Lukewarm Stove: Upton, Greinke, Garza, Barney, Puig

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Lukewarm Stove: Upton, Greinke, Garza, Barney, Puig

Chicago Cubs

The weekend rumor mill was in effect…

  • Justin Upton was the hottest name making the rounds this weekend, as the Diamondbacks hinted at making the 24-year-old outfielder available, whether they’re in contention or not. Upton’s power is considerably down this year, and his attitude has come into question, but 24-year-old superstars on team friendly deals through 2015 don’t come along every day. Interest in Upton, therefore, has been intense, according to Jon Heyman. A deal is unlikely, as the Diamondbacks aren’t going to move Upton short of a perfect deal, but it’s fun to think about. The interest has come, you’ll note, from teams both in and out of contention, which makes sense given his age and contract. Would the Cubs be interested? Eh. Sure, in the sense that literally every team would love to have someone like Upton. But I doubt they’re interested in the sense that it would cost three or four of the Cubs’ very best prospects to land Upton – indeed, I’m not even sure the Cubs have the ammo to land him if they wanted (short of dealing Starlin Castro).
  • The Orioles are “going hard” after Zack Greinke, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, but could have difficulty putting together an appropriate package without Dylan Bundy or Manny Machado, neither of whom they’re willing to trade. The Orioles have reportedly had interested in guys like Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster, also, but they’d have the same trouble landing Garza (whom GMs believe has more trade value than Greinke). As for Dempster, that’s possible, but his price tag has never looked higher. While I stand by my “top ten organizational prospect plus another lower-ranked piece” trade value for Dempster, I would no longer be shocked if the Cubs do better than that. Maybe even considerably better.
  • Speaking of Garza, the Tigers remain interested, says Danny Knobler, but the talks have yet to become serious. As noted previously, the Cubs have had Special Assistant to the GM Dave Littlefield scouting the Tigers’ AA team (home to prospects Nick Castellanos and Bruce Rondon, for example). The Tigers’ side tells Knobler that a deal is unlikely. Jon Morosi also recently reported that the Tigers previously inquired about Darwin Barney, but we heard that a couple weeks ago. The talks did not progress, but it remains an intriguing fit – the Tigers are desperate for just a little production at second base (and it doesn’t hurt that Barney is playing Gold Glove defense). But could the Tigers offer enough for Garza and Barney without including guys like Castellanos and Jacob Turner? I don’t see it.
  • Ken Rosenthal suggests that the Red Sox remain a possible fit for Garza.
  • But the team that might be the most interested in Garza? The Blue Jays, according to Jon Morosi. The Jays prefer to pick up a pitcher with control beyond this year, so Garza and Wandy Rodriguez are high on their list. I’ve said it before: it would be excellent to deal with the Blue Jays, whose system is absolutely stacked with young pitching talent.
  • A tipster passed along a friend-of-a-friend type story, but one that was plausible enough (and, candidly, interesting enough) to share. All appropriate caveats apply. The story goes like this: apparently, the Cubs had the “highest” offer for Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig, who ultimately went to the Dodgers for seven years and $42 million (there were indeed reports that the Dodgers’ offer was not the highest bid, as crazy as that sounds). But, new owner Magic Johnson put on the hard sales pitch to Puig and his handlers, and he decided to opt for Los Angeles – I’m sure you can imagine what such a conversation might sound like. The other interesting tidbit? The tipster says Puig’s incredibly accelerated residency process in Mexico was partly due to some wheels greased to the tune of multiple millions of dollars. Is it true? I have no idea. Is it illegal if it is true? I also have no idea. Does it sound a little icky? Sure. But I’m also not certain I want to know all of the details of how Jorge Soler got his residency in the Dominican Republic, er, uh, Haiti. Setting that part aside, the story is interesting for the Cubs’ allegedly high offer. Of course, we don’t know the years (it could have been 10 years and $45 million – is that really the “higher” offer?), and we don’t know any other particulars of the offer that might have made the Dodgers’ offer the “best,” if not the “highest.” We do know that the Cubs had interest, and we do know that the Cubs have been willing to spend heavily on amateurs for the past year and a half. How would you have felt if the Cubs had landed Puig for, say, seven years and $45 million?

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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.