Cubs rumors

The rumor mongering Olympics begin today and instead of a Jake Peavy trade or trying to sign Kosuke Fukudome or Ted Lilly, it'll be about moving Milton Bradley and how much the Cubs are willing to pay for the privilege. Unfortunately I won't be around until later this afternoon, so I'm going to miss most of the morning rumors. Updates will go up top....

10:05 PM

Sullivan says it's basically Rays or bust although the Cubs talked to 5 or 6 teams today about trades. The Mets seem to be out of the mix as a third team and that means Luis Castillo is out of the mix as well. The Blue Jays have emerged as the possible third team with some interest in Burrell as a DH. Sullivan also echoes that Cubs may have interest in Melky Cabrera if Yankees land Granderson with the Cubs on the outside of the Granderson sweepstakes due to their refusal to move Starlin Castro.

Money quote:

One major league manager said Monday he would gladly take Bradley, though he added his general manager wasn't interested because of possible negative reaction by the team's fan base. Another manager asked why the Cubs don't just bite the bullet and bring Bradley back rather than giving him away.

Can the "another manager" come and run the Cubs?

9:22 PM

Whoever Ed Price is, he's tweeting that Brewers are closing in on a 3-year deal for Randy Wolf. I think that's good for the Cubs. I kind of like Randy Wolf, but he's not the 3.23 ERA pitcher he was last year and although he's been pretty healthy the last two years, he's had quite a few injury issues in the past.

8:34 PM

Jayson Stark echoes that 2-3 teams have asked the Cubs about Bradley since Winter Meetings have begun and the money gap continues to hold up Bradley moving to the Rays.

7:24 PM

Braden Looper would love to pitch for the Cubs. Hopefully the feeling isn't mutual.

6:04 PM

A few notes from Bruce Miles...

The Cubs and Hendry like Heath Bell but "laughed off" rumors of trying to acquire him using Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot or just about anyone else.

The Cubs will give Jeff Baker some reps in the outfield this spring to continue their creepy molding of him into Mark DeRosa. I wonder how much Baker feels like Kim Novak in Vertigo at this point.

5:16 PM:

Bob Nightengale at USA Today says the Tigers would like to move Granderson by this week and then Wittenmyer says the Cubs have heard nothing of the sort from the Tigers.

- Assuming the package of Cubs prospects that Hendry is willing to offer isn't enough to pry Curtis Granderson from the Tigers, the Cubs may move on to signing Mike Cameron as their main focus. First, the Cubs will have to move Milton Bradley of course and then they could look to sign the 36, going on 37-year old center fielder. Lou raves about him and Cameron raves about Lou in the article, so chances are he won't end up in Lou's doghouse by April.

- He said, she said: Jon Heyman say the Cubs aren't close to dealing Bradley because they're only willing to eat up to $5M of his contract, but Will Carroll tweeted around 8pm CST last night that:

Cubs signing of Mike Cameron is waiting on deal of Milton Bradley, which has been "imminent" for about 72 hours.

- More on Cameron from the Tribune, and thoughts that Tampa Bay and Texas are the most likeliest landing spots for Bradley.

"For some guys it's a gift," Cameron, who played for Piniella in
Seattle from 2000 to '02, told the Tribune in '07 of playing for
Piniella. "And for some guys it's a curse. I've seen both sides of the
fence. For me, it was a blessing. It made me the player I am today. He
taught me a lot about the game, and he's one of the ultimate field
generals, probably the best manager I've ever had."

A whole lot of noting happening still so let's look at the Hall of Fame ballot.

The newbies for this year are:

2010: Roberto Alomar, Kevin Appier, Andy Ashby, Dave
Burba, Ellis Burks, Andres Galarraga, Pat Hentgen, Mike Jackson, Eric
Karros, Ray Lankford, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mark
McLemore, Shane Reynolds, David Segui, Robin Ventura, Fernando Vina,
Todd Zeile

Let's couple that with the returning candidates and here would be my ballot. As I did earlier in the year, I've broken it down in two ways.

- Muskat blogged that the Blue Jays contacted the Cubs about Roy Halladay.

...there's a catch. He's owed $15.75 million in 2010, and the Blue Jays
want some of the Cubs' top prospects. No. 1, the team can't take on
Halladay's salary. The Blue Jays apparently have a wish list and Milton
Bradley is not on it. A player like highly regarded shortstop Starlin
Castro most likely is, and the Cubs don't want to part with him,
especially since they might only have Halladay for one year.

A good time to show your committment to winning Ricketts family - we're all counting on you.

- Phil Rogers tried to sell a 3-way trade of Luis Castillo to the Cubs, Kevin Millwood to the Mets and Milton Bradley to the Rangers. It was quickly shot down though by the Cubs and Rangers.

- Carlos Marmol claimed the Cubs were pursuing Pedro Martinez, but the Cubs shot down that as well.

- John Grabow's deal is official, 2/7.5M. A report from Bruce Levine said it would go up by a million in the second year, so that makes it $3.25M in 2010 and $4.25M in 2011 if that ends up being the case. Also should note that Grabow's been dealing with bone chips as well for the last three years. I'm sure that won't bite the Cubs in the ass.

- Last day to enter the TCR Free Agent Frenzy contest, I'll shut it down sometime this weekend.

A little under the weather and mourning the end of the Bears season, so some brief notes to hold you over for the weekend.

-  To add fuel to my "they better offer Rich Harden arbitration" fire, the Seattle Times suggest the Mariners have some interest in Rich Harden as I imagine a few teams will.

- Our pal Alex Eisenberg at Baseball Intellect has a new premium article scouting left-handed pitcher James Paxton (drafted by the Blue Jays in the supplemental round in the 2009 draft). The video in the game is against LSU and there's three at-bats of D.J. LeMaheiu which he does a little breakdown of. 

- Congrats to Carlos Zambrano on his third Silver Slugger award. I know Z gets a lot of heat for his Babe Ruth like swings and not worrying enough about his pitching, but I suggest if you have a problem with that you should go follow an AL team. Players like Carlos Zambrano is what makes the National League more fun.

- On the Curtis Granderson rumor front, MLBTR has a link up saying the Angels and Tigers have been talking...Granderson would presumably patrol left field.

- And now the greatest 4:30 minutes you'll watch this weekend, hat tip to Big League Stew for the find.

Enjoy the weekend!

Let's try to filter through all the rumor reports from the GM meetings...

Milton Bradley

We know Hendry has talked to the Rays, Rangers, Blue Jays, Mets and Angels and really only the Rays and Rangers seem to be showing any real interest and both want the Cubs to pay a hefty portion of Bradley's remaining contract. The two most discussed names coming back were Pat Burrell or Kevin Millwood. For those that thought Aaron Rowand or Barry Zito's contract could get it done, Brian Sabean said he has absolutely no interest in acquiring Bradley.

Robothal's latest said the Rays and Cubs were talking again yesterday and were just $2-$3M apart, but then stirred up some quotes describing the discussions as "worse than Chinese water torture." and "I wish cattle prods were legal." And if the Cubs do get Burrell, they'll probably just have to pay some more to ship to another team as he'll unlikely be a Cub next year considering no one thinks he belongs in the outfield anymore.

One of our most trusted readers heard on the radio from Bruce Levine that a deal for Bradley should go down in the next 3-4 days.

All Milton, all the time...

- Foxsports's rumor mongering robot Robothal is hearing talks about a 3-way trade of Milton Bradley to the Blue Jays, Lyle Overbay to the Mets and Luis Castillo to the Cubs. 

- Buried in this article is this nugget:

DeRosa, coming off wrist surgery, figures to field an offer from the Chicago Cubs, at the least. 

Seems like idle speculation than anything legit, but at least the Wrigley-ites would be cheering for the right team if it did happen. (Hat tip to Bleacher Nation for the find)

I'm not sure I'll get an offseason potential target up tomorrow, but with the World Series almost wrapping up and the Cubs organizational meetings next week, the rumor mill is beginning to warm up for the offseason. Let's blast through these real quick.

UPDATE: MLB Trade Rumors and Eddie Bajek updated their reverse-engineered rankings from two days ago and don't ask me how they changed but they did. Gregg and Grabow as Type A, Harden and Johnson as Type B. For what it's worth, Chone Figgins has been dropped to Type B status by their rankings. Muskat says Gorzelanny and Fontenot will qualify as Super Two status and the Cubs have 10 arb-eligible players total (Arizona Phil also has So Taguchi in his list on the right sidebar). The official Elias Rankings will be out soon enough.


From Bruce Levine's latest:

 The Cubs will not offer arbitration to Harden, who was their top strikeout pitcher in 2009.

I had mentioned earlier in the week that it looks like Harden will be a Type B free agent meaning it wouldn't cost the signing team any of their own draft picks, but the Cubs would get a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds. If Levine's statement turns true, the Cubs are betting that no team would offer more in a multi-year deal to Harden than he could get in a one-year arbitration case coming off an ERA above 4.

This is basically a one-line blog entry, but I'm so over all this Bradley drama.

Nick Cafrado over at the Boston Globe is reporting that if Carlos Zambrano is moved, there are only three teams he'd be willing to go...Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox. I would say, I don't know how the Angles wouldn't get on that list. If he's willing to to an AL team or Los Angeles, you couldn't find a classier organization than the Angels, so if the Cubs really pursue that course, I'm sure they'll get a few attentive general managers on the phone.

As for Bradley, pardon my over-used metaphor, but it's a disaster of Hindenburg proportions both by the player and management. Good luck trying to move that $21M off the books Jim, unlike Zambrano, I don't think they'll be a lot of attentive gm's on the phone for that call. The only other parallel I can think of is Jose Guillen getting suspended by the Angels near the end of 2004. The Angels did move him to the Nationals in the offseason for Maicer Izturis and Juan Rivera, but Guillen (according to salaries) only had $3.5M and a $4M 2006 option left on his deal. They also had Jim Bowden as their GM, who made a habit of taking on talented basket cases at a discount.

I had brought up the name Chone Figgins earlier in the season as the one free agent name I thought the Cubs would try and pursue. That is if they can figure out how to squeeze him into their already bloated payroll for next year. There's also the insanity of paying him 10M+ per year, for someone who is not anywhere near that kind of money, but he's got that "true leadoff" label that worked out so well the last time the Cubs overpaid for that skillset.

Nonetheless, the Sun-Times conjectures that he is indeed in the Cubs' crosshairs and has been ever since the Brian Roberts talk from a couple offseasons ago. They also reveal what the offseason mantra will be. Last year it was of course to get more left-handed, this year it's going to be: More Team Speed. Print up the T-Shirts! Makes you wonder why they ever traded Joey Gathright away this year.

Figgins is definitely fast, although Wrigley will take away some of those triples he's use to hitting at Angel Stadium and Lou isn't nearly as aggressive as Mike Scioscia when it comes to stealing, so don't expect similar stolen base totals if the Cubs can sign him. He does fit the super-utility role that Mark DeRosa so aptly filled, although he's been playing mostly third base for the last three seasons. The Angels actually considered center field to be his best position, but I assume the Cubs would pursue him to play second base.

Insanely early start today in Pittsburgh, I'm sure you're all going to be glued to your TV sets to watch Ted Lilly vs. Dan McCutchen. Congrats to Tennessee on winning the second half division title in Double A. Congrats to Iowa for proving Cubbery extends through the entire Cubs organiztion and finishing anywhere from 4-6 games back depending on today's games after getting within a half game earlier in the week.

You can't say that Jim Hendry isn't trying to still do his job. Reports came out today that Aaron Heilman and Rich Harden have both been claimed on waivers, Heilman definitely by an NL Team and Harden most likely by a pitching-starved NL team. Rosenthal's report says the Cubs have until Monday afternoon to complete a deal, but that seems longer than the normal 48 hour window to complete this type of transaction.

Heilman is owed about $270K on his contract this year, might as well just save it if you're the Cubs and let him go to whatever team claimed him if a deal can't be worked out. I highly doubt any team that did claim him was trying to block him from somebody, since you know, it would probably actually hurt most teams that he joined, so there must be some interest there or maybe some drunk GM'ing. Since the Cubs aren't going anywhere with Heilman on the team and they're not going to offer him arbitration this offseason, hopefully Hendry can take advantage of this opportunity and send Heilman on his merry way...where he can win a World Championship and then go broke in the offseason.

Rich Harden is owed about $1.2M on his deal, but his true value will be beyond this season. The Cubs could try and resign him to a long-term deal, although that's doubtful. With a pretty bare market for starting pitchers, Harden will likely snag some sort of multi-year deal, so offering him arbitration is a no-brainer and if he does happen to accept it, I'm sure not going to complain about getting him back in a Cubs uniform for 2010. If Hendry does work out a trade, he will have to get back something resembling two 1st/2nd round talents from whatever team claimed him and in this case, I could see the Giants trying to block the Dodgers here and they're probably not looking for starting pitching right now.

And while teams generally put the bulk of their roster through waivers during this time period, it's somewhat interesting that the Cubs waited until the end of August here to put one of their most tradeable pieces in Harden. If Hendry can squeeze out two top prospects, preferably at higher levels in the minors, he can avoid the arbitration and paperwork headache in the offseason, avoid any potential late season injury to Harden that we're always worried about and hypothetically pick up two prospects closer to the show. A prospect in the hand is worth two in the draft so to speak....

UPDATE: Bruce Levine has a source that says the Minnesota Twins put in a claim, but that doesn't necessarily mean they were awarded it. On cue,  Paul Sullivan says it was an NL team that won the claim but does not specify which team. Baseball Musings cites Andrew Kneeland saying it's probably the Rockies, but the link goes to the Paul Sullivan article which does not mention the Rockies at all, although the Rockies, Dodgers and Giants all had scouts at Harden's last game according to Levine's article.

I haven't heard a word tying the Cubs to either player, but it seems like the Cubs could still use some help in the bullpen. As I mentioned Friday, Carlos Marmol's walk rate north of 8 per nine innings is historic....but not in a good way. Kevin Gregg is a perfectly capable and perfectly hittable closer. He'll get the job done more times than not, but so did Ryan Dempster, and I wouldn't want either closing out the 9th inning in a playoff game. I can't think of too many World Series champs that didn't have a shut-down closer, I know there are some (2001 Diamondbacks for example), but it seems far more often than not, that a team needs a relief ace back there. Even BP put it into their "Secret Sauce" recipe for predicting playoff success. That's not to say the Cubs can't win it all with Marmol and Gregg in the 8th and 9th, but those two don't particularly make me confident.

The rumor talk hasn't grown much louder than a whisper so far for the Cubs, a few names sprinkled here or there, but it doesn't appear they'll make any big impact moves.


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