Lukewarm Stove: Tanaka, Johnson, Vogelson, Ellsbury, Niemann, Cano

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Lukewarm Stove: Tanaka, Johnson, Vogelson, Ellsbury, Niemann, Cano

Chicago Cubs

stoveA little rumor action for your evening enjoyment …

  • Andrew Marchand hears that a deal between MLB and NPB on the posting system for Japanese players is still expected by the end of the year, meaning that Mashiro Tanaka will be posted. Teams may just have to wait, which creates a significantly interesting wrinkle to the offseason. Do the other interested teams with limited budgets sit out everything else on the hope of Tanaka? Or do they make moves in the interim, and ultimately take themselves out of the sweepstakes? The Cubs, perhaps more than any other interested team, can afford to wait as long as it takes.
  • Josh Johnson reportedly prefers to pitch with the Giants, and, even after signing Tim Hudson, the Giants are reportedly expected by a rival GM to get a deal done by the weekend. The Cubs have been connected to Johnson as a theoretical buy-low target, given his recent bone spur surgery, and many health concerns. If the Giants do get a deal done, they will have clearly been the team to jump the starting pitching market, having signed three guys – Tims Lincecum and Hudson, and Johnson – before anybody else notable signs. It’s interesting.
  • The deal would also leave Ryan Vogelson, 36, looking for a new home, coming off a brutal 2013 campaign that featured a skyrocketing home run rate, a plummeting strikeout rate, and an increased walk rate (that’s pretty much the dreaded threesome), all to go with a broken pinky. The Giants declined a $6.5 million option on Vogelsong, so he could be yet another buy-low option out there. What makes you nervous? It wasn’t just a blip – Vogelsong’s velocity was way down last year.
  • Jim Bowden’s “one move” for the Chicago Cubs? Sign Jacoby Ellsbury for six years and $120 million. I really don’t think that kind of deal is in the cards right now (or advisable), but Dave Cameron argues that a big money deal like that is actually better spent on a speed guy like Ellsbury than you might think. The Cubs are said to be “waiting in the wings” on Ellsbury, and think that’s about as far as they’ll go – in other words, if he slips to them on a desperation three or four-year deal in late-January? Sure, they’d jump at the chance for value. But six years and $120 million (which actually isn’t completely unreasonable in this market)? I just don’t see it.
  • A minor league deal possibility to keep an eye on: Jeff Niemann. A formerly decent pitcher who is coming back from labrum and rotator cuff surgery, Niemann isn’t necessarily going to be ready to start the year in 2014, and the Rays thus cut him loose. Let’s not downplay shoulder issues – they tend to be the big one – but a minor league flyer to see where he’s at come June? I say why not.
  • Robinson Cano still wants $310 million over 10 years, and the Yankees are digging in around seven years and $160 million, per Jon Heyman. Yankees president Randy Levine says that the two sides have nothing to talk about until Cano gets a little more realistic. It’s still a fair bet that Cano returns to the Yankees, but they’ll start looking around now.
  • A reminder: as the offseason moves on, you’re going to want to follow BN on Twitter and “like” it on Facebook to make sure you’re getting a complete rumor fix.

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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.