Update 17:10 PM: Mariners to acquire Seth Smith for RP Brandon Mauer
Update 10:30 AM: Rays sign Asdrubal Cabrera. Zobrist deal next?
Update 9:15 AM: Sherman states Cubs have interest in Drew to play 2B
It really isn't a busy enough day to start a thread but that could change soon. If so we will update this and make this into a running thread. Keep hearing that the Cubs have the proverbial irons in the fire, one of which seems to be a potential deal with the Rangers, likely involving Welington Castillo. It's tough to find a good one-for-one match so a trade may end up having multiple players on both sides.
And no, I don't know who is involved other than Castillo, but some names we have speculated on in the past include OF Leonys Martin and LHP Robbie Ross. The deal could also include prospects on both sides, but if it does I doubt we're taking high level guys here, just names to balance out value for both teams.
The Rangers aren't the only team interested in Castillo but given the two teams good working relationship, there seems to be a good chance to get something hammered out here.
In other news, I've been told by two different contacts that the Cubs are indeed interested in Stephen Drew, but that it has nothing to do with Starlin Castro and that it would not be considered a major move for them. That seems to be consistent with what we speculated on earlier today, that the Cubs may think Drew is a good fit for his clubhouse presence, defense, versatility in the infield, and solid approach at the plate. I do not know if it is at all related to any other deals or any other roster moves the Cubs are considering at this point.
Starlin Castro moving to the U.S.?
Some good news for those worried about Starlin Castro. It seems that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have talked to Castro and his agent recently said on MLB Network Radio that the 24 year old SS realizes he will have to make some changes, stay away from distractions, and is in the process of searching for a home in Arizona or possibly Florida.
Perhaps something good can come out of his after all. From everything we have heard, he's a good kid but maybe this was a bit of a wakeup call for him. It was his dad's cousin who was shot and killed in the most recent incident. So while Castro was cleared of any wrongdoing and was not involved, he appears to be a target of sorts because of his status in what seems to be a small town. It may not be fair, as Castro is doing what many people his age do, but keeping safe would seem to avoid that environment as much as possible.
Jonny Gomes still in the radar?
Chicagoland Sports did an interview with the Tribune's Mark Gonzalez. Among the more interesting tidbits is that Gonzales believes that the Cubs will sign Jonny Gomes sometime in January. Like us, he doesn't think the Cubs would be interested in either Colby Rasmus or Norichika Aoki.
Gonzales also mentioned the possibility of acquiring an outfielder via trade.
Scott Lindholm of Beyond the Box Score has some additional information on the Cubs new catching situation and projects that the Cubs may get as many as 200 additional strikes called vs. what they had with Welington Castillo last season. The increase is because of both catcher's proficiency of getting strikes called that were actually outside the zone.
We've talked about how those strikes add up over time and eventually lead to walks and runs in the abstract. They are also meaningful over the course of the game as it could be the difference between a pitcher being ahead 0-1 or behind 1-0. Statistics show that the likelihood for success is far better if the pitcher can jump ahead early.
Whether that can balance an expected decrease in performance, especially when we talk about the difference between David Ross and Castillo, is unlikely. But for the Cubs, controlling the strike zone is part of their overall plan and as Lindholm writes, if they are going to invest big in pitchers than it makes sense that they also give them every tool to give them the best chance to succeed.
I did a podcast with the guys from Wrigleyville Nation. We talked Castro, the offseason, prospects, and more.
Joel Sherman is the latest to report the Cubs interest in Stephen Drew but he adds a little detail. Sherman states that the interest from all teams, including the Cubs, is in having Drew play 2B. Now from what I understand, the Cubs wouldn't consider this to be a major move on their part, but if it is for a starting gig then I would have to disagree.
At the very least, even if it is just as a utility man/insurance policy it sends the signal that the Cubs have some concerns about Javier Baez's ability to start the season as their regular 2B. Arismendy Alcantara and Tommy La Stella appear to be more MLB ready, but also unknowns at this point, so Drew could be something of a security blanket for the Cubs.
The problem is Drew's asking price is not that of a reserve or insurance policy, he is asking for starter's money at $9-$10M per season. I don't think he gets that, but I do think someone will give him something above $5M, which still makes him pricey if a team is looking at him as an insurance policy. I would think an incentive-laden deal makes more sense considering Drew's big struggles in 2014.
Well, this is interesting.
Sources: #Rays in agreement with Asdrubal Cabrera, pending physical.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 30, 2014
It is a bit unexpected unless the rumors are true that the Rays are looking to trade Zobrist before the new year. We don't think the Cubs are involved even though he would seem to be a perfect fit. Subsequent reports from Peter Gammons and other national media seem to indicate the Giants are the most likely landing place, but the Nationals may be involved as well. The Orioles are another team that has been mentioned as a possibility.
Of course, the hopeful Cubs fan in all of us will say the Cubs are being stealthy and lurking in the weeds, but all the information we have seems to indicate otherwise. Needless to say, as a big Zobrist fan, I hope everybody is wrong.
The Padres are close to dealing one of their outfielders, as expected, and it will be Seth Smith heading to the Mariners. The Padres have acquired Justin Upton, Wil Myers, and Matt Kemp this offseason, squeezing the underrated Smith out of the picture.
Smith may platoon with former Cub Justin Ruggiano.
The Padres get Brandon Maurer who struggled as a starter but came into his own in relief, posting a 2.17 ERA (2.99 FIP) and nearly doubling his K rate to 9.13 per 9IP while simultaneously cutting down his walks from 3.9 per 9IP to 1.2.
I think the Padres did very well here in getting a 24 year old promising bullpen arm in exchange for a 32 year old platoon outfielder who up until last year essentially performed like a 4th OFer. Even more impressive is that they had no room for him and everyone knew they were looking to trade an outfielder. For those thinking the Cubs would bid on Smith, this helps explain why maybe they didn't. It wouldn't seem to make a lot of sense to give up a young, talented, inexpensive RP for a player who may only be a marginal upgrade -- if he is an upgrade at all, over Chris Coghlan.
The Padres may try to convert Maurer back to a starter and if they can do that successfully, it could wind up being quite a steal. Maurer can reach the mid 90s with his fastball and has one of the more promising curveballs to go with an average or better slider and change.
Nothing against Smith but the more I think about this the more I think the Mariners got absolutely hoodwinked here
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