Weekend Update … A New Year for the Chicago Cubs

Happy New Year from the CCO!

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer made a few minor moves over the last full week of Twenty-Eleven and if the rumor mill is any indication, the first couple of weeks of Twenty-Twelve could be anything but boring leading up to the convention.

As a New Year begins, what is on the horizon for the team on the North Side of Chicago?

Will Matt Garza stay or go? Are the Cubs still interested in signing Prince Fielder? What about Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler? Could Marlon Byrd spend the final season of his three-year contract with another team?

Here is the first update of what figures to be an interesting year for the Chicago Cubs …

Prince Fielder
Bruce Levine addressed the Prince Fielder rumors during Saturday morning’s Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000). Just after Peter Gammons’ report last week about Fielder’s willingness to accept a three-year contract with a high AAV, Levine called Scott Boras.

Levine reiterated what Boras said in response to Gammons … a three-year contract for Prince Fielder is not happening.

According to Levine, while the Fielder news has been relatively quiet there are five to six teams behind the scenes that are very interested in signing Prince Fielder … and one of the teams is the Chicago Cubs. Levine indicated that the Nationals, Rangers, Dodgers and Marlins are the other teams he is hearing that have interest in Fielder.

Scott Boras is waiting to see how things play out because Fielder is not just about singing a big contract. Fielder would like to find the right situation where he can produce and help win ballgames. Levine also mentioned that the team’s home park will have an impact on Fielder’s decision.

The concern with the Cubs is who would protect him in the lineup. Would it be Ian Stewart, Geovany Soto or possibly Alfonso Soriano? That is, if Soriano is still with the Cubs (Levine’s words).

Starlin Castro would figure to benefit if the Cubs signed Fielder. To put it simply, a player like Prince Fielder can make an entire lineup better.

A contract for Prince Fielder will likely start at seven years according to Levine. Boras could decide to go with a seven year deal that includes an opt out for Fielder after three years, like the contract CC Sabathia signed and similar to the first one Boras negotiated for Alex Rodriguez (this is not the first time Levine has reported this information).

Levine apparently asked Boras why there is not much noise surrounding Fielder right now. Boras explained that teams like the Rangers, Cubs, Nationals and Dodgers do not want it to be known they finished second in the bidding for a player.

Bruce Levine ended his segment on Fielder by saying, “The Cubs are very interested in Prince Fielder and are working very hard under the radar to bring him in.”

Matt Garza
Several teams are interested in trading for Matt Garza … the Tigers, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Marlins. The Cubs are going through the process to make sure they have the best deal possible before pulling the trigger on a trade.

According to Buster Olney, no deal is imminent right now.

Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood discussed what type of prospects the Cubs could receive in return for Garza with Jim Callis of Baseball America.

Callis expects the Cubs to receive three-four good prospects in return for Garza.

Levine asked about Kyle Drabek and Anthony Gose, two of the Blue Jays’ prospects rumored to be in the Garza talks. Callis said he has questions about the prospects from the Jays. Drabek’s performance last year is concerning and Gose is not as much a sure thing as some may think. Callis said he would be asking for catcher Travis D’Arnaud if he was the Cubs but it is unlikely the Jays would consider trading him.

As for a possible package from the Yankees, Jesus Montero would figure to be in the negotiations. Montero is one of the top five or six prospects in the game according to Callis because of his bat. Montero’s defense is more than questionable and most think he will end up at first base. Not one scout outside of the Yankees organization that Callis has spoken with thinks Montero will be a catcher long-term.

The Jays have a deeper system according to Callis but the prospects the Cubs could acquire from the Yankees are closer to the majors.

According to Levine three teams are deep in negotiations with the Cubs while four-five teams are very interested.

A report from Ken Rosenthal late Saturday afternoon confirmed the Marlins interest in trading for Matt Garza after missing out on Gio Gonzalez.

According to Rosenthal, the Marlins have “serious interest” in Garza but no deal is close. The Cubs have interest in Christian Yelich, a 20-year old Class-A outfielder and the Marlins are willing to include players like third baseman Matt Dominguez, Gaby Sanchez, Chris Coghlan and Jose Ceda in trades … Ceda was acquired from the Cubs in the Kevin Gregg deal.

Rumors are that, just rumors until a deal is announced.

Here is what is known in regards to Matt GarzaTheo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are listening to offers and it is going to take a lot to acquire him.

News, Notes and Rumors

According to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball, ESPN 1000), the Cubs will be in the mix to sign Yoenis Cespedes when the bidding can begin. Levine is hearing Cespedes will cost $50-60 million for an unproven player.

The Cubs are also interested in Jorge Soler. The 19-year old outfielder fits the Cubs plans (same as Cespedes and Fielder) but at a fraction of the cost of Cespedes or Fielder. Soler could end up signing a $19-20 million deal according to Levine.

Marlon Byrd does not figure to be with the Cubs on Opening Day according to Bruce Levine. The Nationals and Red Sox are interested in Byrd. Boston is looking to add a right-handed outfielder that can play right field.

According to Buster Olney, the Tigers are telling teams that they would include Jacob Turner in the right deal for a pitcher. Turner is rumored to be in the talks for Matt Garza.

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

Happy Twenty-Twelve!

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