Lukewarm Stove: Chatting About Free Agents and Trades, and a Healthy Chunk on Jeremy Hellickson

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Lukewarm Stove: Chatting About Free Agents and Trades, and a Healthy Chunk on Jeremy Hellickson

Chicago Cubs

The GM Meetings continue today with an almost shocking lack of chatter. But that didn’t stop Bruce Levine and MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith from chatting yesterday! (Boom, segue’d.)

From Bruce Levine, together with my thoughts:

  • Although the Cubs are interested in reclamation/flippable pitchers like Dan Haren, they aren’t likely to pursue him as a free agent, presuming his price tag will grow beyond the one-year, $12 million he was going to get from the Cubs (approximately) if the deal for Carlos Marmol hadn’t fallen apart. I’m not convinced he will get more, given that the deal almost certainly fell apart thanks to some spooky medicals. Then again, a team might take a shot on him for something like two years and $20 million, which would be too much for the Cubs to commit, given their likely skepticism about his health.
  • The kind of free agent pitcher who will sign with the Cubs is one who wants to prove he’s still got it (or, as I like to keep mentioning in the case of Carlos Villanueva, a chance to prove he can be a full-time starter).
  • Scott Baker is another pitcher in the mold the Cubs might pursue. We’ve discussed him a little bit here before.
  • Francisco Liriano is another name in that group, given that he’s looking for an opportunity to re-establish himself.
  • The Cubs may not have the pieces to acquire Jeremy Hellickson (well, I mean, of course they have the pieces – the Cubs now have a top ten system in baseball – it’s a question of whether they’re willing to move them), and Bruce isn’t sure if the Cubs will engage the Rays on that one. Hellickson’s ERA/ERA+ have been ridiculous in his young career so far (3.06/124), but he has consistently out-pitched his peripherals. In other words, he’s always had a nice ERA, but a spectacularly low BABIP, super high LOB%, and a really meh K/BB. That all suggests he’s been lucky, rather than good. As does his career 4.51 FIP. But he’s 25 and not yet arbitration eligible. Gotta figure the Cubs will at least inquire. (Oop, and what do you know, Jon Heyman just reported that the Cubs are interested … before saying the same ridiculous “don’t have the pieces” thing. Seriously folks: almost any system in baseball has the pieces to acquire almost any player in baseball if they were willing to go bonkers. Which most teams aren’t.) Hellickson might just have to get his own post soon.
  • There’s history between the Cubs’ front office and Kevin Youkilis, but the Cubs haven’t shown any interest yet. Youkilis is expected to get a deal longer than the Cubs would be willing to offer.
  • Speaking of third base, Mark Reynolds is a bad fit, thanks to his poor defense at third, and his low OBP. Jeff Keppinger could be a decent fill-in type, though he’s coming off a ridiculous year. Here’s a random thought: what about Eric Chavez? Kills righties, and would be easy enough to find a platoon partner (heck, Luis Valbuena hits rather well against lefties (despite him being a lefty hitter)).
  • Bruce says Casey McGehee could be a full-time starter at third base. No. Just no. Minor league deal and give him a chance to shock? Sure. But signing him to be THE third baseman? No. No, no, no, no.
  • A big hurdle to bringing Ryan Demspter back is the fact that this front office doesn’t give no-trade clauses, and Dempster is likely to get too much money without one. Outside of his possible desire to return to Chicago, it’s not a perfect fit.
  • Bruce says the Cubs’ front office would like to hang onto Barney, whom they could potentially trade for a starting pitcher, because of his grittiness and his leadership.
  • Bruce suggests, contrary to popular opinion, that Alfonso Soriano would be a poor fit in the AL because the pitching is better. I don’t want to drill down into the numbers of why that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I’m thinking there’s an equal shot Soriano is traded in the NL or AL this offseason (neither of which is likely – but the Cubs will try).
  • Chicago, the city, is probably not a good fit for Josh Hamilton.

From MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, again, with my thoughts.

  • The feeling around baseball apparently is that the Haren/Marmol deal fell apart for the very reason I said that night: the medicals. Just sayin’: looks like the Cubs did the right thing, rather than the deal being an example of them fumbling a deal at the goal line.
  • If the Cubs can find another taker for Marmol, Ben says, they should pull the trigger. Presumably, that’s because a $9.8 million closer doesn’t really have a spot on a probably-bad team.
  • Ben is not hearing any talk about the Marlins dealing Josh Johnson, but he doesn’t rule out the possibility that chatter could pick up later in the offseason. The Marlins might be wise to wait out the market. Bruce Levine previously mentioned Johnson as a possible Cubs target.


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.