INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The names are going to be passed around the Hyatt Regency lobby, hallways and hotel bar and blasted out from here onto Twitter.
Justin Upton? Chase Headley? Felix Hernandez? Dont look for the Cubs to be a Mystery Team.
As expected, Day 1 of the general manager meetings brought way more speculation than actual news. But as the trade rumors heat up, the Cubs will probably be sitting on the sidelines.
The Cubs arent looking to package prospects to get a difference-maker, like they once did for Matt Garza. They missed an opportunity when the Carlos Marmol-for-Dan Haren deal with the Los Angeles Angels collapsed late last week. They dont have a surplus of talent in one particular area. They dont expect to be part of any blockbusters.
Kaplan: Medical concerns killed Marmol-Haren deal with Angels
Well try to identify possible trade fits, team president Theo Epstein said Wednesday. But I dont think its the type of offseason where we have potential fits with 25 of the 29 other clubs. Well pursue everything, but realistically I think our fits might be narrower this year. Well try to use that as a strength, turn it into an advantage and focus on the free-agent market.
Were going to have a pretty well-defined trade market really quickly, because we dont have unlimited assets to deal. We dont necessarily have redundancies at positions in the big leagues or at the upper levels.
The Cubs could have interest again in Haren if he somehow fell to them at their price, but they are looking at other options to fill the two spots in their rotation.
Trying to stamp out the injury speculation, Harens agent, Greg Landry, told reporters that his client is healthy after going on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a back issue last season. Haren felt good enough to make 30 starts for the Angels, who bought him out for 3.5 million rather than pick up a 15.5 million option.
To close the Haren deal, the Cubs were said to be ready to chip in around 3-plus million, or less than half of Marmols 9.8 million salary in the final year of his contract. They viewed Haren as a more attractive trade chip if the 2013 season goes south.
Marmol has limited no-trade protection and told at least one outlet back home in the Dominican Republic that he had agreed to go to Anaheim. That caught fire on Twitter while the Angels faced last Fridays deadline to make a decision on Haren.
We never had a done deal, general manager Jed Hoyer said. To me, thats every part of the deal is done -- you send out a press release and obviously we never got to that point.
With Carlos, we got to the point where we were close enough and we needed to go to him and ask if hed waive his no-trade to the Angels. Once we involved the player, it leaked out and then everyone ran with it like it was a done deal. It was unfortunate. It was a miscommunication.
Carlos just ran with it that he had been traded, even though the deal wasnt complete. I guess thats one of the negatives of no-trade clauses. You start involving external entities when youre trying to finalize a trade and thats not the best thing in the world for keeping stuff quiet.
The Cubs have spoken with Marmol and will be better prepared the next time they bring something to their closer.
I think if I had to word it (again), it would be a little different, Hoyer said. Some of that blame might be ours, that we should have made it more clear to him: Hey, listen, hold tight, this is a theoretical. Would you do this? As opposed to: Its a done deal. So maybe we deserve some blame for that.
Thats what sort of started The Frenzy.
Marmol has shown signs of being a dominant closer again (1.52 ERA, 12-for-13 in save chances after the All-Star break). He regained a feel for his slider and trusted his fastball, which ticked back up to 94 mph.
But Marmol is still a short-term asset on a team looking at roughly a five-year window. So is Garza, though the Cubs wouldnt even consider trading him until he proves his right elbow is healthy.
Look for the Cubs to load up on some mid-range free agents, signing two starting pitchers and reconstructing their bullpen, trying to put a decent product on the field and avoid becoming big sellers again at the next trade deadline.