Lukewarm Stove: Soriano’s Hot Streak, the Buyer Bubble, Flipping Free Agents, Cuban Defector, More

stoveMatt Garza still gets most of the headlines, but there are other rumor bits to discuss these days …

  • Thanks to Alfonso Soriano’s Soriano-like hot streak, he’s climbing back into the good graces of both the national and local folks when it comes to the tradability and trade value questions. Jon Heyman’s got Soriano as one of his three hot risers right now (together with Matt Garza and Raul Ibanez), and Bruce Levine is talking up Soriano’s increasing value. Levine suggests that interest could come around in Soriano, and that sources say the Cubs are willing to eat “most” of Soriano’s remaining contract to trade him. Soriano gets $18 million per year this and next year, so let’s call it $26 million or so left after July. If the Cubs ate $20 million of that, why wouldn’t a number of teams be interested in Soriano at $2 million for the rest of 2013 and just $4 million for 2014? That seems like a guy who’s worth an actual decent prospect to me. Of course, the Cubs will have to calculate how much Soriano is worth to them, and how much that “decent prospect” is worth in terms of dollars.
  • As far as his no-trade rights are concerned, Soriano tells CSN the “door is open” for him to accept a trade if that’s what the Cubs want to do. He says he’s trying not to think about it, but if his name comes up, it comes up. I suspect he’ll soon have a conversation with the front office so that they can get a better sense of the teams it’s even worth talking to about Soriano. We know he’s got a preference for being in the eastern half of the United States, and we know he wants to go to a contender (that part should be taken care of by virtue of the fact it would be a mid-season deal). Then again, last year he was reportedly willing to go to the Dodgers, so maybe it’s a case-by-case kind of thing.
  • A recent interview with Giants GM Brian Sabean certainly calls into question whether his team will buy at all this trade season. Although the Giants are discussed as a popular destination for Matt Garza – or other pieces – the reality is that they’re eight games under .500 (just a half game better than the Cubs), and 9.5 games back in the NL West (the Cubs are 10 games back of the Wild Card – seriously, think about that). Would you want the Cubs to buy in that situation? Do you want the Cubs to buy now? Of course not. So why would the Giants do it? I actually wonder if the Giants might consider selling at the margins.
  • Speaking of the Giants, Ken Rosenthal looks at five teams on the bubble of buying/selling/whatever, including the Giants. The other four – the Padres, the Rockies, the Blue Jays and the Phillies – are all potential trading partners for the Cubs, so you’d like to see them hold it together. That’s especially true with respect to the Blue Jays, Giants, and Phillies, because, if they decide to sell, they have pieces that could compete on the market directly with guys the Cubs are trying to sell.
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer, speaking to the media including CSN, explained that he doesn’t think flipping recent signees like Scott Feldman and Scott Hairston will have a negative impact on the Cubs’ ability to sign free agents. “I don’t think so, no,” Hoyer said. “Certainly looking at Scott Feldman’s situation, I think Scott, we gave him a great opportunity. I think a lot of places weren’t willing to give him a rotation spot coming off a so-so year, I guess. We were willing to do that. I think he really appreciated the fact we were willing to give him that opportunity. And I know with Scott [Hairston], he looks at this as an opportunity to get more playing time.” I think Hoyer hit the nail on the head. Feldman knew the situation when he signed, and he knew the Cubs were giving him a shot with the strong possibility that he’d be flipped to a contender – he may well have relished the opportunity. Hairston was on a two-year deal, but he was a role player who was almost certainly not sold on the Cubs by them telling him about the long-term fit. He, too, had to know that this was a possibility, particularly given that the total contract commitment was just $5 million, even if a trade came a little sooner than expected. The story would be very different if the Cubs were already shopping Edwin Jackson, a bigger name free agent to whom they had committed on a longer-term basis. You would consider any trade, but, if Jackson were pitching well right now, I’d be very, very leery of the Cubs actively shopping him after just signing him to a four-year deal. It looks bad to future free agents, and, although money always talks, you’d rather the Cubs didn’t put themselves in a position to have to bid way over the top to get the next big free agent.
  • The Red Sox are the latest in a long line of teams that have considered/are considering Cubs reliever Kevin Gregg.
  • The Rangers have had to put starter Nick Tepesch and DH Lance Berkman on the DL, which Jon Morosi says only underscores their need for a starter and a bat. Why we don’t hear more Garza/Soriano package rumors with the Rangers, I’m not quite sure. The Rangers obviously want Garza, and Soriano is a nice DH/OF hybrid who offers the Rangers cover both with respect to Berkman and Nelson Cruz, if he ends up being suspend for the Biogenesis stuff. Could be that the Rangers wouldn’t want to move on Soriano, if at all, until they know for sure about Cruz. Could also be that they have no interest in Soriano for 2014, and the money would thus be a sticking point.
  • Speaking of Garza, Jon Heyman wrote about the Indians’ interest in Garza or Yovani Gallardo. There’s not really much to it, other than the fact that they are probably interested in those two pitchers. Roger that.
  • Remember Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz? He’s the Cuban defector in whom the Cubs, and other teams, had interest before MLB blocked him from signing this year while it investigated his age. The twist? Diaz, MLB has concluded, is actually younger than he was saying he was. Why would a guy fabricate an older age? Well, the 22-year-old Diaz was hoping to convince teams he turned 23 in January, thus making him eligible to sign with no CBA-imposed restrictions attached to him (players 23 and older with at least three years of professional experience in another league are not subject to the CBA’s international signing pool restrictions). He could net a whole lot more money that way. But, according to Ben Badler’s report, MLB says Diaz’s birthday is actually in August, meaning he won’t be 23 for another month. Further, MLB has prohibited him from signing until February 19, 2014. So, keep your eyes peeled next February, I guess.
  • written by

    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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