- The Cubs made attempts over the past couple years to acquire right-hander Tyson Ross from the Padres and could pursue him in free agency, according to Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago. “The Padres were close to trading Ross to the Cubs for Starlin Castro,” a major league source who worked for one of the teams told Levine. “San Diego execs were mixed on asking for Castro or Javier Baez. The deal went down to the wire in late July of 2015 but never got to the point of exchanging medicals.” Ross was a front-of-the-rotation starter at that point, but he only threw 5 1/3 innings last season and is currently recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. The Padres non-tendered him Friday.
Duensing, 33, spent much of the 2016 season in the minors. But he performed rather well there — with a 2.23 ERA and 9.5 K/9 versus 1.7 BB/9 over 32 1/3 innings — and earned a late-season promotion with the Orioles. In fourteen appearances for Baltimore, Duensing allowed six earned runs on 13 hits while recording ten hits against three walks.
Chicago had a need on the southpaw side of its pen, particularly assuming that Mike Montgomery will become a part of the rotation. But it’s still a bit surprising to see the defending World Series champs place a bet on Duensing, who is perhaps best characterized as a steadily useful arm. Over his eight-year major league career — the vast bulk of which came with the Twins — he has allowed 4.13 earned per regulation game while striking out 5.9 and walking 2.9 batters per nine to go with a solid (but hardly world-beating 46.3% groundball rate).
- There have been some rumblings of late suggesting that the Cubs and White Sox likely won’t do business with one another this winter, at least not on any significant deals, and Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times rounds up the latest. Ultimately, it seems, there’s not much new to chew on here: both teams say they’re open working with one another, even if they acknowledge what GM Jed Hoyer suggests is an unsurprising reality that the clubs are unlikely to to match up on an impactful swap given their market competition.
The Cubs are in agreement with free-agent outfielder Jon Jay on a one-year, $8MM contract, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). The team has now announced the signing as well. Jay, 32 next March, is a client of CAA Sports.
[Related: Updated Chicago Cubs Depth Chart]
Jay missed nearly two months of the 2016 season with a broken forearm that was sustained when he was hit by a pitch, but he was productive when he was healthy enough to take the field. The longtime Cardinals center fielder batted .291/.339/.389 with a pair of homers and 26 doubles in 374 trips to the plate. Jay was leading the National League with 24 doubles at the time he sustained his injury, batting .296/.345/.407 to that point in the season, but he tallied just three extra-base hits over his final 84 plate appearances upon returning from the disabled list.
With Jay in the fold, it now seems likelier than ever that Dexter Fowler’s time with the Cubs has drawn to a close. Jay joins an outfield contingent that also includes Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Jorge Soler, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr. and Matt Szczur. He’ll bring a left-handed bat that doesn’t have a significant platoon split to manager Joe Maddon’s roster and will pair well with the highly touted but inexperienced Almora, a right-handed hitter, in center field. Both Gonzales and CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney suggest that Jay will be paired with Almora in center field (Twitter links). Alternatively, Almora, who has just 80 games at the Triple-A level in his career, could get some additional seasoning in Iowa if it’s deemed necessary in Spring Training.
The addition of Jay gives manager Joe Maddon even more matchup options with his day-to-day lineup, and it also gives the Chicago front office more options to pursue on the trade market this winter. Addison Russell and Javier Baez look to have cemented themselves as the Cubs’ regular middle-infield duo, which should push Zobrist to the outfield more often than not. It’s also conceivable that Schwarber will do some catching for the Cubs again in 2017, freeing up some corner outfield at-bats on those days. Nonetheless, it certainly seems plausible that the Cubs could look to deal from their outfield surplus this winter. Soler has long stood out as a possible trade candidate, and the addition of yet another outfield bat to the mix further frees up president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer to explore trade scenarios involving the former top prospect.
The exact machinations of the Cubs’ 2017 lineup can’t yet be determined, but as the 2016 team illustrated, cultivating this level of depth at the Major League level can prove vital in the event of a significant injury to a key player, as was the case when Schwarber suffered a pair of torn knee ligaments.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Yankees, Mariners, and Cubs were among the organizations that pursued free agent lefty Brett Cecil, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. Cecil ultimately struck a four-year, $30.5MM pact with the Cardinals.
Those three teams figure as plausible landing spots for other top southpaws. Indeed, per Sherman, the Yankees are looking to bolster their left-handed setup corps. One possibility, he says, is high-K southpaw Boone Logan, who played in New York before departing for the Rockies and is now again a free agent. Though the report doesn’t further address the situations in Seattle and Chicago, both organizations lack impact lefties in their otherwise solid bullpens and could sensibly pursue alternatives after missing on Cecil.
While the Yankees never made Cecil an offer, the team is said to have kept a close eye on him up until the Cards emerged with a significant contract. The team is still seriously interested in bringing back Aroldis Chapman, notes Sherman. Since Chapman would likely slot in as closer, it stands to reason that another lefty could still be added even if the fireballing star lands in New York.
All told, it seems there are several possible approaches in mind with regard to the Yankees’ bullpen. The ultimate moves could be impacted in some part, too, by whether the organization is able to land the high-profile bat that it reportedly seeks. Last we heard, New York was pushing for Carlos Beltran and dabbling in the markets for top sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Yoenis Cespedes (see here and here) — all while still weighing a move for starter Rich Hill and other rotation pieces.
Right-hander Spencer Patton is headed to Japan’s Yokohama BayStars, per a club announcement (via the Japan Times). The Cubs sold Patton’s contract to Yokohama, per MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat (Twitter link), and released him from the big league roster to facilitate the move.
The 28-year-old reliever has shown swing-and-miss stuff at the major league level, but hasn’t yet translated that to effective innings. Over his 54 2/3 frames in the bigs over the past three seasons, Patton has worked to a 6.26 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9. Those free passes have combined with a few too many home runs and an unfortunate 58.5% strand rate to produce the inflated earned-run tally.
Though Patton doesn’t have a huge fastball, his slider allows him to generate plenty of whiffs, and he has long posted double-digit K/9 rates in the minors. He was rather dominant last year in his 36 Triple-A frames, posting a 0.75 ERA with 14.8 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 while allowing just 21 base hits.
Originally a 24th-round pick by the Royals, Patton was dealt to the Rangers in the deal that sent veteran righty Jason Frasor to Kansas City in July of 2014. He ended up in Chicago in exchange for infielder Frandy De La Rosa in a swap last November.
The Rangers announced on Tuesday that they’ve claimed lefty reliever David Rollins off waivers from the Cubs. Chicago had claimed Rollins off waivers from the Mariners last week and unsuccessfully attempted to sneak him through waivers.
[Related: Updated Texas Rangers Depth Chart]
The claim by Texas is a mild surprise, as the Rangers passed on claiming Rollins last week when the lefty fell to the Cubs in waiver priority. However, the Rangers now have a clearer picture of their 40-man roster after making some determinations in advance of the Rule 5 Draft. Texas may yet attempt to sneak Rollins through waivers themselves in similar fashion, though that’s just speculation on my behalf.
The 26-year-old Rollins (27 next month) is a former Rule 5 pick himself. Seattle selected him out of the Astros organization back in 2014, and Rollins wound up receiving an 80-game PED suspension before he threw a pitch for the Mariners during the regular season. In a bizarre way, that helped the Mariners keep him in the organization, though their selection of Rollins ultimately never paid dividends anyhow. The former 24th-round pick has a 7.60 ERA in 34 innings with the Mariners across the past two seasons and has averaged 7.1 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9 with a 41.9 percent ground-ball rate. He’s been rather unlucky, as evidenced by a .379 BABIP, but even the most optimistic ERA estimator pegs him in the mid-4.00s (4.41 SIERA). Rollins does have minor league options remaining, so if he’s able to survive the offseason on Texas’ 40-man roster, the team could option him and use him as a depth piece in the ’pen next year.
- The Cubs have done background work on Kenley Jansen, arguably the top free agent closer, but it doesn’t appear they’re seriously pursuing him, major league sources told Rosenthal. The World Series champions don’t want to overspend on a closer because it could preclude them from making a big signing in the near future (Japanese superstar Shohei Otani, for instance), notes Rosenthal. That would seemingly rule out the Cubs re-signing Chapman, who joins Jansen as one of the two best relievers available. MLBTR projects record contracts for both Jansen and Chapman, and Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer has already indicated that the team isn’t necessarily looking to splurge on a reliever.
We’ll use this post to keep track of the players being added to their teams’ respective 40-man rosters today, which is the deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. Players must be added to the big league roster within either four years (if they were 19 or older at the time of their original signing) or five years (if 18 or younger) of their signing year in order to be shielded from selection.
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo took a look at some of the biggest names who face roster decisions, though most of those won’t be much in question. At the fringes, teams must also consider the major league readiness of the player, since that factors heavily into whether they’ll be taken and kept. Any drafting team, of course, must keep a player on its active MLB roster for the full season (with certain exceptions relating to the DL) in order for their control rights to vest. Adding a player to the 40-man too early can have its own risks, because it limits flexibility and could require a team to expose that player to waivers if a need arises. With 26-man rosters reportedly under consideration, the Rule 5 draft could be quite intriguing this year, and that may bleed into today’s decisions as well.
Below is a division-by-division rundown of the names that were added to each team’s 40-man roster (plus the various waiver claims that spawned from teams trying to outright players to protect Rule 5-eligible prospects). We won’t delve into each player’s background, but if you’re looking to a little more about the names that were added, I’d highly recommend this tremendous, in-depth examination of each team’s additions by Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper. If you want to see how the moves look in the context of a team’s roster, head over to Roster Resource for your club’s depth chart.
Onto the moves…
American League West
- Angels: Nate Smith (LHP), Keynan Middleton (RHP), Austin Adams (RHP) and Eduardo Paredes (RHP)
- Astros: None today
- Athletics: Paul Blackburn (RHP), Bobby Wahl (RHP), Franklin Barreto (SS), Yairo Munoz (INF) and Jaycob Brugman (OF)
- Mariners: Paul Fry (LHP), D.J. Peterson (1B/3B) and Thyago Vieira (RHP); Also acquired LHP James Pazos (link), 1B/OF Richie Shaffer and INF/OF Taylor Motter (link)
- Rangers: Ronald Guzman (1B); Also claimed RHP Tyler Wagner
American League Central
- Indians: Francisco Mejia (C); Also claimed LHPs Tim Cooney (link) and Edwin Escobar (link)
- Royals: Andrew Edwards (RHP), Jake Junis (RHP), Cam Gallagher (C), Samir Duenez (1B)
- Tigers: Sandy Baez (RHP)
- Twins: Felix Jorge (RHP), Fernando Romero (RHP), Zach Granite (OF), Daniel Palka (OF), Mitch Garver (C), Engelb Vielma (SS)
- White Sox: Brad Goldberg (RHP), Adam Engel (OF), Jacob May (OF)
American League East
- Blue Jays: Anthony Alford (OF), Ryan Borucki (LHP), Richard Urena (INF); Also claimed RHPs Dominic Leone (link) and Leonel Campos (link)
- Orioles: Joe Gunkel (RHP) and Jesus Liranzo (RHP)
- Rays: Chih-Wei Hu (RHP), Hunter Wood (RHP), Ryne Stanek (RHP), Austin Pruitt (RHP), Jaime Schultz (RHP), Willy Adames (INF), Daniel Robertson (INF) and Jose Alvarado (LHP)
- Red Sox: Kyle Martin (RHP) and Luis Ysla (LHP)
- Yankees: Miguel Andujar (INF), Dietrich Enns (LHP), Jorge Mateo (SS), Giovanny Gallegos (RHP), Ronald Herrera (RHP) and Yefrey Ramirez (RHP)
National League West
- Diamondbacks: Anthony Banda (LHP), Jimmie Sherfy (RHP), Dawel Lugo (SS), Jack Reinheimer (INF) and Ildemaro Vargas (2B)
- Dodgers: Chase De Jong (RHP), Jacob Rhame (RHP) and Kyle Farmer (C)
- Giants: Orlando Calixte (SS), Miguel Gomez (3B), Reyes Moronta (RHP), Dan Slania (RHP), Chase Johnson (RHP)
- Padres: Franchy Cordero (OF),Javier Guerra (SS), Walker Lockett (RHP), Jose Ruiz (C)
- Rockies: Yency Almonte (RHP), Shane Carle (RHP), Rayan Gonzalez (RHP), Zach Jemiola (RHP) and Sam Moll (LHP)
National League Central
- Brewers: Josh Hader (LHP), Taylor Williams (RHP), Lewis Brinson (OF), Ryan Cordell (OF) and Brett Phillips (OF); Also claimed 1B/OF Adam Walker
- Cardinals: Magneuris Sierra (OF), Eliezer Alvarez (INF), Edmundo Sosa (INF) and Rowan Wick (RHP)
- Cubs: Victor Caratini (C), Duane Underwood (RHP), Jacob Hannemann (OF) and Jack Leathersich (LHP); Also claimed LHP David Rollins
- Pirates: Clay Holmes (RHP)
- Reds: Barrett Astin (RHP), Keury Mella (RHP), Jackson Stephens (RHP), Nick Travieso (RHP), Aristides Aquino (OF), Phil Ervin (OF) and Jesse Winker (OF)
National League East
- Braves: Max Fried (LHP), Lucas Sims (RHP), Johan Carmago (INF); Also claimed C Tuffy Gosewisch
- Marlins: Luis Castillo (RHP), Drew Steckenrider (RHP), Austin Nola (INF), J.T. Riddle (INF); Also claimed LHP Elvis Araujo
- Mets: Amed Rosario (SS), Wuilmer Becerra (OF), Chris Flexen (RHP), Marcos Molina (RHP), and Tomas Nido (C)
- Nationals: Austin Voth (RHP), Rafael Bautista (OF), Raudy Read (C), Matt Skole (1B/3B) and Jose Marmolejos (1B/OF)
- Phillies: Drew Anderson (RHP), Mark Appel (RHP), Ricardo Pinto (RHP), Nick Pivetta (RHP), Alberto Tirado (RHP), Ben Lively (RHP), Dylan Cozens (OF), Nick Williams (OF), Andrew Knapp (C), Elniery Garcia (LHP) and Jesmuel Valentin (2B)