Lukewarm Stove: Ryu, Villanueva, Otani, Polanco, More

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Lukewarm Stove: Ryu, Villanueva, Otani, Polanco, More

Chicago Cubs

Away we go …

  • One of the top arms in Korean baseball is set to be posted this offseason, and, assuming the Cubs like him, there’s little reason to believe they won’t have interest. Lefty Hyun-jin Ryu, 25, started tearing up professional baseball in Korea back in 2006 when he was a teenager. He won both Rookie of the Year and MVP that year, and has been very good since, but with only two seasons in the ensuing six that was quite as dominant. He’s not a blazer, with his fastball sitting in the high 80s, but he’s been an effective lefty, who’s just 25. That’s a prime target for the Cubs, but he comes with unique risk, having not pitched in MLB. He’ll also be subject to a posting fee (remember that process? teams submit blind, one-time bids for the exclusive right to offer Ryu a contract), which could fall into a wide range, depending on whose opinion you trust. The Cubs have had scouts in Korea for years, so they’ll be very familiar with Ryu. If they like him and believe he can succeed in the bigs, I see no reason they won’t make an aggressive bid. I suspect we’ll be hearing quite a bit more about him in the near future. I think I’ll be doing some heavy Ryu reading in the near future.
  • Some weeks ago, I mentioned righty Carlos Villanueva as a very conceivable target for the Cubs this offseason. The full details are here. Now that we’ve entered the negotiating window for teams with their own free agents, it’s worth reiterating that the Blue Jays are unlikely to re-sign Villanueva. From Gregor Chisholm: “Villanueva is seeking a multi-year contract and an opportunity to start, but that’s not something the Blue Jays are prepared to offer. The club is currently looking for upgrades to its rotation and doesn’t want to tie itself down this early in the process. That’s one of the reasons why Toronto didn’t extend Villanueva’s contract prior to the end of the year. Villanueva will instead likely be forced to look elsewhere as he tries to put the emphasis on the way his starting gig began (3.03 ERA in his first 11 starts) compared to the way it came to an end (8.10 in final five starts).”
  • I’ve laid out my thoughts on Japanese 18-year-old international free agent (potentially) Shohei Otani, and why, because of the CBA restrictions, he likely isn’t going to be a fit for the Cubs this year. But his name was twice attached to the Cubs in the last week – first by Phil Rogers, and next by Nick Cafardo – among other teams, so it’s worth mentioning. I’m not going to say that Phil and Nick didn’t exhaustively dig into the CBA’s international spending restrictions and implications for a team like the Cubs, who have already nearly exhausted their pool for this signing period, but, um … well, you know. That said, I left open – and still leave open – the possibility that there is an angle here to which we mere mortals are not privy. Maybe the Cubs aren’t worried about signing restrictions next year because they don’t anticipate wanting any of the big names (not bloody likely, given that they’ll have the second largest pool with which to work). Maybe the Cubs expect that Otani really will wait until July to sign, at which point the Cubs can be much more aggressive in their bidding. Who knows. I’m saying on that I wouldn’t read too much into these particular mentions of “the Cubs appear to be big players” for Otani (Cafardo’s words). The best bet for the Cubs to be truly in on Otani (if they really want him) is if he waits to sign until the next signing period begins in July.
  • There is one more third base option on the market for next year, though it won’t knock your socks off: Placido Polanco. The Phillies declined their half of his $5.5 million option for 2013, instead paying a $1 million buyout, which means they see his free agent value as something less than $4.5 million. Although he once again played well above average defense, he hit just .257/.302/.327 and had a couple of back injuries. He’s also 37. Is he really a better option than Luis Valbuena or even taking a risk on Ian Stewart? Don’t you hate that that is a reasonable question to ask? Mercy the third base market is terrible …
  • MLBTR put together a full list of arbitration projections for all teams, which makes for a handy dandy conversation starter about possible non-tender targets.
  • With the offseason in full swing, here’s a reminder to follow Bleacher Nation on Twitter, and “like” it on Facebook. This time of year a lot shows up there that doesn’t always make it here to the site – and it’s also a convenient way to get your rumor fix without having to check the site constantly (which, like, is also a fine thing to do).

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.