I was out pretty much the whole day yesterday. I attended a blogger event early, followed by a Cubs game on the rooftop, and ending with a night out in the city with my wife. It was a nice break and thanks to Tom and Felzzy for their great work. Now it's time to catch up on what's going on...
10:28 PM: According to multiple sources, the White Sox have acquired Francisco Liriano for two players, IF Eduardo Escobar and LHP Pedro Hernandez. Scouts had soured a bit on Liriano and teams lost interest after his last start, in which he showed little and got shelled. Of course, the Sox do have one of the best pitching coaches in the game in Don Cooper, so this is a good flyer here. They didn't give up much.
5:55 PM: Danny Knobler writes that more and more teams are beginning to believe that Ryan Dempster will wind up back with the Braves after all. Said Knobler, "Dempster never directly said that he wouldn't go to the Braves, but he also never approved the deal that the two teams reached last week. While that trade isn't still on the table, it still seems clear that the Braves are willing to offer more for Dempster than the Dodgers are." From what I've been able to gather the deal isn't completely dead but that the two teams are in a holding pattern while the Cubs make one last effort to trade Dempster to his preferred destination of Los Angeles. You have to wonder if the Cubs are close to reaching that point. As we reported, it's pretty clear that the Dodgers have refused to budge and perhaps the Cubs have done all they could to extract fair from value from Los Angeles. Maybe they will approach Dempster again about trading him to the Braves.
3:57 PM: Ken Rosenthal says that the Dodgers have shown interest in Alfonso Soriano but it's the Cubs who may actually hold off on a deal. They think he may be more valuable in the offseason after he's put together a productive season (he's on pace for 31 HRs). It also helps that he'll "only" have $36M and 2 years left on his contract and Rosenthal things teams will bite if they pare down that salary to $12M per year. I think it will take more than that. The Cubs don't need to trade Soriano before the deadline as he would easily clear waivers because of his salary.
1:45 PM: Jon Heyman writes that he doesn't believe the Rays will trade James Shields because they are asking for more than what the Angels got for Greinke. In the article below, Stark writes that some teams think the Rays are just gauging value for the pitcher and are more likely to trade him in the offseason when more teams will be willing to bid.
1:36 PM: One source tells Jayson Stark that a reversal by the Braves and Cubs on a Ryan Dempster deal is possible. but that he "seriously doubts" that will happen. Some also speculate that the three solid starts by Ben Sheets has lessened the Braves need to deal for a starter.
10:00 AM: The Angels and Brewers completed a deal that sent Zach Greinke to the Angels for 2B-SS prospect Jean Segura and RHPs John Hellweg and Ariel Pena. The Brewers obtained excellent value here for two months of a pitcher they had little to no chance of re-signing, though all 3 prospects come with a good amount of risk. Segura is an excellent hitter with an all fields approach. As a SS, he'd have tremendous value but the thought here is that he ends up at 2B, where he can be above average offensively and defensively. His biggest problem has been staying healthy. Hellweg and Pena are two pitchers who can touch the upper 90s though both have control/command issues. They both have #2 starter potential if they can improve their command. They could also end up in the bullpen if they don't.
From the Cubs point of view, it's good news on a couple of fronts. The first is that it bodes well for a good return on Matt Garza if teams check out his meds and think he's healthy. The thought here is if the Cubs are willing to freely share those records, then Garza is probably fine and hopefully it won't affect the return too much. The second point is that there is another pitcher off the market, one that went to a team that was not having serious talks with the Cubs anyway. That leaves the Dodgers and the Braves along with Texas, Toronto, Baltimore and a few others still looking for pitching.
The big names on the market along with Garza and Dempster are Josh Johnson and James Shields, but so far the asking price has been prohibitive for the latter two, so that may give teams an opportunity to silde in and grab one of the Cubs pitchers.
As far as that asking price, we reported a few days ago that the Dodgers don't want to budge on their offer and haven't done so for weeks. They're engaged in a game of chicken with the Cubs here on the assumption that Dempster won't go anywhere else, but as I speculated and was reiterated by Bruce Levine, it's possible that Dempster really is still willing to go to the Braves provided the Cubs give LA one last chance to up their offer. If that's the case, LA will lose this game.
There are some rumors that the Dodgers may have greater interest in Matt Garza right now with the thought likely being that if they're going to give up top prospects, then they'll want to get a guy who is younger, has an extra year of cost control, and can provide them with a comp pick.
After days of watching, reading, talking to sources, and trying to read between the lines, there isn't much new to report in terms of rumors. It's likely down to who is going to blink first: The Cubs, Dempster, or the Dodgers. If it's Dempster, he'll go to the Braves who have made the better offer. If it's the Dodgers, he'll go there for a couple of top 10 pitching prospects such as Allen Webster, Chris Reed, and/or Garret Gould, or perhaps a raw, high upside, low level arm like LHP Jarret Martin as the secondary prospect.
As for the Cubs, they won't blink, according to David Kaplan. They don't have much to gain by taking C level pitching prospects. They've got plenty of those already. I don't think they want to settle for the comp pick, but they're not going to take guys they don't feel will have a impact at the MLB level. At least with the comp pick, they can take the best guy available who has that high ceiling they're looking for.
And we haven't even talked about secondary trade chips such as Bryan LaHair, Reed Johnson, Jeff Baker, Paul Maholm and Alfonso Soriano. There are whispers that the Cubs are making one last hard push to move Soriano before the deadline.
Should be an interesting few days.
Filed under: Rumors/Speculation