Josh Vitters Rumors

Cubs Notes: Jackson, Valbuena, Stewart

Alfonso Soriano hit his 30th home run of the season last night, reaching the threshold for the sixth time in his career and for the first time since 2007. The 36-year-old now has a .261/.317/.499 batting line in 568 plate appearances this year. He'll earn $18MM per season through 2014 on a contract that no longer seems as unmovable as it once did. Here are some Cubs-related notes from Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune

  • The idea of spending $150MM-plus on an impact player such as Josh Hamilton isn’t part of the Cubs’ plan, Sullivan reports. He notes that David DeJesus’ $10MM contract and Paul Maholm’s $4.75MM contract were the largest deals the Cubs signed a year ago.
  • However, the team expects to be able to spend. "Right now it's kind of hard to say,” manager Dale Sveum said. “You just don't know who will be available. But yeah, we'll spend money somewhere."
  • The Cubs need multiple starters, multiple relievers a center fielder, and a third baseman in Sullivan’s estimation. It appears that the Cubs will give Brett Jackson another look in center field despite his poor contact rate.
  • Luis Valbuena will be tendered a contract, but Ian Stewart is expected to be non-tendered, Sullivan writes. "Valbuena is going to be part of the organization, and he does one heck of a job himself," Sveum said. MLBTR's Steve Adams discussed Stewart as a non-tender candidate last month.
  • Josh Vitters appears to be a long shot at third base, according to Sullivan.

Theo Epstein Rumors: Tuesday

The latest on the Cubs' attempt to add Red Sox GM Theo Epstein to their front office…

  • Epstein is actively looking to hire a general manager to join him in Chicago, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The 37-year-old is exploring GM candidates while he waits for the Red Sox and Cubs to work out compensation for his departure. The Cubs would bring Epstein in as their president of baseball operations and he would hire a general manager to assist with the daily grind of the job.
  • The Red Sox are "holding tough" on their asking price and don't anticipate resolution tonight, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).
  • Hoyer told Marty Caswell of XX1090 Sports Radio that he's not going to comment on media speculation (Twitter links).  "I'm excited about what we continue to build here in San Diego," he said. 
  • The Cubs haven't asked for permission to talk to any Padres executives, according to Dan Hayes of the North County Times (Twitter link).
  • Carrie Muskat of MLB.com points out that obtaining Hoyer could prove difficult, as he is under contract through 2013 with an option for 2014 (Twitter link).  But Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres doubts owner Jeff Moorad would hold up a deal if it meant Byrnes became the Padres' next GM (Twitter link).
  • Current Padres GM Jed Hoyer is being considered by the Cubs and Epstein, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.  In that scenario, Josh Byrnes would become the Padres' GM.  Heyman notes that the Cubs are also looking at Padres executives Byrnes and Jason McLeod for themselves, should Hoyer stay.  All the executives were once members of the Boston front office with Epstein.
  • Yesterday we learned that the Red Sox started out the Epstein compensation discussions by asking the Cubs for righty Matt Garza, which CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam says was "rejected out of hand."  Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that "the sides slowly have moved their position to a more realistic center" as they discuss Cubs prospects.  
  • Cafardo says the Red Sox have been focusing on Trey McNutt, Brett Jackson, Matt Szczur, and Josh Vitters, the latter three labeled as unlikely by Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com yesterday.  McNutt and Andrew Cashner are unlikely as well, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, while McAdam says McNutt's inclusion is "far from guaranteed at this point."
  • An announcement today has been ruled out, writes McAdam, with "significant work" remaining to reach an agreement on compensation.  He says Friday's World Series off-day is the earliest possibility, assuming the teams come to terms and get Bud Selig's permission for an announcement.  McAdam says that although progress has been made, the Cubs feel that precedent calls for minimal compensation while the Sox think this situation defies precedent.
  • McAdam writes that the issue of Epstein taking Red Sox employees with him is not an issue, with a mutual understanding in place that he will not raid Boston's baseball operations department. 
  • Most reports, including this one from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, suggest that the five-year, $18.5MM deal between Epstein and the Cubs is not in jeopardy.  Still, as Cafardo notes, both teams have a lot of team-building to do.    

Top Trade Chips: NL Central

Let's continue our series looking at each team's top trade chips with the NL Central…

  • Astros: Teams can ask for Hunter Pence, but it's just not happening. 26-year-old catcher J.R. Towles and his five years of team control could be shopped with top prospect Jason Castro coming up behind him. If Houston falls way out of it, Roy Oswalt could be made available, but it would be a massive PR hit. He's owed $31MM through 2011 with a $16MM option ($2MM buyout) for 2012, and would have to approve any trade. Dealing him would signify the start of a full rebuilding effort. 
  • Brewers: Yovani Gallardo was never going to be moved in the first place, but his new contract extension all but guarantees it. Manny Parra seems to have fallen out of favor, but a lefty who can dial it up to the mid-90's will always have value on the trade market. He still has three years of arbitration eligibility ahead of him. 
  • Cardinals: The Cards dealt away most of their top prospects for Matt Holliday and Mark DeRosa last year, so there's not much left to move. Triple-A catcher Bryan Anderson and Double-A outfielder Daryl Jones could be used in a trade since the big league team is pretty well set at those positions. Jones is more highly regarded of the two. Colby Rasmus is untouchable, obviously.
  • Cubs: Josh Vitters, the third overall pick in 2007, watched his name pop up in trade rumors involving Jake Peavy last year. If Chicago is willing to eat some of the $26.5MM left on his contract, there would be interest in Kosuke Fukudome.
  • Pirates: Neal Huntington has completely turned over the team's roster since taking over in September 2007, dealing away every notable veteran player. He did, however, build up a nice inventory of veteran relievers this offseason. Octavio Dotel, D.J. Carrasco, Brendan Donnelly, and Javier Lopez could all be used as trade fodder this summer.
  • Reds: Cincinnati is clearly a team on the rise, but one young player they could make available is the blocked Yonder Alonso. The power hitting first baseman masquerading as a left fielder in Double-A has all six years of team control left, and is the best trade chip in the division.


Cubs-Peavy: Nothing Cooking

6:23pm: I just spoke to a source familiar with the Cubs’ thinking.  Hopefully I can further douse the flames of the Peavy-Cubs rumors – the Cubs aren’t planning to restart the Peavy talks, and none of their recent trades for pitching were related to Peavy.  Keep in mind that the team’s ownership situation is far from resolved. – Tim Dierkes

5:58pm: MLB.com’s Barry Bloom heard from Cubs assistant GM Randy Bush that the Cubs have had "no talks about Jake Peavy since they were well-documented during the Winter Meetings." However, this doesn’t mean that talks won’t restart.

Bush said the Cubs could go into Spring Training without further changes, but sounds open to adding players if they come at the right price.

5:16pm: In an ESPN.com video Buster Olney says, "at some point you can expect the Cubs and Padres will again start talking about a Peavy deal" now that the Cubs have added pitching in trades.

Earlier in the winter, the Padres wanted more young arms than the Cubs could offer. Since then, the Cubs added pitching to the organization in the Mark DeRosa deal and created flexibility by trading for Aaron Heilman.

The Cubs could structure a deal for Peavy around prospect Josh Vitters and young pitching.


Jake Peavy Rumors: Thursday

10:56pm: Axelrod suggestion the Giants as a possible destination for Peavy in a talk with Tim Sullivan.  He said, "I think they’ve got the money. But I don’t know if they’ve got the prospects."

8:20pm: Jon Heyman says that Peavy is frustrated by the team’s inability to trade him. His agent, Barry Axelrod, says that Peavy had begun to get used to the idea of being a Cub, and now that opportunity is apparently gone. Axelrod says if the Padres approach he and his client with a trade, they’ll consider it, but there won’t be any more lists of approved teams.

Axelrod also criticizes the majority of baseball executives for their lack of action at the Winter Meetings.

"It’s amazing to me how many people can waste time, money and resources, and get nothing done," Axelrod said. "Baseball moved lock, stock and barrel into that town, and absolutely nothing happened."

6:45: Mike DiGiovanna at the LA Times says that the Angels are now in the mix for Peavy. Trade talks could begin as soon as next week, with Brandon Wood, Erick Aybar, Reggie Willits, Nick Adenhart, and Kevin Jepsen all names that could be talked about. The Angels will only pursue Peavy if they can’t re-sign Mark Teixeira.

5:02pm: Talked to a person familiar with the Cubs’ thinking…he really could not see the Cubs revisiting a Peavy trade.  The Padres need to get Peavy’s $63MM off the books soon, yet were trying to swing 6-for-1 or 7-for-1 deals for him despite the extremely limited market.  Marshall was never in the mix, by the way.

3:27pm: MLB.com’s Mark Bowman says the Braves "won’t even think about renewing their pursuit of Peavy unless the talks are initiated by the Padres, who will no longer find a compensation package that includes Yunel Escobar."  Escobar is apparently off the table because the Braves no longer have Brent Lillibridge.

2:56pm: Tim Brown and Gordon Edes say the Cubs "remain optimistic that they can acquire Peavy, all but ignored Towers’ self-imposed deadline."  Meanwhile, Gerry Fraley says the Angels have already put together a package for the Padres to consider.

12:01pm: Kevin Towers told reporters the proposed Peavy deal with the Cubs is dead.  The Cubs pulled out.  Mike DiGiovanna heard earlier that the Angels remain interested.  Towers is not certain he wants to engage in further Peavy discussions at this time.  I think even hot stove junkies wouldn’t mind a respite.

11:30am: Towers still hasn’t heard back from Hendry on the Peavy deal.  Ken Rosenthal says eight to ten teams have called on DeRosa, adding the A’s to the mix of known suitors.

12:33am: Multiple reports suggested yesterday that the Cubs would not trade Mark DeRosa.  But new stories in the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times do not support that notion.

Paul Sullivan of the Trib says DeRosa "appears to be the key to any Peavy deal."  Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times heard the Cubs would only trade DeRosa as part of a Peavy deal, and Jim Hendry inquired on Chone Figgins as a possible replacement.  And La Velle E. Neal III believes DeRosa is fair game in a Peavy deal or separately for the Twins or Phillies.  As far as Jason Marquis, both Chicago writers see him landing in San Diego with the Cubs eating about half his salary (one sign that the Cubs have "hand," as George Costanza would say).

Padres GM Kevin Towers wants to get a framework in place today.  The Cubs have the leverage, with Wittenmyer suggesting they also want to keep Sean Marshall.  One player most writers believe will be sent from the Cubs to the Padres is Josh Vitters.  But Towers says it’s in the Cubs’ hands.


Jake Peavy Rumors: Wednesday

8:36pm: MLB.com’s Corey Brock learned from Towers that he should know one way or another on a Peavy trade by the end of the Meetings.  Towers now believes a fourth team will be required.  Towers mentioned that Marquis and DeRosa may be hangups, especially Marquis’ contract.  Though he’d prefer not to, under certain circumstances the Padres might pay some of his salary.

There was some goofy Carlos Carrasco/Jason Donald stuff we didn’t link to today, and that was shot down.  Brock suggests names like Josh Vitters, Felix Pie, and Kevin Hart could be involved on the Cubs’ part.

8:31pm: Jayson Stark says Peavy to the Cubs doesn’t seem inevitable anymore, and the sides have not made progress in the last 24 hours.  The Cubs have leverage, so they’ve dug in their heels.  Stark adds that once word of the possible inclusion of DeRosa linked, Jim Hendry has been "bombarded with calls from other clubs interested" in him.  Hendry does not want to trade DeRosa.

6:00pm: Buster Olney says the Yankees have talked with the Padres recently about Peavy, but it didn’t go anywhere.

5:19pm: Brock talked to a Padres source who does not believe the Twins are involved.

4:10pm: Buster Olney says Axelrod left the Meetings with no word of a deal but the expectation is still that the Cubs will get it done.

3:48pm: Tom Krasovic reminds us that Peavy’s agent Barry Axelrod said going into the Meetings that the Yankees would be more attractive to his client if they signed C.C. Sabathia.  Still, Peavy prefers the NL.

3:17pm: Corey Brock says the Phillies might want Scott Hairston from the Padres to use in left field.

2:33pm: Carrie Muskat’s Cubs source says DeRosa will not be traded.

9:45am: LEN3 says the Twins discussed DeRosa with the Cubs yesterday.  The Cubs will present the Twins with a list of pitchers they like, which will be influenced by the Padres’ preferences.

9:31am: There’s word from Jim Salisbury that pitcher Kyle Kendrick could be included in this three-team trade.

1:19am: If you dare to sort through yesterday’s Jake Peavy rumors, click here.  Today, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times maintains that the biggest obstacle is the Cubs moving part of Jason Marquis‘ contract.  Another factor – the Padres will need to free up several spots on the 40-man roster.  The Cubs’ sale will not be an issue.

Wittenmyer adds that a Phillies official didn’t expect to get Mark DeRosa from the Cubs but rather other players.  Also, Cubs officials shot down the John Perrotto rumor that the Cubs might shop Carlos Zambrano after acquiring Peavy.

Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune also weighs in.  He says the Padres have discussed Phils catching prospect Jason Jaramillo.


Jake Peavy Rumors: Monday

11:02pm: Jim Salisbury backs up the idea that the Phils could receive DeRosa and the Padres could get Happ.  It’s worth noting that the Cubs could trim $5.5MM off the payroll by sending out DeRosa and using Fontenot at second base.

10:31pm: MLB.com’s Lyle Spencer says the Angels have not taken themselves out of the Peavy sweepstakes. 

Also, Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune supplies more info.  A third team would definitely be involved in a Cubs trade.  DeRosa could wind up a Phillie, and Michael Wuertz is a new name of interest for the Padres.  Peavy’s agent Barry Axelrod said again that Peavy will require a full no-trade clause upon a deal.  One more thing – Towers said trading Peavy could free up money for Trevor Hoffman.

9:00pm: MLB.com’s Corey Brock says the legwork on this trade "has essentially been completed."  No deal has been reached, but Towers says he’s facilitated a three or possibly four-team deal.  The third and possibly fourth teams (Orioles, Phillies) have agreed to players.  There could be some haggling remaining on players sent from the Cubs to Padres.

Brock says all Towers needs now is the go-ahead from Hendry.  Peavy, by the way, was spotted at the Meetings.

8:35pm: Jayson Stark gives his take on the Peavy-Cubs situation.  He says Hendry is dealing with restrictions due to the team’s ownership situation, despite his comments.

8:01pm: Scott Miller of CBSSports.com says Jason Marquis and Angel Guzman (among others) could end up with the Padres in the three-team deal.  The Padres could get J.A. Happ and/or Chris Coste from the Phils.  Miller adds that the Phils are known to have interest in Mark DeRosa.

6:53pm: Rosenthal says the Phillies are now in the mix as a possible third team in a Peavy trade.  Those talks are preliminary.  Rosenthal says the Cubs can’t complete a deal for Peavy until their new owner is decided.

5:33pm: Roch Kubatko says the O’s are still interested in Pie, but may only get him for Olson straight up if Olson is to be flipped to San Diego in a Peavy trade.

2:37pm: Joel Sherman learned from Towers that if he doesn’t reach an agreement on a Peavy deal with the Cubs at the Meetings, he will keep the pitcher to start the season.  The Dodgers are apparently the only other team to which Peavy has approved a trade.

Sherman adds that the Cubs "are willing to let [Peavy] keep his no-trade clause."  Not sure if Sherman is trying to say the Cubs would replace Peavy’s partial no-trade rights for 2011 and part of 2012 with full no-trade powers.

2:33pm: Kevin Towers told Ken Rosenthal he’s talking to only the Cubs about Peavy.  He expects to have a good idea on whether to drop it or move forward by the end of the Meetings.  Towers approached Ned Colletti but talks didn’t get far.

12:22pm: Jerry Crasnick says Kevin Towers and Peavy’s agent Barry Axelrod drove together for the 4.5 hour ride from San Diego to Las Vegas, but Axelrod says they only talked about Peavy for about three minutes.  Also, Axelrod brought a sweet mix CD.

11:44am: Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald says the Cubs and Padres did not talk about Peavy on Sunday but will today.  He’s heard the Padres might be concerned with Vitters’ hand/wrist.

1:14am: Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times says the Cubs first want to trade Jason Marquis and acquire their left-handed hitting outfielder before Peavy.  Wittenmyer’s sources do believe the Cubs will eventually acquire San Diego’s ace.  However, his sources say the Tom Krasovic report about a five-for-one framework being in place is exaggerated.

Wittenmyer hears that the Orioles would be willing to swap Garrett Olson for Felix Pie; the Cubs would then send Olson to the Padres in the Peavy deal.

12:54am: According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, Padres GM Kevin Towers "envisions a way to do a [Jake Peavy] deal now only with the Cubs."  We’ve heard rumors of the Padres and Cubs trying to rope in the Orioles or Rays as a third team. 

Heyman adds that Peavy would approve a trade to Chicago "without any significant reworking of his contract or other major concessions."  Does that imply that the Cubs would not have to guarantee Peavy’s 2013 option ($22MM) or grant him a full no-trade clause?

Keep in mind that despite all the virtual ink that will be spilled on Peavy over the next four days, Jayson Stark sees "just about a zero chance" he’s dealt at the Meetings.  Still, the Cubs and Padres seem to already have a framework in place involving Sean Marshall, Kevin Hart, Josh Vitters, and maybe Ronny Cedeno.


Olney’s Latest: Manny, Peavy, Fuentes

ESPN’s Buster Olney has a bunch of new info in today’s blog.

  • Olney continues to wonder if Manny Ramirez and Scott Boras will "wave the white flag" and accept the Dodgers’ offer of arbitration.  It could result in a huge one-year salary, and the current market for Manny is not robust.  However, Peter Abraham said in July that a condition of Manny’s trade was that he would decline arbitration.  Did anyone else write this?  Hopefully a journalist will ask Boras about it soon.
  • Olney says the Cubs would love to have Adam Dunn in their lineup, but he’s a stretch as a full-time right fielder.  The Cubs are willing to sacrifice some defense in right, but how much?
  • Could Dunn or Pat Burrell wind up with the Rays on an affordable one-year deal?
  • The Cubs and Padres "have a basic framework in place" for a Jake Peavy deal built around third baseman Josh Vitters.  Things may pick up after the Cubs’ ownership situation is resolved.
  • The Astros don’t have a ton of flexibility to move their high-salaried stars, but Jose Valverde is one they can deal without restriction.  He’s due for a nice raise from this year’s $4.7MM.
  • Olney suggests the Rockies were wise to trade Matt Holliday when they did, or they might’ve gotten significantly less.
  • Olney speaks of "a belief within the Rockies’ organization" that Brian Fuentes could come back on a multiyear deal.  The Rockies could trade Huston Street in that case.
  • The Braves may push A.J. Burnett for an answer before C.C. Sabathia signs, in case the Yanks miss out on C.C. and come after Burnett.
  • Apparently there is "serious tension" between Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland.
  • Olney sees Rafael Furcal signing with the A’s.

Jake Peavy Rumors: Tuesday

12:14pm: Dave O’Brien agrees that the Braves are growing frustrated waiting on Kevin Towers, with the free agent open season creeping up.

10:21am: ESPN’s Buster Olney has the latest on the Jake Peavy trade talks.

Olney says the Braves and Padres are making progress, despite Ken Rosenthal’s report of Atlanta’s frustration.  Olney says the Braves would send Yunel Escobar and Gorkys Hernandez to the Padres, plus Charlie Morton or Jo-Jo Reyes.  They’re haggling over one last player, with the Padres eyeing southpaw Jeff Locke.

The Cubs are still in the mix, and a third team would be included to flip pitching to San Diego.  One way or another, the Cubs would give up Josh Vitters and others.


Jake Peavy Rumors: Friday

1:47pm: This Scott Miller column is from yesterday, but it has some good info.  Miller’s source believes the Braves are the frontrunners for Peavy and are willing to include Gorkys Hernandez.  Additionally, the source said the Cubs are very aggressive and the Dodgers are making a strong pitch.

12:53pm: Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald says Samardzija is not on the table and has a full, not partial, no-trade.  Additionally, the Cubs have not thrown Fontenot into the mix.  Miles gives a 50-50 chance of the Cubs getting Peavy.

9:39am: GM Kevin Towers expects to trade Jake Peavy before the winter meetings, saying, "The train’s kind of left the station."  Continuing the metaphor, Barry Axelrod said, "The only thing we’ve got is a brake."

According to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan, the Cubs have moved in front of the Braves in the battle for Peavy.  Passan says the Padres want Jeff Samardzija (who has a limited no-trade clause), and the Cubs could also include players such as Felix Pie, Sean Marshall, Ronny Cedeno, Kevin Hart, and Donald VealChris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times suggests Rich Harden or Mike Fontenot could be involved.  De Luca notes that a Peavy trade would probably prevent the Cubs from acquiring Brian RobertsESPN’s Buster Olney believes Josh Vitters would have to be involved, while the Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles adds Jose Ceda, Welington Castillo, and Mitch Atkins as possibilities.  Miles does not see the Cubs as a player for C.C. Sabathia, by the way.

The Padres would prefer a deal with Atlanta, but can’t pry Tommy Hanson loose.  The Braves are willing to trade Yunel Escobar, Charlie Morton, and Jordan Schafer.

Meanwhile, Tom Krasovic at the San Diego Union-Tribune says Peavy and Barry Axelrod are concerned about the Braves’ shortstop situation if they are to include the defensively-talented Escobar.  Perhaps the Braves could sway them by outlining some contingency plans at the position.