Kosuke Fukudome Rumors

Stark On Cubs, Kemp, Werth, Quentin

ESPN's Jayson Stark leads his latest Rumblings and Grumblings with scouts' opinions on pitchers Jorge de la Rosa, Vicente Padilla, Carl Pavano, Brian Fuentes, Randy Choate, Joaquin Benoit, and Koji Uehara.  His rumors:

  • Adrian Gonzalez's labrum cleanup surgery downgrades the chances of an offseason trade considerably.
  • The Cubs "seem a lot less inclined" to trade Kosuke Fukudome and Carlos Zambrano, though some clubs believe they'd discuss the latter.  Stark says there's a vibe the Cubs will not go after Adam Dunn for their first base opening, instead looking for an above-average defender.
  • One team official who kicked the tires says of the Dodgers, "They ain't trading Matt Kemp."
  • The Phillies are far apart with Jayson Werth and are exploring right field replacements.  They've done extensive groundwork on Chicago's Carlos Quentin, and are considering Jeff Francoeur or Jermaine Dye for lesser roles.  The Red Sox, by the way, are not willing to spend $100MM on Werth.

Red Sox Rumors: DeJesus, Matsuzaka, Crawford

There's been lots of chatter about the Red Sox and Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, but Boston isn't necessarily committed to acquiring an outfielder through free agency. Here's the latest:

Chicago Rumors: Dunn, Fukudome, Rasmus, Quentin

Let's round up the latest from the Windy City in one post. First up, Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune with the latest on the Cubs…

  • The Cubbies will not go overboard with their free agent spending because they vow to decrease payroll, so GM Jim Hendry needs to get creative to placate the fan base.
  • First base is the team's first priority and they'd like to acquire a lefty bat, so Adam Dunn is a popular target. If they can't afford him, they could turn to Aubrey Huff or Victor Martinez.
  • The Cubs might need to trade Kosuke Fukudome before signing any free agents, which won't be easy since he's owed $13.5MM in 2011. Hendry did find a taker for Milton Bradley last offseason though, so you never know.
  • Starting pitching is also on the team's wishlist. Jon Garland could be one option after hinting at being interested in pitching for the Cubs last offseason.
  • They would also like to add a veteran reliever to take some pressure off their young kids, but it's unclear if Kerry Wood will take a pay cut and assume a lesser role to return to the Cubs.

Now we'll head to the south side with Mark Gonzales of The Chicago Tribune

  • The White Sox already have $80.4MM committed to just 13 players for next season, and that doesn't include what is likely to be a sizable arbitration raise for John Danks. That puts them in a bit of bind when it comes to adding a left-handed bat.
  • They don't match up with the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus, who they're said to be targeting, though a trade is probably the route they'll have to go to add a bat.
  • GM Kenny Williams could try to fill several holes by trading one player, which he did when he sent Javier Vazquez to the Braves and Nick Swisher to the Yankees two years ago. He could use one of excess starters, perhaps Edwin Jackson or Gavin Floyd. That last part is just my speculation though.
  • The ChiSox also need to determine whether Carlos Quentin can return to his 2008 level, or if injuries will continue to take a toll.
  • They could look to make trades soon, then examine the pool of non-tenders for affordable relief help.

Cubs May Continue Trading

The Cubs have already traded Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot, but they may not be done yet. Yesterday’s deal could actually be a precursor to more moves in August.

''It's hard to say if it'll be the last one,'' assistant GM Randy Bush told the Chicago Sun-Times. ''Anything that we can do that we feel is to the betterment of the organization we're going to continue to look at.''

Jeff Baker, Kosuke Fukudome and Xavier Nady could be traded this month. Fukudome makes $13.5MM next year, so his contract would clear waivers. Nady, who has just under $1MM remaining on his contract this year, could also be traded. He drew some interest from the Rangers back in July.

Cubs Willing To Eat Part Of Fukudome Contract

The Cubs would pay part of the $4.95MM remaining on Kosuke Fukudome's contract this year and quite a bit of his $13.5MM salary for 2011, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  In mid-June, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com reported that the Cubs approached the Red Sox about Fukudome but didn't get far due to an unwillingness to take on "an appreciable amount" of the outfielder's contract.  If both reporters are correct, the Cubs have changed their stance.

Fukudome, 33, is hitting .253/.356/.410 in 273 plate appearances this season.  April has been Fukudome's best month in each of his three big league seasons.  He slumped badly thereafter this year and in '08, though he hit well in July and August last year.  Fukudome is capable of playing right and center field.

Olney’s Latest: Lee, Mets, Ibanez, Fukudome, DeJesus

In today's blog post at ESPN (Insider req'd), Buster Olney names the winners and losers in yesterday's Cliff Lee deal. Beyond the obvious, he says the Red Sox and Rays win because Lee stays away from the team they're chasing in the AL East while the Athletics and Angels lose because he's going to the team they're chasing in the AL West. Olney also dubs the Phillies losers because yesterday's trade again showed that they didn't receive as much as they could have for Lee when they traded him last winter.

Here are the rest of Buster's rumors…

  • People within the Mets' front office are working under the assumption that they will not be able to expand payroll. Earlier this week we heard that the team liked the idea of acquiring Ted Lilly and taking on the now $5.55MM left on his deal as a way to move fewer prospects.
  • The Phillies would prefer to move Raul Ibanez and the $17MM left on his deal to make room for top prospect Domonic Brown, but I can't imagine anyone will bite. Impending free agent Jayson Werth might go instead.
  • Kosuke Fukudome's stock is falling, but the Cubs are still keeping the eye on the market for his services.
  • The Royals are telling teams that they are going to hang on to David DeJesus until the trade deadline before deciding whether or not to move the outfielder.

Odds & Ends: Fukudome, Kemp, Lowell, Harang

Links for Friday, as the Rangers keep streaking…

Cubs Approached Red Sox About Fukudome

The Cubs recently approached the Red Sox about Kosuke Fukudome, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. Sources in both leagues told McAdam that the Red Sox did not engage the Cubs in talks because of the $21MM remaining on Fukudome’s contract. The Cubs are apparently unwilling to take on much of the $13MM Fukudome makes this year or the $13.5MM he makes next year.

The Red Sox are debating whether to rely on internal options like Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald or pursue outside help to fill in while Jeremy Hermida, Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury are injured. They never exchanged names with the Cubs, according to McAdam.

The Cubs would like to deal Fukudome, according to recent FOX Sports reports. The 33-year-old is batting .281/.373/.456 with six homers. So far in his two-plus years in the majors, Fukudome has hit better in the first half (.798 OPS) than in the second (.736 OPS).

Rosenthal On Braves, Marlins, Lee, Cubs

The Braves are interested in adding a right-handed hitting outfielder, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Melky Cabrera and Nate McLouth have not hit well for the Braves, and Jason Heyward's now slumping. Eric Hinske has played tremendously, but can't be expected to post an OPS near 1.000, so the Braves may deal from pitching depth for a bat. Here are the rest of Rosenthal's rumors:

  • The Marlins are actively seeking relief help.
  • Rosenthal says the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers – yes, the Brewers – could be interested in Cliff Lee this summer. The Brewers could provide the Mariners with a hitter like Corey Hart or Mat Gamel and trade Lee to a third team for younger pitchers.
  • The Cubs would love to deal Kosuke Fukudome, but he will earn more than $21MMM between now and the end of 2011, so trading him will not be easy. Click here for more from Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi on Fukudome's availability.
  • Red Sox GM Theo Epstein will probably look to acquire a reliever this summer.

The Trade Market For Kosuke Fukudome And Ryan Theriot

10:28pm: Morosi and Ken Rosenthal provided a Fukudome update on the FOX Sports MLB Buzz page.  They note that the Nationals are on Fukudome's no-trade list, but the Yankees and Red Sox aren't.  New York and Boston aren't known to have interest in Fukudome, though both teams have some need for an outfielder.  

Morosi and Rosenthal report that the Padres were interested in Fukudome when he originally came to the majors from Japan, though that was when Kevin Towers was the team's general manager.  The Padres could use outfield help but couldn't pick up Fukudome unless the Cubs paid most of his salary.

6:09pm: Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com looked at the fortunes of the Windy City's two clubs following their weekend interleague series, and headlined his piece by stating that the Cubs should be looking to deal rightfielder Kosuke Fukudome and infielder Ryan Theriot.

There's little question the Cubs would love to get Fukudome's hefty contract ($13.5MM for 2011 and a little under $8MM remaining for this season) off the books, especially given the club's desire to give more playing time to youngster Tyler Colvin.  Both Colvin and Fukudome are left-handed hitters so they can't really be effectively platooned, and obviously Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd are in no danger of losing their starting jobs.

Fukudome's slash line for the season is .276/.370/.453, generated in large part by a 1.084 OPS in April.  Since Fukudome's pattern over his first two major league seasons has been to start strong and then tail off into the summer, it seems as if the same is happening in 2010.

Given Fukudome's salary and no-trade clause that reportedly covers 15 teams, Morosi suggests that Chicago's best option is to deal Fukudome for another player with a bad contract of a similar length (here's the list of potential free agents after the 2011 season).  Of course, if the Cubs are willing to pay a large portion of Fukudome's salary, then that widens the trade market considerably.  Washington apparently showed some interest in Fukudome back in April and he could provide some stability for the Nats' outfield.  Their current RF platoon of Roger Bernadina and Mike Morse seems to be working well at the moment and obviously comes at a much lower price tag than Fukudome, even if the Cubs were to foot most of the bill.

As for Theriot, Morosi hasn't heard any shortstop-needy teams sniffing around, though he cites Detroit, Minnesota, Oakland and San Diego as contenders who could use some help at the position.  According to Fangraphs, Theriot provides better defensive help at second base (a 15.5 UZR/150) than he does at short (1.4 UZR/150) based on his career numbers.  Given the Mets' problems at second with the currently-injured Luis Castillo, Theriot could be a nice pickup for them.  He is controllable through 2012 and is making a reasonable $2.6MM salary this season.