Question: Saw recently the Angels trying to trade Haren and/or Santana ahead of option deadline day. Any chance the Cubs take a shot with either? Options not cheap but if bounce back could make qualifying offer after season and get pick at worst.
Bruce Levine: I know the Cubs have had conversations with the Angels, but not sure which players they talked about. The Angels have had interest in Carlos Marmol.
Question: Darwin Barney's trade value is at an all time high, possible Gold Glove, capable of playing short stop, and he's cost controlled. Any chance the Cubs deal him this winter for prospects?
Bruce Levine: I would not be shocked if that happened. I think Barney is the missing piece for a lot of contending teams like the Tigers. Personally, he has good leadership qualities. That's something that would make me hesitate before trading him. (During Talkin' Baseball (ESPN 1000) last Saturday, Levine discussed whether or not the Cubs would deal Barney to Detroit for a young pitcher like Drew Smyly.)
Question: The Phillies just declined Placido Polanco's option. Do you see the the Cubs trying to sign him to a one or two year deal? Sure he's injury prone and 37, but when he's healthy he's still a good contact hitter. He's also won numerous gold gloves and could help mentor Vitters and Valbuena.
Bruce Levine: As long as he has a movable contract, that type of professional player is one the Cubs would consider. He can have an impact early in the year for the team and still bring them back something for the future at the trade deadline. Those types of players will be considered by this management.
Question: If the Cubs are only 3 or 4 years away from something do you get in on Greinke or Hamilton? They are going to demand long term deals, and you might actually be ready at some point during the life of those deals.
Bruce Levine: You'd be wasting money on them over the next 2-3 years and projecting their production and their health would be difficult after that. Neither fit into what the Cubs have in mind.
Question: Where do you see the Cubs payroll at the beginning of the season?
Bruce Levine: Right now their obligation is around $60 million. My guess is they will go up to $90-$100 million. This is just to be competitive with short-term free agents.
Question: Looking into your crystal ball, do you think Dale Sveum will be managing the next playoff team on the North Side?
Bruce Levine: I believe Dale is an organization person. And I believe Epstein and Hoyer are trying to identify coaches and managers through all levels of the organization. As a comparison, look at Tom Kelly's record with the Twins when he managed there. He won World Series titles in '87 and '91, but also had 3 or 4 last-place finishes during that time. That would be the definition of an organization manager -- somebody who is a part of the fabric of the team.