Weekend Update….Cubs Rumors from the Hot Stove

The CCO predicted it could be a big week for the Cubs and while only one trade was made, it was a seven-day period most on the North Side will not soon forget. Geovany Soto and Lou Piniella received honors from the BBWAA and Carlos Zambrano earned his second Silver Slugger Award…but the biggest news was obviously the Cubs decision to cut ties with Kerry Wood.

Here are the latest rumors from the North Side as well as more thoughts on Kerry Wood. Plus, has Wood received an offer from a long-time rival? A new name, or two, added to the rumor mill. Could a pitcher that called ‘Wrigley Field North‘ his home for many years pitch on the North Side next season?

Kerry Wood

Kerry Wood met with the Chicago media on Friday and called his departure from the North Side “bittersweet“. Wood wanted to stay in Chicago according to multiple reports and would have signed a one-year deal to remain a Cub. Wood wants to stay in the National League according to a report in the Tribune.

Kerry wanted to finish his career with the Cubs but understands the Cubs have other needs they need to focus on this off-season.

Quote from the Tribune:

“Did I want to leave? Of course not,” he said. “I wanted to end my career here, and start taking my kids to the games. But in the end, having a little bit of knowledge about the organization, and what’s going on with the team and who was up for free agency and the contracts, I had a pretty good idea. It didn’t catch me off-guard. I was disappointed and obviously would’ve loved to have stayed here, but that’s baseball.”

The main topic on Talkin’ Baseball Saturday morning with Bruce Levine and Carmen DeFalco was Kerry Wood. Levine was obviously very complimentary of Kerry and thinks he might have two to three good years left in him but reminded everyone that Wood has been pitching with a tear in his rotator cuff for the last two seasons. Levine said the decision to let Wood leave was nothing more than a business decision….a similar view expressed by most in the mainstream media since the news came out Wood would not return.

The Cubs needed to spend the money they would give to Kerry on the front end of the staff (starting rotation) and not on the backend. Some of the money that Kerry would have commanded could go to either resigning Ryan Dempster or affording Jake Peavy , if a deal with the Padres could be made. Kevin Gregg will make around $4 million in arbitration this season and the Cubs could not ask Wood to pitch for the same money.

Bruce Levine called the way Jim Hendry handled Kerry Wood “a class move“.

Wood will demand $10 million a year for at least two years and according to Levine already has two year offers on the table from the Cardinals, Mets, Diamondbacks and Red Sox. Levine thinks Wood will sign a 3-year deal in the $30 million dollar range.

Kerry had a lot of respect from everyone in the Cubs’ front office and especially in the dugout. Levine added that Wood’s wife, Sarah, is not done ‘cussing out‘ the Cubs’ front office. The conversation turned to Wood’s possible landing spots this off-season . DeFalco and Levine stated how startling it would be to see Wood walk from the visitor’s bullpen area at Wrigley in possibly a Cardinals’ uniform.

Bobby Abreu

Carmen DeFalco mentioned Bobby Abreu as a possibility to be the Cubs’ right fielder next season. Abreu had a good year with the Yankees but made around $16 million dollars, Levine questioned how much less would he take to play for the Cubs.

Brian Giles

Bruce Levine brought up the rumors from last week that the Cubs could trade for Brian Giles to play right field. Levine reiterated what he said a week ago that Giles rejected a trade to the Cubs, and the Red Sox, last year at the deadline. Giles wants to stay in San Diego.

Brian Giles was on XM Radio earlier in the week and talked about turning down the trade to Boston last year. Giles was, and is, very concerned about himself and his stats and referred to himself in the third person throughout the interview. Giles is a good player but the attitude projected was that of a selfish player concerned with only one thing….Brian Giles.

Mark Teahen

Bruce Levine threw out a new name on Saturday morning….Mark Teahen. Levine stated his “name is one he keeps hearing” from the Cubs. Teahen is a left handed bat that can play four positions (14 games at first, 19 games at third, 31 games in left, 1 game at center and 92 games in right for the Royals last season).

Teahen finished last year with a .255/.313/.402/.715 line and hit 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 149 games. Most of his power came on the road (11 home runs) but hit 10 points lower against righties (.252/.314/.394/.708) than lefties (.262/.311/.419/.730) with 10 home runs coming off right handed pitching.

The Cubs’ scouts have recommended Teahen and would give the Cubs a more athletic player with the flexibility they are looking to add this winter.

Henry Blanco

Bruce Levine casually said on Saturday morning that Henry Blanco would not be back with the Cubs next season. Several reports from the mainstream media have stated the exact opposite and Levine did not reveal who would be the backup to Geovany Soto.

Randy Johnson

Reports on Friday surfaced that the Cubs are very interested in signing Randy Johnson and reuniting him with Lou Piniella. Ken Rosenthal and Bruce Levine broke the news and Paul Sullivan from the Tribune reported the Cubs’ interest late on Friday night. Gary Hughes was on XM Radio Saturday and confirmed the Cubs’ interest in Johnson.

Randy Johnson is ‘Plan B‘ for the Cubs according to Bruce Levine if they cannot resign Ryan Dempster or trade for Jake Peavy. Levine indicated ‘Plan C‘ is Ben Sheets. The Tribune reported on Friday that Johnson’s agent, Alan Nero, said Johnson “would seem to be a perfect fit for the Cubs.

If the Cubs were to sign Johnson it would be on a 1-year deal and XM Radio reported Johnson is looking for a $6 million dollar deal for one season.

Ben Sheets

As mentioned, the Cubs are looking at Ben Sheets according to Bruce Levine, a rumor that surfaced earlier in the week on ESPN from Jerry Crasnick. Levine did not elaborate on Sheets other than saying the Cubs have backup plans in place….just in case.

Ryan Dempster

According to Bruce Levine the Cubs have a 4-year, $52 million dollar deal on the table for Ryan Dempster. Dempster’s agent is looking for a 5-year deal and the Cubs are not willing to go 5 years. Levine said the Cubs would not keep the offer on the table for Dempster “forever” and they are not going to wait. Levine indicated the offer to Dempster would “not be there much longer than another week.

Jake Peavy

According to multiple reports the Braves removed themselves from the Jake Peavy sweepstakes on Friday. Ken Rosenthal reported that the Padres have talked to the Yankees and Angels about Peavy and indicated the Yankees and Padres have had “multiple talks. Rosenthal stated it might be harder for Kevin Towers to trade Peavy to New York because of his no-trade clause.

Levine still thinks the Cubs are the frontrunner to land Peavy because of the fact Peavy is in total control of where he is traded. Peavy has veto power and gave the Padres a list, in order, of where he would approve a trade.

To land Peavy it will probably cost the Cubs five players….three strong prospects as well as Ronny Cedeno and Sean Marshall according to Levine. A deal of that many players would deplete the Cubs’ farm system….Josh Vitters would be involved in the deal. A deal of that size would take away not only depth at the Major League level (Sean Marshall) but would take away flexibility to make deals down the road, especially during the season if there is an injury.

Gary Hughes told Holden Kushner (XM Radio) on Saturday that the Cubs have made offers and feel they are still in the running.

The Cubs are not concerned with Peavy’s injury history and have looked at his medicals.

Jeremy Hermida

The Marlins’ outfielder was discussed on Saturday morning as well and Levine confirmed the Cubs have looked at Jeremy Hermida and have done “their homework” on him. The Cubs are concerned he does not have “the makeup” they are looking for….he strikes out a lot but is a “good outfielder with good power“. Levine thinks the Cubs will go in a different direction and brought up Mark Teahen once again and stressed the Cubs feel like Teahen has his best years ahead of him.

CC Sabathia

From the ‘For What It’s Worth Department‘, according to Bruce Levine CC Sabathia told a current member of the Cubs that he wants to either play for the Cubs or a West Coast team. The Cubs do not have room in their budget to sign Sabathia.

Kevin Gregg-Jose Ceda Trade

Two days after the fact, the Cubs trading Jose Ceda for Kevin Gregg still has many shaking their head and wondering why the Cubs gave up so much for Gregg. Ceda has a bright future ahead and was considered the top pitching prospect in the Cubs’ system.

A blurb from the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel revealed a ‘little‘ fact that makes the trade even more confusing.

“The Marlins traded right-hander Kevin Gregg to the Chicago Cubs for Double-A right-hander Jose Ceda on Thursday. That the Marlins landed such a highly touted pitcher for a guy headed toward a non-tender was surprising. The Marlins got a near Major League-ready power arm in return.”

With the emergence of Matt Lindstrom, Gregg’s “departure was a foregone conclusion.

Keith Law from ESPN stated on his blog, “Getting Jose Ceda for one year of Kevin Gregg is a heist for Florida, and could really end up as a disaster for the Cubs, given how they intend to realign their pen.” Law added that Gregg is “not quite Antonio Alfonseca redux, but is no replacement for Kerry Wood.

Raul Ibanez

According to Bruce Levine, Raul Ibanez will be looking for a contract worth in the neighborhood of $12 to $13 million a year. Ibanez will help offensively but he cannot play right field. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer thinks Ibanez will wait to sign with another team until he knows which direction the Mariners will go in this off-season.

Well, that’s the latest….and I’m sticking to it!

Quote of the Day

"You can be a kid for as long as you want when you play baseball." - Cal Ripken Jr.
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