Lukewarm Stove: Tanaka, Samardzija, Price, Balfour

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Lukewarm Stove: Tanaka, Samardzija, Price, Balfour

Chicago Cubs

lukewarm stoveRounding our your final week before the brief Christmas rumor lull …

  • Rejoice! You’re being spared a dedicated Masahiro Tanaka update in favor of a mere, densely-packed Lukewarm Stove bit. If and when Tanaka is posted, it sounds like the Yankees – despite all of the $189 million talk, and the posting system change that hurt that goal – are still in the driver’s seat for him, per each of Buster Olney and Andrew Marchand. The Mariners may not be as major of a player as we had once thought, if Ken Rosenthal’s report about suddenly limited funds is accurate. As for whether Tanaka will come at all, Ben Badler hears from sources that, the longer a decision from Rakuten takes, the more likely it is that they’re trying to figure out crafty ways to get more than the $20 million maximum posting bid for Tanaka. To that end, Badler writes up a creative take on how Rakuten could net quite a bit more than $20 million by bundling Tanaka with another Rakuten player (who could generate his own *wink wink nudge nudge* bid). It’s a great read.
  • Jon Heyman reports that five or six teams have showed interest in putting together a deal with the Rays for David Price, but the packages are not wowing Tampa Bay (for example, the Mariners refuse to include top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker in a Price deal). Price is hugely valuable, but I can’t help but wonder how much his brief arm injury last year, his lost two MPH of velocity last year, and his very expensive arbitration years (could be $30 million for his two final years, which is only a bit below his projected free agent rate) are tamping down his market. While I still wouldn’t be so brash as to suggest that Jeff Samardzija should be more attractive than Price to have in your rotation, I do wonder if there are several teams that would view Samardzija as the more attractive overall trade target. No arm issues, high velocity, “young” arm, less than half the projected salary for the next two years, and likely a lower prospect cost.
  • Speaking of Samardzija, Shi Davidi confirms earlier reports that, in talks with the Blue Jays, the Cubs were asking for top pitching prospects Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, as well as “more” to land Samardzija. If the Blue Jays would part with the first two for Samardzija, the Cubs would have to seriously consider it. But, to date, there is no indication that the Blue Jays would give up their top two arms. And the Cubs are content to wait.
  • It’s apropos that the first three names in this Stove are Tanaka, Price, and Samardzija. Their futures, it seems, are inexorably linked. If Tanaka is not posted, Price and Samardzija become even more attractive. If Tanaka is posted, any possible trades for big arms are likely to have to wait until teams know where they stand with Tanaka.
  • The Orioles had agreed to terms with free agent reliever Grant Balfour on a two-year, $15 million deal, but it’s apparently in limbo thanks to something ugly popping up in the physical with respect to his right shoulder. The two sides could work out a renegotiated deal, or he could be turned loose to find a lesser deal elsewhere. I didn’t love Balfour as an option for the Cubs (which is why this is the first time his name has come up here, despite the Cubs’ bullpen needs), and even if he’s forced to take a nothing prove-it deal, I’m not sure there would be a spot on the Cubs. I don’t want to sound like an idiot in July, but the Cubs are loaded with decent bullpen options at this point.

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.