Hoyer: 'Super-charged offseason ... is overstated'

CHICAGO -- With rumors already swirling that the Chicago Cubs are interested in some of the game’s biggest free agents, general manager Jed Hoyer explained Friday where some of that rhetoric is coming from.

“We’re literally linked to every free agent it seems like,” Hoyer said on a conference call with reporters. “Some of that is agent driven. They’re trying to connect us to everyone because they realize we do have some payroll flexibility. We said all along that if the right things line up we can have an active offseason.”

That last statement hedges Hoyer’s bets because every team can claim an active offseason “if things line up.” The bottom line is the Cubs are going to kick some tires on some of the better players available -- like catcher Russell Martin -- but that doesn’t mean they’ll sign multiple names for mega-bucks. It does mean they’ll talk to a lot of them though.

“We’re not going to force it, and certainly a lot of the reports we’ve read makes us seem like we’re going to have some supercharged offseason and I think that’s probably overstated.” Hoyer said.

The Cubs won’t comment on individual free agents or trade targets, but Martin is in their sights, according to sources familiar with the situation. The issue is the cost. Last November, the New York Yankees signed Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million deal. Martin had a better walk year with the Pittsburgh Pirates than McCann did with the Atlanta Braves despite less power and is just one year older than McCann. Will Martin get the same kind of deal?

“We want veteran leadership on the team,” Hoyer said. “Whether that’s one person or 3-4 people.”

Martin would qualify, as he helped the Pirates to the playoffs in each of his two seasons in Pittsburgh. Only a handful of teams can afford him, and the Cubs are one of them.

And so as the front office heads to Arizona next week for the general manager’s meetings they’ll have a more focused agenda than last offseason.

“In general, we’re a little more targeted than we were,” Hoyer said. “I will be very surprised if we weren’t involved with guys early. If something gets done, that’s great.”

It just won’t get done with everyone you’re hearing about.