Cubs rumors

It's a little less than 4 days before Decision Tanaka is due and nobody knows nothing except that everybody seems to need speculate on something. Bruce Levine reported that the Cubs will not be outbid. Gordon Wittenmyer said that's rubbish and Cubs remain a longshot. Jayson Stark kept hearing from important baseball people that the Cubs were going to make a splash and so on and so on.

As of this morning, the latest rumors are that the deal will be in the 6/120M range (not including posting fees) and that the Yankees and Cubs are the last 2 teams standing. Of course, it's also been said that Tanaka's agent Casey Close follows his namesake and doesn't negotiate through the media and we know the Cubs and Yankees like to keep things close to the vest. Unfortunately the Diamondbacks aren't in on this, otherwise we'd know exactly where everything stands thanks to Kevin Towers.

So what do we know? We know Tanaka will be playing his age 25 season, and that young age plus his pitching skills are why the Cubs and TheJedi would be willing to hand out their first 9-figure deal. Is the price going to be ridiculous? You betcha!!! And as Jayson Stark noted, only 8 other pitchers in the league are getting paid over $20M annually and only 2 don't own Cy Youngs (Kershaw, Sabathia, Hamels, Lee, Cain, Verlander, Greinke, and King Felix).

But of course, this isn't a case where you're paying for past performance, the Cubs would be paying for potential future performance and that's obviously not the norm by baseball practices, but on the other hand, probably smarter. Granted, the chances of Tanaka even being one of the top 5 pitchers in the National League are slim as most scouts put him more as a solid #2 pitcher. But #2 pitchers pitch like #1 pitchers all the time and Jeff Samardzija's numbers look like a #3 or #4 pitcher at the end of most every season, but there's #1 or #2 stuff in that arm that occasionally shows itself and the Cubs are hoping they get paid in prospects like he's a #1.  So don't get too riled up about his alleged slot in the rotation. Travis Wood had the 12th best ERA in the National League last year, but when you look at things like FIP and BABIP, you realize, he's probably more a mid to low-end rotation starter. But you get enough good pitchers and you never know which ones will pitch great in any given year, you just hope for solid results and enough depth to make it through the season and then hope for a little magic and luck to ride through the postseason. A starting staff of Samardzija, Tanaka, T. Wood, E. Jackson (who will bounce back) and Jake Arrieta sure doesn't sound bad. I'm not sure it's great, but it's a good start for a few years while the minor league reinforcements continue their basic training.

So as the January 24th deadline looms, Tanaka and his family have some decisions to make. My guess is the Cubs know that joining a rebuilding team is a tough sell and they went all in on their bid, hoping to lure him with money and the promise that the winning is just around the corner. Now what that all-in means, we may or may not find out, but if he chooses to go with another team, my guess is the reasons will go beyond the financial ones.


You may have seen the announcement last week that MLB has approved the use of expanded instant replay. I won't go into the details, but fair to say I'm happy that there will be more correct calls and less incorrect calls. That is a good thing. It will not be perfect, although I'm sure some will demand perfection. Some folks are worried that it will extend the length of what is already a pretty lengthy baseball game. That may or may not be the case, since it would in theory cut down on some of the lengthy shouting matches over calls. What I would have really liked to accompany the announcement is that any player or manager protesting a call that goes beyond a moment of exasperation would be immediately ejected from a game. And if a manager left the dugout to argue, he'd immediately get slapped with a 5-game suspension with no appeal. Add that to the mix and you have a system that should work nicely and swiftly.

- Dale Sveum's ass must be pretty chapped from the hot seat he's been sitting in over the last week. Although he hasn't been fired yet, rumors earlier in the week had the Cubs targeting Joe Girardi and now another catcher is in the fold. Peter Gammons is saying that Brad Ausmus would be a person of interest if the Cubs do indeed decide to go another direction. Ausmus hasn't been given a major league managing job yet, but he did manage Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic qualification round and was a candidate for the Boston Red Sox job last offseason before the Red Sox traded for John Farrell. Also, if he would lead the Cubs to the promised land, he could help turn this leaflet into possibly a pamphlet.

- Baseball America has been putting out their top 20 prospects for each minor league. The Cubs didn't land anyone on the top Arizona League prospect list, but 6 made the Northwest League including Kris Bryant at #1. The other 5 are Paul Blackburn(#7), Yasiel Balaguert (#9), Dillon Maples (#10), Shawon Dunston Jr. (#12) and Kevin Encarnacion (#17). You can see how the Cubs have fared in the past over at Wiklifield.

TheJedi have already knocked out a number of trades earlier in the month, that today shouldn't bring too much excitement, but there's still a few pieces left on the trading block. One is Nate Schierholtz whom Jayson Stark reiterates is the most likely Cub to be dealt today. The Pirates and Rangers seem like the most likely spots at the moment.

Heyman says Jeff Samardzija won't be moved right now, but the Cubs will pursue a trade or an extension this offseason.

Bruce Levine said the Cubs nearly had a deal in place to move James Russell to the Braves last week.

Twitter was a buzz with talk that the Diamondbacks wanted to shed some salary to fit Jake Peavy into their budget and were willing to move Ian Kennedy to get it done. The Cubs, Angels and Padres were all rumored destinations. Not sure if the DBacks still are eager to move Kennedy with Peavy going to the Red Sox, although they could still be in on other pitchers including Bud Norris.

And don't forget this is just the non-waiver deadline, teams can continue to make moves through August 31st to acquire players eligible for their playoff rosters.

- Alfonso Soriano had a "scheduled" off day on Wednesday versus the Diamondbacks despite some gaudy career numbers against Ian Kennedy (6-for-13, 3 HR's, 7 RBI's, 3 BB's). The Twitter-verse was having none of it and the conspiracies flowed that the Cubs were just awaiting his approval on a deal. Soriano showed up though for a pre-game chat with the reporters and spilled the beans that he would accept the a trade to the Yankees and apparently gave TheJedi a list of a few other teams he'd be willing to say yes to...so it's Soriano waiting on the Cubs and the rest of the league. As of now, a trade has not been made, but somehow Soriano didn't manage to even get an at-bat in a 12-inning affair last night that the Cubs eventually won 7-6.

The N.Y. Post is reporting that the Yankees and Cubs are close to deal that will send Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees for a mid-level prospect. The Cubs owe a little over $6M for the rest of 2013 on Soriano's deal and then $18 million next year and the Cubs will pay the bulk of it, and whatever the Yankees are contributing will be for this year as the Yanks are trying to avoid luxury tax hell next season. Soriano still has to approve the deal, but it seems unlikely he'll reject a chance to go to his first organization and play alongside Jeter and Mo' once again...presuming this is all true.

As for the prospect, no one knows yet but here's a top 20 list from the preseason. Manny Banuelos was a 5-star prospect heading into 2012 before Tommy John surgery, so maybe the Cubs can take a shot at the upside there. Dellin Betances was well up there as well before 2012 or maybe the Cubs see something in catcher Austin Romine, who was once a top 100 prospect. More likely, it's someone not on any of this lists with far less upside...we shall wait and see.

Not yet...

Although I suppose they were as close as they could be yesterday, exchanging medical information on players and something turned up on one of the Rangers pitchers that caused the Cubs to squeeze the brakes. Names have been flying around, but Neil Ramirez, C.J. Edwards and Mike Olt seem to be the hottest names of late. Jeff Passan says the Rangers also showed interest in James Russell, although no one knows if he was part of what sounded like a 6-player deal...although once again, no one knows for sure.

Rumors be the teams will continue today to try and find a fit and that nothing in Garza's medical dossier caused a panic for the Rangers.

So the Twitter-verse exploded Thursday night with numerous reports that the Rangers and Cubs were nearing a deal to send Matt Garza to Texas for up to 3 prospects. Names were even bandied about that included the likes of Luke Jackson, C.J. Edwards and a position player that varied between Mike Olt, Luis Sardinas or Jorge Alfaro. When it came to getting some of the Rangers top 20 talent, the Cubs would be doing well...although since Mike Olt's dropoff this season, none would be real top shelf minor leauge talent (top 30 in baseball). Nonetheless, 2 very promising arms and a potential decent position player would seem like a decent haul for Garza.

(Brake Screech)

Then Patrick Mooney reported late in the evening that the Rangers were moving quickly on a Plan B finding the Cubs asking price too high. Jeff Passan suggests that Plan B is probably Bud Norris of the Astros. It could all be posturing by the Rangers, or maybe it was all controlled leaks by the Cubs to float some names out there in hopes other organizations would pony up.

At the end of it all, Garza is still a Cub and the rumoring will continue at a feverish pace tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Not that there will be too many over the break, most of the league takes a vacation along with the players, but Kaplan is spinning his wheels on a Matt Garza one.

I'm hearing Garza will be traded by Sat. Cubs won't move him though until they get what they want. They won't panic out of fear of injury.

An AL scout just told me that he thinks Garza is throwing so well that the Cubs are in a phenomenal spot to land a tremendous deal.

The first tweet seems particularly contradictory, "he'll be moved...but only if they get what they want...but that's totally gonna happen by Saturday." Kaplan's got an article up as well that name drops Texas, Cleveland, Toronto and St. Louis.

- There was a rumor out yesterday about the Pirates looking at either Alex Rios or Nate Schierholtz in search of an outfielder they could control past this year. It originated from Wrongway Rogers, so you know what to do with that.

- And that's about it for now on the rumors, I'm sure a few more will be made up over the next few days. If you're going to watch the All-Star game, Travis Wood will be there and allowed to pitch, although I imagine the Cubs politely asked Bochy that he finds a way to not get him in. Max Scherzer and Matt Harvery will start the game.

- Ricky Nolasco got shelled versus the Padres last night, one of the teams rumored to be in on him in trade talks...whether that will stunt his value or not remains to be seen, but it certainly didn't help it in any way.  After Garza got himself injured before the Cubs could deal him last season, you kind of hope a deal could be had before Garza's next start on Wednesday versus the A's.

- Buster says the Dbacks and Cubs did talk Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs asked for Archie Bradley and/or Tyler Skaggs and then the talking was done. I presume it must have been both, as he then tweets that the "perception" is that the DBacks would move Tyler Skaggs in the right deal.

- The Cubs were among many teams scouting Cuban pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez...rumors be it'll cost upwards of 4/40M (or more) to sign the 26-year old Cuban lefty. The Red Sox and Dodgers seem to be the main competition.

- Speaking of international signings, Baseball America has been big on suggesting the Cubs will look to add some international pool money in some of these trades. Theo said it's something that could happen, but the Cubs' international signing "plan" doesn't require it.

- Nick Cafardo says 3 teams are showing interest in Carlos Marmol. There's always the possibility the Cubs may get someone else's cast off while still paying Marmol the rest of his salary minus the pro-rated version of the minimum.

- Last and certainly least, the Giants are looking for a RH outfield bat...someone like Alfonso Soriano circa 2012.

 

A few weeks back, Jorge Soler fouled a ball of his shin...a seemingly common occurrence in baseball that carries little consequence past the few moments of stinging pain for the offending party. This being the Cubs and all, the foul ball sent Soler to the 7-day disabled list of which he returned off of this week. The leg still hurt though and now it's being reported that he has a stress fracture and will be out 4-6 walks and possibly the rest of the season. Oh Cubbery...you strike in mysterious ways! Soler will of course miss the Futures Game as well over the All-Star Break, which him and Arismendy Alcantara were named to the World rosters.

Undoubtedbly the Cubs wil be selling as the July trade deadline approaches with Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Kevin Gregg & Nate Schierholtz being the most likely chips on the table. There certainly may be others, but those players make the most sense. Let's take a look at some potential trade partners:

First off, Darwin Barney is a "finalist" for a Gold Glove at second base...as if they dont' already know the winner. But they've decided to drum up interest by naming the top 3 or 4 at each position and then announcing the winner in a televised event on ESPN2 tomorrow. Holy overkill Batman!

As for the rumor, it's that the Angels are trying to ditch Dan Haren and Ervin Santana before picking up their options this week. Haren is owed $15.5M and Santana $13M. The Cubs aren't going to be giving too much in prospects for either, but they certainly could take on the salary. It's not much of a committment in my opinion and I'd certainly take flyers on either guy in hopes they could rebound in a walk year and a switch to the National League (or in Haren's case a switch back to the NL). And they'd certainly be worth something in a deadline trade if 2013 isn't working out.  Either one makes all kinds of sense for the Cubs in my opinion, as long as the Angels asking price is reasonable considering the salaries in question. For those not paying too close attention, Haren will be in his age 32 season after a 12-13, 4.33 ERA over 176.2 IP last year and Santana will be 30 after a 9-13, 5.16 ERA in 178 IP.  Haren sports a 116 ERA+ though for his career, while Santana rests at a meager 97 ERA+ with quite a few peaks and valleys to get that number.

3:16 PM: Nevermind, looks like 3B Christian Villanueva and RHP Kyle Hendricks. Villanueva was #100 on BA's top 100 prospects in baseball list before the season. He was #7 on Goldstein's top 11 list:

Year in Review: After impressing last year in the complex leagues, Villanueva was a Sally League All-Star in his full-season debut.
The Good
: Villanueva has outstanding bat speed and impressive power for his size, projecting to hit for average with 15-20home runs annually. He's an impressive athlete with average to slightly-above-average speed; he has improved his defense at third base, and has good hands with a strong arm.
The Bad
: Other than the bat, Villanueva is not exceptionally toolsy. His approach could use improvement. He's filling out and getting stocky, and will likely lose some of his speed down the road.
Ephemera
: Villanueva was used in six different spots of the Hickory batting order in 2011, but had the most success in the six-hole, hitting .357/.410/.629 in 20 games.
Perfect World Projection
: Above-average third baseman.
Fantasy Impact:
A good batting average with some power and more speed than your average third baseman.
Path to the Big Leagues
: Villanueva is buried in Texas at the hot corner, and the Rangers have experimented with him at other positions. He'll begin the 2012 season at High-A Myrtle Beach.
ETA
: 2015


Not finding much on Hendricks.

3:14 PM: Heh, on that note, one dude is hearing that it's Odor and Roman Mendez. Don't take that too seriously yet.

3:12 PM: Pure speculation on my part, but Rougned Odor (that's a terribly unfortunate name) is a Class A position player in that top 20 list.

3:06 PM: Rosenthal says a Class A pitcher and a Class A position player are headed to the Cubs.

3:03 PM: Here's a Rangers top 20 prospect list to start speculating upon. It won't be Profar or Olt.

3:00 PM: And fin. I'll try and get the prospects for Dempster up before I take off here.

2:58 PM: Scott Miller of CBS saying Rangers as well for Dempster...and so is Buster Olney.

2:57 PM: Whomever Ken Gurnick is, he's dropping the Rangers as the destination for Dempster. I believe he's the Dodgers beat writer for mlb.com

2:50 PM: Bowden saying Yanks "may have" acquired Dempster.

2:49 PM: Dodgers beat writer for the L.A. Times Dylan Hernandez says Dodgers are out on Dempster and they're done making deals today.

2:41 PM: The NL Central has been busy, Pirates get Gaby Sanchez and Travis Snider (that happened last night). Cardinals get reliever Ed Mujica and Reds get Jonathon Broxton.

2:15 PM: Nightengale saying that Soriano likely staying put, but of course he'll easily clear waivers, so an August deal is always possible.

2:06 PM: Kaplan says Tigers and Cubs are hard at work trying to complete a deal for Soriano.

2:03 PM: Dempster has allegedly said he'd waive his NTC for the Yankees, Rangers and Dodgers.

1:25 PM: Heyman tweet claim Dempster has already told Cubs he'd agree to a trade with Yankees...sure. Rothschild and Hendry are over there, so it does make some sense.

1:09 PM: Some Dempster to the Yankees or Diamondbacks rumors floating.

12:33 PM: Olney saying that Diamondbacks are working on something big and then teases a Justin Upton for Matt Garza deal as making sense. Of course the Cubs are on Justin Upton's no-trade list.

So the latest on the Dempster saga is that Ryan Dempster was "blindsided" by the trade yesterday and because of this, he's going to take the full week to decide. Rumors are that he strongly prefers to go the Dodgers and seems to be trying to push the Cubs into accepting a deal from them, although it certainly won't be as good as getting Randall Delgado from the Braves.

Other things Dempster has been blindsided by (a few I'm stealing from Twitter):

- His Birthday

- the birth of his chidren

- the start of the season

- spring training

- warmer temperatures in the summer

Yeah, it would have been great if the Cubs got to him before the news leaked out, but you work in a multi-billion dollar business with reporters that are good at their job, throwing a temper tantrum over it isn't particularly professional.

David O'Brien started it all with a tweet saying that the Braves were close to finalizing a deal for a starting pitcher and then Jon Heyman, Jerry Crasnick and Jason Stark said it was Ryan Dempster.

Here's a top 20 Braves prospect list to start speculating upon. I'm hoping Cubs can get one of Randall Delgado or Mike Minor and another decent arm.

Details emerging...


UPDATE #1: MLB.com beat writer for the Braves does say that Delgado could be one of the parts heading to the Cubs.

UPDATE #2: No doubt this is happening now and could be completed by the afternoon. Still awaiting the specifics though.

UPDATE #3: Keith Law speaks, "Filed to ESPN - if the Dempster trade is completed, Randall Delgado is in it, as well as something to balance the money". If that is indeed the complete deal, it's going to be Dempster and $$ for Delgado, or 2 months of Dempster for 5+ years of Delgado at pre-arbitration money until about 2015. 

UPDATE #4: Kapman throws a little water on the fire, saying talks still ongoing. Also rumors now from Jim Bowden that Cubs and Dodgers are waist-deep in a Matt Garza for Zach Lee swap. 

UPDATE #5: The twitter account for Dempster's charity(from which TCR has been banned from for some reason) has this sobering tweet: "THERE IS NO TRADE dont know where this info came from!" Well la-dee-da!

UPDATE #6: Kaplan says the deai is just awaiting Dempster's approval, and judging by Dempster's tweet, that's not a sure thing.

UPDATE #7: So Dempster is refusing to talk about it to reporters, other than to say there is no trade. Delgado's agent hasn't heard anything. As the trade world turns...

UPDATE #8: As I, and I'm sure many others suspected, Heyman is saying the Cubs and Braves have agreed to a deal, but Dempster hasn't waived his 10/5 rights...and it certainly sounds like he's holding on to that bargaining chip for as long as he can.

UPDATE #9: Nightengale with the same info, deal agreed upon between Cubs and Braves, just a matter if Dempster will approve. Len already tweeted a farewell to Dempster.

FINAL UPDATE FOR TODAY: The Cubs brass have told Sveum that no deal is done and earlier reports were false, but does say that Dempster still could be traded. Translation: The Cubs brass fucked up and didn't keep Dempster in the loop and they're in damage control now.

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