Cubs Off-Season Rumors – Chapter Eighteen

More Cubs Rumors

The Cubs Rumor Mill and Hot Stove heated up on Friday. On the last weekday before the Winter Meetings two former Cub relievers signed HUGE contracts with new teams. Kyle Farnsworth inked his deal with the Yankees for 3 years, $17 million and Tom ‘Flash’ Gordon agreed to terms with the Phillies for 3 years, $18 million. Farnsworth actually turned down a 4-year deal from the Rangers for $21 million dollars (with a vested option for the 4th year). The Marlins fire sale also continued with the Fish trading Luis Castillo to the Minnesota Twins for Minor League pitchers Travis Bowyer and Scott Tyler.

I have updates on Rafael Furcal, Juan Pierre, Kevin Millwood, Joey Gathright, Bobby Abreu, A.J. Burnett, Jermaine Van Buren, Nomar Garciaparra and Alfonso Soriano, plus an addition to the Cubs Rumor Mill: Milton Bradley.

Rany Janayrli from Baseball Prospectus was on MLB Live with Ronnie Lane on Friday night and had some cool info on Jermaine Van Buren. Rany said Van Buren had a great year in AAA Iowa (led the league in saves), but with the fact Dusty Baker likes veterans in the bullpen the Cubs did not see any room for him on their roster. Rany feels Van Buren is low risk for the Red Sox and could really help their bullpen in 2006. Rany thinks cash to the Cubs will be the player to be named later.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals have offered A.J. Burnett a 4-year, $40 million dollar deal with an option for 2010. Burnett grew up in Arkansas a Cardinals fan and will likely be pitching for the 2nd Evil Empire in 2006. The Toronto Blue Jays have offered Burnett a 5-year, $50 million dollar contract. The Seattle Mariners and New York Mets are the other teams still contending for Burnett’s services. Everything I heard on Friday indicated Burnett will sign with St. Louis before the Winter Meetings.

An article in the Daily Herald on Friday mentioned (again) the White Sox are interested in Joey Gathright and a report from the Tampa Tribune said the Yankees, Dodgers and Marlins are all interested in this ‘inexpensive speedy outfielder’.

The Pirates are interested in Nomar Garciaparra according to a report on Friday out of Pittsburgh. I really hope Nomar goes outside of the division so he cannot beat up the Cubs for 19 times a year.

I have to mention all of the rumors surrounding the Cubs and Milton Bradley. I have stayed away from even mentioning his name. There were several radio, Internet and newspaper reports on Friday that mentioned the Cubs are interested in trading for Bradley. Didn’t the Cubs just clean house after the 2004 season to get rid of ‘all the trouble makers’? This is the only comment I have: Bradley is a very talented athlete.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer the Mariners have made Kevin Millwood their prime target among free agent pitchers. Scott Boras is looking for a 5-year deal and the Cleveland Indians are willing to go 3-4 years.

Larry Bowa and Mark Patrick on Friday reported the Phillies have denied shopping Bobby Abreu. Both Bowa and Patrick said they had heard the Phillies have contacted St. Louis about Jason Marquis and San Francisco about Jason Schmidt for Bobby Abreu. Ronnie Lane said the Cubs are looking at a trade for Abreu and they would have to give up top pitching prospects and a starting pitcher to get Abreu.

Steve Phillips from ESPN said the top 3 players that deals could be done for in Dallas are: 1) A.J. Burnett 2) Rafael Furcal 3) Alfonso Soriano.

With Luis Castillo being traded on Friday, the Marlins only have 2 players left to trade. Kevin Baxter (Miami Herald beat writer for the Marlins) said the Marlins have dropped their payroll from $65 million in 2005 to $25 million in 2006. Here is the latest on Juan Pierre:

1) A report in the New York Post said the Marlins have asked the Yankees for lefty Sean Henn and right-handed reliever Scott Proctor (both Minor League prospects) for Juan Pierre and the Yankees did not reject the offer. The Marlins were asking for Robinson Cano and the Yankees are not willing to deal Cano for Pierre.

2) The Texas Rangers have contact the Marlins about a deal that would send 2 pitching prospects and Laynce Nix to Florida for Juan Pierre.

3) The Seattle Mariners have contacted the Marlins about Pierre.

4) The Atlanta Braves have contacted the Marlins about Pierre. This one I do not understand. But apparently this is a backup plan if Furcal leaves.

5) Ronnie Lane on Friday night said the Cubs are still in the mix for Pierre.

I hope Jim Hendry has a plan B for the Cubs if they cannot sign Rafael Furcal. Furcal has left the Cubs deal on the table for almost a week and I doubt Furcal signing with the Cubs will get done. I heard on Friday the Dodgers have offered a larger contract to Furcal than the Cubs (5-year, $50 million) and he has yet to make up his mind. I heard the Dodgers deal is for 3 years, $39 million and would put Furcal on the open market again at 31 years old. Furcal’s indecision makes me wonder if he is going to stay with the Braves. This one is dragging out way to long and Hendry is going to have to force Furcal’s hand soon.

Ken Rosenthal from Fox said ‘This Year’s Winter Meetings Will Be the Wildest One Ever’. Will this be a great off-season for the Cubbies or another ‘Winter Of Our Discontent’? Don’t forget to check back in ‘Cubs News from the Wire’ for the latest on the Cubbies. Between the Winter Meetings starting on Monday and Wednesday, December 7th being the last day for teams to offer salary arbitration to their player, I think Ken Rosenthal could be onto something.

Well, that’s the news (Cubs rumors) and I’m sticking to it!!

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney