Cubs Rumor Thread 11/5: Cubs looking for CF help

Cubs Rumor Thread 11/5: Cubs looking for CF help

A little bit of a late start today on the rumor thread, but no worries.  We haven't missed anything monumental yet and I'll make up for it with an extra large section on CFs The GM Meetings start tomorrow and we should see start to see some more action.  Teams used to wait until the winter meeting but we've seen trades/free agent signings trickle in earlier the past couple of years.

1:54 PM: Buster Olney lists 4 players whom executives were surprised did not get qualifying offers.  Among them are CF Angel Pagan and RHP Edwin Jackson.  This means teams can now sign them without losing a draft pick.  Angel Pagan was a 4.8 WAR performer last season, so on the surface he'd seem worth the 13.3M qualifiying offer on one year.  One concern may be his health, as Pagan played more than 123 games in a season for only the 2nd time in his career.  He's also been inconsistent from year to year.  He's had 2 very good years, one solid year and quite a few near replacement level years, most recently in 2011.  Jackson's value was at about $12M based on his production last year and 17.4M the year before, so risking one year at 13.3M doesn't seem like a stretch.  It makes you wonder. If Jackson moves on, he'll be on his 5th team in 5 years.

12:04 PM: It's a subject we've broached before, including on this very thread, and Patrick Mooney gets the goods directly from the man himself.  The subject?  Why would free agents come here to Chicago?  According to Theo Epstein, “We can sell opportunity. I think Paul Maholm would tell people he’s really glad he signed here, that he got a little bit of help. He got an opportunity and his career took the next step here. Even though he was traded, I think he feels good about his Cubs experience and would come back here in a second if he had the opportunity.”  The Cubs as MLB's land of opportunity...that sounds familiar, doesn't it?  Theo does want to steer away from the idea that players would only come here as stopgap opportunities and while I think that they may sign a guy they plan to keep long term, it's probably more the exception than the rule.

10:45 AM:  Check out Felzz's piece on the upcoming new TV deal.  That may not have any bearing on this year's team, but it certainly will in the near future.

10:00 AM:  Most of us have been focused on starting pitching when it comes to making key additions this offseason, and while that is true, the Cubs have quite a few other holes to fill, most notably 3B, but also CF, and possibly a veteran catcher to back up Welington Castillo.  Paul Sullivan writes about that today and most of it covers much of the same ground that we have here, but he does have a lot more info on CF

Said GM Jed Hoyer, "We would like to add a good defender.  The ability to play multiple spots out there is important. And ... the more we can get left-handed, the better, though I wouldn't say that criteria is a must (in an outfielder)."   Hmmm.  Good defensive outfielder, can play multiple positions, and preferably LH.  That gives us some nice guidelines.

Okay, so who fits that description?

Trade Candidates

  • Paul Sullivan mentions Coco Crisp as a trade candidate and he does play good defense, can play all 3 OF positions, and switch hits.  Agree with Sullivan that he's a fit here, especially since Jed and Theo are quite familiar with him already from his days in Boston.  He's not as adept at CF as he once was and plays better in the corners, but he's still solid and better than what the Cubs could run out there now.  David DeJesus is a bit stretched out in CF.
  • With Mike Trout taking over CF for the Angels for the next decade, perhaps Peter Bourjos will be made available at a reasonable price.  He was shopped a bit last year but teams were rightfully skeptical about the high asking price because of doubts his 2011 offense was legit.  Bourjos is an outstanding defensive CF who could undoubtedly play the corners if asked.  His bat may be a little short and his ultimate role may be as a 4th OF'er, but he'll be just 25 when the season starts so there's no reason he can't improve over last year's numbers.  Bourjos bats RH, however, so he may not be ideal, but as Hoyer said, that wouldn't be a deal breaker.
  • We've talked about Geraldo Parra as a possible acquisition in the past.  Despite the trade of Chris Young to the A's, the D-Backs are still a bit crowded in the OF.  Parra is going to get a bit expensive for a 4th OF'er so that may add even more incentive to trade him.  He's more versatile than Bourjos and bats left-handed.  His offense is average at best, but his defense makes him a legit starter, especially in CF.  If and when Jackson is ready, Parra can be trade bait or fall back into his more familiar 4th OF'er role.  Or perhaps you move Soriano and you move either Jackson or Parra to LF.  I think he's the best fit.

Free Agents

  • Yes, Michael Bourn fits this description to a tee except for the part about sliding over and playing different positions.  Bourn is going to want big money to start for a team for the next 3 years.  That may not work with the Cubs unless they slide Brett Jackson to a corner in preparation for the arrival of Almora.  That would require a trade of Soriano.  Two many moving parts if you ask me.  Besides, two big FA spenders, the Nationals and the Phillies are interested and they are both in win now mode.
  • BJ Upton is athletic and plays good CF defense like Bourn, and he adds good power to the equation.  Unfortunately, also like Bourn, he'll probably command a multi-year deal from either the Nationals, the Phillies, or another team looking to win now and not bashful about committing for 3+ years to a free agent.
  • Shane Victorino and Angel Pagan are a bit lower profile.  They are similar players and they fit the criteria very, very well.  Of the two, Victorino may be an easier get because he's more of a short term guy but you still have to question whether he'd want to come to a rebuilding situation in Chicago on a temporary gig. As for Pagan, he's a solid average defensive CF'er who is well above average in the corners, meaning he could move and provide enough offense to start in LF or RF once the Cubs move Soriano and/or DeJesus.  Money may talk with Pagan, who has been an undervalued player on year to year deals.  If the Cubs are willing to give him 3 years and say $30M, maybe they can land him, but they won't be the only team thinking that.
  • A few guys who don't really fit... Melky Cabrera is stretched in CF and probably isn't the answer.  The Cubs could move DeJesus to CF, but he's stretched too.  Torii Hunter is in the twilight of his career but he's still good enough to start for a contender.  At this stage for him, it's about the ring and it's likely a contender will give him that opportunity.  Ichiro Suzuki hasn't really played CF since 2008 but he played it well back then.  He also hits lefty, but like Hunter, I don't know if he'd come to a rebuilding situation Chicago to end his career.  He's also not the kind of grinder at the plate the Cubs want to add.  Not a good fit for many reasons.  Cody Ross is neither a great defender (maybe average at best) nor is he left-handed.  He'll be looking for a multi-year deal.
  • One name that I initially overlooked was Nyjer Morgan (h/t Jim W.).  He certainly fits the bill as an athletic, LH, and  good defensive CF.  Also, he'd almost certainly come on a one year deal with a chance to start.  He's a bit of a character, but I don't think he's a bad guy.

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  • I've read that the Angels are considering making Bourjos their starter in CF and moving Trout to LF.

  • Wow. Trout is the best CF in the AL, maybe all of baseball. That's crazy to make room for Bourjos. Has more value to them as trade bait, in my opinion.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Some feel that Bourjos is the better defender. The Angels often brought him in to play CF and moved Trout to LF late in games this past season.

  • Which outfielder they try to get should depend on whether the
    team really believes Jackson, or any other prospect, is the
    CF of the future. With more money coming beginning in 2014
    they could always sign a FA and just play him more in later
    years of the contract. Would try not to trade a promising
    prospect more a middle age outfielder.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I think they can't know for that certain right now, so they have to hedge their bets, which is why I think they want someone capable of changing positions. If Jackson is ready, that player can move. If not, he stays in CF.

  • Any chance the Cubs give Nyjer Morgan a one year, low-cost contract? If he can get back to his 2011 form, he's a solid starting CF. At the least, he's a decent bench OF with a lefty bat and good glove in center and left. No way it costs more than a million to find out what's there.

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Maybe. I know he's a little odd, but I don't think he's a bad guy. Plays good CF defense and hits lefty. He's certainly athletic. He fits, especially if he can play the way he did in 2011 and he'd almost certainly take a one year deal.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Having watched him for the Nationals he is more than odd. If he is not playing and hitting leadoff he is a problem. He quit on the Nationals and they couldn't wait to get rid of him. He yelled at fans, gave up on balls etc. He is not the example the Cubs need for younger players. No way, no how.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well, Chrissy Carpenter and all the Cardinals hate his guts, so he has that going for him!

  • In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    Morgan is also scary good on the basepaths.

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    In reply to Jim Weihofen:

    All I know is, if Morgan played for the Cubs, whenever a flyball was hit to center by the opposing team I'd be torn between my wish that we made the out and my craving to see Morgan crash face-first at full speed against the wall.

  • In reply to João Lucas:

    He certainly isn't going to win any popularity contests from opposing teams and fans.

  • I'd look at sliding DeJesus to center and finding a new RF to platoon with Sappelt, who is on his way to Venezuela. Any money saved could be reallocated to pitching. I'd be shocked if the Giants let Pagan leave.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    I think sliding DeJesus to CF is plan B. They're looking for defense and DeJesus, who was never really fast to begin with, is no longer even an average defensive CF'er.

    It is often easier to get a corner OF'er, but there looks like there's a lot of quality CF'ers this year and this year may be an exception to that rule.

  • Cody Ross actually hit about 40 points higher against LHP than RHP (.295 vs. 256). Though the more I hear people talk about him, the more he sounds like a douche nozzle. I remember the FO talking about wanting to bring in players with an edge, but I'm not sure that's the type of edge they meant.

    Bourn is tempting, he's got a much higher dWAR than Upton. I don't know if now's the right time for such a big contract though. The FO probably has some free agents targeted over each offseason though, so who knows, maybe he's one of them.

    I like the idea of Crisp. He plays hard and has an edge, and did you see that catch he made against the Tigers in the playoffs? I know, that's the small sample size error of scouting - see one play and be unduly influenced, but still - DAMN.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Crisp is a good fielder and has a flair for the spectacular play. I think he'd be very popular here.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I was hoping we picked hip up last year. He was available unto December of January as I recall. Does a 2 year, 28 or 30 million dollar offer to Michael Bourn make any sense?

  • In reply to SFToby:

    bourn is gonna get at the very least 15 per year so he wouldnt take 2 years from the cubs unless we offered 50-60 mil and that type of deal makes 0 sense for the cubs, so its not happening.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    It would for the Cubs, but I think Bourn will get more than that somewhere, probably the Nationals or Phillies.

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    Before you completely poo-poo me on this one, does anyone have a handle on what Josh Hamilton is probably going to make on this next deal? Length of contract? He's not ideal in CF and he'd be expensive, but front load the deal knowing you put him in left once Almora and Soler are ready would be a viable option. Is it that crazy of an idea? He good, no?

  • In reply to Josh Nelson:

    He's looking for 7 years, 175 million. No thanks.

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    I thought I read somewhere that because of all his issues, he may be as low as 5 years $100 million. The years would be more bothersome than the cash outlay.

  • In reply to Josh Nelson:

    yes it is that crazy of an idea

  • In reply to Josh Nelson:

    As Ray mentioned 7 yrs/175M is his asking price and as you said, that CF defense is declining. There are also long term durability issues as well as some potential issues off the field. I think whomever signs him to that kind of deal will be regretting it after 3 years or so. Considering that's about when the Cubs will start being an annually competitive team, that would be bad timing.

  • I'd stay away from Bourne. He's going to want big money for a game based on 2 things, speed and defense. Once the speed starts to go, the defense follows. Let a different team overpay.

  • I doubt he'll slow down over a couple years. Atlanta offered him a 1 year at 13 million.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Just saying his speed and defense aren't worth the contract he's likely to get.

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    Hey John,

    Not really sure how to send you a direct e-mail so I am going a bit off topic here. I am having a spirited debate with a cousin of mine. It has to do with where exactly the Cubs farm system ranks as compared to other MLB teams. He is an avid White Sox fan so it's really funny since most site I go to have the White Sox ranked dead last.

    But since this site is one of the better blogs out there for Cubs fans. I think we really need to discuss where our system fits in compared to the rest of baseball. Where were we? How far did we come in the past year? etc.......

    Any thoughts?

  • In reply to bocabobby:

    My email is in the "About" section at the top menu. Anyone is welcome to write and I try to get to as many as I can. As far as the Cubs system, I'd say somewhere between 10-15. I'd like to rank it higher but so much of the impact talent is at A ball or lower. It has a chance to be a top 5 system by next year but have to be conservative until these guys perform in AA. The Sox system is not good, though they did produce some RPs this year and maybe a 5th starter type in Quintana. Otherwise it's Chris Sale and a couple of replacement level starters in Beckham and Viciedo.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Johnathan Mayo has the White Sox as the only team in baseball without a single guy in the top 100 prospects going into next year. That's just miserable, any way you slice it.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That is not easy to do. The only one I'd say is close to the top 100 is their most recent 1st round draft pick Courtney Hawkins. He may make somebody's list.

  • Grady Sizemore......would be a great pick-up if he can show he is healthy......

    Another guy who is on the block according to local LA papers is Adam signed for the next 4 or 5 years.....LA might pick up part of his money .

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Sizemore would fit perfectly if he was healthy. That's a big if. And even if he is healthy, the next big question is, "Can he play CF?" I have my doubts there and having a less than speedy DeJesus in CF flanked by two wobbly kneed corner OF'ers sounds a little dicey.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    And then there's "Andre" Ethier.....except he's unlikely to go anywhere unless/until the Dodgers get another top OF, like Josh Hamilton. And even then, Ned and Co. need to swallow a LOT of Ethier's contract.

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    Aren't the Angels talking about Bourjos in center and Trout in left? (That might be the best defensive outfield of all time.) But I was thinking the other day, that really gives Kole Calhoun nowhere to play, and he could potentially be part of a Marmol deal. He's the guy I could see Jed and Theo making a run at.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    They are but I can't believe they wouldn't want to play Trout in CF because of how good he is there. At first I thought it was posturing but Trout does have the bat to carry LF obviously so maybe they want to build with defense, something they haven't done a whole lot of in the past. Maybe seeing the Giants succeed with that kind of OF defense is making them change their minds.

    As for Calhoun, he puts up nice numbers but some question his bat speed. He may be a guy you have to match up more than an everyday player. He's also an average OF'er in the corners and can't play CF. So you're talking about a below average defensive OF of Soriano, DeJesus, Calhoun

  • I expect the Cubs to sign someone more in the grady Sizemore range, I won't totally rule out a bigger signing. Remember that those really really want to be on a contender don't need to be on that contender until July. The last thing someone like Torii Hunter wants to do is sign with a team he thinks is a contender, let's say the Orioles.... then have them sputter or regress back to the mean. It is possible to sign with the Cubs, get the opportunity to put up the best possible numbers (he could hit in the middle of the Cubs order as opposed to 7th on another team) and then be traded to a contender in July. It's probably not going to happen. But it's an option.

    I've said all along that once Josh Hamilton overplays his hand, and he's overplaying his hand already, that a 1 year -25 million dollar offer would be a win win for both parties. Hamilton gets the Average salary per year that the best players in the game get. He'd be traded to a bonafide contender and a chance to erase this year's fade. And the Cubs would be indirectly putting more money into the farm system by paying the freight of Hamilton's contract while getting the 3 prospects they so dearly covet.

    That being said, it's never ever going to happen.

  • In reply to felzz:

    It may be unlikely but I like you're thinking as far as being creative and keeping the options open. You never know when someone might fall in your lap. Got to keep an open mind and be ready if something like that happens.

  • Hey John,

    Your 1:54PM posting states that Pagan had a 4.8 WAR last year and that he has never played more then 123 games. However ESPN states that he played 151 games in 2010 and 154 games in 2012 and his WAR is only 4.0

    Am I missing something?

    Great stuff as usual my friend! :)

  • In reply to johnnywest333:

    Yeesh. Meant to write he topped 123 games for only the second time this season. Guess I should have re-read it before publishing. Thanks for catching that.

    And I don't use ESPN, I use Fangraphs because although most defensive metrics are pretty fuzzy, FGs are the least fuzzy in my opinion.

  • By the end of the Winter meetings, including the Rule V draft,
    I sure most of our needs will be met. Theo/Jed can be as
    creative as any GM's out there.

  • Hey John,

    Coco is in the second year of a 14 M contract, so Cubs should be able to cover that. The A's also have Reddick, Seth Smith, and Yoenis Cespedes, along with Chris Young, so Coco may be expendable, and Billy would save some $$, which owner Lew Wolf loves to do. Coco's a hard worker a good clubhouse guy, and one of the nicest guys on the A's.

  • In reply to AZBOB:

    Shouldn't be a problem at all to cover that and they can take the whole salary and give up less in terms of a prospect, which is their preference.

    I know you're a huge fan too, so I know you'd be all for this.

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    I think Morgan makes the most sense in that he will be the least expensive to sign, will most certainly take a 1 year deal to re-establish his value, plays good defense, hits left-handed, and has a chip on his shoulder which isn't a bad thing on a team that's pretty quiet overall.

    I wouldn't be against signing Pagan, but I think he gets an offer more in the $8 mil per year range, tops, and too many teams will likely be after him for him to decide and sign with a rebuilding team (that also stiffed him a few years ago). Remember, Uncle Lou publicly complained about Pagan when Angel had to go on the DL with a serious intestine problem late in the season. I thought at the time that was low class by Lou to criticize someone's health problems. Pagan was dumped by Hendry for a bag of chips after that season.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    Lou wasn't a fan of Pagan. I'm guessing Lou probably didn't understand the severity of the condition, maybe thought he was dogging it. It didn't help that he was young and would make a few bonehead plays, so old Lou lost his patience.

  • Which players, both major and minor, might the Cubs be offering
    at the GM meeting. I think FA's are their best bet.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    Hard to say, but sometimes trades are preferable. If it's someone like Crisp, I don't think it will be much, especially if they pick up the entire salary.

  • I'm still hoping that Tony Campana will move in with Ricky Henderson this winter, learn to steal first base, and solve our CF issues!

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    What do you guys think about platooning DeJesus with a right-handed, defense-first kind of player at center field? Someone like Drew Stubbs comes to mind: elite defender with decent numbers against LHP (and bad numbers overall).

    In my view, that would give the Cubs at least four positives: (1) the team would make the most out of DeJesus' bat, which plays better at CF and against RHP, (2) we'd have a good defender part-time to counterbalance DeJesus' below average defense at CF and not sacrifice him phisically, (3) it should be relatively cheap to get a defense-first type like that, and (4) the team could save its money/prospects to go after a bigger bat to play RF.

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    In reply to João Lucas:

    In principal, I think that's a good idea. Didn't Oakland really capitalize on the platoon approach this past year? Practically, I'd want to see names that fit the bill :)

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