Epstein and Hoyer Meet with Alfonso Soriano and Other News, Notes and Rumors

Here is what is known. The Cubs are trying to trade Alfonso Soriano and both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer flew to Phoenix and met with Soriano on Tuesday night to go over his options.

While the reports vary on the discussions the Cubs have had with the Yankees about their interest in Alfonso Soriano, one thing is certain, the front office does not want a replay of last year’s debacle with Ryan Dempster and are looking for Soriano to help them with this process.

Alfonso Soriano’s agent spoke with the Yankees but Soriano is not thinking about waiving his no trade rights because a deal is not close as reported on Tuesday morning. Soriano said he would be okay with being a DH on a part time basis but would want to receive regular playing time in the outfield. Soriano is not willing to agree to a trade if it means he would become a part-time player on another team.

Theo Epstein said, “The Yankees are not the first team to call, but they are the first team to show up in the paper in their home city right away.” Epstein added it is “somewhat early” in the process but the Yankees are not the only team interested in Soriano.

Buster Olney reported on Tuesday night that a large gap remained between the Cubs and Yankees over Soriano’s value and how the two teams should divide up the nearly $25 million left owed on Soriano’s contract. The Sun-Times reported that while there is still work to be done, a trade sending Soriano to the Yankees could be finalized this week.

Reports are suggesting that the Cubs would like for Junior Lake to move over to left field when David DeJesus returns. The Cubs are expected to evaluate DeJesus on Wednesday and Dale Sveum mentioned the possibility of DeJesus being activated from the DL on Wednesday. The Cubs would have to open a spot on the active roster for DeJesus. The Sun-Times reported that by activating DeJesus on Wednesday it would give the Cubs’ seven days to build his value before the trading deadline. But could activating DeJesus be linked to a possible Alfonso Soriano trade?

Rumors and More Rumors

With the Matt Garza trade in the rearview mirror, the Cubs’ front office is expected to focus on trading such players as Alfonso Soriano, James Russell, Kevin Gregg, Dioner Navarro and possibly David DeJesus over the next week.

The Braves remain interested in James Russell according to multiple reports. Kevin Gregg was thought to be on the Orioles’ radar but with the Brewers sending Francisco Rodriguez to Baltimore on Tuesday that likely ended the chance of a reunion with Gregg and the Orioles. According to Bruce Levine, Russell and Gregg are not getting a lot of play right now.

Dioner Navarro is also another player that could be wearing a new uniform in the next seven days.

Cody Ransom could also be in play in a possible Alfonso Soriano deal with the Yankees according to Joel Sherman.

News and Notes

Josh Vitters told the I-Cubs beat reporters on Tuesday that he is happy the Cubs added Mike Olt to the system because both he and Olt can rake. Vitters told the reporters, “I think without a doubt in my mind that I’m going to be the Cubs’ third baseman of the future.” Vitters worked with minor league infield coordinator Jose Flores on his defense at first base prior to speaking with the media.

Mike Olt is expected to report to Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday.

Marty Pevey announced on Tuesday that Justin Grimm with make his first start for the Iowa Cubs on Friday in Oklahoma City. Jed Hoyer said on Tuesday they are planning on Grimm pitching for a while with the I-Cubs because there are things he needs to work on. Grimm was not given the development time the Cubs feel he needs due to the Rangers need for pitching while competing for the division.

With the additions made to the Cubs system, Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks said on Tuesday that the case could be made for the Cubs having the second best system in the game.

Scott Baker is scheduled to make his third rehab start for Kane County on Wednesday.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us." - Earl Nightingale
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  • J Daniel

    Even if it is not the 2nd best system it has climbed up the ladder … In potential. Now they need a lot of that potential to turn into reality.

  • JDarby

    Meanwhile Carlos Marmol was shelled in his first appearance for the Dodgers last night, giving up four hits and three runs with no strikeouts and a walk in 1 2/3 innings.

    • Tony_Hall

      And yet Matt Guerrier has made 10 appearances for the Cubs and has a 3.12 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP.

  • cubtex

    So is Travis Wood going to be Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde again this year? That is why you don’t extend anyone and everyone who has some short term success……especially pitchers

    • Tony_Hall

      I think you can extend Wood, but extensions don’t mean break the bank. Simple formulas can be used to estimate arbitration numbers and current FA numbers for Wood. Add it up subtract the discount for giving guaranteed money and pay part of it in a signing bonus to use up the payroll savings from Garza that we just received and put in 2013 budget.

      Wood has shown he can be a #3/#4 SP. He doesn’t use max effort or throw extremely hard, is a great athlete that looks like he could last a long time. Plus extensions don’t mean they won’t trade him, just that his pay is a known factor.

      • J Daniel

        And that is exactly how to not kill the payroll down the line and makes his contract manageable if they want to move him later.

        I would disagree with you though on him being a possible #3. Personally, I see him as a #4 at best but more likely a really good #5 on a really good team.

      • cubtex

        But are you 100% sure of what Wood will be over the next 5,6,7 years? Are you sure he can be a 3,4 for that length of time? Is Wood willing to want to be paid like a #4? Those are all factors instead of just jumping on every player thinking extensions are the way to go on every young player.

        • John_CC

          Who said 7 years? There you go putting words into people’s mouths.

          You know as well as everyone that reads this blog that Tony would NEVER propose extending any player for 6 or 7 years…even 5 would be a push.

          And why don’t you get all skeptical about Samardzija when he looses control and has a crappy game (which has happened why more often than with Wood)?

          • cubtex

            Wow! Calm down Mr. John. How long do teams do extensions for? How long was Castro and Rizzo extended?

            Look at Travis Wood’s numbers last year(only 1 year ago) in the first half compared to the second half. That is why I am skeptical. It is my opinion. You don’t have to agree with it but calm down bud. This is nothing to get worked up about. Have a cup of coffee and enjoy the day.

          • John_CC

            What do you mean calm down? Did that read as an overly-excited comment? Because it wasn’t meant to be.

            Did I make something up? No one proposed extending Wood for 6 or 7 years, that would be silly. And now you are comparing a 26 year old pitcher to a 21 year old SS for contract comps? That doesn’t make sense either.

            Wood is arbitration eligible next year and a FA in 2017. I think signing him through his first year of free agency, when he is 30, would easy and a safe bet. 4 year “extension.”

            Once again, I’m not worked up, sorry that you read it that way. (But I do not appreciate the condescending tone: “have a cup of coffee and enjoy…” In fact I am having a lovely morning, thank you.)

          • 07GreyDigger

            Agreed. Most extensions are for 3-4 years. 7 years and longer are exceptions. Unless you’re the NHL and 15 year extensions are the norm.

          • cubtex

            The there you go putting words in people’s mouths was a little strong. I just said 5,6,7 years and was surprised at your response.

          • cubtex

            So Rizzo and Castro were just extended till 2020….so let me count on my fingers and toes….carry over the 1….I think that is more than 5 or 6 years but I could be wrong.

          • John_CC

            whoaw! calm down Mister… ;)

            As I said, comparing a 21 year old SS with immense talent and 3 proven seasons, and a 23 year old 1B with less of an ML record but proven minor league track record, to a 26 year old pitcher that will at best be #3 in the rotation (more likely a #4) is not even in the ballpark.

          • cubtex

            so what is the rush to extend a player who is at best a #3 and more like a #4?

          • John_CC

            You need #3 and good #4 pitchers too, don’t you?

        • Tony_Hall

          Like John said, who ever said extend him that long. For a pitcher,no way, a SS or 1B sure.

          Not looking to jump on Barney or Castillo, but Wood could make sense. You offer to buy arbitration years and some part of the beginning of free agent years on team options. He says yes if he wants security and guaranteed pay days. He says no because he thinks he can make more and doesn’t need to give a discount. But if he says no, you let him know that this won’t be brought up until the last year of control.

          • SirGladiator

            Don’t forget that T Woody’s ERA is under 3, even after getting bombed yesterday. If he gets out of this slump and gets back to owning the way he was earlier in the season, he’s still one of the favorites to win the Cy Young award. I think it’s safe to say he’s worth signing to a long term contract :) .

  • Roe Skidmore

    Don’t trade James Russell unless we get huge value back, similar to our Sean Marshall trade.

    • Tony_Hall

      I would love to get that kind of a return, but Russell and Marshall are just not the same pitcher.

      • Roe Skidmore

        ERA under 3.00. Very consistant, great arm.

        • Tony_Hall

          Didn’t say he wasn’t, he’s just not Marshall. Compare them if you want, ERA, WHIP, splits lefty/right. He is just not as good as Marshall and will not get that type of return. If we hold out for that, we will keep him for sure, which I am fine with as we need LH relievers, and 2 would be nice.

          • Roe Skidmore

            If Russell had Rothschild as a pitching coach, he would be another Marshall. Atlanta recognizes his upside….

        • mutantbeast

          Marshall was better than a LOOGY. Russell gets exposed against RH hitters, like it or not hes a LOOGY.

    • BosephHeyden

      I’d take half of what we got for Marshall for Russell.

    • John_CC

      He is not Marshall. Marshall was a true set-up guy because he could get hitters out on both sides of the plate. Russell has become a lefty “specialist.” While it is great to have him in the pen, I would trade him in a heartbeat if Hotlanta really wants him.

      The Cubs farm system is suddenly pretty full of potential bullpen arms.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I agree. If someone wants to overpay for Russell, take him.

      • TheWrongGuy

        I agree. But our system is not loaded with lefty’s. We need to keep Russell.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        You are right, Russell is not like Marshall…..Marshall is on the DL and not producing this year like Russell has…..Russell has a higher trade value now than what Marshall has……if Theo can get great value for Russell, he will pull the trigger.

        • John_CC

          Nice non sequitur

      • Dorasaga

        Hotlanta, hahaha.

        Now seriously, it’s not a good sign that the Cubs farm is full of bullpen arms. It means that they are Royalizing, without a single power or LHP starting pitcher. Those who failed to stay consistent for 7 innings ended up throwing heat in 1.

        • John_CC

          Well we all know that there has been a dearth of starting pitching in the minors. I believe it is getting better. And while the new SP prospect begin to develop it naturally means that RPs “develop” – rather, are created – as they are passed over.

          • Dorasaga

            I’ll play the devil’s advocate here. We were excited about T.McNutt. He was injured, lost something in his command, and had since become mediocre. The Hoyer crops of pitching prospects either traded in or drafted recently are still far from Major-ready. We aren’t talking about a Strasburg or Kimbrel here. We are looking at “young upside” but nothing to show.

            Remember how we criticized Baseball America for ranking out-of-draft high schoolers who haven’t played a single pro game as #1 in the farm? Anything worse can happen to pitching prospects, and most won’t pan out. I’ll be pleased enough to see a 19% return of them ( a number I read in recent year that says only 18% prospects eventually came up and stayed in the Big; haven’t confirmed that number).

        • 07GreyDigger

          Consequently, two of the Royals best bullpen arms are those starters who couldn’t handle it.

          Aaron Crow was a starter in the minors and currently sports a 6-3 record, 3.16 ERA and 27 K in 31.1 IP. Granted his WHIP is a not good 1.468.

          Luke Hochevar was an awful starter for the last 5 seasons, but has found a resurgence in the bullpen as evidenced by his 2-1 record, 2.00 ERA, 38 K in 36 IP with a WHIP of .889

          • Dorasaga

            Sure, and where are the Royals right now? Where were they the last 16 seasons? The Word: Never become the Royals.

  • oldanddisgusted

    Soriano can be a long term solution for the Yankees, if he can play third base.

    • BosephHeyden

      Well, if they don’t mind a big drop in defense, I’m sure he could.

    • John_CC

      Or SS!

      • BosephHeyden

        If they really want to increase Soriano’s value, have him play a different position every day. Today he can start in left, tomorrow put him at third. Then give him short, then put a mask on him and have him catch (expect to see more “you can’t see me’s” than him calling for a certain pitch). Since he’s already done first (I think? I don’t remember if he played emergency first a few years back or if that was me in MLB The Show) and second, the last thing is to have him go out in the seventh or eighth in an odd double switch where you have him pitch while your setup guy goes in the outfield. Heck, with his cannon, he might hit 95.

  • Ryan

    Honest question, don’t go crazy on me! Haha

    Does anyone else see flashes of a young Alfonso Soriano in Junior Lake – minus the 40 HR power (perhaps 20-30 instead)? I know its a tiny sample size, but he can run to steal bases, has plenty of power to hit the gaps for doubles, and doesn’t quite have a defensive position.

    Not saying he will be half the player a young Sori was, just couldn’t help but think that when watching him last night so wondered if anyone else might see that comparison?

    • tony d

      In time the pitchers will find lakes weekness and he will not be doing as good as Junior started out. It looks like he is a free swinger witch means a high strike out to walks. He may end up batting 7-8 . Keep Alfonso and the money! I can not see giving up all the $ to send him out of town. Iwwould rather have that $ and his home runs.

    • BosephHeyden

      If he gets a 20/20 season next year, I’ll jump on that bandwagon. Of course, he just needs to play well enough to keep his job up to the start of the season, first.

      • DWalker

        I kinda feel the same way. he’s fun to watch right now, but lets see him after pitchers adjust to him and he’s been a round a bit. Its been a bit of a rollar coaster with Cubs prospects being called up lately so I am trying not to get too attached to em. One thing about him though, is with his power and speed, its going to be very hard to plan for him. Focus too much on preventing the big hit he’ll lay a bunt down. Prevent the bump and he could drop it in for a triple. He just has to hit it first.

    • John_CC

      The similarities are there, for sure. I don’t think you’re crazy! Physical build is similar, the athleticism, speed/power combo – sure it’s there. The free swinging approach is also a similarity.

      I am not making any predictions on statistics though. It is far too soon.

      I suspect that once the word gets out to other teams and Lake is on the scouting reports, he is going to be greatly challenged to make adjustments. Or else pitcher will ruin him by throwing a lot of low and away junk off the plate (let’s hope the Soriano similarities end there!).

    • mutantbeast

      actually, Lake is a far better athlete than Soriano ever was. Lake might even eventually learn some form of plate disciplne, which is what always underminded Soriano. One last thing-Lake is a relatively large baseball player at 6’3″ , Soriano is a relatively small 6″2′ and about 180 lbs, who seems to wear out at times. Lake likely will have better endurance.

  • 07GreyDigger

    I read a report that Alex Rios is the backup plan for Soriano. I find it comical that the younger and better (at least at this point in his career) player is the backup plan.

    • J Daniel

      Soriano is probably a cheaper option and that is why he is the favored guy.

      • 07GreyDigger

        Rios is owed 12.5 mil per year through ’14 while Soriano is owed 18 mil per. Maybe the Cubs will pay more than the Sox. That’s my only guess.

        • J Daniel

          I think the Cubs will pay most of Sori’s money and the Sox will not be paying most of Rios. Just my guess.

      • mutantbeast

        Actually, the Sox are likely asking for a lot for Rios, and the Stankees just don’t have the prospects to pay. Soriano will cost them nothing but $.

        • 07GreyDigger

          Stankees. Like it.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Junior Lake……oh baby…..can anyone imagine how good the high ranking prospects Soler & Almora will be in the outfield!…..

    MLB Umpire Gary Darling is another guy who should not be umpiring games…….

    Rios is a Dog…..the guy has an attitude that many teams know about……..if the Yankees want Rios over Soriano, then the Yankees are also Dogs……

    Navarro is really getting pressed for playing time for his future team…….

    Anyone think Villanueva will be traded also?….

    • 07GreyDigger

      I’m surprised the Yankees aren’t interested in Navarro also given their dearth of catching options this season.

      As for Villanueva, I could see him being traded based on how upset Sveum was with him the other day.

      • paulcatanese

        And how upset should Sveum be with Castro after the third strike three passed ball, and him walking, trotting down to first base? Even though Castro knew that there was probably no play, that was no excuse for his total loaf play.
        As with other players down on the south side he would have and should have been pulled right then and there, lesson
        learned.
        Then he could hit a grand slam the next day.
        Oh, he should have been talked to in private in Sveums office, NOT!

        • 07GreyDigger

          I seem to recall Sveum calling out Castro a few times in the media. That’s a quality I like about him. He’s not afraid to call players out and doesn’t do the tap dance the previous regime did where everything was cuddly and wonderful.

          • BosephHeyden

            I’d appreciate it more if he did more than that.

          • paulcatanese

            Actually referring to the White Sox manager pulling Rios? after he loafed down to first base,and then he hit a grand slam the next day and has been playing well since.

        • Sonate

          I so agree!! At times, someone needs to “rattle his cage.”

  • cubtex

    I wonder if Neil Ramirez going on the DL with a bicep strain has altered the Cubs plans with the PTBNL? Personally, I think it is a better sign knowing that it is the bicep and not the shoulder so I would be more comfortable choosing him. If his upside is much better than anyone on the second list…..I would just go ahead and tell the Rangers that they will take Ramirez.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I forgot who said it, but I think teams can’t announce PTBNL until the end of the season, so we’ll likely not see who that is until later.

    • paulcatanese

      That bodes well, don’t think a knife would be involved.

    • DWalker

      More likely Ramirez going on the DL is why the cubs have the PTBNL. If Ramirez gets healthy, they can take him. If he doesn’t they have a list they can pick from instead. Had he had a clean bill of health they probably would have taken him outright.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        You are correct on all of your points