While we await the opening of the Cubs Convention, there are a handful of rumor bits to discuss.
- The Orioles are still interested in outfielder Colby Rasmus, but Eduardo Encina writes that money is the issue. And it’s not a ton of money for the high-upside 28-year-old: he just wants more than the $7 million he got last year in his final arb year. Although it’s possible he wants a lot more, it’s also possible that he’s just looking for a team to pull the trigger on a one-year, $8 million offer. As we’ve discussed, the Cubs have been periodically connected to – and then swiftly disconnected from – Rasmus this offseason. He’s not a perfect fit, given the high strikeout rate, the struggles against lefties, and the lack of high-end OBP. But he can play all over the outfield, is just 28, has clear upside, and is going to come on a cheap, one-year prove-it deal. As much as I like the idea of the Cubs trading for a leadoff type outfielder – Dexter Fowler, for example – I’m not sure Rasmus isn’t the right path for the Cubs (assuming they believe he can fit in the clubhouse). In the end, though, Rasmus may very well wind up on the Orioles, especially now that Nori Aoki has reportedly agreed to a cheap one-year deal with the Giants.*
- Speaking of outfield options, we know that it’s been reported that the Cubs are looking for a regular outfielder, rather than a complementary type, and Mark Gonzales tosses out a couple possibilities: Ben Revere from the Phillies, or someone from the Red Sox’s outfield glut. We’ve discussed each possibility before, but it’s worth reiterating since they’ve popped back up. On Revere, I can see the value of having him on the team, but I’m not sure I see him as a regular, everyday leadoff hitter. On the Red Sox, obviously it depends on whom they would deal. I can see value in Shane Victorino if he can still play quality center field (he had back surgery last year), and I like the upside in Jackie Bradley, Jr. (if the Red Sox were willing to give up on him for cheap – though, even in that scenario, he’s not really a regular so much as a young project). Daniel Nava is a nice player to have, but he doesn’t really play center field. Allen Craig definitely can’t play center.
- Ken Rosenthal digs in on the Cole Hamels trade situation, which predictably includes lofty demands from the Phillies, and teams waiting to see how the prices on Max Scherzer and James Shields shake out. He also mentions that teams might still be waiting on the Nationals to see if they deal Jordan Zimmermann (similarly an ace, but under control for only one year at $16 million). I still wonder if we’re going to see the Nats deal Ian Desmond for a young pitcher, and then deal Zimmermann for prospects.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with Welington Castillo ($2.1 million), which should give trade partners more certainty in deal for the backstop, now knowing exactly how he’d fit in the budget. Mark Gonzales mentions the Rangers, specifically, in connection with Castillo, though the latest out of Texas has them possibly preferring free agent Geovany Soto or a deal with the Astros for Carlos Corporan.
- Jay Jaffe writes about the Cubs’ offseason thus far, with relatively high praise.
- *(I see some folks decrying the Cubs’ lack of involvement on Aoki. I’ve never really seen the fit, particularly because Aoki doesn’t really play center field. I am unmoved by his deal.)