Lukewarm Stove: Dempster, McCarthy, Baker, Morgan, Hamilton, Ethier, Marcum

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Lukewarm Stove: Dempster, McCarthy, Baker, Morgan, Hamilton, Ethier, Marcum

Chicago Cubs

While we wait on Dan Haren (remember: many, many teams are likely involved – don’t get your hopes up), there are plenty of rumor bits floating around …

  • On a possible Ryan Dempster reunion, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer confirmed that the Cubs and Dempster had been in contact, and said that it started out as a bump-into kind of situation (Demspter still lives in Chicago). Hoyer says there’s no hard feelings there, but that talks are very preliminary, and are occurring with lots of players. “I don’t want to comment specifically, but there has been contact with him certainly. But in general, I don’t want to characterize interest because next thing you know it’s a story that the Cubs are all over Dempster. But Ryan does fit that [Paul Maholm model (short-term deal, possible flip)] really well …. Characterizing that interest at this point, there has been contact and it was preliminary. There are a lot of players that we’ll end up expressing interest (in), so I wouldn’t overcharacterize it and have it be the lead story. But listen, he pitched well here for a long time. People in Chicago really respect what he did here, and they should, but obviously there’s a mutual respect there.” Increasingly, I think the Cubs, themselves, are floating this story – when was the last time this front office confirmed that it was in contact with a particular free agent? they *never* do that – because they’re feeling out how a return would be received by the fan base. No, Theo and Jed aren’t usually going to care what the fans think when signing free agents, but we can’t lie to ourselves and ignore that getting asses in the seats in 2013 is going to be a challenge, relatively-speaking. Dempster fills a need, and, if the fans still love him, he might fill a few extra seats, too. So the Cubs are feeling it out. Not at all implausible. In fact, it’s pretty darn plausible.
  • Hoyer, although he refused to make any specific commitments, did say that a Dan Haren-like rental is a possibility for the Cubs.
  • Paul Sullivan suggests Brandon McCarthy as a possible target, and Jed Hoyer offered compliments. Until he took a line-drive off the head, McCarthy was shaping up to be a prime target for the Cubs as one of the best of the second-tier type starters. As things stand, his health is a little uncertain, and there are indications that he really wants to return to Oakland. Of course they have a deep rotation as it is. If McCarthy is healthy and wants to shop his services around, the Cubs will absolutely be in contact with him.
  • The Cubs are one of many teams with “varying degrees of interest” in Scott Baker, says Jon Morosi. Baker, 31, missed all of 2012 after April Tommy John surgery, but he’s expected to be ready to go next year. It seems like he’ll have to settle for a one-year-plus-option type deal, which is right in the Cubs’ wheelhouse. He was always a pretty effective pitcher with the Twins, with a 106 ERA+, 1.241 WHIP, and 3.48 K/BB in his most recent five seasons.
  • I really don’t want to mention this, but given Dale Sveum’s publicly-expressed affection for him, it needs to be addressed. Nyjer Morgan was outrighted by the Brewers, and is going to elect free agency today. Morgan was surprisingly excellent in 2011, but fell flat on his face in 2012. He’s just 32, but will likely be viewed as a bench option by teams in 2013. Would the Cubs consider him? He’ll get high marks from Sveum, probably, but with Dave Sappelt and Tony Campana (not to mention Brett Jackson) already in the fold, I’m not sure I see a spot. Which is a relief. Whatever Morgan brings in the form of energy and effort, he more than makes up for in distractions and headaches. He’d have to be five times the player he is for me to have any particular interest. Even if he does love cats.
  • The Brewers had become a vogue guess for Josh Hamilton’s future employer, but GM Doug Melvin today suggested they won’t have the money to get him. Hamilton is an extremely unlikely target for the Cubs, given his age (32 in May) and expected contract demands (seven years or more, $150 million or more). Never say never – if the market craters for him, the Cubs will always look at undervalued assets, whatever their age or contract – but, yeah, I’ll stick with “extremely unlikely.”
  • Buster Olney says the Dodgers are considering shopping Andre Ethier … just a half season after they extended him for five years and $85 million. I don’t think the Cubs would have too much interest (Ethier turns 31 in April), but they do need a right fielder (and, even if both Albert Almora and Jorge Soler develop quickly, the Cubs will still have another long-term OF spot), and Ethier is a pretty good one. The Cubs might check in on the price, but I don’t even think Ethier will actually be moved. Trading him immediately after such a long extension would be a pretty dick move.
  • MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes offered his guesses on the top 50 free agents’ landing spots, and he has only Shaun Marcum (19th best free agent) going to the Cubs. The Cubs are also mentioned as a possibility for Francisco Liriano, Carlos Villanueva, Joe Blanton, and Jeremy Guthrie.

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.