The first full week of baseball’s off-season is in the books and to say the Hot Stove is in full swing would be an understatement. Players that have filed for free agency have until Thursday at midnight eastern to resign with their current organization, so at 12:01am on Friday they are free to negotiate and sign with other teams…and an already busy rumor mill should kick into overdrive.
Jim Hendry spent his week on the West Coast in discussion with the Padres over Jake Peavy as well as gauging what dollar figure it will take to resign both Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood….but was that all?
Here is the rest on Jake Peavy along with other rumors, plus….a possible, realistic number for the Cubs’ payroll in 2009, Wood doubled his 2008 base salary, Nate McLouth, Jeremy Hermida and Scott Olsen and is Derrek Lee staying put?
The main topic of conversation this week surrounding the Cubs has involved Jake Peavy. While Jim Hendry has dealt with possibly losing both Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood to free agency, whenever a team actively pursues a pitcher the caliber of Jake Peavy, it makes headlines. Hendry and the Cubs want Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood back but regardless of what the mainstream media may be saying, Jake Peavy is the priority right now for the Chicago Cubs.
Jake Peavy’s time on the disabled list was discussed on Saturday morning. Levine said he was told that when Peavy came up tender last year there was no reason to risk it for a losing team. Kevin Towers and Bud Black shut him down to make sure the injury did not linger and Levine added if the Padres were winning he probably would not have missed any time.
According to Bruce Levine, Jake Peavy wants this trade to happen quickly and it is down to the Braves and the Cubs. The Dodgers are likely out of the running because Kevin Towers does not want to see Jake Peavy four to five times a season for the next four years. It would be a lot more expensive for the Dodgers in terms of prospects or young players to acquire Peavy than the Braves and Cubs. Levine used the term ‘long shot‘ to describe the Dodgers chance of landing Peavy at this time.
A report from Bruce Miles on Friday gave Jim Hendry “a 50-50 shot at landing Peavy” and Miles said Jeff Samardzija is “NOT on the table” in the Peavy talks. Miles added in another report that the following names have been discussed in the Peavy talks with the Padres:
- Sean Marshall
- Felix Pie
- Ronny Cedeno
- Jose Ceda
- Welington Castillo
- Josh Vitters
- Mitch Atkins
Not all of those players would be involved in the deal but each have been bantered about and the Padres have asked about Castillo, Vitters and Atkins….each of those players have stepped to the top of the Cubs’ prospect list, with Vitters being the Cubs top minor league prospect last season according to Baseball America.
Buster Olney reported in his blog on Saturday that there is “a growing feeling” the Peavy trade “will happen sometime before Thanksgiving.“
Ken Rosenthal reported on Saturday that the Braves are “growing impatient” after weeks of discussions “and soon might push for a resolution.” Rosenthal stated the Cubs and Braves are still the front-runners with the Dodgers and Yankees “on the backburner“.
Many on XM Radio think (and the CCO shares the same feeling) that the deal with the Braves hinges on Yunel Escobar . According to a report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Braves have added Gorkys Hernandez to the deal for Peavy. Hernandez is a very good outfield prospect (Braves 5th best according to Baseball America) and was acquired in the Edgar Renteria deal last winter with the Tigers. The AJC stated the latest offer from the Braves is believed to be Hernandez, Charlie Morton, Escobar and a lesser prospect.
Tim Kurkjian on Peavy Discussions from ESPN
Kevin Towers on Talking Baseball
The Padres GM joined Bruce Levine and Carmen DeFalco on Saturday morning. Towers was extremely candid as well as complimentary about Jim Hendry. In bullet point format here are a few notes and quotes from the interview on ESPN 1000:
- Towers wants the Peavy deal done sooner rather than later. He needs to see what he has for next season and the longer it goes it becomes harder for him to see what his needs are for next season.
- If the GM Meetings would have lasted a couple of more nights, a deal for Peavy could have possible been done. Levine and Towers joked about the late nights (2:00 and 3:00am). Towers likes the GM Meetings. Way to look at other GM in the eye and figure out if there is wiggle room to do more. Likes the face-to-face meetings compared to the emails and cell phone calls.
- Called Jim Hendry a good friend
- Trying to orchestrate the trade with Peavy and Barry Axelrod
- There is a hand full of clubs they think they match-up well with but Jake Peavy will make the ultimate decision. Once a deal is in the works that the Padres like, they will present to Peavy and go from there.
- Towers said this is an important trade for the Padres. The trade not only needs to benefit the Padres but the other team involved. Towers added he always tries to put himself in the other GM’s shoes.
- Quote from Towers: “I do not think there is any deal that will be viewed as a good one in San Diego because of the popularity of Jake Peavy.“
- Quote from Towers: “Jimmy is the easiest to deal with of the three.“
- Towers said he trusts Jim Hendry and he knows Hendry realizes acquiring Jake Peavy will be ‘expensive.‘
- Towers said it is not easy finding the optimal deal. If the Cubs end up with Peavy, great. If it is the Braves, great. If the Dodgers, great….or “we will just keep him.“
- Peavy sees Chicago as an attractive landing spot. He has always liked pitching at Wrigley. Rick Sutcliffe and Mark Grace are former clients of Barry Axelrod and they have told Peavy how great it is to play at Wrigley.
- Towers said he could not say which team is the front-runner is to land Peavy.
Bruce Levine finished the segment by saying if Hendry can get it done, he will trade whatever is in the system, within reason, to bring Peavy to the Cubs.
Bruce Levine reported he spoke with Ryan Dempster’s agent, Craig Landis, and Dempster has decided to go to free agency. Landis told Levine he is “not likely” to resign with the Cubs before Thursday’s midnight (Eastern) deadline. Landis added Dempster would likely be on the market until mid December.
According to Levine, the Cubs talked to Derrek Lee after the season about possibly waiving his no trade clause. Lee told them he does not want to leave the Cubs….he likes it in Chicago and wants to stay. Levine said Lee is not going anywhere this off-season.
Kerry Wood and the Bullpen
The subject of Kerry Wood’s future with the Cubs was discussed on Saturday morning. Levine thinks the Cubs want Wood back but only on a one or two year deal. Levine said if Wood gets an offer on a 3-year contract from another team he is likely gone. A four- year deal for Wood is more than pushing it for a pitcher with a tear in his right shoulder.
The Cubs will address the needs in the pen after the Peavy deal is done. If the season started tomorrow (thankfully it is November), Piniella would have only one reliable option….Carlos Marmol. The other arms in the pen right now: Jeff Samardzija (who could be converted back to a starter), Michael Wuertz, Neal Cotts, Kevin Hart (who could be in the Peavy deal) and Chad Gaudin.
The Cubs asked the Pirates last season about Nate McLouth at the trading deadline according to Bruce Levine. The Pirates wanted a ‘power arm‘ then for McLouth and apparently are still looking for the same in return for the Gold Glove, All-Star centerfielder. The Pirates would trade McLouth for the right young, power arm. Levine mentioned Jeff Samardzija could get it done but his no-trade clause would prevent it. Levine added the possibility of Mitch Atkins but added the Cubs probably do not have the type of power arm the Pirates would want in return.
Raul Ibanez and Milton Bradley
Both Raul Ibanez and Milton Bradley are on the Cubs’ radar according to Bruce Levine. Levine talked to their agent (Bradley and Ibanez share the same agent) during the GM Meetings. Levine added the Cubs will be looking further at Milton Bradley as a possible fit to fill their needs for a left-handed right fielder.
Jeremy Hermida and Scott Olsen
The Cubs have discussed a possible trade with the Marlins for both Jeremy Hermida and Scott Olsen according to Bruce Levine. Levine broke the story earlier during the GM Meetings but once the Cubs got deeper in the Peavy discussions, the Hermida-Olsen deal took a backseat. Levine reported the if the Peavy trade falls through then the Cubs would reengage the talks with the Marlins on dealing both Hermida and Olsen.
The Cubs view Hermida has being a good young player but not a starter. They would throw him into the mix and see what happens. Hermida has good power but strikes out a lot. The Cubs are looking for a way to become more athletic and balance out their roster like the Phillies and Rays….remember MLB and the NFL are very much copycat leagues.
Bruce Levine used the term ‘pie in the sky‘ to describe the White Sox or Cubs’ chances of acquiring Brian Roberts this off-season. The Orioles are working on a contract extension for Roberts that would lock him up for the next 4 years. If Andy MacPhail cannot sign him to an extension in the next three to four weeks then by mid to late December Roberts could be back on the trading block. But until then…..
Rumors have suggested MacPhail is still looking for a ton in return for Roberts.
Cubs Payroll for 2009
The final numbers for the 2008 have varied from report to report. Some have claimed the Cubs spent a little over $118 million to field the 2008 squad and others have placed that number closer to the $130 million dollar mark. Bruce Levine revealed on Saturday morning that Kerry Wood hit a lot of his incentives and turned his $4.2 million dollar base salary into an $8.5 million dollar paycheck in 2008.
Levine thinks the Cubs payroll in 2009 will be in the $150 million dollar range.
More Tidbits from Levine
The Cubs do not have any interest in trading for Brian Giles this winter. However, the Cubs had a deal in place at last year’s trading deadline that Giles rejected. It was reported that Giles stopped the possible deal involving the Red Sox, but it was not mentioned at the time he rejected a trade to the Cubs as well.
Cubs are very interested in Rafael Furcal.
Ferguson Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams are campaigning for Ron Santo to be elected into the Hall of Fame this year by the Veterans Committee. The results will be announced on December 8th.
From the Soapbox
Whether the Cubs may ‘overpay‘ to land Jake Peavy or not, the bottom line is Peavy would give the Cubs a true ace….something they do not have. As long as Peavy is healthy he would give Lou Piniella a pitcher at the top of his rotation that teams will not want to face….and would breathe a sigh of relief when they miss his spot in the rotation.
While Carlos Zambrano has number one stuff, because of his emotional state, no one ever knows what they will get from him. Not only from start to start, but from inning to inning…and in some cases, from pitch to pitch. If Zambrano could grow up and become the pitcher that his talent says he could be, Jim Hendry might not feel the need to go out and trade for a pitcher of the caliber of Jake Peavy.
Rich Harden on the other hand has number one stuff but not the stamina or the history that would indicate he could be depended on for anything more than a fifth spot in a rotation. If Hendry and Lou Piniella can build a rotation with Harden able to be skipped as often as possible, the 2009 Chicago Cubs will win a lot of games. A rotation of Peavy, Zambrano, Ted Lilly, insert number four here and Rich Harden would be one of the best in the league….on paper.
And remember….only 98 days before pitchers and catchers report.
Well, that’s the latest and I’m sticking to it!