The rumors are flyin’ now …
- Bob Elliott reports that the Cubs had Special Assistant and long-time scouting man Tim Wilken checking out Blue Jays pitching prospect Daniel Norris’ latest start at High-A. The 21-year-old lefty has been as good as it gets in the minor leagues this year, and would look like a solid piece in a Jeff Samardzija deal (secondary piece?) and a fan-freaking-tastic piece in a Jason Hammel deal. The Blue Jays are known to have interest in both pitchers, and Elliott confirms as much. He adds that the Jays were recently scouting Samardzija, for whom the Cubs are seeking four players in return.*
- *(I always find rumors like this a bit odd – sure, more prospects/players are better than fewer, but why would the Cubs be setting a price based on the volume of prospects in the deal? Four fringe guys are nowhere near as valuable as two elite guys. The Cubs might be looking for four players, but their actual price on Samardzija is going to depend on caliber the players involved, not just the quantity.)
- Nick Cafardo chatted to some in the scouting community about the possible impact of a Jason Hammel acquisition, should the Cubs trade him. The responses were mixed, which sounds bad, but the way I read Cafardo’s comments is that the “mix” was whether he was a front-line acquisition (the way he’s been pitching) or a mid-to-back acquisition. Even in the latter category, Hammel still nets the Cubs plenty next month, so I don’t really have any qualms. It’s pretty fair to expect some regression in his performance (he’s been throwing like an upper tier number two), but it’s also fair to point out that he’s flashed this kind of ability throughout his career. I just happen to think that he’s healthy, and he’s really taken to Chris Bosio. If you’re looking for a “feel,” I’d still say it feels like Hammel is worth more than Scott Feldman was at this time last year.
- Patrick Mooney writes about Nate Schierholtz, who came into the year figuring to be a big trade piece at this point in the season. He’s been hitting the ball much better of late, but it’s been a significant disappointment so far this year for him overall. A hot month probably turns that around, but we have to keep expectations tempered on a Schierholtz-related return. Last year now looks like the aberration on a guy who was non-tendered after 2012. Schierholtz can be a very good complementary piece for a playoff contender, but I’m not sure he’ll be looked at as a possible upgrade for too many teams. (Seems like the Red Sox could use him, though. Just sayin’.)
- Speaking of the outfield, Jason Kubel is now a free agent after being released by the Twins. The 32-year-old lefty has been a shell of his former self the last two years, and even in the Cubs’ rough outfield waters, I’m not sure there’s a regular spot for Kubel. Even if the goal is to roll the dice on a freebie reclamation project to generate trade value, (1) I’m not sure I’d rather gamble with Kubel starts over, say, Ruggiano or Sweeney starts, and (2) Kubel was making just $2 million this year and went unclaimed on waivers. How much value could he really generate even with a month of dominant play? Moving on.
- Anthony Castrovince questions the trade value of David Price, the presumptive top arm on the market, and suggests that Jeff Samardzija is actually the more attractive overall target. We heard that earlier today, and it’s something I’ve discussed – if not yet concluded – for a while. It’s a reasonable discussion, and that’s something.
- If you follow international signings closely, you probably wonder why Cuban pitcher Raicel Iglesias, the top available Cuban arm on the market right now, didn’t sign by the start of the “closed period” in international signings (which starts today). By failing to sign, isn’t he going to now be subject to signing restrictions starting July 2, because of the change in IFA rules (the one that bumps up the age of Cuban players not subject to restrictions from 23 (Iglesias’ age) to 25))? Ben Badler explains that Iglesias got a special exception to sign during the closed period, so you can look for him to sign at some point before July 2. Iglesias is essentially a pitching prospect, who might have bullpen upside. The Cubs haven’t been explicitly connected yet, but virtually no teams have been. It’s been very quiet.
- Other top Cubans out there right now include outfielder Rusney Castillo, who recently signed on with Jay-Z and could sign in July, and Daniel Carbonnel … who just signed a big league deal with the Giants today.