The speculation surrounding the decision of James Shields has reached a fevered pitch, and he is expected to make said decision before the end of the day today (Per reports on the twitter). In the past few days the Cubs have entered the fray as being one of the teams that Shields is considering, along with the Padres, who seem to be the favorite. Here’s the thing about Shields, do the Cubs actually want him, and does he make them better?
Let’s break down some of the factors here.
$ MONEY $ –
James Shields wants to get paid. At the onset of free agency he saw Jon Lester get a boat load of cash from the Cubs, and Max Scherzer was weighing deals North of $200M before signing one with the Nationals. Surely, Shields is not worth near that much, but when that kind of money is being thrown at pitchers, you become more desirable, in your own mind and your agents. Then came the report from Ken Rosenthal that Shields turned down a deal for 5 years worth $110M, say what? One, I don’t think Shields would be foolish enough to turn that kind of a deal down, and two, I don’t think that deal ever existed. A report that came out yesterday confirmed just that, there was no mythical $100M+ deal on the table for Shields, well, it’s from Bob Nightengale so take that for what it’s worth. There are a myriad of reasons that Shield remains unsigned with under two weeks before camps open, money is one of the reasons why. The other one could be that he does have draft pick compensation tied to him, meaning any team that signs Shields before June 8th will have to forfeit a draft pick because Shields was given a qualifying offer by the Padres, that’s important but not something that would kill a deal.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION –
James Shields is from Newhall, CA which is just a scant 150 miles North of San Diego, that intrigues James. The last few days have shed light on the narrative that Shields wants to be on the West Coast close to his hometown, that would obviously favor the Padres, I mean I’m no Geography major, but I can use Google maps. The question is, how much does that matter to Shields? He has spent his whole career doing the exact opposite as he has pitched for Tampa Bay, and Kansas City. Not like he had a choice there I guess, he was drafted by the Rays and was traded to the Royals, but he does have the decision now.
THE MADDON FACTOR –
It’s real. I don’t put too much weight in things like this, but it’s clear that players around the league want to play for Joe Maddon. Shields has already played for Maddon in Tampa Bay, and has said that he would like to do it again. As late as last evening, Julie DiCaro said that her sources (SOURCES!)
have said that the Cubs are still in on Shields, and that Maddon and Lester have been on the phone with Shields. I presume that these phone calls weren’t only about playing for the Cubs, but where the best pizza and beer is at.
So, is James Shields good enough? Yes, he is a very good pitcher that has been very successful at the major league level, even earning the moniker “Big Game James.” However I’m not sold on Shields but think he does make the Cubs better immediately to the tune of maybe 3-5 wins above replacement. That kind of impact is not worth those kind of dollars, or years for that matter. To be clear, I have no issue with the Cubs spending that kind of money, they have plenty of it. My issue lies more with the fact that I do not think that Shields is worth that money, or commitment, either way it won’t handcuff Cubs moving forward. When it’s all said and done I think that Shields signs a 4 year deal worth around $65-$70 million, not with the Cubs. The situation is drawn out, but fluid, so things can change quickly.
The one common news story this off-season involving the Cubs, besides Clark, and their inactivity, has been their interest in Masahiro Tanaka. We heard all along that once/if Tanaka was posted the Cubs would be going hard after him, and as the Friday signing deadline looms we are seeing just how bad they want him.
Bruce Levine tweeted out earlier that it sounds like the Cubs have submitted the highest bid for Tanaka, both in terms of years and dollars. Rumors were swirling yesterday that the Diamondacks had offered 6 years and $120 million, that doesn’t include the $20 million posting fee. So, expect the Cubs to come in well North of that, and there is good reason why, they aren’t good. Jon Morosi has hinted at Tanaka wanting to come to Major League Baseball and pitch for a winner, the Cubs aren’t that right now so they have to overpay, and sell Tanaka on the idea of winning down the road. Now if the Cubs can sway Tanaka to the North Side then I think that winning as a ball club gets much closer, he accelerates things for sure. Also, the Cubs are in a position where they can spend the money and not have it considered to be a bad deal, it doesn’t really hurt them either way, there is barely any money invested in this team right now.
In regards to the Friday (1/24/14) deadline; David Kaplan suggests that any deal with Tanaka will be done no later than Wednesday (1/22/14) in order for additional physicals/etc to be performed. So there is a real chance that we see a conclusion, good or bad, tomorrow or Wednesday, stay tuned, I’m optimistic.
I’m sure like me, all of you have been waiting on pins and needles to see what the next Cubs move or rumor would be coming from this week’s Winter Meetings. Well thanks to Bruce Levine we have it, the Cubs and Ryan Dempster’s agent have discussed a possible return to the Cubs. If you are done laughing I will continue, yes Ryan Dempster, the same Ryan Dempster that was “blindsided” by a trade that would have brought Randall Delgado to the Cubs at last seasons trade deadline, I hope he knows his agent is talking to the Cubs. Given everything that happened last year would you as a fan want Dempster back? If the initial deal last year at the trade deadline went through I’m sure that answer would be a resounding yes, but as it was clear Dempster was going to drag any possible deal right up to the deadline Cubs fans grew tired of his act, and him.
So is this really possible? Yes, it is, in fact the Cubs need pitching depth even with their recent signings of the two Scott’s, Baker and Feldman. The surprise is that it is Dempster, and per Levine the Cubs and Dempster’s agent have discussed money and length of contract but no offer has been made. Up until this evening the Brewers and Royals have shown the most interest in Dempster, with Dempster already turning down a 2 year $26MM offer from the Royals because he wants a third year. The door seems like it’s open for the Cubs to make a play here but Levine cautions that there is a sticking point….wait for it… Levine sees a no-trade as a potential obstacle to Dempster returning to the Cubs. You can’t make this up! Ah Dempster, the lovable jokester, my favorite joke was last year at the deadline, but it seems as though he’s shooting for a new high, or low with this one. More as it comes.
Report of Cubs-Dempster talks grossly misrepresents their nature. Negotiations not happening. Reunion implausible. #courtesy
Wittenmyer says not so fast to Levine’s report, I would tend to side with Gordon on this one.
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Although nothing has been confirmed by the Cubs, a reliable source miCubs has reported that both Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are getting called up for the series finale in LA today. We will keep you updated once more is known.
UPDATE 1: Carrie Muskat confirms that both Vitters and Jackson have been called up. Patrick Mooney has also confirmed both promoted.
UPDATE 2: Jeff Baker has been traded to the Detroit Tigers and Tony Campana has been sent to Iowa to make room for Vitters and Jackson.
CONFIRMED: Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson are in Los Angeles for the Cubs, they have been called up! We will have more throughout the day.
-Mark & George
I mentioned it in the game recap yesterday, but all signs are pointing to Ryan Dempster being traded before his next start. Buster Olney offered up a guess on Twitter today when asked if Ryan Dempster would make his next start in a Cubs uniform, his guess? No. Now Dempster might be traded in the next couple of days, but remember, Dempster has to agree to any deal that the Cubs agree to. So technically, Dempster could allow this to go on for as long as HE wants to, I don’t think he would do that to the Cubs or to the team that acquires him. Olney also mentioned that the Cubs are trying to deal Dempster as soon as possible so that they do not influence the trade market of fellow starter Matt Garza.
So where will Dempster go? It’s anyone’s guess right now as it seems the number of teams increases with each start Dempster makes. Bruce Levine is reporting that up to ten teams are in hot pursuit of Dempster, some more so than others obviously. Levine suggests that some of the teams are as follows, in no particular order, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Atlanta Braves.
Another name that is starting to gain a head of steam in the trade chatter is Alfonso Soriano. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports has suggested that Soriano would be a fit for the offensively challenged Tampa Bay Rays. That is of course if the Cubs pickup $44 of the $46 million remaining on Soriano’s deal as one rival scout was quoted as saying.
Jed Hoyer understands that a number of Cubs players are going to be dealt, but he also understands that the fans want a quality product, “That’s where you sort of have to have that long view to make those moves,” Hoyer said. “But that’s why being in that position isn’t one you want to be in very often. You feel like, yes, you can make improvements for the long-term but there is a reason there are teams calling, because there are good players. I think that is never a good feeling.”
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Today’s hot, well tepid, rumor of the day is a report out of Boston saying that the Cubs are interested in Ryan Sweeney. Per BostonHerald.com writer Michael Silverman the Red Sox and Cubs have been discussing a deal that would bring Garza or Dempster to Boston in exchange for Ryan Sweeney and other players.
“The Cubs are believed to be listening to offers for two of their starting pitchers: Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster. Sweeney would have to be part of a much larger package if either of those pitchers, particularly Garza, went to the Red Sox. . . .”
It’s an odd name to pop up in this discussion given the fact that the Cubs goal is to stock the system with prospects, specifically pitchers in any deal involving Dempster or Garza, and Sweeney is not a pitcher and not a prospect per say at 27 years old. Maybe Theo and Jed see something, or maybe they are targeting a 2013 outfielder. It could make sense, take it for what it’s worth, it’s just the start of a crazy month of rumors.
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