Cubs position-by-position analysis: 3B

Cubs position-by-position analysis: 3B
Ian Stewart

This is the 4th in a series of position-by-positional analysis of the Cubs organizational depth.  Yesterday we covered one of the deepest positions (2B).  Today it's a position in which the Cubs have a lot of depth, some top talent, yet no certain answers.  It's one of the reasons you can't rule out the idea of the Cubs dealing for a long term solution such as Mike Olt.

Third Base

Offensive outlook (Bill James' projections)

  • Ian Stewart: .238/.327/.427 with 6 HRs, .189 ISO, and .317 wOBA
  • Luis Valbuena: .253/.330/.402 with 7 HRs, .149 ISO, and .320 wOBA
  • Josh Vitters: .251/.293/.411 with 15 HRs, .160 ISO, and .305 wOBA

Not much to choose from here as all project to be below average on offense, though Stewart and Valbuena figure to be above average on defense.  We also have to take into account that Ian Stewart's projections are heavily affected by his last two seasons.  Many think that those seasons were hampered by a lingering wrist injury.  If that's the case and Stewart comes back strong, healthy, and gets his timing back then we could conceivably see something closer to the 2009/2010 Ian Stewart.  That guy hit 44 HRs, though he was still not a middle of the order type guy.   His wOBA (.337/.338) and RC+ were slightly below average.

Luis Valbuena could offer similar defense and on-base numbers to Stewart, though he doesn't have the same power potential.  He'll be ready to step in and play should Stewart falter or get hurt again.

Either player's value could be enhanced in a platoon type role and the in-house RH candidate is Josh Vitters, though he's likely to start the year at AAA.  By midseason, Vitters could find himself competing with another 3B prospect, Junior Lake, to get the call to Chicago.  James likes Vitters power (15 HRs), but his OBP is a dreadful .293 and the wOBA mark of .305 is well below average.

Defensive outlook

If the Cubs go with Stewart or Valbuena, they'll get above average defense either way.  Stewart has a lifetime UZR/150 of 3.2, including 9.4 last season.  Valbuena has been even better, posting a career UZR/150 mark of 11.2 at 3B, including 6.7 last season.  Vitters is a below average player on defense.

Depth/Outside Help?

The Cubs don't have a lot of depth in the IF, as we talked about yesterday with the 2Bs. Spring invitee Edwin Maysonet could keep the defense respectable at 3B though he won't produce much on offense.  We mentioned Brandon Inge as a possible RH 3B with some versatility.  We can't forget Jeff Baker as well.  He is a versatile player who hits lefties well and is still a FA.

Josh Vitters and Junior Lake will provide depth internally and will be a call away at Iowa.

As mentioned earlier, the Cubs could instead try to deal for a long term solution, as they did with Anthony Rizzo last offseason. Mike Olt is a name that has come up in the past, as is Nick Castellanos.  Of the two, I prefer Olt, who is more athletic and possesses better plate discipline.  He's also the better defender by far.  It may take a healthy Matt Garza to pry him loose.


Most MLB ready prospect: Josh Vitters.  Vitters had his best offensive season at Iowa where he put up a line of .304/.356/.517 with 17 HRs.  He started slowly and will get a chance to repeat that league next season, at least half of it.  Historically, Vitters has started slow when faced with the challenge of a new league and his start at Iowa and then Chicago were no exceptions.  Next year he'll get his second go-round and the hope is that he's made the necessary adjustments.  Defensively, you hope he'll be average.

Top MLB prospect: If you're looking strictly at 3B candidates, then the top prospect distinction goes to Christian Villanueva, who has solid tools across the board but doesn't stand out in one particular area.  His greatest value may be on defense and if he can hit for a decent average (.270-.280) with 15-20 HR power, he can be an average to above average player there.  If you're looking for a conversion candidate and a higher ceiling prospect, then Javier Baez is your guy, but we'll cover him in depth tomorrow when we look at the SS position.

Others to watch: Junior Lake is closing in on Vitters and may pass him next season.  The two are different kinds of players with Vitters relying heavily on his bat and Lake relying on his athleticism to help him contribute in all areas of the game.  Ultimately, Lake's chances may depend on his defense, his improving plate discipline, and whether he can develop the power to match his strong 6'4" frame.

Jeimer Candelario may end up being the best hitter in this bunch.  He held his own as an 18 year old in SS Boise.  The switch-hitter has quick wrists and a good feel for hitting.  His strike zone discipline dropped off a little but the NWL is a pretty big leap from the DSL, so Candelario struggled to adjust early, but then seemed to regain his batting eye as the season wore on.

Also keep your eye on: Greg Rohan, Dustin Geiger, Ben Carhart, Jesse Hodges, Luis Acosta, Marck Malave



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  • fb_avatar

    Thanks for the great position-by-position analysis John!
    These really breakdown the depth, and unfortunately show how below-avg. Cubs are overall at 3B. If only this F.O. had the chance to draft and develop Vitters!
    Where do you see Villanueva starting next year? Hopefully it will be Tenn. and he can continue his improvements to become a solid option for '14 or '15.
    Of course, as you pointed out, the ideal situation would be to trade Garza in a package for Olt and others. I really like Garza and would prefer the team extends him. He could be a big part of the next winner, but it seems much easier to acquire SP's than solid young position players.
    It will be interesting to compare all of the projected lineups posted here featuring the current top prospects with the actual lineup in 2 years. I'd bet it will look entirely different than we ever imagined. The depth they are building will open the way for filling specific needs year to year by trading prospects...just like the org. we're hoping to get Olt from!

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    In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    I would be surprised if Villanueva was not at AA to start the year. He'll be 22, which is about right for that level, and hit well enough in A+ to advance, particularly since the FSL is a pitcher's league

  • In reply to AdolphoPhillips67:

    I wouldn't say the Cubs are barren at 3B but there are no sure answers. The Cubs have at least 3 top 10 prospects who can play 3B. On problem is that none of the long term solutions have played above A ball. Baez may be a SS, 2B, or even an OF'er. Candelario is so far away, but very promising.

    Villanueva is the closest and will start at AA Tennessee. He has a good all-around skill set and the best bet to make it by 2014 in this crop -- but he won't be a star.

    Big question at 3B, lots of possible answers. A trade for Olt would indicate that the Cubs would feel more comfortable with a true 3B who is close to the majors.

  • I like the idea of Lake moving to third but unfortunately he just never seems comfortable there. In 57 games in the minors, he's had 164 chances and committed 22 errors for a .866 fielding %. About half those chances were last year at Tennessee where he improved a little to .899 but still not great. Gonna be hard to build on that improvement at Iowa with Vitters blocking him. Maybe they'll try to package one of the two before the season starts, though they could just stick Lake at SS down there.

  • In reply to Carne Harris:

    Seeing that the FO places a premium on catching and throwing the baseball, I just don't see how Lake fits in the future plans for the Cubs. Unless there is a switch to the OF, I could see him being dealt as part of a package in the Spring.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    Same can be said for Vitters too though. I think they'll both hit eventually.

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    Theoretically, what do you think it might take to get a Mike Olt, John?

    Baez and some pieces
    Garza and pieces
    Baez, Garza and pieces

    I don't know whether its worth parting with Baez, for just Mike Olt good as he is, Javier Baez has a chance to be significantly better if he learns how to be less swingforthefencerish. There's a chance that Texas gets desperate after going to the post season for what the last four years now without winning it all and would be willing to do Garza and whatever for Olt to strengthen their rotation come October time or just to get to the Postseason which might be tricker than it was in the past no that Hamilton is on the Angels now and not them.

    Basically what I'm saying is that if Theo and Jed like Olt and want him because unless Josh Vitters or Junior Lake steps up 3B could be a disaster, they should be patient and not give up to much.

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    In reply to James Knott:

    James, Dave Kaplan has pointed out that Garza would have brought back Mike Olt, Martin Perez and another good prospect before he was shut down last summer..if he's healthy you could see at least an Olt and Perez back for him in a deal...Baez isn't going anywhere...if healthy you can bet Matt Garza is...I wouldlove Olt here as well, talk about building a solid infield...

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    In reply to James Knott:

    Baez doesn't make a ton of sense in this deal. The Rangers are in win-now mode, and so moving a guy who can marginally help this year for a guy who won't be able to help until next season at the very earliest just doesn't make sense for them.

    If Baez is a trade chip, it's probably for a pitcher a la Wil Myers.

  • In reply to James Knott:

    Definitely don't want to include Baez for Olt. As you said, Baez has a higher ceiling than Olt and the Cubs can afford to wait on it as a rebuilding team.

    We have to clear something up about Olt. He is a good player but he's not an elite talent. He probably won't be a star. He has some contact issues, though not as profound as Brett Jackson. He's a good defensive player who could hit 25 HRs, maybe hit .270, draw some walks, and strike out a lot. Basically what a lot of people were hoping Ian Stewart would be as a prospect years ago. Baez's upside is well beyond that. Olt's value lies more in his proximity to the majors and a higher likelihood to reach his ceiling.

    I like Olt, but if it takes much more than a healthy year's worth of Garza, I'd be disappointed.

  • Saw this on another site. But what about Alex Gonzalez. I'm not sure about injuries or if he is already signed but could be a fit.

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    In reply to Nick Nesler:

    I forgot about Gonzalez. If he is healthy he would be a nice addition, but I would imagine he's not eager to sign as a backup/platoon player until he knows he can't get an everyday job yet, and at SS. With all the teams needing SS, I am surprised nobody has signed him yet. He must not be healthy. But if Stephen Drew can get almost $10 mil for one year coming off a mostly disastrous, injured season, then Gonzalez is worth a million or two, easy, for someone.

  • In reply to Nick Nesler:

    I think he'd rather get a crack at SS because he's still pretty good at it and he'd have more value there, but if he's still around he could be an interesting guy to look at. You know he'll play D, won't hit much, but will hit the occasional dinger.

  • Excellent article as usual John. I almost forgot about Christian Villanueva, I was focused on Baez. With that in mind I think Villanueva more than Vitters is the future at 3rd base with Baez on the back burner if he gets too big for SS. The Cubs value good defense and Vitters does not fit the bill .

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    In reply to Steve Flores:

    I was so hoping for Vitters to get off his ass and really shine but between his defense and his slow offensive adjustments at each new level, he's burying imself with this organization..

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    In reply to Luigi Ziccarelli:

    Too early to give up on Vitters, but if he can't play 3B, his value is really limited. He can hit, but doesn't have the power for LF or 1B, which makes him kind of fringy. If he can establish a major-league bat he has value to an AL club, but I wonder if he'll eventually be dealt....for less than we would like in return

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    In reply to Steve Flores:

    Villanueva's defense is so good I think he could easily move to 2b, and his bat would play even better there. Not that there's anything wrong with a 15-20 hr 3b with good defense. Most teams would kill for that these days. But I Think Villanueva could end up being the starting 2b in the future, especially if they think Baez profiles best at 3b and Castro sticks at SS.

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    In reply to Just Win:

    I can't remember where, but read a scouting report that said Villanueva isn't really a 2B. He would be a below average defender there, while at 3B he would be plus or plus-plus.

    We also have alot of depth at 2B, so I would envision him staying at 3B

  • In reply to Zonk:

    I know I've mentioned it here but haven't put up any scouting report on Villanueva at 2B -- but even without seeing him play, you have to figure that if the Rangers quickly gave up on it, then it must not have been good. They had every incentive to move Villanueva with Olt and Beltre ahead of him at 3B. Ultimately they knew he was locked in at 3B and blocked by a superior player and prospect, so they had to trade a player they liked for a rental.

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I think Villanueva is not really a 2nd baseman. It's ironic that Vitters is finally hitting , it's his defense that's the problem. Under the Hendry regime his defense would have been overlooked but not now and that's going to be his achilles heal.

  • In reply to Steve Flores:

    Thanks Steve. I'll talk about Baez more at SS so I don't double up too much but ultimately he could be at the top spot at 3B.

    Villanueva is the best right now among those who currently play the position. Not a star but he does have the all-around skill set that Vitters doesn't have. And he may end up being pretty close to what Vitters is as a hitter, and possibly better when you take everything into account.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Villanueva does look promising. We'll see how well he does when he jumps up to AA. He looks, statistically, like Vitters, but with a good OBP and good glove.

    If Vitters could just prove he can hit in the majors he will have a job somewhere, likely not with the Cubs, but look at Jeff Francoeur's career, who I think is a very similar type of hitter. He's always wanted (and then run out of town when teams get a good look at his faults).

  • In reply to Just Win:

    I think Francouer is a good comparison. He shows you enough talent to want to play him, but it isn't long before you're looking for an upgrade. The bottom line is that a guy like Vitters is going to make too many outs and won't make up for that by saving you many outs on the defensive end.

  • Can't have this discussion without Baez at center of it. Will he be better or just as good as Olt? If so, no need to trade Garza for Olt. From what I've read on this site, Baez is a potential superstar. Let's be patient.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Can't put all your eggs in one basket. Baez is at least 2 years away. If Olt comes up and he's a stud, then you can look to trade Baez (assuming he continues to develop) for holes in another area. Or trade Olt for a big package. You just want guys that have the most talent, not all of them will pan out. And if multiple guys make it at one position, then it gives you options and can allow you to fill holes at another position.

  • In reply to Nondorf:

    Baez can play multiple positions and his bat is better than Olt's -- so it should play anywhere. I think if the Cubs can find someone who can be a 3B for the next 6-10 years, they have to do it. Baez is only in A ball, there's no guarantee he makes it. If he does, the Cubs will find a place for him.

  • Hey John, love the position by position breakdowns for us. I wonder if it hurts or helps people to play more than one position in the minors and then when they get to the bigs, they have less experience than maybe they should have at any one of those positions. Lake seems to have the size to play third but being shuttled around between 2B, SS, 3B, OF, does that help or hurt his development? Same with Baez. Ultimately, I imagine it is the FO that makes those decisions and I understand the concept of developing players in different positions, but are they loosing out on valuable experience not playing one position all the time? Obviously, I don't know but hoping you can shed some light on it for me. Hope everyone had a great Holiday.


  • In reply to BobMiller146:

    Thanks Bob!

    It does help to play more than one position because most minor league players, even top prospects, won't be starters at the positions they played when they're drafted. Some won't be starters at all. The good players with athleticism can adapt quickly to new positions and it increases their chance of making it to the bigs.

    The exception to that rule is probably SS and catcher. If you can play those positions, you're likely to stick there as long as possible. True SSs are rare though, which is why you see so many of them switch before they even get to the majors.

    As for Lake, he's not a very good SS and hasn't shown himself to be a great 3B either. He'll make the occasional spectacular play but overall he lacks the approach/instincts for SS. It'd be great if he stuck at 3B, but I think eventually he moves to the OF.

  • I am looking forward to seeing what Jeimer has at Kane County. Every level should will have someone manning the hot corner this year who is definite prospect. With Baez at Daytona, Villanueva at West Tennessee, Vitters and Lake at Iowa.....The end is near.

  • In reply to historyrat:

    Nice observation...they do slot in much more nicely than the 2Bs do! Even some good prospects in the DSL

  • I agree with TulaneCubs none in our system are ready. Either to low in the minors or close but have problems. We could lose 2 or 3 years waiting for an answer.

  • My projection is Baez (who has a superstar caliber ceiling) takes SS from Castro, who moves to 3B in about two years. I don't see Lake or Vitters having much of a future with us. Castro has limited power potential (most evaluators would probably say he tops out at 25-30 hr, and that's generous). Baez however has no such limit. Comparisons to Gary Sheffield may prove accurate very soon.

  • In reply to NUcat:

    I hope you're right on both counts. If Castro can hit 25-30 HRs to go with his natural ability as a hitter that would be outstanding -- and if Baez turns out to be even better than! The Cubs will be set on the left side of their IF for years to come. Where they play, though, will depend on where they fit best defensively. If Baez can stick at SS that would be great -- I like his intangibles/instincts there. We'll see, though, so far he doesn't have the range Castro did at the same age and Baez figures to get bigger. I'm hopeful he can stick, but I'm in wait and see mode.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to John Arguello:

    We'll probably discuss this alot more on the SS post (great series, BTW), but alot with Baez depends on whether he sticks at SS.

    Jim Callis and others were surprised how good Baez was at SS last year, and many scounts now think he might stick there. If he does, and develops as a top-flight hitter as well, he will have a huge amount of value.

    If Baez projects as the next Miguel Tejada, probably one between him and Castro is big-time trade material, because there is no doubt we will have holes to fill elsewhere

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Thanks Zonk. Ideally if Baez could stay at SS it would be huge. I really like his instincts/intangibles there. There's a bit of a trade off, though. My concern is that his range is already less than Castro's was at the same age. Castro has maintained and even improved his range as he has matured physically and you hope that the same holds true for Baez as he fills out. We won't really know until it happens, so while I'm calling him a SS for now, I'm hesitant to call Baez anything long term but a good ballplayer whose bat will play anywhere. No doubt that his value would be highest at SS, though, where he'd be considered one of the top prospects in baseball if he he continues to build on what he did at Peoria.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, I see what you mean about Javi not having the range of Castro. But can we agree that Castro has plus range? Baez's range is not a concern as he is at least average to better than avg there. I've been on the field with him and watched him at eye level. The kid just stands out. Whatever advantage Castro has over Javi in range, Javi makes up for in footwork and throwing accuracy.

    I'm probably going to see him around JU next month and I'm going to try to pick his brain some. I don't think he can play with his thumb yet so he may not even show. If I do, I'll share it with the board here.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to NUcat:

    25-30 HR is not limited power. In today's somewhat PED-light game, there aren't a lot of guys hitting more than that. But I doubt Castro grows into that type of power hitter. Still, he looks like he should be up around 15-18-20 HR's in a year or two. He already hit 14 this past year. He has the frame to hit more than that but who knows how he progresses. And as Mark Grace used to say, "I could hit more HR's, but my average would drop like a rock if I tried."

  • Just relax people....don't need a "superstar" at every guy does not win the division.......three players I look forward to seeing.......Baez, Villanunueva & Lake.....I do believe Lake is trade bait.......Baez might jump sooner through the ranks then most of us will realize......meantime, we have Stewart who should produce better numbers this year...if Ian's wrist is still in question, then Ian better make a new resume up as a future car salesman.........if Olt is brought in through a trade, then some of our 3B prospects will be used in other deals....Castellanos is projected to be a corner outfielder by scouts.....not strong enough to play third.

  • fb_avatar

    Id like to add to something John said earlier about Olt that I felt was spot on and needed to be said.

    As much as we all like Olt, he is not as good as everyone makes him out to be. Like john said, ideally he is a right-handed version of Ian stewart as a prospect. Definitely does not profile as a star and could very well end up being just average. Not the player you want to center a deal around and give up significant assets for.

    If I'm trading Garza I'm looking for prospects that help our biggest need' which is pitching and catching(no top prospects at this position). I'm not trading him for a guy Ian Stewart could be better than a year from now. I'm not ssying don't

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Don't get him, I'm saying dont trade your best trade your best trade chip in a deal that centers around him. Maybe as a secondary piece. Just not as high on him as some people. Get pitching for Garza. Were deep enough at other positions including 3rd. At least one of Vitters, Baez, Villiueva, or Candelario will pan out

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    I want to clarify that I still like Olt. What Ian Stewart should have been is a pretty good player. Olt should be a pretty good player -- but I don't want to make him out as a star. But given the dearth of talent around baseball at that position right now, having a long term above average MLB player could turn out to be a nice asset. If we can get that and a good SP prospect for one year of Garza, I'll be happy.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Oh yea, I agree. I just meant in terms of people saying things like Baez + more for Olt. I do think he'll be a good player, but not the level of player you build a package around or trade your top prospect for.

    Id still like that Olt', perez for Garza deal. But what id like more is Perez, another pitching prospect and Pedro Feliz as this years Vizcaino, not holding my breath on that one though lol

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Would love that deal. I'll take Olt and Buckel too. The upside isn't as high, but Buckel more of a sure thing than Perez right now.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I've been pushing for Garza for Olt lately as a straight trade due to Garza's injury. But, taking a look at next year's free agent list, you see a lot of the same guys you see this year. (A trend that will continue.)

    In fact, when you look at the possible available pitching for the 2013 off-season, it's even worse. It's really got me thinking that it could be more and more likely that Garza gets locked up to an extension if he pitches well to start the season.

    He is still relatively young in a market that values starting pitching above all else. If he is good and is getting it done, why do you swap him for "potential" promise when you have the ability to lock him up for 3 or 4 more years?

    Theo and Jed value pitching. I think the chances of him staying are getting higher and higher, but we will see.

  • In reply to givejonadollar:

    A lot of people think Garza is as good as gone. Like you, I'm not quite that sure. We'll have to see how Garza looks this spring before we get a clearer picture. I do think, though, that if they get the chance to get young players back, they'll do it.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    What none of us know is how amenable Garza is to an extension.

    If I am his agent, I would advise him to NOT sign with the Cubs, and re-establish his health before signing anything.

    If his agent is giving him that advice, he's going to free agency, period. Perhaps the Cubs already know this, which is why we seem to be lining up for a Garza trade.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    This times 100. Imo Garza would be a fool not to test the market next year. He could get a kings ransom based on what else is available. If he has a good first half I think he's good as gone.

    People think its in the cubs court when really its in Garza's now. I don't think he'll sign a value contract anymore with the market the way it is and 5yr 80mil is too much.

    That's why I feel he's gone, if he has a good year he's goin on the market and someone will overpay so we best trade him and if he has a bad year we wont sign him for what he thinks he's worth and again somebody else will overpay.

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    In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Yep, and what's more, my client Garza gets more money in the end if he's traded mid-season. Why? Because there would then be no draft pick compensation tied to him.

    There is no doubt in my mind that draft pick compensation costs free agents money. Just look at Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano; nobody is beating a path to their door. That's because they are asking for at least $13 mil (because that's the qualifying offer they turned down), AND you have to surrender a 1st-round pick. That's too much for either guy.

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    In reply to Zonk:

    I would finally like to point out that if I was actually Garza's agent, I would be typing this post from my yacht in the Carribean, and waiting for my big payday..... :-)

  • In reply to Zonk:

    On MLBradio today, Jim Bowden said he could see Theo as being smart enough that he could manage to sign Lohse, Soriano and Bourn to short term contracts, which would in his opinion put them one bat away from being a serious contender in the NLCentral. It sounds a bit crazy, but I would agree that signing that trio and adding a quality bat at 3B would make them relevant much sooner than anyone expected. I'm not sure that Lohse especially, would sign a 1-2 year deal, but it would give them trade bait come July if they fell short, and they do have the money to afford them. Lohse, Garza, Samardzija, Jackson, and Wood/Baker would be a formidable rotation.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed Zonk. I wrote a piece earlier about signing Garza to an extension now, which was great in theory from the Cubs side, but as far as Garza's agent is concerned, it would be selling low. The fact that an extension hasn't been done (and doesn't appear close) seems to indicate the Garza side has no intention of doing that. The Cubs would be better off trading him in that case.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    We have a much better chance with Shark....let's see how he does next year, but local guy a couple years out from FA......he's a much better target for early extension.

    I also think that if the Nats had made a qualifying offer to Edwin Jackson, there is no way he is a Cub now. E-Jax made more money, because he was not tied to draft pick compensation. He was an obvious candidate for it, the fact that he wasn't makes you think the Nats had a handshake agreement to not do that when they signed that club-friendly pillow agreement last year. Also makes you wonder how many more "handshakes" like that are out there....

  • In reply to Zonk:

    Agreed on Shark. He may be motivated too so he doesn't have to go through the arb process year in and year out. Get that multi-year security. Cubs may want to wait until midseason as they did with Castro.

    From the other side, it also seems that teams have a good handle on who will accept that qualifying offer. If memory serves, I believe every player who received a qualifying offer turned it down. I suppose that's easy to gauge as you go through negotiations. You can simply offer a one year extension and if they turn it down flat, you can assume they're looking for a multiple deal (if they don't flat out tell you) and they'll turn down the qualifying offer too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Or the Cubs could just be waiting for Garza to throw off the mound.

    It's hard to say what the Cubs are doing. They've said "We want more Matt Garza's" Then end up signing Jackson and nearly getting Sanchez.

    They are willing to sign under 30 pitchers with power arms for 4-5 years.

    Also Garza seems like a guy who likes chicago and his team.

    You would think after an injury Garza would take some financial security over the risk.

  • In reply to Zonk:

    If i am Garza i say " I could of had an extension last year, but ended up holding out and it bit me in the ass"

    It's hard to say what they offered, but if it was similar to Dank's deal then he would of made 15 million instead of 9.5 and he's estimated to make 10 this year after getting hurt. So his agent theoretically cost him 10 million.

    Their is a good amount of risk for Garza. If he doesn't preform well or gets hurt then he will probably end up with edwin jackson deal or Scott Baker deal. I think the Cubs might offer close to Sanchez's deal.

  • Bill James has Stewart hitting only 6 homers. Is that right? He had 5 homers in only 55 games last year.

  • In reply to Fitz:

    He's using statistical trends but Stewart could buck that trend if his recent decline was due to his wrist injury. If that wrist was the prime cause of those poor power numbers, then we can pretty much throw that projection out the window.

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    Is Freddy Sanchez a FA? He is hurt a lot -- but seems like he'd provide a much better bat t Betancourt.

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    In reply to Chris Lattier:

    Sanchez may be worth a minor league contract, and NRI to ST, but that's it. He's probably cooked.

    I would rather go with Maysonet than Betancourt, I'm with you there. Yuniesky is BAD.

  • In reply to Chris Lattier:

    Sanchez may be done. Doesn't seem to be generating any interest. If he is healthy could be worth a flyer, but not at expense of roster spot. Betancourt is awful -- I'd be surprised if they were all that interested. Doesn't seem to fit.

  • i think its gonna be very interesting who the cubs get for garza (assuming hes healthy and gets traded). i know a lot of ppl like olt, but im more of a castellanos guy. strikes out less, higher ceiling, can play 3rd and is learning the outfield. projects to be a 40 doubles, 20+ homers, .300 guy at his peak, thats a very good player. i think we can use these two teams to bid against each other and raise the price. not only do both like garza, but both teams could feel like they need one more starter to put them over the top. i think in either scenario we can send the other team garza plus vitters or villanueva so they can have another 3b prospect to replace the one that their losing. this will raise the return that the cubs will receive. along with castellanos we could target crosby or smyly along with a young guy such as danry vasquez or austin schotts. for the rangers the return would most likely be olt and perez and hopefully a younger guy like luke jackson, although that might be a bit much, but u never know how teams value these guys.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    I like Olt better because of the better plate approach and defensive value but I can see the appeal for Castellanos because he's the better pure hitter. He's huge too, so I'm surprised he doesn't hit for more power. Maybe that comes later. I'm not sure he doesn't end up in LF, however, and then he'll have additional burden on his bat. He doesn't walk much, so much of his OBP will have to come from that average. It's close. Would probably be an interesting poll question.

    I'm losing interest in Crosby because he may end up a reliever. Smyly is more intriguing to me because he's already shown he can start, but probably a #3 at best and likely a #4. If it's Smyly and Castellanos, that's comparable to Olt/Buckel. At that point it depends on Cubs scouting and statistical projections of each player.

  • John,
    Didn't I see somewhere that the Rangers were looking at moving to behind the plate?

  • In reply to KGallo:

    Who Olt? Could be. He's blocked and he has the kind of athleticism/instincts to learn quickly. Still, it's kind of late in the game to move him to catcher. There's a big learning curve there. May be throwing that out there as a way of convincing teams that they don't have to trade him.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Sorry it was Valnuneava

  • Personally - I am more than fine with going into Spring Training with Stewart & Valbuena as primary & secondary 3B. Especially since both of them are at least acceptable as a back-up for Barney at 2B in a pinch.

    If Stewart is actually healthy (for a change) he provides some power and good defense. Valbuena can get on base reasonably well and plays good defense. Both are potentially valuable (and replacable in the long-run) trading bait if they start out well. If not - then neither of them is particularly expensive or long-term.

    I like where the Cubs are going going into this season,.... they may have trouble scoring runs in bunches with a general lack of power,... but defensively they will be improved as a team,... and the pitching staff looks to be at least as solid as regards starters as going into last season and the pool of relief pitchers seems vastly superior to last April.

    If Vitters gets his act together in the meantime,.... that would hurt nobody's feelings.

  • In reply to drkazmd65:

    There is a definite plan to improve that defense along with the pitching. Stewart and Valbuena both fit the bill there. That said, Olt is also a good defender and would fit the team philosophy long term.

    Interested to see if Vitters improves defense and pitch selection. If he does, he's a factor as well, but probably not until midseason.

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    Is left field scheduled for Saturday? I have to admit, I'm quite curious what you have to say on that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    That's the plan. LF is a tough one because it's a position where guys end up and not really where they're developed (at least early on). I've been thinking about merging it with RF and calling it corner OF'er. It's clear that big thumpers who have to be hidden in LF are not an organizational priority. Can usually get that off the FA market/trade market relatively cheap.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    The corner OF idea makes a lot of sense. Even there, looking at it from 50,000 feet, I see Jorge Soler and a bunch of other guys. Hoping you can give me some hope in those "other guys."

    I sometimes wonder about Baez landing there (the theory says Olt and Castro block him in the infield) as perhaps the best defensive left fielder of all time, but that seems like quite a stretch.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Even Soler, with a big arm, projects as more of a RF. And Vogelbach just doesn't project as an OF of any sort.

    John is right, it's usually where players end up for lack of better options. I could see Vitters, for example, ending up there out of necessity, even though he doesnt' quite have the bat to start there.

    I would probably merge it with corner OF'ers and call it one category.....especially since combining them it's thin as it is past the majors.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Off Topic, but I think I agree with you Mike, on that Will Myers trade. After looking over the Royals roster, I don't see any way they are legit contenders next season, even in a relatively weak division. Unless the Tigers have a few key injuries. Trading Myers for a 1-2 year "window" to contend for just a division title, while there are still so many roles filled by just average to below average big leaguers wasn't a smart move.

  • So many people want to trade Garza....

    Questions need to be asked first......

    Is he fully healthy...other teams would want to know that before they trade for him.

    What is the best package for Garza?....Theo must look at the Cubs side of what will be best in return and when.....we might not know until July......just say to yourself .."In Theo We Trust"

    Can Garza be re-signed?......if so , how much?.......right now, Garza and Johnson are the two best F/A players in 2013......Sanchez got $80 million......Garza could get $100 million on the open market......hate to have a Kevin Brown type of contract on the Cubs...

    If the Cubs kept Garza, they would get an extra pick in the long they offer him arbitration., which will be turned down by Garza's agent.....rather go for an extra draft pick that you can choose or gamble on someone's else prospect?

    What if the Cubs are in a race in July?....keep Garza or trade him and do a White Flag on the fans?....there could be a revolt in the bleachers if that happen....bad PR on Theo and the Cubs would not be is all about making the playoffs and playing now and not later if you can win the division.

    Can Garza be replaced?......if we can get Appel, he sure can be.....any player is really replaceable......but you would want to get an upgrade on the player you replaced in your lineup......Appel could have a bigger plus side than Garza in the long run for the Cubs.

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    In reply to CubsTalk:

    Those are all the questions.......we will be watching this all season, starting with ST.

    If he establishes health in Spring Training, his trade value is highest right then, before the season starts....because the acquiring team would figure to get draft pick comp in addition to Garza. That increases his value.

    If he isn't fully established before season starts, at that point we will keep him, IMO, until July...and see where things stand then

    Garza figures to hit free agency, for the reasons we outlined....he would be selling himself low to sign an extension now, if I am Garza, why would I do that? I wouldn't, if I think I can be healthy, I would want to test the market. Which he will do, IMO.

    It looks like the Cubs though are lining-up for a mid-season trade, because barring injury, we don't have room for all the starters (and Feldman was promised a chance to start).

  • I am starting to get the same feeling as I did last off season when i heard of and did some research on Rizzo. Olt just seems like the perfect fit for the cubs and I think a deal gets done. I am probably the biggest Baez fan there is,even Sheffield ended up in the outfield and that's who Baez gets compared to a lot. Corner outfield with Baez and soler and corner infield with olt and Rizzo, I'd sure take that!

  • In reply to Joshnk24:

    I agree I believe Baez will end up in a Corner OF position and I also think he will excel there.

  • Sign me for league minimum , I guarantee as long as I am issued a good chest protecter , super trooper style titanium cup then I will be serviceable defensively . Offensively my skill to articulate to the opposing catcher will assure a great OB% . If not I would love a Garza / Olt centered trade.

  • I understand bringing back Stewart, with such a weak market. I am still skeptical that the surgery fixed his wrist. His wrist has been bothering him most of his career. If his doctor did perform a miracle surgery then he could defiantly break out.

    Last year Stewart posted his lowest strikeout rate. If he had been healthy/ luckier he probably could of had a .350 obp.

    I am really hoping that his wrist is finally healthy. A healthy Stewart and a new improve Brett Jackson would make the Cubs a dark horse for the 2nd wild card.

  • Got the baseball jones? The Dominican winter league playoffs are live:

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Thanks Toby! I love the way crowds are so into the game in Latin countries.

  • Just saw this tweet about another Japanese pitcher signing with the Cubs:
    ChicagoCubsOnline ‏@TheCCO

    RT @JeffPassan Source in Japan says lefty reliever Hisanori Takahashi has agreed with Cubs on a minor league deal with big league invite.

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    In reply to SFToby:

    Interesting. Takahashi was a decent reliever for the Mets and Angels before being traded to Pitt late last season and wasn't so hot there in the final two months. But I like bringing in another lefty on a NR STI. He'll be 38 just after opening day.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Uh oh, I'm going to have to get to work! Not sure who this is offhand. Maybe a vet who was a starter earlier in his career, Yomiuri Giants? Then moved to the bullpen a number of years ago?

    I don't recognize him as well-known closer or anything, like our other signings this offseason. Well, quite a few Japanese veteran pitchers - former starters and already relievers - have done quite well out of the bullpen in the MLB. So why not? Especially a minor league deal.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Just got home. We have some friends in from out of town. Did a quick write-up. Another smart signing. I love this front office!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Oh, he was already in the States! Didn't think there were many more newly anointed NPB free agents still on the market.

  • In reply to TokyoCraig:

    Yep. And not a bad pitcher. Kind of a finesse type, maybe a LOOGY, but I think he can be useful.

  • I don't know if any of you saw the Levine chat today but he seems to have been bitten by the Upton bug.

    With him,you can never tell if it's something he's hearing whispers on or is just trying to generate some interest in his chat.

    It begs some interesting questions. Has Upton's trade value been dinged enough by recent chatter to make him attractive? Does his combination of youth, ML success, and affordability make him an appealing target? What would he have that might appeal to ARI? Would you possibly include someone like Baez?

    Remember how much success STL had in the past acquiring premium, young ML talent to help solidify their core back in the day( Rolen, Edmonds, Renteria)? If you do your due diligence, these types of deals can be catalysts toward building a solid core.

    Just food for some thought. I'm not necessarily advocating going all out for Upton but it merits some discussion. I think Castro is out of this discussion.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    Agreed that bringing in a guy like Upton can speed up the timetable and that if it's possible to get him without giving up Castro, then they should look into it.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    John, what would be a realistic example of "pain tolerance" for you on an Upton deal, in terms of a package of talent that could get it done? The more that I think about it, the more it intrigues me.

  • I don't know who we could add with Baez to entice the DBacks into trading Upton. I could see throwing in maybe Lake and Szczur besides Baez and see if that's enough. Upton could be a good core piece going forward to add to Soler and Almora. Or keeing Szczur and adding a pitcher not named Vizcaino.

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