UPDATE 6:00 Ken Rosenthal says that the Cubs big trade for Addison Russell was almost even bigger. The A's were interested in utilityman Luis Valbuena for their hole at second base. However, both teams agreed to table those talks and perhaps revisit them down the road. However, Rosenthal confrims something we've said here for a long time: the Cubs are not inclined to trade Valbuena and will only move him if they fell they are getting value in return.
After acquiring Addison Russell last week, Cubs President Theo Epstein gave Starlin Castro a vote of confidence stating: "This trade had nothing to do with Starlin Castro. It had everything do about acquiring young impact talent." Epstein went on to call Castro a "centerpiece" of the Cubs plans and added that there is room for all the team's young IF talent to play together. However, this has not stopped the media from around the league from speculating that the Cubs will be moving one of their young shortstops, with most of the focus being on Castro. As John reported yesterday, the Mets have already been mentioned as a potential match based on their stockpile of young pitching and lack of shortstop options within their organization. However, the speculation is starting to spread around the league, despite repeated comments from the Cubs that they don't plan on moving any of them right now.
- According to Ken Rosenthal, Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond recently turned down a $90M extension offer from the team and seems intent on reaching free agency after the 2015 season. As a result, the Nationals are now searching for a young shortstop using catcher Sandy Leon, outfielder Steven Souza and infielder Zach Walters as bait. The team does not want to move RHPs Lucas Giolito and A.J. Cole in any deal, though Giolito would likely be the first name on the Cubs wish list in any trade.
- Jeff Moore of Baseball Prospectus and mlbprospectwatch.com praises the Cubs approach to using prospects as currency and speculates on the Pirates as a potential landing spot for Castro. Though trading Castro within the division would be risky, the Pirates are well stocked with young pitching such as Nick Kingham and Tyler Glasnow, not to mention top prospect Jameson Taillon who is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
- MLB Trade Rumors examines the market for second base options and lists both Darwin Barney and Luis Valubuena as being potentially available. However, both players are listed in the "Backups/Utility Players/Defensive Specialists" section, which I feel vastly undervalues Valbuena's contributions this season.
- There was plenty of speculation last week that the Cubs could look to move their international bonus slots since they are restricted from spending the full value after exceeding their pool last year. The Cubs have not traded any of their available slots, but four of them were traded yesterday. To give you an idea of the value of these slots, the Rays sent AA RHP Matt Ramsey to the Marlins in exchange for Miami's second, third, and fourth slots (total values $1.08 million) according to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. Ramsey, 24, is a hard throwing righty with some control issues, but has put together a strong season so far (1.07 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings).
- The Brewers also acquired an international slot worth $339K from Oakland in exchange for Low A RHP Rodolfo Fernandez. Fernandez is a 24 year old Cuban who has allowed 4BB/9 so far this season and isn't considered much of a prospect. The Brewers will use the extra slot money to finally sign Dominican SS Gilbert Lara without exceeding their bonus pool and incurring penalties next season. Lara was rated the #5 IFA prospect this year according to Baseball America.
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