Lukewarm Stove: Ludwick, Ross, Bourn, Soriano, Jackson, Otani, Greinke, Dempster

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Lukewarm Stove: Ludwick, Ross, Bourn, Soriano, Jackson, Otani, Greinke, Dempster

Chicago Cubs

It’s not looking like there will be Bullets today, as the majority of items meriting discussion are of the “Lukewarm Stove” variety. So, feel free to consider this your “Bullets” for the day, even though it is, in reality, a Lukewarm Stove. (Most meta intro ever.)

  • Now that Zack Greinke has agreed to terms with the Dodgers (more on that, below), I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a dramatic uptick in activity this week – perhaps more, even, than at the Winter Meetings last week. He may have been the log-jam-inducing guy at the top of the board, from which a great many other things trickle down (which impact other things, which impact other things, etc.). With that in mind, if you haven’t already followed BN on Twitter and liked it on Facebook, you should. They are handy ways to keep up with things this time of year.
  • This is really interesting: in an off-hand tweet, Jim Duquette says he hears that, prior to re-signing with the Reds, Ryan Ludwick was also negotiating with the Giants and … the Cubs. Ludwick, a righty-batter, hasn’t played anywhere other than left field with regularity since 2010 (when he played some right field). What would the Cubs’ intentions have been with Ludwick, 34, who last year played exceedingly well in Cincinnati in a non-platoon role? Does he split time in right field with Nate Schierholtz? Does he displace Alfonso Soriano in left, because there was a Soriano trade in the works? Was he simply a guy the Cubs thought they could get on the cheap, and who could contribute in either corner outfield spot and off the bench? It’s probably that last one (or the Cubs were negotiating with him before they inked Schierholtz), but it makes you think. It also makes you think the Cubs are either very committed to David DeJesus in center field or very committed to trading DeJesus and picking up a full-time center fielder in free agency. Because, by adding another outfielder who cannot play center, the Cubs would be locking themselves even further into one of those two options for center field (DeJesus, or a free agent). Ludwick wound up getting two years and $15 million.
  • Oh, and if the Cubs were seriously considering Ludwick, you can safely assume they’re seriously considering Cody Ross, who offers a very similar skill set, and the ability to play occasionally in center field.
  • Phil Rogers speculates that Michael Bourn may have to settle for a one-year deal if the market for his services keeps falling by the wayside. I still think you’re going to find a small handful of teams interested, but it’s possible that no team will be interested at the five-year, $80+ million price point. If that happens, maybe Bourn will indeed decide to take a one-year, $18 to $20 million deal in the hopes he can find a more receptive long-term market next year. (As a speed guy who will have just finished his age 30 season at that point, I don’t think he’d find the market as rosy as he’d hope.) If that happens, the Cubs will probably be in on him, but strictly as a flippable piece – and Bourn will know it. Maybe he’ll like the idea of a one-year deal that virtually guarantees he’ll be on a contender come August. That said, I don’t think it plays out this way. I think Bourn gets a healthy contract somewhere.
  • Speaking of which, the Mariners make a lot of sense for Bourn if they can’t land Josh Hamilton. But Ken Rosenthal wonders if the organization will be scared off by the Chone Figgins deal (another “speed guy” entering his 30s). I’m not sure I see the similarities there (for one thing, Figgins was a full two years older when he signed as Bourn is now, and wasn’t an obvious Gold Glover at one of the most important defensive positions), but organizations get spooked by weird stuff.
  • A source tells Jeff Passan that the Phillies very well could still do something “big,” liking signing Josh Hamilton (wha?) or going after another outfielder in trade. Does Alfonso Soriano count as “big”? I wouldn’t call it big, but we do know that the two sides have very likely had conversations about a deal.
  • Teams are apparently very “cool” on Edwin Jackson right now, which could be a reflection of a guy whose numbers don’t pop, and who’s been on six teams in the last five years. If so, here’s hoping the Cubs are keeping in close contact with a guy whose price may have to drop a little bit.
  • It sounds like 18-year-old Japanese pitching prospect Shohei Otani is going to stay in Japan after all, which is a neutral move for the Cubs, who probably weren’t going to be able to pursue him as aggressively as you would have wanted, thanks to CBA quirks.
  • Holy crap, Zack Greinke got two ridiculous clauses built into his contract with the Dodgers, according to Jim Bowden: (1) Greinke can opt out of the deal after three years for any reason, and, (2) if he’s traded during the deal, he can opt out after that season. If he’s dominating and prices have continued to skyrocket in three years, he can bolt (making the deal, essentially, a three-year deal with a three-year player option). If things go south and he’s hurt or ineffective, he stays and collects his checks. And that second clause, I mean – that’s worse than a no-trade clause. At least with a no-trade clause, you can still get great value in return if you find a team to which the player wants to go. With this clause, you’re never going to get great value, because the other team is trading for, at most, just one season guaranteed, because he can bolt immediately after the season in which he’s traded. That’s a rough clause for the Dodgers, and is probably a huge reason why Greinke chose them. It might as well be the best no-trade clause in baseball (until that final year, at least, during which he’ll have 10/5 rights anyway). Assuming Bowden’s report is accurate, that is. This is the kind of latent stuff that doesn’t make a lot of headlines when Team X “outbids” Team Y for a player’s services, but I like that the Cubs have a tentative policy in place to not offer these kinds of shenanigans-inducing clauses (the first, of which, of course, is the basic no-trade clause). The day might come when playing around might be necessary (like, when Clayton Kershaw reaches free agency? he shares an agent with Greinke), I suppose.
  • According to his agent, Ryan Dempster would like to sign with an NL team who Springs in Arizona (on a three-year deal). The list of NL teams that spend their Spring Training in Arizona are: the Diamondbacks, the Reds, the Rockies, the Dodgers, the Brewers, the Padres, the Giants, and, of course, the Cubs. You can count out the Diamondbacks, Reds, and Giants as plausible suitors based on a lack of need. The Rockies and Padres are looking for starters, but Dempster seems like a stretch for their plans. The Dodgers would only consider Dempster if they can’t finalize a Hyun-Jin Ryu deal today (and then can’t get Anibal Sanchez), so Dempster’s market might be the Brewers and the Cubs. And, as we’ve discussed repeatedly, the Cubs might not really be all that interested. I think he’s either going to have to accept a sweet-heart deal from the Brewers or Cubs, or will have to expand his preferences a bit.

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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.