Lukewarm Stove: Burnett, Soriano, Cespedes, Concepcion, Fielder

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Lukewarm Stove: Burnett, Soriano, Cespedes, Concepcion, Fielder

Chicago Cubs

Pundits have been remarking in the last week or so that they can’t remember an offseason where so many major free agents were yet unsigned come late January. It is pretty incredible when you consider that we’re just a few weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training.

  • The Yankees, at present, have a clear glut of starting pitchers (even if, like the Cubs, the back end of the rotation is a bit weak): Sabathia, Pineda, Kuroda, Nova, Garcia, Burnett, Hughes, and so on. So, it’s unsurprising that vague rumors about guys like Phil Hughes and AJ Burnett are swirling. The latest bit comes courtesy of Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman, himself, who yesterday acknowledged that he may be looking to “use [their] excess pitching to find a bat.”
  • The bat about whom most folks want to speculate is Alfonso Soriano, whom the Cubs would love to move to an AL team where he could DH. But the Yankees? Setting aside whether they’d want Soriano back, one thing of which you can be sure: they aren’t going to want to take on much of any salary to add him. That would mean a bad contract swap, something the new Cubs’ front office is not crazy about. So now you’ve got to set two things aside, and you land somewhere around a Soriano plus $20 million for AJ Burnett. Is that really a deal you’re interested in? Burnett, 35, hasn’t had an ERA under 5.15 or an ERA+ over 86 since 2009. Frankly, I’d rather have Soriano as a 4th outfielder/occasional DH. I don’t really see a fit here.
  • Ken Rosenthal says – no surprise – the Tigers, Marlins and Cubs are the “most active” on Yoenis Cespedes, but offers no update on Cespedes’ residency situation in the Dominican Republic.
  • To that end, however, Ben Badler notes that the Dominican team for whom Cespedes has been playing the last couple weeks – badly, I should say – has announced that Cespedes’ time with the team is done. I’m only speculating, but, might Cespedes be done playing because his residency is about to come through? There were only a handful of games left as it is, so, again – just speculating.
  • Jim Bowden says the Marlins “remain committed to outbidding the Cubs and Tigers for Yoennis Cespedes if and when he every attains free agency.” Obviously the Marlins are deeply interested, and we’ve heard their president publicly state how aggressively they’re going to bid, but don’t all of the teams remain committed to outbidding the others at this stage? Cespedes is not even a free agent yet. If a team wasn’t planning on bidding high at this point, they wouldn’t be on anyone’s short list. We’ll see how things shake out, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Marlins come in with the “highest” bid … full of deferred compensation, extreme backloading, and incentives. Here’s hoping the Cubs’ offer is in the same ballpark.
  • Cuban pitcher Gerardo Concepcion, who is already a free agent, is nearing a decision in his future MLB team. With at least one offer already on the table, Concepcion’s agent says the pitcher will probably decide in the next two weeks. His leading suitors to this point, according to his agent, are the Cubs, White Sox, Rangers, and Yankees. He worked out for the Rangers on Monday. Kevin Goldstein says Concepcion has “great polish” for his age (18), but doesn’t have front-end starter stuff. Instead, he’s projected as more of a four or five.
  • Jon Heyman says Prince Fielder is down to a final four or five teams, with three believed to be the Nationals, the Orioles, and the Rangers. The other team or two is from among a group of the Mariners, Blue Jays, Marlins, Brewers, and (come on, now) the Cubs. If the Cubs made a substantial offer on Fielder at this point, you could characterize that as the shock of the century. It’s a young century yet, I suppose. Still. Don’t count on it.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.