Let’s take a look around the league at some of the latest news and notes regarding, or possibly regarding, the Cubs…
There are a couple of Cuban defectors worthy of the Cubs interest who have just defected. The first is slick fielding SS Erisbel Barbaro Arruebarruena. The word I hear on him is outstanding range and arm but a light bat. The natural comparison is to former Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias. The Cubs may already have Starlin Castro and Javier Baez, but shortstops are assets and if Arruebarruena can hit better than Iglesias, he can be a tremendous asset.
The other defector is a pitcher named Raciel Iglesias who is a power arm despite standing just 5’11” and weighing 165 lbs. He also flashes a good curveball. He tops out around 95 mph as a starter but his slight build may profile him as a reliever, where I’m told he could add a few ticks to that FB.
The Rule 5 Draft
The deadline to protect players for the Rule 5 draft is tomorrow. The Cubs currently have 3 open spaces and they’d probably like to leave one open to select a player, though they could always protect 3 now and open up a spot before the draft. Arismendy Alcantara is a lock and the Cubs may protect another player or two. One candidate is Dallas Beeler, a pitcher that I like and whom I think can pitch out of the bullpen in the big leagues next year on his FB movement and command alone, though he also adds a slider (some call it a cutter) and split finger. OF Jae-Hoon Ha is short on upside but close to being big league ready as defensive specialist off the bench. There is some question as to whether Juan Paniagua will be eligible and, if so, he merits consideration based on his stuff alone. The Cubs liken Eric Jokisch to Chris Rusin and Brooks Raley, both of whom were protected. Recently acquired Aaron Cunningham is also eligible, as are all the other recent minor league signings.
Sizing up Sizemore
Grady Sizemore is drawing interest from several teams and it’s quite possible that one of those teams is the Cubs. They have shown passing interest in the past, but medical records and Sizemore’s desire to play CF cooled their interest. This year he’s said to be healthy and ready to go for spring training and now seems willing to play a corner.
You may remember Sizemore had a micro fracture in his knee, a similar injury that almost derailed Carlos Beltran’s career before making back strong in 2011. The recovery hasn’t been nearly as swift for Sizemore, so it’s a big question mark. He’s still just 31 but hit just .224/.285/.422 but did put up a solid .198 ISO in his most recent season, which was 2011.
When healthy, he’s a star level player, but that hasn’t been the case since 2008. It’s one of the kinds of lottery tickets we have talked about. The thing about Sizemore is there is no projecting his ability. You know he can play. The question is will he be healthy enough to play consistently at the level he had in the past. Probably not — but even half the player he was in 2008 would be a solid addition.
It seems there are at least a few teams willing to take that chance. One thing the Cubs an offer is playing time and a chance to rebuild value. And they could certainly offer him at least a chance to compete for CF. The Cubs don’t have a true CF on the roster right now and while many doubt Sizemore can still play there, there aren’t a lot of other teams out there that can say they will give him a legit shot to compete for that spot.
What say you? Worth a look on an incentive-laden short term deal?
UPDATE 5:15 PM: Have heard that the Cubs will indeed at least “kick the tires” on Sizemore. Obviously there is a long gap between kicking tires and buying the car, but there is some interest there.
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