The Winter Meetings are here, and the rumors are already flying fast and furious. Unfortunately, not a whole lot surrounding the Cubs at the moment. Hopefully that will change soon. At the risk of shameless self-promotion, I’ll be using my twitter feed (@mqmoody) to retweet or send out any rumors I find immediately since there’s a slight delay here. With that, on with the show!
UPDATES 8:00 PM
- Not unexpected, but this makes me sad. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer (Twins writer) ran into Mark Prior at the Winter Meetings. Prior has officially retired and may join the Padres front office. My favorite comment on Prior’s short but spectacular career remains this masterpiece by the boys over at the dearly departed Fire Joe Morgan. (Look for “Going the Distance” about 3/4 of the way down.)
- In news on current baseball players, Shin Soo Choo seems to be between the Diamondbacks and the Rangers, according to Jon Heyman. L.A. radio host Joe McDonnell has the Angels ready to ship Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks for a package of pitchers if Choo signs with the Rangers. My guess would be Tyler Skaggs leads that package. I’d be very surprised if the Angels get Archie Bradley for Trumbo.
UPDATES 7:00 PM
- Rosenthal again, and this might get interesting pretty quick. He has the Diamondbacks active on “multiple fronts,” possibly signing OF Shin-Soo Choo and trading for a pitcher *or* trading for 1B/OF Mark Trumbo and signing a FA pitcher. Either way, we’ll get a sign of the Diamondbacks intentions towards the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija based on whether or not they sign Choo or trade for Trumbo.
- Given all the rumors we read today, I probably would have guessed this but Jeff Passan confirms it: Seems like slow day when only two transactions are David Cooper, Felipe Paulino signing. Not so. Executives reporting a ton of trade talk.
UPDATES 5:30 PM
- (Mike): This really shouldn’t surprise anyone, but Patrick Mooney (among many others) quotes Jed saying that the Samardzija situation is unrelated to the Tanaka situation. I’m not sure who thought that the Cubs wouldn’t love to have both pitchers on their team.
- (Mike)” Ken Rosenthal has Mark Trumbo potentially on the move. He specifically mentions the Diamondbacks as a destination and says the offers are improving. This seems unlikely to affect the Cubs but if, say, Tyler Skaggs were involved in this trade, it would certainly limit the paths Kevin Towers would have available to make a Jeff Samardzija deal.
- (Mike): More good stuff on Starlin from Carrie Muskat and Patrick Mooney. Castro has been working with a Tim Buss on his strength and conditioning to improve his speed and, consequently, his range. Hoyer thinks last year may have been a wake up call for Castro.
UPDATES 4:00 PM
- (Mike) Okay, Jed Hoyer just stirred the water. Jesse Rogers tweeted: Hoyer not ruling out trading a major prospect: “If it did make sense for the future we’d certainly consider it.” I’m sure this will set a million keyboards atwitter, but it seems like he’s not telling us anything we don’t already know. The Cubs have said everyone is available, and if including one of the big four in a potential Shark deal made the return just too good to pass up, I’m sure they’d consider it. But I don’t think this means the Cubs will be a significant player for David Price.
- (John): Teams are asking about Starlin Castro but Jed Hoyer said that the Cubs young SS is not in play. “”We’re excited to have Starlin”, said Hoyer. I’ve been trying to say this despite rumors to the contrary. Hopefully this puts an end to that speculation. It never made a whole lot of sense for this offseason. Nobody knows what the future holds there, but there is no reason to deal him now. (MIke): Regarding the Castro situation, there was some speculation that there was Castro vs. Sveum in the dugout by the end of last year. If that’s true, I think it’s pretty clear whose side the front office took. This last statement — extremely emphatic — sends a clear message on whose side they stand. But, if this is the case, I think it was about more than Castro. There are several young players, many of Hispanic heritage, coming up in the next year or two. Having a manager and staff in place that makes Castro feel uncomfortable could make those players uncomfortable. I don’t mean to disparage Dale Sveum here. I believe he’s a good baseball man who will succeed as a manager. But, there may have been a style and personality that was, at this time, not conducive to bringing up young players. After the atmosphere had been poisoned, he would have had a very hard time winning the players back.
- (John) Rogers also tweeted that Castro is working out with strength coach Tim Buss so that he can come into the spring in better shape this year.
- (John); Adam Kilgore tweets that the Cubs are interested in former Nationals closer Drew Storen and speculates the Nats would be interested in Nate Schierholtz or James Russell. Meanwhile Wittenmeyer tweets something similar, “Cubs looking at reliever trade market. Eyeing Nats’ Storen, Clippard among others.” Sure. An established reliever does make sense. I don’t know if I’d trade a starting RF for one or make a James Russell deal to take one step forward and one step back. The Nationals are also shopping 2B Danny Espinosa and I would really like to see if the Cubs can make a package deal for both if they want Schierholtz. Espinosa can play defense and has a little pop in his bat. He will strike out — a lot, but he will also take a walk from time to time.
- (John): Wittenmeyer tweets that Jeff Samardzija is getting more attention than any other Cub during these winter meetings but that Nate Schierholtz is also getting some attention.
- (John): Good news if you are a fan of the Cubs signing Tanaka, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times reports that the Dodgers interest in Tanaka is “lukewarm”.
- (John): I think Brett Anderson has become my Coco Crisp of this season. As many of you may remember, I badly wanted the Cubs to sign Crisp as a stop gap outfielder but he took a nice deal to sign with the A’s and it has paid off for them. Anderson is the guy I would like to see them take a chance on this year. He’s still young and as long as it doesn’t cost them long term, it’s worth the gamble, in my opinion. And it doesn’t hurt that he has a sense of humor about himself. When Jon Morosi tweeted that Brett Anderson was a Plan B solution, Anderson tweeted back, “so I’m like the morning-after pill?”
UPDATES 3:00 PM
- (John): Jon Morosi talked to one interested GM who believes Masahiro Tanaka will be posted. Morosi suspects we will find out one way or another in the next 24-48 hours.
- (John): Jon Heyman reports what we’ve pretty much been saying for the past couple of weeks: “#mariners, #rangers, #dodgers are at this point the 3 most serious suitors for david price. Have the interest and players.” Not news to us here and none of those teams have been connected strongly with the Cubs on Samardzija, so I’ll be happy if it goes down with any of those three teams.
- (Mike): Ken Rosenthal has the Orioles, Mariners, and Rangers in talks with OF Nelson Cruz. Some wanted the Cubs to make a run at him, but that seems almost impossible now.
- (Mike): Jayson Stark reports that the Marlins have announced they’re trading Logan Morrison. I’m pretty sure 29 other GMs in baseball already knew that. Good example of how a team shoots itself in the foot. They’ve put themselves into a position where the only move is to trade Morrison. Their only hope at recovering some value is to spark a bidding war and, with the way he’s played, that seems unlikely.
UPDATES 2:00 PM
- (Mike): Ken Rosenthal has the Twins closing in on yet another free agent pitcher, this time former Red Bronson Arroyo. I’m intrigued by what the Twins are doing here. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton both appear to be at least a year away. However, they’re already putting together a pretty nice middle of the rotation to go with these guys. I’m wondering if this is (a) because they like the middle of the rotation starters in this class better than the next class or (b) because they see salaries taking another leap next off season.
- (John): The White Sox made a nice upside signing on Felipe Paulino, a pitcher that at least one of our readers suggested (sorry, can’t remember which one(s) right now).
- (John): Bruce Levine tweets that the Dodgers and Rays may be hooking up on David Price. I really hope this is true. I don’t expect the Dodgers to be in on Samardzija and that would leave the Cubs open to talk with the remaining teams. Dodgers don’t have much in the way of depth. They’d pretty much have to empty out there system of top prospects to make a quality bid. (Mike): Never liked them as a Shark landing spot.
- (Mike): I wasn’t as big on the hot stove stuff back then, but I remember the rumor that Scott Boras had the Rangers bidding against themselves in the negotiations that eventually took Alex Rodriguez from Seattle to Texas. Well, Grant Brisbee reports the Mariners decided Robinson Cano was so important to them they had to repeat that negotiating tactic. I hope the Mariners front office isn’t as incompetent as the last few days have painted it. On the other hand, I really, really want this story to be true. (John): It reminds me of when Crane Kenney/John McDonough outbid Jim Hendry for Alfonso Soriano.
UPDATES 1:00 PM
- (Mike): John and I have a nice tennis game going on the pitchers here. The plot is thickening. Joel Sherman tweets “Exec from team expected to be major Price players says Rays haven’t pushed hard yet, thinks even possible TB begins season with him.” This could very well be the Rays slow playing the market much like the Cubs are with Samardzija and waiting for it to come to them. However, that might mean the DBacks — and the single best piece possibly available this offseason — are out on the Samardzija market until they know what happens to Price. All of this could make the perfect storm and result in a long, agonizing winter of “When will Jeff be traded?” stories. (John): For what it’s worth, I’ve heard from one scout that A) Price has not been shopped and B) There is no guarantee he”ll be traded this offseason. It could be posturing, as we know the Rays have no intention of trading anyone without receiving significant surplus value, but like the Cubs, I suspect they’d rather hang on to him rather than trade him for anything less than what they want this offseason.
- (John): Chris Sale is not on the market, according to this tweet from Jerry Crasnick: I asked a GM who is in the market for pitching about Chris Sale. “He’s not out there,” the GM said. Some wondered if the Cubs would make a play for a LH cost controlled ace while others may worry about Sale stealing a Samardzija suitor from the Cubs. It appears that neither will happen this offseason. Crasnick does add, “Sure, #whitesox would listen. But Sale is signed for reasonable price thru 2019. It would take a gigantic trade offer.” In other words, he’s not being made available and if someone asks, the price will be prohibitive — much, much more than the price of Price according to Dan Szymborski.
- (John): According to Joel Sherman, one exec in on Anderson says, #Athletics very available Brett Anderson is “Plan B not Plan A guy, he has a lot of risk, but also lots of upside” Makes you wonder a) who the exec is and b) what plan A is. One depends on the other. I suspect that most likely, it’s David Price or for some teams, Jeff Samardzija, is plan A. If it were a Cubs exec to say this, then we would probably assume that Masahiro Tanaka is Plan A.
- (John): Meanwhile, Sherman also tweets, “Towers: “we have the prospects to get anyone that is available.” Again, that is interesting to Cubs fans. Towers has said in the past that he knows what it takes to get Jeff Samardzija. Obviously he has been unwilling to meet that price at this point. One has to assume they’ll make that run at David Price if they feel like they can get anyone they want, but maybe Samardzija is their plan B.
- (Mike): This probably means nothing, but Bob Nightengale says the closest thing the DBacks have to untouchables are 1B Paul Goldschmidt and LHP Pat Corbin. Notice a name that isn’t there? However, it’s possible (probable) Towers was just referring to major league players.
- (Mike) The David Price market appears to be heating up. Jake Seiner of MiLB made a list of prospects that could be headed to Tampa Bay in any deal for Price. However, in a comment that may mean his team is staying out of the market for now, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times quotes Mariners’ GM Jack Zduriencik saying he expects Taijuan Walker to be a Mariner.
Grumble. @WinterMeetings: Congrats Cardinals on being named the Baseball America Organization of the Year.
- Roch Kubtako claims that the Orioles may seek to cure their case of Samardzitis with a good (Bartolo) Colon cleansing. (My once a day terrible pun.)
- (John) Professor Parks and the guys on the BP Prospect team have a fun debate on Aaron Sanchez vs. Marcus Stroman. Of course, we’re all hoping the Blue Jays will part with one or the other, though it will be very difficult to pry either one loose.
- To add on to John’s point about the Sherman tweet below, do you remember all the hand-wringing when Theo didn’t trade Garza before the 2012 season? Now, it’s working to our advantage. Not only did we get the sexy Olt-Edwards package but everyone knows Theo is 100% willing to start the season with Jeff Samardzija on the roster. That increases the pressure on them to blink because they know Theo isn’t going to.
- We aren’t the only ones curious about the Jeff Samardzija soap opera. Carris Muskat blogs that other beat writers are asking her whether the big right hander will be traded.
UPDATES 12:00 PM
- Chris Cotillo has four names possibly on the trading block: Sale, Trumbo, Andrus, and Domonic Brown. Andrus is the most interesting of those to me. Presumably Profar would side over to his natural position — after having struggled some in his first season in the majors. If the rumor is true, it tells you how sold the front office is on the young player.
- (John): Joel Sherman tweets: #Cubs definitely talking Samardzija but price high and 1 interested exec said: “they will get it or just put him back on the market in July”. This is what I really like about this front office because it very much reminds me of what the Rays do. When have you ever known the Rays to settle and make a deal before they could get surplus value? They just don’t. There is only one reason to trade Jeff Samardzija now and that is to get significant surplus long term value on a deal. If they don’t, they can wait because it’s likely they can get a similar offer later provided Samardzija is healthy. The number of interested teams is usually greater at the meetings because front offices are more optimistic before the season starts, so the Cubs should have the advantage of a large pool of bidders. However, deadlines and pennant races have a way of making a team act in the way the winter meetings do not. So the Cubs can and should be willing to wait if they don’t get what they want during the meetings.d
- Jeff Passan tweets, “Sources: Phillies actively shopping OF Domonic Brown. Looking for controllable starting pitching in return. Idea is to sell high on him.” Hmm, where have we heard that before? Why, right here, of course! The Phillies would like starting pitcher and we reported their interest in Samardzija. We mentioned that Brown is their main trade piece but that the Cubs would be more interested in pitching, so we believe a 3rd team would have to get involved.
- Jeff Moore at MLB Prospect Watch address the Phillies interest in Jeff Samardzija.
- Hey, actual Cubs news. Bruce Levine has the Yankees — which we knew — and Atlanta — which we didn’t — officially in on Jeff Samardzija. The Yankees seem like an extreme longshot. They just don’t match up well with the Cubs. The Braves have the prospects. The question is whether or not they will part with them.
- Buster Olney has the Pirates meeting with RHP Bronson Arroyo‘s agent. The Pirates are known to want a new starting pitcher. We’ve speculated — though there has never been confirmation — that the Pirates might enter the Jeff Samardzija sweepstakes this winter. Signing Arroyo would effectively remove them from competition.
- It wouldn’t be a major baseball event without Gordon Wittenmeyer dumping ice cold water on Cubs fans. The upshot of this one: Tanaka is hopeless and the Cubs are going to trade Samardzija.
- 1B/OF Garrett Jones is going to the Miami Marlins on a 2-year deal, according to Joe Frisaro at MLB.com. The 32-year old Jones has spent his entire career with the Pirates. He teased with a .274/.317/.516 slash in 2012 before dropping to .233/.289/.419 last year. A two year deal for a guy leaving his prime that’s always been more potential than results. This market is going to be crazy.
- Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports has an article with some quotes from Orioles GM Dan Duquette. It seems to throw cold water on the Jeff Samardzija trade rumors: “”If we’re going to be successful, we’re going to have to develop additional starting pitchers to come up through our farm system to make an impact on the major league team. That’s where the Orioles are going to get value from their pitching program. It’s not going to come from high-priced free agents. So, if people are expecting the Orioles to go out and sign a significant pitcher, I think it’s more realistic to look for good pitchers to come up through the farm system.”
- According to Jon Heyman, one anonymous NL GM agrees with several posters here. He wouldn’t trade Taijuan Walker for David Price straight up.
- Jon Morosi has the White Sox potentially trading Chris Sale, although that is a long shot.. An anonymous GM tells Ken Rosenthal teams are going to push the White Sox on that. This is not great news for the Cubs as Jeff Samardzija would no longer be the second best pitcher available on the market. (In fact, it might be David Price.) Underscoring this problem for the Cubs, Buster Olney tweets that the Diamondbacks would be in him if he’s made available. If this drama drags out for too long, it increases the chance that Samardzija is not traded at the winter meetings and may, in fact, push the trade to July. You didn’t expect this to be easy, did you?
- Heyman also has the Dodgers making multiple offers to a name we’ve discussed here, Juan Uribe. At this point, they are unwilling to go to 3 years for him, though. I would imagine the Cubs would also balk at a three year contract given their third base contingent rising through the minors. Another of his old teams, the White Sox, are also considering him, again according to Heyman, but as they want a left handed third baseman, he isn’t a perfect fit for them. Eric Chavez jumps out as a possibility in the free agent market. If Chavez is priced out of their range, the Cubs and Luis Valbuena jump out as trade partners.
- Wunderkind Chris Cotillo has the Royals in on Omar Infante, possibly even meeting with him last night.
- ICYMI Yesterday, if you are a little rumor weary, here is a look at some names to look at in house as far as pitching prospects.
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