Lots of buzz going on with Albert Pujols but still nothing much on the Cubs. I'm hoping that Pujols is the first domino to fall, then Fielder, then the rest will follow...
- The Marlins started getting pretty serious about Albert Pujols last night, and according to one rumor, may have offered as much as 10 yrs/$250M, though that sounds a little high based on most reports. The Cardinals are said to have upped the ante to 10 yrs/$220M and are now considered the favorites to land their superstar.
- Carlos Pena has decided not to accept salary arbitration. That's no surprise, of course. Both Boras and the Cubs brass believe that Pena can earn a multi-year deal. The Cubs likely won't be one of those teams based on things Epstein and Hoyer have said. My feeling is that if they do re-sign Pena, it would be if he cannot find another deal and is willing to drop his initial demand. The Cubs seem to like Bryan LaHair enough to give him a chance and his production, while it may not match Pena's, would likely represent a much better value for them unless Pena reduces his price tag. Given that Scott Boras is ready to position Pena as the best option after the big two sign, that just doesn't seem very likely.
- According to a tweet by Joe Cowley, the Marlins had, "....a visit with the Cubs for the asking price on Carlos Zambrano." Try to temper excitements on any kind of return, though. Zambrano pitched like a 5th starter last year and even if the Cubs pick up as much as $12M, you're talking about a $6M pitcher who was less effective than some of the small signings we talked about here (i.e. Capuano). Why would a team give up much if they could sign someone equally effective from the free agent bargain bin and not have to give up a player?" There's some upside with Zambrano, so the Cubs might get something, but don't expect too much. For what it's worth, Zambrano has told friends, he believes he's staying, according to Paul Sullivan of the Tribune.
- The Baltimore Orioles inquired on Alfonso Soriano, but now appear to be out. According to a source of mine, the Orioles were willing to have the Cubs pay a lesser part of the contract than we have estimated here, which has been about 80%, in what would effectively be a salary dump. The Cub would get a marginal prospect and move on. That deal appears to have died down right now.
- Nothing new on the Chase Headley front but there are some rumors out there that San Diego might require the Cubs to take on Orlando Hudson. That may have seemed okay a few years ago, but Hudson's defense and offense have been on the decline and he makes $6.5M, still I may be willing to take him on for a year if it means giving up a lesser prospect in return. Bruce Levine has said that the Padres may, in fact, be more interested in Jeff Russell than Sean Marshall because of the smaller price tag and more years of team control.
- Dave Van Dyck of the Tribune is reporting that the Cubs may be pursuing a Cuban ballplayer, but it's not Yoennis Cespedes or Jorge Soler. It's Geraldo Concepcion, a 19 year old LH pitching prospect who would obviously need seasoning in the minors. While winning Cuban rookie of the year honors, he struck out 53 in 1012/3 innings and posted a 3.36 ERA. The Rangers, Phillies, and Yankees are all said to have some interest.