Question: What's your over/under for how many of the four signed years Edwin Jackson is with the Cubs, and why?
Bruce Levine: This is getting the chat room off to the right start. Because whether he has a limited no-trade or not, Jackson is good for the Cubs now and a movable commodity for the future. Right now he is their only proven, legitimate 200-innings pitcher. And that is the reason he might be around for a couple years.
Question: Any news on a Soriano trade with the Phillies?
Bruce Levine: That is a tremendously old rumor. They had conversations about Soriano six weeks ago and nothing came of it.
Question: Is Navarro going to be the everyday catcher or a platoon job between the winner of Clevenger and Cassitllo ?
Bruce Levine: From all that I can gather, Castillo and Navarro will be the catching tandem. At age 28, Navarro has a chance to catch as many or more games than Castillo.
Question: Do you expect to see any more notable transactions before the season for either team?
Bruce Levine: If the Cubs can find viable suitors for Marmol and Soriano, those moves will be made.
Question: When do you think the list of Cubs Convention attendees will be announced? Thanks in advance and thanks for all your great work year-round!
Bruce Levine: First of all, thank you for the recognition. I'll check and try to get a list of attendees after the chat session on my Twitter account: @ESPNBruceLevine
Question: Are you going to be at the Cubs Convention?
Bruce Levine: Absolutely. I think I've missed one since 1985. I'll be there with bells on.
Question: Would you say Samardzija has a chance for 200 k's, 15 wins, and sub 3.20 era this year? He made good strides last season and could be a sleeper in fantasy this year.
Bruce Levine: Put it this way: a couple of scouts that I'm very friendly with told me Samardzija was the most improved pitcher from April to September that they saw in 2012. As usual, Jeff has been in Arizona since November, preparing for the 2013 season. I don't see any reason why he can't take the next step up and approach those numbers.
Question: Is there any possibility of a trade for Porcello? Perhaps a package of Marmol and some prospects? I think this would be a great fit and am surprised it hasn't been discussed more.
Bruce Levine: I think both names make sense. The Tigers are going to use an unproven young pitcher to close. Marmol would be a strong safety gap for the Tigers, even at $10 million per year. The Cubs need as many young pitchers that can average at least six innings per start that they can get their hands on.
Question: Hi Bruce, I'm a little surprised at how much information is leaking out from the Cubs camp (free agent signings, etc) before anything happens. Do you know if they are concerned about this and if so are they trying to do anything about it? The Sox do a much better job of flying under the radar at this point.
Bruce Levine: I don't think they let out any information they don't want out. Both Epstein and Hoyer are accessible and some information that gets out comes from the agents rather than the Cubs. That's particularly true when it comes to free agent signings. The White Sox have always been a little bit closer to the vest when it comes to information getting out.
Question: I love all this talk of trading Castro and top guys like Baez for up and down stars like Upton. What is the point of trading our super star and/or our top prospect for an inconsistent guy like Upton, when we already get more value out Castro then we would Upton? Aren't we trying to rebuild with prospects around young guys like Castro and Rizzo? Seems to me it's one step forward, two steps back.
Bruce Levine: Trading for Upton is just a rumor at this point. As you say, the Cubs don't have the inventory to trade for another young, would-be superstar. Trading Baez or Castro would set back the Cubs plans for competing in 2014 & 2015.
Question: Do you think that the Cubs will explore a deal for Giancarlo Stanton and if so do you think they have the pieces to make it happen
Bruce Levine: Yes and no. The Cubs front office will be proactive in trying to procure all young talent, but what exactly would the Cubs have to give up to get Stanton. It's the same conversation we had about Upton. How many young players would you have to give up in order to get one superstar player back? The Cubs are not in a position to acquire Stanton without backing up their plan for competing.
Question: Is there a offer on the table for Bourn? Cubs just waiting him out?
Bruce Levine: I wrote about six weeks ago that Bourn's agent Scott Boras and the Cubs had conversations about him. If a long-term deal is not presented to Bourn by other teams, then it's possible he could sign a one-year deal with just about anybody, including the Cubs and White Sox. The White Sox would have to go way over budget to sign Bourn, even if just for the one year. The Cubs have plenty of flexibility in their payroll structure.
Question: Better chance of happening before Opening day: Soriano traded or Garza to Texas for Olt and add ons?
Bruce Levine: The Cubs are open to any deal that makes them better. If they can add a guy like Olt and a young pitcher or two, they certainly would consider a trade to the Rangers. The Rangers have been one of the more proactive teams in trying to trade for Garza over the last few seasons. After missing out on Greinke, they need to make a statement at some point with their rotation. Cubs have been trying to move Soriano since December, 2011. Remember, Soriano has complete 10 & 5 rights, so he can veto a trade to the west coast, where he does not want to play. All that said, Soriano turned down a chance to get a championship ring by saying no to a deal with the Giants. So my guess is that Garza -- if healthy -- will be the first to go.
Question: Hi Bruce, with the plethora of starters the cubs now have, I'm assuming Matt Garza will be shopped most likely during spring training. If the cubs do move garza though will they look to get players for the big league roster or stick with just prospects?
Bruce Levine: I think they would like to be able to combine those. If they can get pitching or center field help, or a third baseman for the future, they would take on any young player that they consider close. That would not deter them from taking a player that already has major league experience.
Question: I love that Edwin Jackson does not have a no-trade clause. Will Theo & Co. do that with higher priced free agents in the future? Will that stop anyone from signing here?
Bruce Levine: That's pretty much been Epstein's modus operandi during his career as a front office executive. The Red Sox have that to thank for the ability to trade Crawford, Gonzalez and Beckett last summer. That type of flexibility is a key component to a team being able to change their philosophies from year to year. As to losing certain players, I think that's also a realsitic chance.
Question: Any word on the stand-still in negotiations with the City of Chicago for renovating Wrigley? Will Rahm warm back up to the Ricketts now that his guy won the election?
Bruce Levine: That's a good question. You would hope that time heals all wounds. Eventually Emanuel will want more revenue for the city of Chicago. And if he envisions giving the Cubs some tax breaks as a way to make millions for the city, he will eventually get around to it. There is still no love lost between Emanuel and Joe Ricketts, patriarch of the Ricketts family.
Question: Which of the Cubs prospects is the closest to joining the team at some point this season?
Bruce Levine: I'd still have to say Brett Jackson. If his new swing is successful the first few months at AAA, I believe the Cubs will call him up and put him in either right or center field. Right now the Cubs' outfield is very much a stopgap situation.
Question: Do you see the Cubs signing a RF? If so, what are the odds they sign a proven guy?
Bruce Levine: They need a right-handed bat at this point for the outfield. With Schierholz and DeJesus they are a bit left-handed heavy. I like Scott Hairston for them. But that's just me talking, no information to that effect.
Question: Earlier on MLB network they discussed a possible trade to boston involving soriano brett jackson for jacoby ellsbury...do you think a deal like that would ever happen?
Bruce Levine: Have not heard anything to that effect.
Question: Your opinion. If any...who should be moved to an outfield position . Vitters, Lake, Castro, Baez?
Bruce Levine: Too early to move Baez. Should be the right time to consider Lake and Vitters. I'm told that Baez will play shortstop everyday this summer, wherever he plays. Vitters seems too hard to figure out as to where he should play. For now he'll start at third in AAA.
Question: Is it realistic to believe that Ian Stewart will have a breakout year coming off his wrist injury? I have a hunch that a fully healed Stewart will be the surprise of 2013 for the Cubbies.
Bruce Levine: That would be a nice thing to have happen. He's coming off two injury plagued seasons, and he spent most of 2011 rehabbing injuries and in the minors. He certainly has big time power potential, having hit 25 home runs four years ago.
Question: Is it reasonable to think the Cubs could package Soriano in a deal with Garza if Garza is traded? Do you find it very likely?
Bruce Levine: I don't see both where both fit together in particular. The Rangers can use more offense, but picking up Soriano's contract might be more than they want to do.