Jacque Jones Rumors
Turns out the Cubs added a nice bonus for the Tigers to take Jacque Jones off their hands: $2MM in cash. So let's see here. Omar Infante will be up around $1.5MM in '08, and the Cubs tossed in $2MM. Jones makes $5MM in '08, though I'm not sure which team pays out the final chunk of his $4MM bonus. But I think it's fair to say that this "salary dump" saved the Cubs about $1.5MM. The Tigers got Jones pretty cheaply.
So the Cubs didn't clear much payroll, but they do have a clear vacancy in right field now. Kosuke Fukudome, as a left-handed hitting right fielder, is a perfect fit. I think the Cubs are on the right track with that one. Other considerations could include Ryan Church or J.D. Drew, in my opinion.
Gordon Wittenmyer notes in the above-linked article that the next order of business for Jim Hendry is re-signing Kerry Wood. This will be a good test of Wood's loyalty, as some team is liable to come in with some kind of two-year, $15MM type offer.
UPDATE: The deal is done; the Tigers also get cash considerations.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press, the Tigers and Cubs are finalizing a Jacque Jones for Omar Infante swap. ESPN 1000's Bruce Levine called this one when no one else had it.
The Tigers would use Jones in left field, maybe sitting him against lefties in favor of Ryan Raburn. Jones played pretty solid center field defense for the Cubs last year; his ability to play that position was actually making him look like an asset at $5MM in '08. The Cubs may be ready to try Felix Pie in center next year, though they have been connected to Mike Cameron. Many consider the trade of Jones to be a salary dump. When the Cubs tried to trade him to the Marlins they were set to pay almost all of Jones' salary.
Infante has shown flashes of offensive ability with the Tigers, but hasn't hit for the most part. It would be interesting if the Cubs tried the 26 year-old at shortstop. He was once a top prospect, beginning 2003 as the Tigers' starting shortstop at age 21. He wasn't up to the task, getting benched by Alan Trammell for lack of hustle before being sent down. His arm strength as a shortstop has been questioned, and he's battled through shoulder and other injuries. Infante may be able to dabble in center field, aside from second base and shortstop. Or the Cubs could flip him to another team.
In other Tigers news, Danny Knobler says the team has stepped up their efforts to re-sign Todd Jones before midnight. At that point Jones would be able to negotiate with other teams.
An MLBTR reader passed on this tidbit he heard on ESPN 1000's coverage of the GM meetings. The rumor would be the Cubs sending Jacques Jones to Detroit for Omar Infante. The report mentioned both sides are staying in touch on the matter. It's not major news, but if it's whispered...
Infante's listed as an infielder, spending most of his time at 2B. He made $1.3MM in 2007 and he'll be 27 next season. The Tigers have a bit of a logjam in their infield as is and despite being regarded as a utility-guy, Infante has potential starter value that the Tigers could shop. Jones, the established outfielder, makes $5MM in his final contract year next season and will be 32. Trading Jones would open up the Cubs OF for Kosuke Fukudome, should they pursue him.
Some random rumors to help you get through your Thursday morning...
- As you might imagine, the Rangers are keenly watching and hoping Alex Rodriguez opts out of his contract. That would free up $7MM for them in each of the next three years. Rangers' manager Ron Washington's wish list includes a center fielder, corner outfielder, and first baseman. The Rangers have been connected to Torii Hunter quite a bit, but they'll have plenty of competition.
- Will the exchange rate free up a bunch of money for the Blue Jays? Perhaps even enough to make a pass at A-Rod? Hey, fans can dream. Mine!
- Something I didn't mention yesterday - Elijah Dukes is playing winter ball. The Rays still don't seem to have any room for him in the outfield or at DH. Maybe the Marlins will get involved again? Would Kevin Gregg work?
- Gordon Wittenmyer thinks the Cubs should keep Jacque Jones for 2008, which makes sense. Wittenmyer also believes 22 year-old Felix Pie with 194 big league plate appearances, has proven conclusively that he can't hit Major League pitching. His suggestion is to trade Pie now.
- Larry Borowsky wants the Cardinals to sign Milton Bradley.
- Jeff Sackmann recommends against Geoff Jenkins' $9MM option for '08, but the decision was tougher than you think.
Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus has an interesting note in today's Rumor Mill:
"The Cubs also still covet Dontrelle Willis as "the one that got away" and--despite his not being on the market--Willis is one player the Cubs could get if Larry Beinfest suddenly changes his mind about that. Adding Felix Pie to Jacque Jones and Donald Veal would get it done, while not adding to the Cubs payroll."
Jim Hendry already tried to patch up one of the all-time classic Cub mistakes by signing Greg Maddux before the 2004 season. At least that departure didn't happen under Hendry's watch.
Back in March of 2002, Hendry traded Ryan Jorgensen, Jose Cueto, Julian Tavarez, and Willis to the Marlins for Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca. Where are they now?
- Jorgensen, a catcher, had a four-game cup of coffee for the Fish in '05, and now toils for the Reds' Triple A team.
- Cueto, a pitcher, never made it past Double A and finished off his career back in the Cubs' system in '04.
- Tavarez started 27 games for the 2002 Marlins, but his performance was worth only 0.4 wins. He left via free agency after the season to sign with the Pirates. Now he's with Boston, of course.
- Clement provided a ton of value to the Cubs during 2002-04; he was worth about 17 wins over those three years according to Baseball Prospectus. He was worth 4.8 wins in 2003, but Willis was worth 5.8 in fewer innings. Getting Clement made this a respectable deal for Hendry, though in hindsight he would've rather just kept Willis. Clement signed a three-year deal with B Boston and succumbed to shoulder woes in Year 2 of the pact. He hopes to help Boston as a reliever in September, which should be interesting.
- Alfonseca was OK as the Cubs' closer in '02, saving 19 games. He was not helpful in '03, and the Cubs let him go. Now he's in the Phillies' pen.
Back to the present day rumor. Jones, while hitting better of late, probably would not be missed by the Cubs. He's still only slugging .382 in July. Veal was the Cubs' best pitching prospect heading into the season but has taken a step backward in Double A. Veal has been control problems, though his arm has been described as "electric." Lefty starters who can touch 95 can be hard to find.
Pie, though, would be the gem of the deal and the player with the best shot at stardom. Literally - BP gives him a 30-40% chance at becoming a star player. He struggled mightily in his first 139 ABs with the Cubs, but he now owns Triple A pitching. He should be the Cubs' starting center fielder for the next six years at least. Trading him for the declining Willis would create another "one that got away" situation, which seems perfectly Cub-like. Most likely nothing happens in the next two days, but we might revisit this rumor this winter.
Will Carroll and John Perrotto have teamed up at BP to join the rumor mill, and yesterday's post is free to nonsubscribers. Some highlights:
- Carroll reports that the Cubs could swap Jacque Jones and a prospect for Jeff Conine. Perhaps such a move would be in tandem with Adam Dunn leaving Cincinnati. The Cubs might want to hold on to Jones though; he's playing well lately.
- Carroll heard a far out Alex Rodriguez to the Dodgers rumor, but doesn't buy it. Neither do I - the Yankees don't seem to be selling. Carroll says Brian Cashman and Co. will wait until the last second to make a buyer/seller decision. There's a slight chance Jorge Posada becomes available if they choose the latter.
- Perrotto confirms a rumor that surfaced a week ago, that Ian Snell could be had for the right bat. Perrotto would know, as he spent time as a Pirates' beat writer. Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Matt Kemp are two possible targets for the Bucs.
- The Tigers may be looking for relievers, and some possible names on the radar include Chad Qualls, Dan Wheeler, Brad Lidge, Salomon Torres, Damaso Marte, Shawn Chacon, and Chad Cordero. That's most of the market right there, though Lidge seems likely to stay put. And don't forget that the Tigers have internal reinforcements on the way.
One club that doesn't get a lot of play on MLBTR is the Twins. They don't make a lot of big trades or signings. Although last year they did inquire on Alfonso Soriano. Today, we don't have any blockbusters, but do have rumors regarding Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones from La Velle Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Regarding Hunter - he is leaving the door open for a contract extension with the Twins. He told a radio station yesterday he doesn't want Vernon Wells money but the Twins still haven't talked to him about an extension at all. He sounds bummed about it, but it just doesn't seem likely the Twins can retain Hunter. He's going to need more than three years and more than $12MM annually. The Twins aren't in a position to give him even a reasonable discounted contract.
Meanwhile, Neal reveals that the Twins were previously in on Jacque Jones. That would've been an interesting re-acquisition. However, the Cubs pulled out of the Marlins deal because they didn't want to eat 90%+ of his contract. That stance probably knocks the Twins out of the running.
Neal notes that because of commitments for 2008, any deadline acquisition for a hitter made by Terry Ryan this year would likely be a rental. Which is what makes Adam Dunn so perfect.
Jacque Jones is still a Cub, with yesterday's Marlins deal quashed. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes that Tribune owner Sam Zell was not the reason the trade died, contrary to other reports. Money caused the snag, but not Zell. Sullivan says talks with the Marlins are unlikely to be revisited.
On a side note, all of the Tribune baseball writers are blogging! They must be thrilled.
Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times says Cubs GM Jim Hendry has had recent talks with the Padres, Rangers, White Sox, and others. Jones had a pinch-hitting appearance in today's game, grounding out to Todd Helton.
UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal says this deal has pretty much died. I knew $1MM sounded too good to be true for the Cubs. Scott Miller of CBS Sportsline has more details: the Cubs were set to pay roughly 97% of Jones' remaining salary but the deal unraveled at the Commissioner's Office. It seems that the Cubs couldn't get approval there because of their impending sale.
According to Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Marlins have traded for outfielder Jacque Jones. Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post says the Cubs are kicking in only $1MM of the $7.1MM remaining on Jones' contract. The Cubs will get a pitcher from Class A Greensboro, possibly 23 year-old lefty Graham Taylor.
The Cubs' motivation is to free up a roster spot while paying less than half the money still owed to Jones. Jim Hendry got the best of Larry Beinfest in the Derrek Lee/Hee Seop Choi deal, but Beinfest exacted his revenge two years later by stealing three useful pitchers for Juan Pierre.
If Jones can play a credible center field, the Marlins will come out ahead here. My guess is that Jones will return to his career offensive levels once out of the Chicago spotlight. He should still be benched against lefties though.
Ken Rosenthal has a new article, and as usual he's broken several brand new trade rumors. A brief summary:
- Here's a good one: the Brewers have "kicked the tires" on Mark Buehrle. You can never have too much pitching, I guess. It's a long shot that Doug Melvin could pull it off without involving Yovani Gallardo or Ryan Braun, and he won't trade those two. Without either player, the Brewers would pretty much be offering quantity over quality in terms of prospects. My own speculation: Corey Hart might intrigue Kenny Williams, but he'd be hard to part with.
- Rosenthal estimates ten teams are looking at Buehrle. He names the Mets, Braves, Mariners, and Cardinals. Add the Brewers and we're still five short. The five Rosenthal doesn't mention could include the Red Sox, Yankees, Marlins, Rockies, Dodgers, and Phillies. Just guessing on the last five.
- The Blue Jays have changed their tune on Troy Glaus - they'll now listen to offers for him. It is believed Glaus might waive his no-trade clause to play close to home for the Padres, Angels, or Dodgers. Glaus is owed about $5.9MM more this year and $12.75MM in 2008. He also negotiated an $11.25MM player option for '09 when he was traded to Toronto. Perhaps to agree to a trade he'd want his deal extended through '09 for $13MM or so. Rosenthal says the package for Glaus would likely involve a young third baseman, like Chase Headley, Brandon Wood, or Andy LaRoche. Such a deal would be hard to ignore for J.P. Ricciardi. Of the three teams mentioned, Ricciardi has only previously dealt with Bill Stoneman (on the Brad Fullmer trade).
- Rosenthal says the Cubs are not involved in a trade for Ken Griffey Jr. The ownership change will prohibit them from taking on his contract. Rosenthal also mentions that the Cubs are having difficulties finding a taker for Jacque Jones.
- The Angels still like Adam Dunn, though I still don't see how he fits into their roster.
- The prospect going to the Tigers for Mike Maroth won't be anything special; the point was to unload his $3MM salary.