- The Cubs completely rebuilt their roster from scratch to become a powerhouse team both this season and potentially for years to come, though Cardinals GM John Mozeliak tells ESPN.com’s Mark Saxon that such an extensive rebuild would be unlikely for his club. “They were able to do so without being overly concerned about how they finished for a couple years….I’ve always said St. Louis has been a place that demands winning,” Mozeliak said. “[Owner Bill] DeWitt Jr. and myself, we’re not ever looking at a season where we want to take a timeout or two and try to reshuffle the deck.” Mozeliak implied that the Cards would only explore such a strategy if their minor league system totally dried up, which doesn’t seem like an impending issue given how well St. Louis has drafted and developed young players over the last two decades.
9:34pm: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter) that while Mets assistant GM John Ricco has recently been linked to the Twins’ job, Ricco is no longer in the running at this point. Berardino adds to that report, tweeting that Ricco was never under heavy consideration.
9:28am: The Twins appear to be homing in on a handful of possibilities for their open president of baseball operations position, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Though the team could still conduct interviews with additional executives, it may be that the slate of candidates is already set, he adds on Twitter.
One outside option who has impressed, per Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Twitter link), is Cubs vice president of player development and amateur scouting Jason McLeod. He is “well-regarded” and “well-positioned” in the Twins’ search after impressing in his early interactions with Minnesota’s top brass, according to the report.
McLeod obviously isn’t the only highly-regarded young executive under consideration. Prior reports have suggested that Rays AGM Chaim Bloom, Indians AGM Derek Falvey, and Royals AGM J.J. Picollo are also in the discussion.
Then, there’s sitting Twins interim GM Rob Antony, who rounds out the five names known to be in the hunt. Per Berardino, he’s the only internal candidate who will receive an interview. The club did consider VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff, scouting director Deron Johnson, and special assistant (and former Reds GM) Wayne Krivsky, but elected not to hold meetings with them.
ESPN.com’s Wright Thompson provides a worthwhile profile of Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein. While it’s mostly an interesting look at the veteran executive, the piece also contains an intriguing look behind the scenes in the Cubbies’ front office and a few bits of information on the team’s recent maneuvering.
- The Cubs are aware of, but not particularly concerned over, a decline in Jake Arrieta’s fastball velocity (and recent predilection for surrendering long balls), ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers writes. Skipper Joe Maddon suggested that Arrieta was looking to dial in his command in exchange for some velo, and noted that Arrieta’s exceptional movement made him difficult to hit regardless. As for the bigger heater, Maddon says that he “really believe[s] it’s in there” for the postseason.
Here are the day’s minor moves, each coming courtesy of Baseball America’s Matt Eddy unless otherwise noted…
- The Rays have outrighted Tyler Sturdevant to Triple-A Durham. The right-handed reliever was designated for assignment last week despite a solid 3.93 earned run average and a 14-to-6 K/BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings. That small sample represented the first Major League work of the 30-year-old Sturdevant’s career. The former Indians farmhand signed a minors pact with the Rays last offseason and had a nice run with Tampa Bay’s Triple-A affiliate, posting a 3.66 ERA with 11.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 in 39 1/3 frames. Set to turn 31 this December, Sturdevant can again opt for minor league free agency this winter.
- Lefty reliever Jack Leathersich will forgo minor league free agency and re-up with the Cubs on a minors pact for the 2017 season. The former Mets reliever had a successful debut in 2015 when he posted a 2.31 ERA in 11 2/3 innings, but Tommy John surgery derailed his rookie campaign. The Cubs picked him up on waivers this past November, but he wound up being removed from the 40-man roster and re-signing a minors deal with Chicago. The 26-year-old Leathersich made it back to a minor league mound this year and tossed 23 1/3 innings of 1.93 ERA ball with a hefty 34 strikeouts, though he also issued 13 walks and hit a batter as well. Control has never been a strong point for Leathersich, but he’ll work on reining in the walks as he hopes to bring his career 15.0 K/9 rate back to the Majors at some point next season.
- Eddy’s post contains several players from teams all throughout the league that elected to skip minor league free agency and sign 2017 deals with their 2016 organizations, though Leathersich is the only one of the bunch with MLB experience under his belt.
Time will tell whether the Brewers can follow the Cubs’ path back to contention, but it would help if Brewers GM David Stearns ended up with Theo Epstein’s trade record, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. The Cubs acquired Anthony Rizzo, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and Addison Russell in a series of terrific trades. They’ve also added Jon Lester, Jason Heyward, John Lackey and Ben Zobrist via the free agent market, but the smaller-payroll Brewers won’t be able to depend on a similar infusion of talent. Here’s more from the NL Central.
The Marlins and agent Scott Boras appear unlikely to negotiate an extension for ace Jose Fernandez early in the offseason, according to the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo, who reports the team could shop the right-hander as a result. Several of the majors’ high-payroll clubs, including the Dodgers, Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs, would have interest in acquiring and extending Fernandez, per Cafardo. The 24-year-old is scheduled to hit free agency after the 2018 campaign and has thrown a career-high 174 1/3 innings this season. Along the way, Fernandez has posted dazzling numbers – 2.99 ERA, 12.44 K/9, 2.84 BB/9 – which has been the norm since he debuted in 2013.
5:31pm: David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that Collmenter is actually more likely to help the Braves’ Major League roster and could even draw a start for the Braves on Saturday. With right-hander Williams Perez sidelined by an elbow impingement after a pair of rough starts earlier this month (via O’Brien on Twitter), it seems that Collmenter will be a depth piece at the big league level.
Collmenter entered the season with exactly five years of service time and won’t reach the requisite 172 days to move up to six years of MLB service time, so he can be controlled through the 2017 season via arbitration if the Braves wish.
5:23pm: The Braves announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Josh Collmenter from the Cubs in exchange for cash. The longtime D-backs hurler joins fellow righty Joe Wieland as the second pitcher picked up by the Braves today in exchange for cash.
The 30-year-old Collmenter was the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day starter as recently as 2015 but lost his rotation spot after a poor start to that season. Collmenter thrived in a bullpen role for his final 52 innings in 2015 and remained in the ’pen to open the 2016 campaign. (The offseason additions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller and the return of Patrick Corbin from the disabled list all but closed the door on a return to the rotation.) In 22 1/3 innings of relief work this season, however, Collmenter labored to a 4.84 ERA and was ultimately released by the D-backs. He went on to ink a minor league pact with the Cubs and posted a 2.25 ERA across 16 Triple-A innings with his new organization, though his 9-to-8 K/BB ratio wasn’t especially encouraging.
Collmenter, like Wieland, will give Atlanta some pitching depth as the team’s Triple-A affiliate continues on in the playoffs. But, like Wieland, he’ll also be able to elect free agency at season’s end if he’s not added to the 40-man roster, so his time with the Braves organization could potentially be quite brief in nature.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Earlier tonight, we learned that the Twins have formally requested permission to interview Cubs exec Jason McLeod. Indeed, the focus on the Chicago organization seems to be multi-faceted. Berardino says that Minnesota hopes to find a “Theo Epstein-type” president and is looking at other members of the staff that helped build what is arguably the league’s best major league roster. We’ve heard previously of interest in assistant GM Shiraz Rehman, and the latest report adds that Cubs pro scouting director Jared Porter is “firmly on the Twins radar” as well.
SEPTEMBER 12: The Twins have now requested permission to speak with McLeod, GM Jed Hoyer told reporters including Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter links). Hoyer suggested that it is all but a foregone conclusion that McLeod will eventually depart to take over another baseball ops department, though of course it remains to be seen whether there’ll be a match with Minnesota.
SEPTEMBER 7, 9:50pm: Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the Twins haven’t approached the Cubs about speaking to either McLeod or Rehman about a front office role. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the Twins don’t have interest in the pair of execs. Thus far, there’s been no indication that the Twins have progressed beyond compiling a list of potential candidates, let alone conducting interviews.
Rehman downplayed the reported interest when speaking to Wittenmyer, calling it “flattering” but stressing that he, like the rest of the Cubs’ front office, is focused on bringing a championship to Chicago.
12:50pm: The Twins are “looking closely” at some members of the Cubs front office as they continue their own executive search, Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweets. Specifically, Minnesota has interest in Jason McLeod and Shiraz Rehman, per the report.
We heard yesterday that Minnesota is considering former Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos for the post of president of baseball operations. [Editor’s Note: Anthopoulos has since said he is not interested in pursuing the position at this time.] The club is set to institute a two-tier arrangement, hiring a PBOp who will in turn hire a GM.
It is not immediately clear how the Cubs’ executives fit into this still-developing picture. Both of these still-youthful executives obviously carry wide industry respect, but neither has yet been tasked with final decisionmaking authority over an operations department.
McLeod, the senior VP of player development and amateur scouting, has previously drawn consideration for GM gigs but has seemingly been committed first to his work in Chicago. “I really want to be here when we win,” he said back in 2014 after declining a chance to interview for the Padres’ GM opening. “Being a GM is something I still really hope to do in the future, but right now I felt this is where I want to be.”
Rehman is an assistant general manager who has long-standing ties to top Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer dating back to their time with the Red Sox. He worked with the Diamondbacks before coming to Chicago. For more about his background in Arizona — under a regime that prioritized statistical analysis — check out this 2009 interview from David Laurila.
It’s worth noting that the expectation is that no Cubs personnel will change organizations while the season is ongoing, per 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson (via Twitter). That wouldn’t appear to remove any of that club’s executives from consideration for this or other openings that may arise, but it could impact the timing somewhat.
- This weekend’s Cubs/Astros series has led to some reflection about Houston’s decision to pass on Kris Bryant in the 2013 draft, but ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers looks back at another connection between the two clubs. In January 2015, the Astros traded Dexter Fowler to Wrigleyville for Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily, a deal GM Jeff Luhnow said the two sides discussed for over a month before Straily’s inclusion clinched things. While Fowler has been a star over his two seasons for the Cubs, Luhnow has no regrets, given that Fowler was a year away from free agency and Valbuena has been a pretty solid player for the Astros. (This isn’t mentioned in Rogers’ piece, but moving Straily may actually be the bigger loss for Houston. Straily was traded to San Diego in March for Erik Kratz, and the righty developed into a good rotation piece for the Reds this season.)