The impending managerial search closure is the hot item right now, but the early offseason rumors persist …
- There hasn’t yet been much in the way of rumors connecting Curtis Granderson to the Chicago Cubs, even if he is from Chicago. He did make some interesting comments on the radio this week, though, when asked about his $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Yankees (sounds like he won’t accept it, but he’s got until Monday to decide). He seemed to bring up the possibility of returning to Chicago on his own, and noted that coming to the Cubs or the White Sox was conceivable. Granderson is coming off of an injury-wracked season in which he played just 61 games and hit just .229/.317/.407. Before that, Granderson was good for a .262/.344/.503 line since 2007 with 30ish homers a year. He’ll play next year at age 33, and those injuries last year were of the flukey variety. There could be some value in adding a Granderson in left field on a short-term deal (he wouldn’t be blocking anyone, and could be dealt if the need arose), though the loss of a draft pick/pool money is an obvious consideration.
- Sources tell Ken Rosenthal that the Nationals are in the market for an elite starting pitcher, though Rosenthal mentions only Max Scherzer and David Price (not Jeff Samardzija, who feels to me like a fit, albeit in a lesser vein). The Nationals could be a fit in a Samardzija deal (with pitching prospect Lucas Giolito headlining), but there are so many bridges to cross before that even becomes a reasonable conversation. For now, it’s simply worth watching what the Nationals start pursuing in this regard.
- Rosenthal adds, by the way, that the Rangers will once again consider dealing from their infield surplus, which is probably of no moment to the Cubs. Ian Kinsler would be an interesting addition at second base, though he’s 31 and is owed $62 million over the next four years or $69 million over the next five. Thing is, the Cubs have Starlin Castro at short (or third or second), and Kris Bryant (third?), Javier Baez (short, second or third), and Arismendy Alcantara coming quickly. That doesn’t even mention incumbent Darwin Barney, Mike Olt or Christian Villanueva. The infield, near-term with the Cubs, could become crowded.
- On Samardzija, despite the resurgent rumors, Bruce Levine says the Cubs and Diamondbacks aren’t talking about him right now. Of course, Levine adds that a lot of teams would be interested.
- The Rangers have reportedly re-signed Geovany Soto to a one-year deal, and he’s currently their top catching option (until and unless they’re able to land Brian McCann). Soto actually put up solid numbers as the back-up in Texas last year (.245/.328/.466), and a one-year, $3.05 million deal with incentives (which are probably designed to kick in if Soto winds up being the starter all year) seems like a pretty good bargain for a top back-up catcher. Maybe that bodes well for the Cubs if they seek to retain Dioner Navarro, who also stepped up as a top back-up in 2013.
- Grant Brisbee wonders if Ubaldo Jimenez is going to find a lack of suitors, given the attachment of draft pick compensation. Jimenez reinvented himself last year after a stark drop in velocity killed his effectiveness in 2011 and 2012. There wasn’t a better pitcher in baseball in the second half of 2013, and I can’t help but wonder if, even at the cost of a second round pick, Jimenez isn’t worth a three-year, $30 million investment. If the market is really as depressed as Brisbee thinks, maybe he could come for less. Of course, at that point, he starts thinking about accepting that $14.1 million one-year deal the Indians have offered him.
- Mark Gonzalez says the Cubs are interested in free agent utility man Willie Bloomquist, who had a career year (as a bench guy) in 2013 with the Diamondbacks. Of course, a career year for the 35-year-old Bloomquist is a .317/.360/.367 line over 48 games. Feels like the kind of guy a team will overpay, but he certainly does come with some nice versatility – he can play all over.
- The initial asking price on Brandon Phillips – for the Yankees – was reportedly steep, per Jon Heyman. If the Reds can get anything at all for the declining, troublesome, 32-year-old with $50 million left over the four years on his deal, they should take it. “Steep”? Ridiculous.
- A Cuban catcher is showcasing for teams in Mexico. Yenier Bello, 28, was a solid backstop in Cuba for a number of years before trying to defect in 2012 and being caught. That essentially took him out of baseball for a couple years, so it’s unclear what has been lost in the interim. The Cubs are as needy behind the plate as any team in baseball, so we’ll keep an eye on this one.