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- Right-Hander Norge Ruiz Leaves Cuba, Will Seek Deal With MLB Club
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- Minor Moves: Josh Elander, Brock Peterson
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- Right-Hander Norge Ruiz Leaves Cuba, Will Seek Deal With MLB Club
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Anthony Rizzo Rumors
On the Cubs‘ young roster, Anthony Rizzo has become a leader at the tender age of 25, Peter Gammons writes. Actually, because he’s close in age to many of the Cubs’ top young players, Rizzo is a more meaningful leader than a 30-something veteran might be. Cubs executives Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod (who praised Rizzo’s makeup after drafting him when Rizzo was just 17) have been by Rizzo’s side throughout much of his baseball life. McLeod drafted Rizzo with the Red Sox, and then Hoyer and McLeod acquired Rizzo in the first Adrian Gonzalez trade when the two executives were in the Padres front office. Then, when Hoyer and McLeod headed to the Cubs before the 2012 season, they traded for Rizzo again, this time in the Andrew Cashner trade. Here’s more from the National League.
- The Reds have announced that reliever Sean Marshall will have surgery Wednesday to fix the torn anterior capsule in his oft-injured left (throwing) shoulder. The surgery will be performed by Mets doctor David Altcheck. It’s been a rough few years for the 32-year-old Marshall, who last pitched a full season in 2012, the same year the Reds signed him to a three-year, $16.5MM extension.
- Top Padres catching prospect Austin Hedges is adjusting to being a bench player after being promoted to the big leagues two weeks ago, Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Hedges, who’s backing up Derek Norris, has collected just 11 plate appearances since his debut on May 4. “When I’m catching every day you don’t do as much because you’ve got to save your body to be able to catch,” Hedges says. “When I’m not playing, I’ve got to be doing things, game-like blocking drills, throwing to bases more, we just did popups today, working on things so that when I’m in there it’s not like I haven’t done anything for four or five days or however many days it is.”
With the trade that sent Andrew Cashner to the Padres and Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs now over two years distant, R.J. Anderson of Baseball Prospectus takes a look at its background and how it has played out to date. While both players have proven that their talent plays at the big league level, each still comes with questions. Nevertheless, the trade appears to have been quite an equal swap at this point, he opines.
Here's more from the National League:
- The Mets hesitation with respect to shortstop Stephen Drew relates to the team's valuations of him and internal option Ruben Tejada, reports MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. "At the numbers he's looking for," a source told DiComo, "we don't think he's worth it compared to what we have." At this point, a trade of Ike Davis is a more likely outcome than the signing of Drew, says DiComo.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said today that a platoon was possible at second base, a prospect that Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times questions. Both Alexander Guerrero and Dee Gordon — the two likely platoon options — are converting from shortstop, and each brings lots of uncertainty to the table. Guerrero, the club's most expensive offseason acquisition, has reportedly had some struggles moving to the other side of the bag, but putting his right-handed bat in a platoon role would significantly limit his plate appearances.
- In spite of a resoundingly successful 2013 campaign, Pirates GM Neal Huntington and manager Clint Hurdle will both go into the season without a contractual assurance that they'll be around for another. As Rob Biertempfel of the PIttsburgh Tribune-Review reports, Owner Bob Nutting said today that extensions for the two are not a major priority, though he indicated that he'd be amenable to talks at the right time. "What they've done for the organization in good and bad times really is tremendous," said Nutting, "and I hope they're with the organization for a long time. My expectation is they're going to be critically important pieces of this organization as we go forward."
- Nutting also indicated that the Pirates would still consider giving up a draft pick to sign a free agent, Biertempfel further reports. "Certainly nothing is off the table," he said. "But at the same time, we need to recognize that a first-round draft pick is a meaningful source of talent for a team like the Pirates. We want to be smart and cautious." The Bucs have spoken with first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales, Biertempfel notes, though the extent of the team's interest remains unknown.
At one point, the Dodgers might have been two days away from firing manager Don Mattingly, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. That was on June 21, when the Dodgers were 30-42 following their second straight loss to the Padres. Shaikin cites a source saying that if the Dodgers had lost the last two games of that four-game series, they would have dismissed Mattingly. Since then, the Dodgers have got 46-11, and Mattingly appears to be a contender for the NL Manager of the Year award. Here are more notes from out west.
- For the Angels, one of the few bright sides of an awful season is that they now have the opportunity to see which of their zero-to-three players can help in the near future, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez writes. Gonzalez notes that, with several big contracts (Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson) consuming much of their payroll, it's particularly important that the Angels get value out of cost-controlled players. The Angels will look to players like Grant Green, Chris Nelson and Cory Rasmus (all of whom were acquired this year) to see if they might be able to contribute.
- Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo have become friends since being traded for each other in early 2012, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Rizzo says he's rooting for a win-win deal. "I hope [Cashner] has a great career; I hope I have a great career as well," Rizzo says. "There’s no winning or losing this trade. … I hope we both have Hall of Fame careers and everyone’s a winner.”
It could be argued that Anthony Rizzo cost himself some arbitration riches by signing a seven-year, $41MM contract extension with the Cubs, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports sees Rizzo's logic. As Rosenthal explains in his latest Hot Corner video, Rizzo's personal history — including a past brush with Hodgkin's lymphoma and a demotion to the minors when with the Padres — could've played a role in his accepting the security of a multiyear deal. Rizzo entered the season with less than a full year of service time, plus Rosenthal notes that Rizzo will still get a crack at free agency. If the Cubs pick up both option years on the deal, Rizzo could hit the market at age 32, young enough to score another nice contract.
Let's check in with some more news from around the NL Central…
- Also from Rosenthal's video, he praises the Cardinals' depth at both the major and minor league levels, giving the team great flexibility in case of injuries or if they want to pursue a trade.
- Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. is an unsung figure in the club's organizational success, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch observes. Miklasz chronicles how DeWitt championed the analytical process of then-vice president Jeff Luhnow (now the Astros' GM) that helped the Cards develop their highly-regarded minor league system.
- Francisco Rodriguez received a few Major League offers from other clubs this winter, the reliever tells MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, but Rodriguez chose to instead sign a minor league deal with the Brewers due to his familiarity with the organization. "There were a few teams out there, but I was waiting for the right opportunity," Rodriguez said. "I had a few options I could have taken to be at the big league level right away, but I wasn't ready physically to make that commitment."
- The Brewers' limited trade options, and a possible Jean Segura contract extension are amongst the topics covered by Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in his reader mailbag.
Earlier today, the Cubs confirmed last night's reports of a seven-year extension for Anthony Rizzo. At today's press conference to announce the move, general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters, including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, that the deal was first discussed in Spring Training, and talks accelerated in the past 10 days (Twitter link). Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago adds (also via Twitter) that the contract was actually finalized last week; Rizzo took his physical his physical on the Cubs' off-day. Here's more on the Cubs in what will go down as a critical day in their franchise's history…
- Jeff Samardzija's agent Mark Rogers tells Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago that there are still no talks on the extension front with his client. The two sides will re-visit discussions in the offseason to see if they can hammer out a long-term deal Samardzija is controlled through the 2015 season. The Cubs consider Samardzija "one of their upper-tier starters of the future," writes Levine.
- Selecting a pitcher with the No. 2 pick in this year's draft "appears to be a sure thing," Levine adds. Stanford right-hander Mark Appel and Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray are the consensus top two arms in the draft right now, though Levine doesn't list any specific names.
- In addition to extending Samardzija, signing one other free agent starter this offseason "seems essential" to Levine. That would give the Cubs a pitching core of Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, the pitcher selected second in the 2013 draft, and a solid free agent, with another high draft pick in 2014 likely on the horizon. Here's a look at all of the available 2014 free agents.
- David Kaplan of CSN Chicago offers a similar sentiment, stating that fans should expect the Cubs to spend on free agency once again this coming offseason. Multiple Major League sources, including an AL front-office executive, told Kaplan they expect the Cubs to be in on the top free agent names this offseason, including Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury, of course, was drafted by Cubs president Theo Epstein when he was GM of the Red Sox.
- MLBTR collected some reactions to Rizzo's extension from around the web earlier today, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
The Cubs made their seven-year, $41MM extension of Anthony Rizzo official earlier today and will hold a press conference to announce the move at 3pm. Rizzo and the Cubs are the talk of the blogosphere right now, so here are some media reactions from around the web…
- The Cubs are preparing to market Rizzo as the new face of the franchise, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The contract also shows Rizzo's desire to be a Cub for life, as Rizzo would surely have made more going year to year. Sullivan adds that Jeff Samardzija is now likely the next extension target for the Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, and Travis Wood may not be far behind.
- Both sides have received security in this deal, writes Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, who adds that Rizzo may not have to wait until this deal's completion to sign a new contract. Rogers points to Evan Longoria, who signed a new $100MM extension midway through his last conract and says that Rizzo can likely expect that kind of treatment from Hoyer and Epstein if he remains productive.
- Rizzo's new contract "looks fantastic" for the Cubs in the mind of SB Nation's Rob Neyer. Neyer goes on to point out that the Cubs control Rizzo's age 23-31 seasons for roughly $7.5MM per year, and that those are typically the best seasons of any player's career.
- Part of the reason the Cubs thought it prudent to extend Rizzo was that he stood to make a considerable amount of money as a Super Two player, says Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Sherman points to the case of fellow Super Two player Hunter Pence, whose four arbitration years cost $34.6MM. The Cubs were able to secure control of three free agent years by guaranteeing just $7MM more than that.
- Yet again, it looks like Hoyer will come out as the victor in a deal involving Rizzo, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Hoyer was an Assistant GM with the Red Sox when Rizzo was drafted, the Padres GM when they acquired Rizzo in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, and the GM of the Cubs when they acquired him from the Padres for Andrew Cashner last year.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Cubs have a new face of the franchise, and his name is Anthony Rizzo. The team announced today that it has officially signed the 23-year-old first baseman to an extension covering the 2013-19 seasons, which is reportedly worth $41MM.
The new deal overrides Rizzo's existing 2013 contract, and is therefore essentially a six-year extension. Rizzo will reportedly receive a $2MM signing bonus and earn $750K in 2013. He'll make $1.25MM in 2014, $5MM in 2015-16, $7MM in 2017-18 and $11MM in 2019. The two options are worth $14.5MM each. Rizzo is a client of Sports One Athlete Management.
Rizzo's contract contains escalators could drive the total value of the deal to $73MM. The contract does not contain a no-trade clause, though Rizzo may be able to void the 2021 option under certain conditions if he is traded.
Last August, the Cubs signed shortstop Starlin Castro, their other key young offensive player, to a seven-year deal that also contained guaranteed money through 2019. Rizzo, 23, is currently hitting .288/.361/.554, and he has a line of .255/.333/.437 for his career. The Cubs acquired Rizzo and a minor-leaguer from the Padres before the 2012 season for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na.
Without the extension, Rizzo would have been eligible for Super Two status after the 2014 season, Rosenthal notes. Rizzo would have been arbitration-eligible four times, and could not have become a free agent until after the 2018 season, so this deal buys out one year of free agency eligibility and gives the Cubs the rights to two more.
Rizzo's deal tops the five-year, $32MM extension for Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, to which the two sides agreed shortly before the start of the season. Like Rizzo, Goldschmidt would have been eligible for arbitration after the 2014 season, although Goldschmidt was scheduled to become a free agent a year earlier. Significantly, however, Rizzo is two years younger than Goldschmidt, and would have been eligible for free agency heading into his age-29 season. With the two team options, Rizzo's extension ensures the Cubs can keep him under control through 2021, after which he will be 32.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to report the seven-year agreement. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the contract contains a pair of options but does not include a no-trade clause He also added the contract breakdown (All Twitter links). Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago added that Rizzo could be able to void the 2021 option if traded (Twitter link).
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Padres pitcher Andrew Cashner feels that the January 2012 trade that sent him to San Diego (with Kyung-Min Na) for Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates was good for him and for Rizzo, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. "I think it was a trade that certainly worked out well for both players involved," Cashner says. "The pitcher got to move to a pitcher’s ballpark. The hitter got to move to a hitter’s ballpark."
Rizzo, meanwhile, feels there wasn't a place for him in San Diego. "As soon as they traded for Yonder Alonso, I don’t think I was in the Padres’ plans," he says. "I can understand it. Yonder was probably better suited to Petco Park than I was." Rizzo had a strong season with the Cubs in 2012, while Cashner has struck out 19 batters in his first 19 1/3 innings in 2013 while showing off mid-90s velocity. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- The Phillies face "major questions," Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci writes. Pitchers Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay will cost the team $64.5MM in 2013, but it's questionable whether the rest of the roster can support them, Verducci argues. Big expenditures on those three pitchers, plus star veterans Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, meant the Phillies had to build a cheap outfield, says Verducci. The biggest problem in the outfield so far this season, however, is that Domonic Brown and Ben Revere have struggled. Those players aren't highly-paid, but they also aren't on the roster merely because they're cheap. Revere posted 3.1 wins above replacement in 2012, and Brown was a highly-regarded prospect. "We have a lot of guys in the outfield who have never done it over a full season and are starting to get older, as far as being considered young players," a Phillies employee says.
- Jim Thome, who played for the Phillies and Orioles in 2012, is hoping to return to baseball later this season, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "He still thinks he can play," says Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "He misses the game. Baseball is his identity. That’s all he’s done for 20-some years or so. He's kind of having a hard time adjusting."
- Before a strong start today against Reno, top Mets prospect Zack Wheeler was struggling to adjust at Triple-A Las Vegas, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. Mets fans are waiting for Wheeler to join the big-league rotation. "Obviously I want to be up there, but you can’t think about it because it will distract you, take your mind off what you’re trying to do down here," Wheeler says. Wheeler currently has a 4.80 ERA. Las Vegas is one of the toughest places to pitch in the minor leagues, however, and the fact that he's allowed a few too many runs there might not mean Wheeler isn't ready for the Majors, especially with 10.8 K/9 so far this year.
Cubs manager Dale Sveum is upset with his team's recent play and says that players who don't perform won't have big-league jobs, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times reports. That goes for top young players Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. "I don’t think [anyone’s] invincible if you’re not performing," Sveum says regarding Castro and Rizzo. "It’s not about what we think can happen three or four years from now. It’s time to perform on a consistent basis."
Wittenmyer writes that Sveum's harsh words for Castro and Rizzo "threw a sudden dose of skepticism and doubt into the widespread assumptions about the Cubs’ core," but acknowledges that, in reality, Castro and Rizzo will be with the Cubs for the foreseeable future. Sveum is suggesting they might be demoted, but that seems extremely unlikely, and it's even less likely that either of them would be traded. The Cubs signed Castro to a seven-year, $60MM contract last August. Rizzo is not signed to a long-term deal. Both players have hit well this season despite occasional mistakes in the field. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- John Poloni — also known as the "fat scout" in Michael Lewis' Moneyball — lobbied for the Athletics to draft Tim Hudson in 1997, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Hudson wasn't regarded as a top draft prospect due to his size, but Poloni told the A's that Hudson had "the best sinker he'd ever seen." 16 years later, Hudson is nearing his 200th win in the big leagues. That doesn't mean Poloni is rushing to take credit, however. "He exceeded my expectations, too," Poloni says. "A lot of times, it's pure luck."
- Last offseason's big-ticket free agents haven't performed well so far, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel. One of the highest-profile disappointments thus far has probably been Josh Hamilton of the Angels, although it's still early enough in the season that one big series could make any player's statistics look considerably better.
This week features the 2012 debuts of two of baseball’s top young players: Anthony Rizzo and Trevor Bauer. Much anticipation has preceded the debuts of Rizzo and Bauer, who both entered the season among the top 50 prospects in the game, according to Baseball America. However, service time considerations vary from player to player, and Rizzo's case is completely different from Bauer's. Here’s a detailed look at both situations:
- Anthony Rizzo – The first baseman debuted Tuesday, so he’ll accrue 100 days of service time assuming he stays in the Major Leagues for the remainder of the season. He picked up 68 days of service time under Cubs GM Jed Hoyer on last year’s Padres team, so he’s on track to have 168 days of service following the 2012 season. Players need 172 days of service time for a full year, so Rizzo’s expected to fall just short. This means he’ll be under Cubs control through 2018 as opposed to 2017 and justifies the timing of the promotion. Rizzo’s on track for super two status following the 2014 season, meaning he'll likely go to arbitration four times.
- Trevor Bauer – Bauer will debut tonight, which means he’ll accrue 98 days of MLB service assuming the Diamondbacks don’t demote him between now and the end of the season. Bauer, a 2011 draft pick, doesn’t have any MLB service time yet, so he’s on track to finish the season with 98 days of service. Presumably this won’t be enough for him to qualify for super two status following the 2014 season. Like Rizzo, Bauer will remain under team control through 2018.