Are the Cubs Planning a Roster Overhaul?

Could the Cubs’ new front office be planning major changes to the roster they inherited?

Jim Bowden reported over the weekend that the Cubs “have been very aggressive with a wide range of free agents and have been in on trade talks with at least a dozen clubs.” Bowden has heard that the Cubs “conversations have not been limited to long-term solutions” but have “included everyone from prospects to one-year stop-gap players.”

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have reportedly been listening to offers on their players since the GM Meetings. David Kaplan hinted the Cubs could be working on numerous changes. Could Epstein and Hoyer be working on deals that could include trading players such as Matt Garza, Carlos Marmol, Geovany Soto and Randy Wells?

According to Kaplan, the Cubs appear to be kicking the tires on free agent outfielder David DeJesus and numerous reports have the Cubs in the mix for Prince Fielder. Plus, are the Cubs interested in Ian Stewart or Chase Headley for the vacated third base job?

Here’s the update …

Matt Garza
The Cubs are listening to offers on Matt Garza and what has gone from just a question to a full blown rumor is starting to look like a reality.

According to Buster Olney, the belief among teams are that the Cubs are open for business on Matt Garza and the expectation among some of those teams is that Garza will be dealt this winter.

The Cubs would have to be blown away in order to deal Garza. The Cubs are paper-thin in the pitching department but Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are dangling Garza to “acquire an infusion of youth into the organization” according to David Kaplan.

The Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Tigers are among the teams that figure to bid for Garza’s services. Joel Sherman tweeted the Yankees would be interested but are not in “high-level trade talks with any team about starting pitching.”

Bruce Levine reported that the Cubs would want “a package of four or five players in return for Garza” and mentioned the Rangers as the “most-prominent team” that may be involved in the talks for Garza.

Levine brought up the four-player deal that Texas had on the table last off-season for Matt Garza before Jim Hendry pulled off the deal for him. The Rangers have the prospects to trade for Garza and a package from Texas could include first baseman Mitch Moreland.

Matt Garza has two more seasons of arbitration eligibility and figures to make between $8 to $9 million next season after receiving $5.9 million for 2011.

Who’s on Third?
While the Tigers and Brewers are rumored to be the two teams with the most interest in signing Aramis Ramirez, Jed Hoyer is busy exploring options to replace him at the hot corner for the 2012 season. Two names that keep popping up as possible replacements are Ian Stewart of the Rockies and the Padres’ Chase Headley.

George Ofman tweeted about the Cubs interest (for the second time) in both Stewart and Headley and Troy Renck of the Denver Post confirmed the Cubs interest in Stewart … Renck is not sure to what degree the Cubs’ interest in Stewart actually is.

The Cubs’ new GM is very familiar with Chase Headley, who had a decent line outside of PETCO Park last year … .330/.399/.465/.864 with 18 doubles and three home runs in 54 games.

Ian Stewart, who many think is a non-tender candidate, had a horrible 2011 season and spent time in the minor leagues.

The Cubs would have to trade for either Ian Stewart or Chase Headley.

Carlos Pena
The Cubs will find out on December 7 if Carlos Pena has accepted arbitration or not but in the meantime, the speculation is that Pena will decline the Cubs’ arbitration offer. Scott Boras is reportedly looking for at least a two-year deal for his client, not another one-year contract. There is still a chance Pena could re-sign with the Cubs as Comcast SportsNet reported, but it would be on a multi-year contract.

Prince Fielder
According to multiple reports, the Cubs are one of the teams interested in signing Prince Fielder … but the Nationals have made Fielder their primary target. According to Ken Rosenthal, talks between the Nationals and Fielder hit “a significant roadblock on Monday.”

Some in the industry believe the Cubs are in rebuilding mode and will not be in on Prince Fielder but others believe that the Cubs are right in the middle.

Scott Boras needs the Cubs to stay in the mix (at least in the rumor mill) for Prince Fielder … and the Cubs need for Fielder to remain unsigned until after December 7 (deadline for players to accept or decline salary arbitration from their previous team).

David DeJesus
According to a report from David Kaplan, the Cubs appear to be kicking the tires on David DeJesus. DeJesus is a free agent and “fits in with the Cubs new approach to driving up pitch counts.”

After a decent run in Kansas City, DeJesus struggled in his first year with Oakland and put together a .240/.323/.376/.376 line in 131 games with 20 doubles, five triples and 10 home runs. DeJesus made $6 million last season and has a number of suitors according to Kaplan. DeJesus could be looking to a sign a two-year deal in the $4 million range per season.

Sean Marshall
Several teams are rumors to be interested in trading for Sean Marshall but according to David Kaplan, sources close to Sean Marshall believe that the Cubs are not interested in moving him and they consider Marshall an integral part of their bullpen.

Marshall could bring a nice return but if the Cubs are shopping Carlos Marmol they would need a reliable option to close out games. Kerry Wood, Andrew Cashner and Jeff Samardzija are expected to be in the mix for jobs in the backend of the pen … but Wood and Cashner have injury concerns and Samardzija has one decent season under his belt.

It does appear the Cubs’ new front office likes what they’ve seen from Sean Marshall the reliever. There has not been any indication that Marshall would return to a starting role at this point … but that could all change as the off-season continues to unfold.

News, Notes and Rumors
The Cubs may still be interested in Yu Darvish, if he is posted. Darvish is trying to decide if he wants to pitch in the States or stay in Japan. But there could be another hurdle. Darvish is going through a difficult divorce and his ex-wife could get part of a contract he signs with a Major League team … which could hit the $60 million mark. A significant difference between the $4.2 million he was paid for the season that just completed in Japan.

According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Cubs are open to moving Randy Wells.

During his Monday show on XM Radio, Jim Bowden said he would not be surprised if Carlos Marmol is moved this off-season.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Nationals view Yoenis Cespedes as plan B if they are not able to sign Prince Fielder.

Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times stated his case as to why he thinks Ron Santo will make it in to the Hall of Fame next week.

According to a report from Rotoworld, Matt Murton will continue his career in Japan.

The A’s could move into the Cubs soon-to-be-vacated training facility and Spring Training home in Mesa. The A’s are currently located in Phoenix (about 20 minutes from Mesa) and have entered exclusive negotiation rights with the City of Mesa that could result in a move. The A’s would play their spring home games at HoHoKam Park and use the current facilities at Fitch Park. Not long after the announcement was made about the A’s entering negotiations with the city, the Giants said they would not allow the A’s to move because they own the territorial rights. Stay tuned …

Ernie Paicopolos from Fenway Nation emailed the CCO about his side blog and asked us to pass along to our readers. His new blog is based on Theo Epstein’s move to the Cubs … Boston Theo Watch.

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

For the latest rumors and news on the Chicago Cubs … Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @The CCO

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"Every day is a new opportunity. You can build on yesterday’s success or put its failures behind and start over again." – Bob Feller

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  • RynoTiger

    If it’s a roster overhaul, then there is absolutely no need to trade for Stewart under any circumstance.  While Headley’s numbers away from Petco are considerably better, I’m not sure it’s even worth trying for since the Padres will probably ask for a lot. 

    • mutantbeast

      I might  take a chance on Headley for say , 2 minor leaguers. His UZR is +16 for the last 2 years, hes a solid 3b defender as well. Last Yr, Metrics suggested Arams defense costed the Cubs 32 runs-take that away from the 93 he drove in(61) . Id bet a healthy Headley can out do that.

  • SuzyS

    Let the fun begin !!!

  • Ripsnorter1

    Sean Marshall: Not a starter, not a closer. He’s a decent setup man–not great, like Marmol was–but decent. Theo would be crazy to make him the closer.

  • Ripsnorter1

    According to ESPN, Theo is famous for driving up the price of FAs by “pretending” to be in the running, thus making rivals pay more for them. ESPN says the Fielder interest is most likely the same scenario…..

    • cubtex

      Except when he is bidding for Carl Crawford and John Lackey :)

  • Ripsnorter1

    Garza trade: 

    Here’s some rumor mill names that have been mentioned….
    510 AB….7 HR…36 RBI…60 BB…93K…49 SB…13 CS…..259 BA…..345 OBP…..369 SLUG….GOLD GLOVE

    And some prospects…..
    Yankees have some overblown prospects:shortstop Eduardo Nunez, third baseman Brandon Laird and outfielder Slade Heathcott in their system.

    IF Garza netted all three, Nunez probably plays 2B for us.
    Nunez: decent 2B, but lookout elsewhere. His best position for fielding is DH.can’t field at SS or 3B. WOW! Worse than Castro at SS: .913 glove at SS!

    At 3B, .919 glove in 40 games.He did play LF and RF like Jeff Baker–awful.

    What can Nunez do? Steal bases. 27 SB with 6 CS in his career..267 BA with 6 HR in 359 AB. .313 OBP HE WOULD BE AN UPGRADE OVER BARNEY. Better bat, more power, much more speed. Glove is about equal at 2B.

    BRANDON LAIRD: age 23. 16 taters, 69 RBI in AAA with a .260. 84 k in 489 AB. Better 1B than 3B glove. Only .288 OBP.

    Compare to Vitters: Vitters .903 fielding at 3B stinks next to Laird’s .961.  Vitters hit .282 with 14 taters and 81 RBI.Vitters gets on at a .322 cllip, with .770 OPS, compared to Laird’s .710.

    Slade Heathcott is a 20 yr old OF with only A ball experience: .271 hitter.

    • Calebsdaddie

      Not sure how any of those prospects are what the new regime is looking for. Gardner is nice but the the prospects are horrible on d and none have a decent obp.

      • daverj

        I can’t see Garza going to the Yanks without the Cubs getting either Betances or Banuelos in return as part of a package.

      • mutantbeast

        Maybe if the Stankees put Betences, Montero/Romine and Novoa in there id do the deal. Other than that, forget about it. Stankees and mets are notorius for overhyping there prospects.

  • Tony_Hall

    In case anyone hasn’t noticed, Theo and Jed do things a little different than their predecessor.  They won’t be handing out no-trade clauses to players, they won’t have untouchable players, until they have a good team, and they will pursue a different type of role players to fill out the roster.

  • Tony_Hall

    Let the rumors take off on Pujols and Fielder.

    With the new CBA, changing the rules, Pujols or Fielder have a better chance to end up in Chicago, then before.  (see the CCO Twitter feed on the right side for an article from Ken Rosenthal on the subject)

  • Tony_Hall

    I posted an over/under of 17 for the Cubs 40 man roster, as far as how many players would still be around on Opening Day.  I’m still taking the under.
    From the 40 that ended the year, these guys are gone already.ARam, R Johnson, Pena, Montanez, Grabow, Lopez, Ortiz, Caridad, Smit, and Wood.  That’s 10, with 2 of them (Wood and R Johnson) who might return.There will be more guys released, and trades will start to reshape this roster over the next month.  Plus as we get closer to ST, the bargain bin of players that don’t have a job, will be used to round out the roster more than in the past.  

    • mutantbeast

      Castro, Barney, Soto, SorryOhNo, Garza, Cashner, Z, Dempster, Colvin, Spellcheck, Marshall, Belliveau, DJM-right now those are the names most likely to be on the roster as of Feb 1-your 17 as the over/under looks good.

  • Chuck

    Let’s turn up the heat on the hot stove and let the bacon begin to sizzle.

  • mutantbeast

    Be nice to see Darvish-stuff-wise, hes much better than Nomo or Irabu were and hes young. I like the bullpen w/o Marmol, might have to play some matchup rather than one closer, tho I think Cashner is the likely long-term closer. Most of his arm problems last year, I still think might have been from trying to convert him into a starter and his first start being in cold  weather. Maybe we can trade Marmol to Colorado for Stewart and maybe Spillboroghs. Cant hurt to ask.

  • Jason Penrod

    As for Garza…. I’d trade him the Rangers in a package that includes Martin Perez.  20 year old lefty that throws in the upper 90’s and has 3 plus pitches.  was 19 years old when he was promoted to triple A…
    Give me him and some others, but he would have to be part of the deal.
    Does Texas have any good 1B prospects?

  • Jason Penrod

    NO NO NO
    Marmol to Colorado for those scrubs?  Marmol still would have decent value even with the blown saves last year.  You are just giving him away.
    Lets just trade him for a clone of Blake DeWitt while we’re at it.