lukewarm stoveAh, it’s nice to be in the post-Tanaka period of free agency. Regular rumors are back! And it’s almost February!

  • An interesting pair of articles from Shi Davidi and Ken Rosenthal on the Blue Jays trades that weren’t this offseason. One deal had them landing Brett Anderson from the A’s (who later went to the Rockies), and another had them getting Ian Kinsler from the Rangers (who later went to the Tigers). Having missed on those deals for various reasons, the Blue Jays elected to patiently wait out the market – maybe the salary demands of Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana fall? maybe the Cubs back off their exceedingly high price tag on Jeff Samardizja? – and they’re still waiting. It seems like the Blue Jays are going to do something, but as the markets for Santana and Jimenez slip, it kinda seems like that something is going to signing one of those guys (especially given the Blue Jays’ protected first round picks). Indeed, the Blue Jays’ GM recently indicated that prices are coming down on the free agent starters.
  • The Orioles are reportedly going to go “all out” to get recently-back-on-the-market starter A.J. Burnett, who makes his home in Maryland. The Orioles were, at one time, viewed as a potentially serious suitor for Jeff Samardzija, if the Cubs elected to move him before Opening Day (which is obviously debatable). Signing Burnett would close that door.
  • Interestingly, that Peter Gammons report also says the Tampa Bay Rays are involved in the Burnett pursuit. Obviously that would seem odd for an organization with an exceedingly tight budget and a nice pool of pitching talent already … unless they viewed it as a prelude to trading David Price.
  • We’ve not heard much connecting the Cubs to Bronson Arroyo this offseason, which has made sense given (1) rumors that Arroyo was seeking a three-year deal, (2) Arroyo’s age (37 in February); and (3) questions about how much longer Arroyo’s stuff will play at the big league level. But maybe Arroyo is going to have to settle for much less than he’s wanting? And maybe he doesn’t have many options? Arroyo complains openly to Jayson Stark that he has yet to receive even a single offer this offseason. Of course, the meaning of an “offer” is probably a fuzzy thing, and if Arroyo was waiting for a three-year, $30 million “offer,” then it’s understandable that he hasn’t received an offer yet. If he has to settle for appreciably less than that? And if he doesn’t mind being a potential flip candidate on a team like the Cubs? Maybe we should be hearing more about him.
  • Scott Boras told Nick Cafardo that folks should know more about what’s going to happen with 27-year-old Korean righty Suk-min Yoon within in the next 10 days. We still don’t know whether the Cubs remain involved.
  • The Royals have re-signed starter Bruce Chen – did you know he was available? (maybe you did, but it seemed like a fait accompli that he was going to return to the Royals) – to a one-year, $3.25 million deal with a mutual option for 2015 at $5.5 million ($1 million buyout). He also can earn up to $1.25 million in incentives. That’s a $4.25 million guarantee for a 36-year-old who was worth just 1.4 wins last year (albeit with a very nice 3.27 ERA (4.12 FIP, 4.93 xFIP)), which sounds about right. If that’s the range for guys like Jason Hammel and Paul Maholm, too, then there’s little downside in the Cubs grabbing one of them. Gut says Hammel does better than that, while Maholm falls right in that range.
  • There were rumors at the time of the Matt Garza trade that the Cubs were going to get second base prospect Rougned Odor in the deal until the Rangers raised concerns about Garza’s elbow, and Peter Gammons says that’s accurate. Odor has flown up the rankings since then (he’s a clear top 100 prospect, with many believing he’s a top 50 guy), and the rumors were that he was replaced in the trade with Justin Grimm (whom I’m sure the Cubs are plenty happy to have). Can you imagine if the Cubs had received C.J. Edwards, Rougned Odor, Mike Olt and Neil Ramirez in that deal? Rangers fans would have driven to Chicago to start another fire.
  • Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija are getting close on avoiding arbitration – they’re $100K apart, according to Levine. That’s close, indeed, given that the ask was $6.2 million, and the offer was $4.4 million.
  • When The Musics Over

    As I said yesterday, sounds like the Blue Jays are doing the whole, “we’re interested in XYZ player, but we don’t want to pay market price to attain him” thing. Just fishing, hoping someone will bite.

    • Pat

      Well, the Jays aren’t the only ones who don’t want to pay a TOR price for Samardzija. The Cubs are also hesitant to treat him that way.

      Personally, I think he’s just a guy who falls outside of the first standard deviation of what his peripherals would suggest his results should be, and that isn’t all that uncommon. Over a third of players do. Of course, half of that third overperforms their peripherals, but that’s still 1 in 6 guys who underperform them. Not a huge percentage, but still sizable.

  • On The Farm

    “especially given the Blue Jays’ protected first round picks”

    So because technically the Bickford pick is 10A (which is essentially #11), it’s still a protected pick because it is the 10th pick, although not really? Just curious on the rules because I know the Mets tried to raise a stink since they had the the #10 pick, but because the Pirates had #8A it bumped them to #11.

    • On The Farm

      Never mind, I just needed to think about it a little more.

  • David

    Damn I hope the cubs are good in 2015.

  • bobdawg78

    Didn’t know Odor was originally going to be coming our way instead of Grimm. Stinks we didn’t get him, but I still LOVE our HAUL for a 2 month RENTAL of Garza. The icing on that deal as well, is that the Rangers didn’t make the playoffs either, so they basically just GAVE AWAY those players (hind sight).

    Is it just me, or do others want to see the Cubs move Samardzija sooner rather than later? I don’t want to just GIVE him away, but if we get a more than FAIR offer for him, I’d like to see him moved so we can move forward. If we could get Sanchez from the Jays, and a couple other descent prospects for Samardzija, I’d do it in a heart beat. We’re not going any where this season, so adding to our minors right now, and signing someone like Maholm to fill in until the deadline to later be flipped, sounds about right for me.

    • Chad

      No, I am in no rush to see Samardzija moved. I would prefer to see how he does the first 3 or 4 months this year and then perhaps flip him. I’d still like to see the cubs extend him but I think there is a slim chance of that happening. I would only trade Samardzija right now if they got a killer return, not just a fair one.

      • twinkletoez

        My worry with Samardzija is that we don’t trade him before the season, and come trade deadline all the teams that we match up good with as trade partners, meaning they have the quality pitching close to major league ready that we are looking for, are out of the race or ran away with it and have no interest in trading for him anymore.

        • Javier Bryant

          Mine too. Baltimore, Kansas City, Toronto could all be out of the playoff race by then.

          • YourResidentJag

            And if that’s the case and the Reds are out of the race as well…then you could potentially have the selloffs of Shields, Bailey, and Wei-Yen Chen further crowding the trade deadline with SP. Oh, and did I mention Price…yeah he might be available then as well.

            • Eternal Pessimist

              There are always new great prospects developing that will be good trade bait mid-season, and some teams hanging around the frindges who will be willing to trade at the deadline to become contenders.

              • YourResidentJag

                There are except for the fact that those prospects often don’t get traded regardless of the time. Those teams you mentioned will be bidding also on all these other guys at the SP position….so Shark better have solid 1st half numbers.

        • dunston donuts

          Perhaps he is traded before the dealine. Kind of like the Feldman deal last year. A team may pay more to have 3 months of a player versus waiting until the deadline and only getting 2 months.

  • Kyle

    The Pirates losing Burnett is a major blow, and they don’t appear to be getting anything to replace him. Both the Reds and Pirates botched their offseasons, which of course because Cardinals.

    • When The Musics Over

      Not sure I call it a major blow. Does it suck, sure, but they have some depth, especially if Tallion progresses nicely at the beginning of the year, whether in AAA or in MLB.

      • Patrick W.

        I think it is a major blow, and I don’t understand it at all. How do they explain 20 years of being also-rans, then making the playoffs, then losing Burnett and not replacing him? It’s one of the stranger stories this off season. I’d feel a lot better about their staff if Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez were their 6/7 starters, not 5/6.

        • BenW

          Exactly. They caught lightning in a bottle with Liriano last year, and now they are relying on him to carry them this year. They have tons of dollars coming off the books next year, and a strong farm system, so the fact they didn’t sign anyone or make a trade blows my mind.

          Same with the Reds. Their window is probably closed, unless they get extremely lucky and overtake the Cards. After this season, Bailey is a goner, and they will have to sign Latos/Cueto.

        • When The Musics Over

          If I was a Pirates fan, I’d be far more concerned with the state of the offense and how the team plans on scoring runs, than on the replacement value of Burnett vs. some sort of combination of Volquez and Wandy as their 6/7 starters (yes, if Tallion makes the team, they get pushed to 6/7, with Liriano, Cole, Morton, Locke at 1-4 and Tallion as 5).

          • BenW

            They made the playoffs last year even though they were only 9th in the NL (21st overall). Their pitching was incredible last year. If Marte is healthy all year, they should score more runs this year. But, their pitching is due to regress.

            • BenW

              I should say 9th in Runs scored.

              • When The Musics Over

                Yep, exactly. The runs allowed was going to carry a high probability of regressing no matter what, so the offense had to get better. Too bad they didn’t add one offensive piece. They resigned Barmes and Sanchez instead.

              • When The Musics Over

                They were 20th in runs scored last year.

    • Edwin

      It’s odd they didn’t take a run at some of the more affordable arms that were available this offseason.

      • aaronb

        I could still see them adding an arm.

        I REALLY want to see the Cubs add a couple of pieces. Jimenez and Nelson Cruz would make me feel much better about the direction of the franchise.

        • CubChymyst

          Nelson Cruz would not make me happy.

          • aaronb

            We could help his defense by putting him in LF. We already have a decent glove in RF.

            His OPS+ since 2007 by season:


            Even at his age 33 season he would clearly be the best offensive player on the Cubs. I just don’t see any tangible downside.

            • CubChymyst

              the 123 is also off a PED suspension and playing in texas which is a hitter park. My worries are Cruz looking more at the 103 OPS+ or worse player then a 123. I don’t think he is worth the contract he is seeking.

              • CubChymyst

                I know OPS+ is park adjust

            • BenW

              You just gave his age 27-32 seasons (pretty close to prime seasons for a player). He’s highly unlikely to duplicate even his worst season going forward.

              He also would cost a 2nd round pick, and wouldn’t be remotely valuable by the time the Cubs are contending.

              Fangraphs has Cruz at 1.5 WAR last season. Sweeney was at 1.1 (in fewer AB).

              I don’t see any tangible upside to signing him.

            • Edwin

              His WAR the past 3 seasons: 1.3, 1.1, 1.5. Even if you put him in LF, there’s no real defensive difference. He’ll still be a bad fielder, and a bad baserunner.

              He’s a bat only player who barely manages to bat well enough to remain valuable.

            • D-Rock

              You do know he accomplished this with the help of PED’s, right?

            • ari gold

              remember this isn’t the steroid era where hitters were really productive into their late 30’s. Now they’re very lucky to be productive to age 35. Look at how Hamilton and Pujols have regressed quickly. No thanks to Cruz.

  • Voice of Reason

    If I’m the Blue Jays I’m signing Santana or Jimenez and giving up the pick!

    Why would I trade a top prospect for Shark? Then, I’ll have to resign Shark to keep him around and he wants just as much money as what it will take me to get Santana or Jimenez. And, Santana and Jimenez are better starters than Shark!!

    It’s a no brainer unless the Cubs lower the asking price for Shark??

    • On The Farm

      Or, they could sign one of the FAs and trade for Samardzija. The whole point in trading for Samardzija right now is that he would be under team control for two years at a cheaper price than a FA. Since most FA lose their value after their 2nd or 3rd year anyway. Getting a player for two years at a cheaper cost to be in the “win now” window, which by trading for Dickey they appear to be.

      That is why you give up the prospect instead of signing the FA.

      • Voice of Reason

        The hot rumor is the jays are going to sign either santana or Jimenez just as I said they should.

        And just as I said Tanaka would sign with the yanks or dodgers from the time it was announced he was coming here.

        • bbmoney

          Way to pat yourself on the back. We’re all so proud.

          • MichiganGoat

            Nostradamus, we need a medal to give out.

  • V23

    Why aren’t the Cubs pursuing a team friendly 4-5 year deal with Smardj? He has a “young” arm and can be a high #3 (low #2) through when the Cubs may be good?

    I haven’t seen any rumors of a longer term contract. Have I missed it? It seems like a smart team contract to pursue.

    • Brett

      The Cubs and Samardzija have discussed a long-term extension a number of times, but they have not been able to meet on a reasonable price. Example:

    • Blackhawks1963

      A. Samardzija is under team control for 2 more seasons…hence no urgency on the part of the Cubs to get a new deal done.

      B. Samardzija seems intent to bet on himself, which more power to him.

      C. This “sign Samardzija to a new contract” crap has been way, way, way overblown and ridiculous.

      • V23

        Signing guys to extensions during ARB years is a smart way to reduce cost on a long-term contract. Not sure how it’s “overblown”.

        Unless of course, Cubs don’t believe he’s a 2-3 starter. Starting pitching is where the Cubs are empty in the farm system and it’s extremely expensive to buy.

        Just askin’

        • gocatsgo2003

          Right. The whole point is that the Cubs have been trying to sign him to a team-friendly extension for a while now, but he seems content to ride out his arbitration years to try to score a bigger paycheck when he actually hits free agency (or when he signs an extension with the Cubs at a later date).

        • Chad

          I believe the cubs would really like to sign him to an extension for 5 years at about 50-55 million. Let’s say 55 for this example, which is 11/year. Now that may seem a little low for a FA SP, but if you consider that this year he’ll be at about 5 and next year at about 8 millionish/year, that is 3 years for 42, or 14million/year, which is pretty darn good.
          If he were to want 5/65 that buys out his 3 FA years at 17.3 million/year which is probably a bit high IMO due to his inconsistency. If the cubs are going to have to pay that much, then they might as well wait until after the 2014 season if he has 1 year of control left at 8 million, they can afford to buy that out and give a total contract of 5 years for 65 million which would mean those 4 years of FA would cost about 14.25 million per year and that would be better IMO.

          He’s just cheap right now, and very valuable to the cubs in several different avenues.

    • hansman

      “Why aren’t the Cubs pursuing a team friendly 4-5 year deal with Smardj?”

      They’ve just been to dumb to think of it. But now that you mentioned it, talks are starting in earnest!

      • DarthHater


  • Blackhawks1963

    Burnett to Baltimore seems like a foregone conclusion. He really wants to play in his backyard and they have had a bad offseason and need a starting pitcher very badly.

    In my opinion, the Cubs are done adding pitchers of any consequence. I don’t see them having any interest in Jimenez, Santana or Arroyo. WHich I’m perfectly fine with, because none of those 3 do anything for me, especially at the pricetags involved.

  • ruby2626

    Samardjia’s overvalued idea of how much he is worth has to be hurting the chances of trading him. Why would a team want to acquire and then pay for a #1 when he pitches like a #3. Of course with his post All Star ERA of 5.50 maybe a #3 is generous.

    • Chad

      They will want him for the two cheap years of control that still remain. He is a good pitcher and is very valuable to a team that is ready to contend or wants to contend. They may not care about resigning him if they can get 2 good years out of him.

      • V23

        Then that’s a completely wasted asset.

        • Chad

          Why? He will still have trade value next off season and even the trade deadline of 2015 (aka Garza). Would you prefer they just give him away for meaningless prospects? If he does great this year he could be even more valuable next year to the cubs or in trade.

      • YourResidentJag

        Why? I’d rather have the younger asset that should be obtained to make the ballclub competitive come 2016-2017 . You know, when Shark’s no longer here.

    • Brocktoon

      This is twice now that you’ve claimed Samardzija’s 2nd half ERA was 5.50 It’s still not close to correct.

      • On The Farm

        “You keep using that stat. I do not think it means, what you think it means.”

      • D-Rock

        4.06 pre All-Star
        4.72 post All-Star

    • On The Farm

      He had a 5.54 ERA in August and 5.58 in September, but in 2013 his 2nd half ERA was 4.72 and he is a 3.99 ERA for his career.

  • rabbit

    No point in trading shark now unless the asking price is met. teams are way more willing to overspend at the trade deadline anyway. By that time hopefully Hendricks will have forced the cubs hand and he will be taking over a SP position.

  • David

    Bad news…. Toronto expected to sign one of Santana or Jimenez. This from xm radio guys.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      As a Sox fan, I think that it is great news! So will O’s and Rays fans.

  • http://BleacherNation blewett

    I’ve been thinking (way too much) about ways the Cubs could get that elusive young “ace.” Here’s a couple:

    Say the Mets are still in contention at the trade deadline. It’s no secret they are not enamored with Ruben Tejada as their starting SS. Would they give up Matt Harvey for Starlin Castro to make the play-offs? Harvey probably won’t pitch until 2015, but that suits our timeline just fine and it opens up SS for Baez. Would we gamble on a post-TJS Matt Harvey to be our proven young ace? I think we’d have to consider it.

    How about if the Dbacks are willing to swap Archie Bradley for Javier Baez? Both are overall top 10 prospects. It’s a fair deal. Would we do it?

    • coondawg

      How about Shark and Castro for Archie Bradley,Sp, Chris Owings , ss, Stryker Trahan , C,and 2 more pieces

  • Diehardthefirst

    Yankees will ask about Shark at All Star break when Tanaka is on DL

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    C’mon Brett, is today Financial Piece Friday? :-)

    • Brett

      Unfortunately I can say for sure it won’t be today. Still doing some of the necessary background work. Hoping for next week, and hopefully it will have been worth the wait. The timing isn’t entirely within my control.

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        It’s cool. Better ready than rushed. Thanks for the update!