Coming off a little Christmas-New Year's vacation to get caught up on one rumor and its possible aftermath:
The Cubs would love nothing better than to trade right-handed pitcher Jason Marquis and most (if not all) of his $9.875 contract for 2009. Breathless reports coming out of various ESPN outlets today have a deal almost done that would sent Marquis to the Colorado Rockies for reliever Luis Vizcaino. That would free up money, ostensibly for switch-hitting outfielder Milton Bradley, the Cubs' top position-player target for several weeks. GM Jim Hendry may have some sort of announcement Wednesday, but it's not expected to be Marquis or Bradley. A signing of Bradley appears to be getting closer but still has several hurdles to clear.
I'm told the Marquis deal is "possible," but that it's not yet close. I'm also told it's more in the Rockies' hands than the Cubs' right now. I'd look for something next week, if this indeed is going to happen. The Cubs never leak rumors like this, so either this is coming from the Rockies, or Marquis' agents are telling this story to reporters they deem friendly.
My guys at MLB Trade rumors are online with some particulars, and they link to a story of Vizcaino being arrested and accused of a DUI this past fall:
Getting rid of Marquis is more important than the Cubs than is getting Vizcaino, whom they may or may not even keep next year. GM Jim Hendry needs to free up payroll space to add Bradley. After two years of spending with unprecedented abandon, Hendry and the Cubs have to watch every dollar they shell out this winter. Vizcaino, 34, will make $3.5 million in 2009 with an option for $4 mil in 2010 or a $500,000 buyout. He was 1-2 with a 5.28 ERA this year for the Rox, with a rather feverish WHIP (walks plus hits per one inning pitched) of 1.46. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Cubs moved him in another deal if they get him for Marquis.
I've been asked about free-agent outfielder Adam Dunn. Yes, he'd look good in the Cubs' lineup as an offensive force, but manager Lou Piniella would be hard pressed to find a spot for Dunn in the field. I don't see this one happening.
Talk with you guys after the first of the new year. Have a safe one.