The General Manager meetings start this week in Milwaukee. While these meetings are not nearly as recognized as the meetings that occur in early December, the discussion taking place this week will likely set the tone for the moves to be made at the later meetings. Up to this point, President of Basbeall Operations Theo Epstein, General Manager Jed Hoyer, and Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod have spent most of their time interviewing prospective managers. But Hoyer did admit this past week, that he has has conversations with other general managers regarding possible trades and finding teams that the Cubs match up well with.
Those discussions will likely intensfy this week. As general managers and agents will all be operating under the same roof. The Cubs’ front office team is expected to be active during these meetings. Epstein is scheduled to meet with Boston Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington in an effort to resolve the lenght compensation conflict, and Hoyer will likely meet with other general managers and represenatives for free agents in hopes of setting up some deals to be completed at a later date. There is a rumor going around that Hoyer is expected to meet with Prince Fielder‘s represantives at some point this week.
Another discussion that is likely to occur at the general manager’s meetings this week is one that involves San Diego Padres’ third baseman Chase Headley.
The San Diego Padres are believed to be willing to trade Headley. Though recent reports have suggested that the Padres’ won’t just give Headley up and call it a day. This is basic posture for a team that puts a player on the trade market. Regardless of how good of a player Headley is, his value would instantly drop if the Padres’ told teams that he is exclusively on the trading block. By saying that the team is not inclined to trade Headley, Padres’ General Manager Josh Byrnes is ensuring that the Headley will net a valuable return.
At 27 years old, Headley is entering what are believed to be the prime seasons of a baseball player. If 2011 was any indicator, Headley is trending up. In 113 games last season with the Padres, Headley hit .289/.374/.399/.773 in 381 at bats. On the surface, Headley may not stand out to the common baseball fan. But once you look deeper into Headley’s stats, you would see that the third baseman is a victim of playing half of his games in what is likely the most “Pitcher Friendly” park that is PETCO Park. On the road last season, Headley hit .330/.399/.465/.864 with 3 of his 4 home runs. As opposed to when he was playing at PETCO Park, as Headley hit .243/.348/.326/.674. With his home/road splits being the greatest piece of evidence, Headley is a better offensive player than his total numbers give him credit for. In addition, Headley is considered as an above-average defensive third baseman.
Enter the Chicago Cubs. Epstein and Hoyer have all but confirmed that Aramis Ramirez will not be back with the Cubs next season, thus leaving the third base position vacant. The Cubs also do not have a third baseman lined up to fill the shoes of Ramirez. Josh Vitters may still be a season away, and when he does arrive at the major league level, there is a chance it could be as a first baseman. There also has been the notion that shortstop Starlin Castro could slide over to the third base position, but that does not seem to be a likely scenario for the Cubs at this point. D.J. LeMahieu and/or Ryan Flaherty are also two options that could be in the mix for the third base position next season.
But if the Cubs’ 2012 starting third baseman is not currently with organization, there is good chance it could be Headley. Behind Ramirez, the third base free agent market may be the weakest of any other position. Meaning that the Cubs will likely to take to the trade route to acquire their next third baseman. What was the job that Hoyer held before becoming the Cubs’ general manager? That’s right, he was the general manager of the Padres. Hoyer should already have the background on what type of a player Headley is, and the Cubs’ general manager should have a good assessment of Headley’s trade value. Not to mention that the familiarity betweeen Epstein, Hoyer, and Byrnes will likely make for less extensive trade negotiations between the two teams.
If Headley is going to be traded this winter, it would seem inevitable that the Cubs will get involved and may be one of the front-runners to land the third baseman.