Winter Meetings Wednesday Evening: Blanton, Betancourt, Farnsworth, Free Agent Offers, Rule 5 Draft

I didn’t expect today to be even more quiet than yesterday (which was more quiet than Monday), but so it was …

  • The Angels have agreed to sign Joe Blanton for two years and $15 million (plus a club optionaccording to Jon Heyman, which really does make the Scott Baker and Scott Feldman deals look solid. Blanton’s a decent back-end option (his peripherals are much better than his ERA), but I’d rather have both of the Scotts for the same total commitment (for one year). The Blanton signing has a few effects – it takes the Angels out of the starting pitching market, probably, and it sets the bar a tick higher for the Shaun Marcum’s and Brandon McCarthy’s of the market. I’m now pretty confident that each will get three years, and may be out of the Cubs’ range now.
  • I tweeted about it earlier, and it’s more of a curiosity than anything necessarily connected to the Cubs: haven’t heard a peep about Edwin Jackson this entire week. I’m sure he’s waiting on the top of the market (Zack Greinke) to settle before setting about getting a deal done, but it’s interesting that it’s so quiet.
  • The Angels signed lefty reliever Sean Burnett to a reasonable two-year, $8 million deal with a club option for $4.5 million tacked on to the end. He was dominant in 2012, and has been quite good for a long time running, so maybe – for example – Jason Grilli’s deal, wherever he signs, won’t be so outrageous.
  • Jed Hoyer told reporters that the Cubs were in on Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez, but that they weren’t willing to outbid other suitors because they aren’t the final piece of the puzzle, so to speak. Kevin Youkilis is not really an option, and the Cubs (thankfully?) don’t seem very enthused by either Yuniesky Betancourt or Casey McGehee.
  • The Cubs do have some free agent offers out there, but they don’t have a timetable on responses. And obviously they aren’t going to tell us the names (though it’s a fair bet that reliever Jason Grilli is one of them).
  • Bruce Levine has mentioned Kyle Farnsworth‘s name as possible bullpen candidate for the Cubs. I suppose he’s a nice nostalgic, low-cost option, but I’m not sure – at 37 and coming off a down-ish year – whether he’s a guy you sign to be a guaranteed arm in the middle of the pen. Then again, given the age and the down-ish year, you can understand why the Cubs might inquire about his demands.
  • As for the Rule 5 Draft tomorrow, Bruce Levine says the Cubs are prioritizing pitching with their number two pick (there are a number of intriguing MLB-ready relief arms, as well as some young, high-upside types). Carrie Muskat says the Cubs are fielding offers for the slot. It’s one of the deeper/better Rule 5 pools in recent memory, so you could understand a team looking to trade up, but don’t get your hopes up – the Cubs aren’t going to get a top (or even great) prospect in exchange for their pick. Maybe a fringy guy that they don’t have to keep on the 25-man all year (as opposed to a fringy guy they’d take with their pick who they *would* have to keep on the roster all year). Luke previewed the Rule 5 Draft earlier today.
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    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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