With the MLB Winter Meetings set for next week in Nashville, the Hot Stove League should start to heat-up.
So here is a summary of what appears to be the "Hendry/Piniella Cubs Plan for 2008" (or whatever they call it internally) that was apparently devised at the Cubs Organizational Meeting in Mesa last month (and I am NOT
necessarily advocating any of this stuff):
. Acquire a left-handed hitting power-hitting RF (preferably an everyday player rather than a guy who needs to be platooned) who can hit 4th or 5th in the batting order. Although this is likely the Cubs #1 priority, it probably will be the last thing Hendry will address.
A. JAPANESE FA
: Would not require posting fee, or players or draft pick, but would probably command a three or four year deal.
: If acquired in a trade, the idea would probably be to have one of these guys play RF for at least two years, maybe longer.
(TB) - Would probably cost the Cubs Rich Hill
and a second MLB-ready pitching prospect like Sean Gallagher
. Crawford gets $23.5M through 2010 with club options and buy-outs in 2009-10, but he signed his contract under the old CBA so he could demand a trade post-2008.
(HOU) - Still auto-renewal and won't be eligible for salary arbitration until after 2008 (likely will be a "Super Two" post-08) and won't be a FA until after 2012 season, but with C. Lee-Bourn-Pence now the likely Astros everyday outfielders in 2008, Scott should be available for a young MLB-ready starting pitcher (like Sean Gallagher
, Kevin Hart
, or Sean Marshall
) plus an auto-renewal (pre-arbitration) MLB-ready middle-infielder who can hit #2 (behind Bourn) in the Astros batting order (like Ryan Theriot
). Scott has no problem hitting LHP. Lest you think Luke Scott can't be had, remember, ED F. WADE is the Astros new GM.
(BAL) - Gets $8M per season 2008-09 and hasn't played any RF since 2006, but would be almost an exact salary exchange with Jason Marquis
($16.25M over 2008-09), and in addition the O's would probably want a young CF (like Sam Fuld
or Eric Patterson
) who can hit #2 in batting order, plus maybe a third lesser prospect. Although Huff would not require a platoon-mate in RF, he probably would require a defensive replacement in the late innings.
(WAS) - Likely will be first-time arbitration-eligible this off-season (as a "Super Two"), Church supposedly was a Hendry target at the 7/31/07 trading deadline, and probably could be had for a young MLB-ready starting pitcher (like Virginian Sean Marshall) and a young MLB-ready SS (like Ronny Cedeno
, who BTW is having a strong season at the plate in the Venezuelan Winter League) and/or a young CF (like Fuld or E-Pat). Although Church is a good hitter, there would certainly be a question about whether Church has the slugging chops needed to hit in the middle of the Cubs batting order.
C. JOURNEYMAN FA
: This would definitely be a "worst-case scenario," a likely one-year $5M-ish short-term fix. Neither player would require draft pick compensation, but each would probably require a right-handed hitter (like Matt Murton
) as a platoon partner in RF in '08.
D. THE WILD CARD
- The 30-year old ex-Cub (and Elmhurst native) is absolutely destroying the VWL (hitting 390/488/567 while leading the league in OPS, rakin’ against RHP and LHP alike). If you pro-rate his VWL numbers out over a full 160-game season, you get 16 HR, 88 RBI, 136 RUNS, 28 doubles, 12 triples, 100 BB, and 80 K. Gerut missed the last two seasons after undergoing knee surgery, but he seems to be 100% now. He’ll get a FA deal with somebody looking for a left-handed hitting RF with some pop. He was playing on one leg when he was with the Cubs (briefly) in 2005. He could be the Josh Hamilton
of 2008. If the Cubs can't sign Fukudome, or acquire Crawford, Scott, Huff, or Church via trade, and the choices left are Geoff Jenkins and Shawn Green, maybe Jody Gerut just might be a better option. The Cubs have already signed four minor league FA (Andres Torres
, Andres Blanco
, Mike Smith
, and Cory Bailey
) out of the VWL just in the last month, and traded for another (Omar Infante
), and with Ronny Cedeno and Henry Blanco
also active there, don't be shocked if they sign Gerut, too.
. Acquire a speedy left-handed hitting (or switch-hitting) middle infielder who can make spot starts at 2B and SS and/or be used in late-inning double-switches.
- Is the only FA who fits the obective, and he would probably command about $12M over three years, but at least he would not cost Cubs a player or draft-pick. The Cubs would almost certainly pursue him anyway, but a side-part of this signing would be the hope that Matsui could influence high school buddy Fukudome to sign with Cubs.
B. TRADE OR NON-TENDERED FA
(WAS) - Eligible for salary arbitration (made $3.9M in 2007), Lopez could get non-tendered by WAS on 12/12 or could maybe be part of a Ryan Church deal before that (especially if Ronny Cedeno is included).
. Re-sign Kerry Wood
(and this has been accomplished), move Ryan Dempster
to the starting rotation, attempt to trade Jason Marquis
, Scott Eyre
, and/or Will Ohman
, and replace Dempster in the bullpen with K. Wood and probably one more FA reliever, or maybe even two (a RHP and a LHP) if Ohman and/or Eyre can be moved.
A. RE-SIGN OWN FA
- Just when it looked like he might not be coming back (he reportedly could have possibly commanded more money and/or years elsewhere), KW opted to remain with the Cubs, signing a one-year deal today
for a reported $4.2M plus another $3.45M in incentives.
B. SIGN A VETERAN FA RELIEVER
* throws left
THE DIRTY DOZEN
* Jeremy Affeldt
* Trever Miller
* Arthur Rhodes
: Pending 12/12 non-tenders, these actually really are the (ahem) best available veteran FA relievers out there as of today. I didn't even list "reclamation projects" like Jose Mesa
, Aaron Sele
, and Mike Timlin
, but knowing how Jim Hendry operates, they are possiblities, too.
: Trade Jacque Jones
for some useful part and try to save as much 2007 payroll salary as possible in the process. This was accomplished when Jones was dealt to DET for IF-OF Omar Infante
, a right-handed hitter with some (albeit not a whole lot of) speed who can play 2B, SS, 3B, LF, and (most importantly) CF.
: Non-tender Mark Prior
on 12/12, and then (tactfully and respectfully) offer him a take-it-or-leave-it 2008 contract with a low base salary (probably around $1M-$1.5M) with incentives (probably around $3M-$4M), with a club option (with buy-out) for 2009.
: Try and trade arbitration-eligible players Craig Monroe
and Neal Cotts
for something/anything, and if they aren't traded by 12/12, just non-tender them.
: This has been half-accomplished, as Monroe was traded to MIN for a PTBNL.
: Offer salary arbitration to Michael Wuertz
, but of course try and sign him without having to go to a hearing.