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?
- 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.
- 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.
Filed under: Rumors/Speculation