Lukewarm Stove: Dempster, Garza, Soriano, Johnson, Shields, Maholm, Soto (UPDATE: More Demp Stuff)

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Lukewarm Stove: Dempster, Garza, Soriano, Johnson, Shields, Maholm, Soto (UPDATE: More Demp Stuff)

Chicago Cubs

I’m headed out to celebrate The Wife’s birthday (which actually falls on the first day of the Blogathon, as it will every year I do it unless the Trade Deadline is moved – she’s thrilled), but, before we go, here’s the latest from around the rumor mill (and, no worries, I’ll be checking in throughout the night and posting updates as appropriate) …

  • Jayson Stark with a glum report on Ryan Dempster, after yesterday we learned that Dempster is, indeed, willing to consider going to teams other than the Dodgers: One source’s appraisal of the odds of Ryan Dempster and the Braves both reversing field and paving the way for a deal that would send Dempster to Atlanta: ‘There’s always a chance, but I would doubt that seriously.’ Other teams believe Ben Sheets’ three great starts have dramatically reduced the Braves’ sense of urgency to trade for a starter.”
  • Kevin Goldstein added that there’s no chance the Cubs can still snag Randall Delgado from the Braves, even if Dempster decides he’ll go there. When I suggested to Goldstein three reasons why – lost leverage by the Cubs, the lost start Dempster could have given the Braves, and the Braves deciding maybe Delgado (plus another player) was too much for Dempster – Goldstein agreed that those, combined, are the reasons Delgado is almost certainly out of the picture.
  • Matt Garza will not start on Monday as we’d hoped, but he will throw a bullpen session that day. Sure, it could just be a coincidence that Garza is throwing the day before the Trade Deadline, but it could also indicate the Cubs are still holding out hope for an acceptable offer. Keep in mind, they purposely have not put him on the disabled list, despite the fact that he won’t have pitched for two weeks by the time of his next scheduled start, in order to preserve the ability for a trading team to start him right away on, for example, Wednesday. The Cubs have also been sure to play up the, “yeah, he’s not pitching yet, but he had a totally clean MRI!” angle. Are they going to trade Garza? Probably not. But are they pretty clearly trying to keep that option on the table? Yes. A couple of “for what it’s worths”: (1) Garza threw on flat ground today, and said he felt great, (2) he says he would start on Monday if it were up to him. Clearly the Cubs are looking out for Garza’s long-term health over the short-term gain of trying to show him off.
  • Bruce Levine uses Garza’s injury to sort of remind the pitcher of his own mortality – in other words, Levine is suggesting Garza might be wise to compromise on an extension right now. He correctly points out, and gets an executive to say the same, that a player’s first big contract before free agency should probably be a little bit favorable to the team. He gets life-changing money before he actually reaches free agency – and protection in case he gets hurt – and the team gets a deal. Levine says he’s asked around, and Garza’s market value is just $6o to $70 million over five years (which I have a very hard time believing). I think Garza wants much more than that – plus no-trade protection – otherwise, this deal would have been done in the Spring. He’s easily worth that much. If this injury somehow leads to the Cubs getting that deal, I’ll be plenty happy with them not being able to trade him. On that note, Garza did said this when Levine asked about an extension with the Cubs: “There are always possibilities because I am an optimist. Maybe [the arm injury] is a sign from up above saying it is not time for me to go anywhere [else] yet. Maybe there is work to still be done, and I am the guy for the job.”
  • But Jon Heyman reports that the Cubs aren’t likely to seriously entertain extending Garza, mostly because of their emerging much younger core. The two sides, he says, haven’t had extension discussions since the Spring.
  • Josh Johnson and James Shields, because of circumstance as much as ability, are generally now considered the top two available arms on the market. The Rangers seem now to not be so high on Johnson (which isn’t necessarily good, given that the Rangers are likely not in on Garza or Dempster), thanks to the price tag and injury concerns. The Marlins are apparently also worried that, if they don’t get a package that everyone describes as ridiculous, they won’t be able to justify to their fans fan selling off yet another veteran piece. Executives expect Shields to be dealt, with the Braves, Dodgers, Indians and Rangers having the most interest.
  • An intriguing and encouraging report on Alfonso Soriano from Jayson Stark. No, nothing is close, but he says the Cubs are now offering to eat $34 million of the $36 million Soriano is owed after this season, if they can get the right prospect. That’s the kind of money the Cubs might have to eat just to make a deal, but here’s the thing: there’s no way the Cubs wouldn’t just keep Soriano if all that was at stake was salary relief to the tune of $2 million. In other words, the Cubs are trying to land an actual, meaningful prospect or two by dealing Soriano. That would be awesome. Keep in mind, Soriano has no-trade rights.
  • But Ken Rosenthal reports that, although Soriano’s name has come up with the Dodgers, the Cubs might prefer to let Soriano finish out his hot season, and try to deal him in the offseason. Then, Rosenthal says, an AL team might be willing to take Soriano for as much as $12 million per year. (No freaking way.)
  • George Ofman, in a way that suggests interest, says Paul Maholm would make sense for the White Sox, who just lost out on Zack Greinke. Maholm is effective, eats innings, and is quite cheap. Why aren’t more teams popping up in rumors, actually? The most likely explanation is that teams don’t trust the guy they’ve seen the last five weeks, and instead believe Maholm is a marginal 4/5 type. Those guys have value, and are sometimes traded at the deadline, but they aren’t an upgrade for a number of contending teams. Because of his relatively cheap team option for 2013 ($6.5 million), though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Cubs hang onto him.
  • The Braves appear to be looking for a right-handed, lefty-killing outfielder. Reed Johnson, perhaps?
  • The Brewers have reportedly traded back-up catcher George Kottaras to the Oakland A’s. Not a big deal, but it’ll be interesting to see if the return is notable. It could say something about the Cubs’ efforts to deal Geovany Soto, who probably has a touch more value than Kottaras (but probably not as much as you might think).
  • The Rockies traded Marco Scutaro to the Giants and didn’t get diddly poo for him (and they had to kick in cash), if you’re wondering what a guy like that is worth. He had terrible numbers overall this year, particularly away from Coors Field, though.
  • Here are some reminders as we head toward the Trade Deadline, and the 30-hour Blogathon.
  • UPDATE: A sort of nondescript Dempster to the Braves article from Danny Knobler. In short, he says “baseball people think” it’s still possible because the Braves didn’t get Zack Greinke. Not a lot of meat there.

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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.