The Cubs have resigned starting pitcher Ryan Dempster for 4 years and 52 million. Sorry I didn’t post about it earlier; I was busy yesterday. Solid move for the Cubs. This is about the amount I figured he would get. Demp getting 14, 15, 16, 17 million per year would be kind of stupid since he had only one great year. Still, the 52 million is only 12 million more than what Kyle Lohse got, even though Dempster has much more upside. The Cardinals expect Lohse to be a guy with an ERA around 4.00 every year. Dempster could do what he did last year, or worst case scenerio he is a guy with an ERA in the 3.75 to 4.00 range. This was overall just a good move for the Cubs as they bring back a clubhouse leader, and a big part of their team for a fair if not below market price. Now that his contract is in the books, the Cubs will focus only on a right fielder. Bobby Abreu remains the most likely target, but infielders Rafael Furcal and Brian Roberts remain possibilities. In these cases Mark DeRosa would move to right field and Ryan Theriot might move to second base. Neither aquisition seems likely, though, because the Cubs are running short on money and prospects. If Abreu cannot be signed, Raul Ibanez could become the backup plan. They would have to be willing to sacrifice a lot of defense, though. I think that in the end, Abreu will be with the Cubs and they will be even better than they were in 2008. Hopefully, next year is their year.
The Braves have 45 million to spend in an attempt to fix the team that won only a mere 72 games last year. Their main needs: starting pitching and outfield help. Earlier, I wrote that the Braves are out of the Jake Peavy market. Since that is over, I expect them to look toward free agency to fill their holes. They won’t go after CC Sabathia, but Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, and AJ Burnett are good options. Bigger market teams like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Cubs will be in on these guys, but the Braves can spend more than all of them. (if the Yankees sign Sabathia first) They might even decide to pursue two of the three. The goal here seems to be respectable in ’09, but truly competing for a world series in ’10. Both Burnett and Lowe will probably get deals in the 4 year, 64 million range. Burnett already has an offer; the Blue Jays want him back for 4 years, 54 million. That won’t get it done. Dempster seems likely to stick with the Cubs, but then again I’m not sure if they’ll go all in. If the Braves offered 64 million, they’d probably get him. The Cubs don’t feel they have to overpay because they don’t have as big of a need at starting pitcher. In the end, I think Dempster gets a bigger offer but accepts the Cubs’ cheaper one. The Yankees could go crazy and offer Burnett up to 5 years, 80 million. They would definatly get him for that amount. Lowe is more likely, because the Yanks will be out of the bidding by then. The Red Sox might be tough to compete against because they are Lowe’s prefered destination. Hopefully for the Braves sake, the Red Sox don’t get involved. If the Mets sign Francisco Rodriguez, they won’t be able to offer the amount other teams could. They aren’t that big of a factor. The Braves could just pursue a cheaper free agent if they can’t get two top-of-the-rotation starters. Jon Garland is an option; so is Oliver Perez.
If the Braves don’t add two starters, they could turn to outfield help. Pat Burrell is an option if they can afford him. Raul Ibanez might make more sense. If they really want to spend, Adam Dunn is possible. Bobby Abreu might be looked into. Through trade, Jermane Dye and Magglio Ordonez are options if they are avialable. Overall, it looks like the Braves will be a solid team next year, but 2010 is the time where they will be really good because their prospects will be in the majors, and Tim Hudson would be back from injury.
The Dodgers are up for some major spending this offseason. They have 50 million to spend and have many needs. They need to adress the rotaion, resign Manny Ramirez, find out what to do at shortstop and third base, and possibly add a second baseman. 50 million seems like a lot, but when you add it up, they are very limited in trying to fill all of their holes with good players. Manny will cost at least 20 million per year, Rafael Furcal might take 15 million per to convince him to resign, and that leaves only 15 million to sign a starter and a third baseman. Casey Blake could return for 8 million, and then a cheap starting pitcher could be signed. Or they could go after a better starter like Derek Lowe, Ben Sheets, or Ryan Dempster. They would have to settle with a cheap third baseman in this scenerio. Nomar Garciaparra might be resigned to play third. If they are willing to either let Manny leave or to abandon other needs, CC Sabathia could enter the mix. He’s from LA and would be willing to sign for 120 million to go to the west coast. With Manny and CC going to the Dodgers, the remaining 10 million could be used to resign Casey Blake. Then give the shorstop job to Chin-Lung Hu. I could see this scenerio, but I find it unlikely. This is going to be a very important offseason for the Dodgers.
Lou Pinella says that he will move Kosuke Fukudome to center field next year; he’ll platoon with Reed Johnson. This implies many things. Jim Edmonds won’t be back, Felix Pie will again ride the bench, and the Cubs are in the market for a powerful, right field, lefty bat. They are expected to have about 20 million to spend in the offseason. That might not be enough to resign Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster as well as a big lefty bat. The Cubs might be doing some serious backloading again. If they can squeeze him in, then Bobby Abreu would make a ton of sense. If Brian Giles would accept a trade to the Cubs, they would love him at only 9 million on a one year deal. Jason Marquis will have to be moved to clear salary. I could see them sign Abreu, Dempster, and Wood if they backload each deal and trade Marquis. Another idea: let Wood walk. They could then turn Carlos Marmol into the closer. After that, they might be able to trade Felix Pie, Ronny Cedeno, and Jason Marquis to the Royals for Ron Mahay. The Royals are adding a great center field prospect in exchange for taking on Marquis salary and Mahay. Have Mahay set-up for Marmol. This idea could work too. These are just some random ideas for the Cubs.
There have been rumors going around that the Cubs will consider trading Derrek Lee this offseason. Their reasoning is that it would open up more money to spend on a left handed bat. For example: The Cubs trade Lee to the Giants for Randy Winn and salary. Then they sign Adam Dunn to a big deal and tell him to play first base. They’d add power with Dunn and Winn, but would lose a lot of defense by subtracting Lee and moving Kosuke Fukudome to the bench. I think it would be an expensive way to get maybe an extra 1-2 wins. When you win your division by 8 games and the team 8 games behind you is losing their top two pitchers, 1-2 games doesn’t mean much. Plus the’re ruining the club house chemistry that was so good all year long by trading one of the leaders, Lee. If I was Jim Hendry, I would just try to resign Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood. Use the money on those guys, while backloading contracts. Trade Jason Marquis and all of the salary possible. Move Jeff Samardzija to the rotation, sign a middle reliever to replace him in the ‘pen, and then explore a trade for Randy Winn or Brian Giles. I would definatly not trade Derrek Lee.
It has been stated that the Cubs would like to add another left-handed bat to their lineup. There are several positions I could see this bat coming from if they aren’t afraid to bench Kosuke Fukudome or move him to center field. First of all, there are the never dying Brian Roberts rumors. I don’t think they’ll have enough to get him without Sean Gallagher, whom got traded to the A’s in the Rich Harden deal. Maybe Sean Marshall, Donald Veal, Jose Ceda, Ronny Cedeno, and Mike Fontenot could do the trick. I wouldn’t do that if I was the Cubs or the Oriols, though. They could pursue Rafeal Furcal, just like they did back in 2006. Then move Ryan Theriot to second base, Mark DeRosa to right, and Kosuke Fukudome to center. If that doesn’t work, then go after Bobby Abreu. He brings a solid OBP to the Cubs. If they strike-out on him, they could try to maneuver a trade for Brian Giles. Ronny Cedeno and Jose Ceda could interest the Padres, who once had Ceda on their team. Milton Bradley could be signed if they want to spend some serious dough. If they’re not horrified about the idea of Raul Ibanez’s defense in right field, (which I am) then why not go after him? I don’t really like any of these ideas, because it would just keep the payroll going up, up, up. I’d rather have them lock up Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood, sign a middle reliever, move Jeff Samardzija to the rotation, and trade Jason Marquis. Also, give the center field job to Felix Pie and platoon Fukudome with Reed Johnson. Rich Harden could be signed to a long term deal as well. I think people are making too big of a deal out of three October games.
The Cardinals are on the verge of signing Kyle Lohse. When I heard about that, I was happy for them. But when I heard about the amount of money and years, I changed my mind. It says Lohse will be signed for the 4 years, 48 million that Carlos Silva got. I think it’s a bad deal for the Cards. This free agent market is much deeper than last years, so there is less of a demand. Even though there was a big need, that deal still made zero sense for the Mariners. It also sets the bar for all the better free agents. Ryan Dempster, Jon Garland, and Oliver Perez should all be paid more than Kyle Lohse. I’m not sure some of them should get over 48 million, however. This might be a crazy offseason if the ninth best free agent starting pitcher gets paid 4 years, 48 million.