posted.

      But yeah, good luck to you and congrats on your many successes in life.

  • Blackhawks1963

    As a 4 decade fan I guess I’m blacklisted too. Oh well.

    • Commander bob

      If you really think about it this site is for out towners. I see more stories here a out wrigley construction not starting but if you. Drive by wf you can see all the construction going on. The. Cubs message board allows you to start your own topics so youre not limited by the story of the dY

      • CubFan Paul

        “but if you. Drive by wf you can see all the construction going on”

        That’s not the renovation, that’s annual maintenance…

  • True(ly) Blue

    Happy New Year to everyone. I hope that next year brings more wins at Wrigley. Keep up the great work at BN, Brett.

  • arta

    happy new year to everyone. go cubs!

  • Commander bob

    Use of a cell phone while driving in Illinois is against the law

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