Chicago Cubs Rumors

Chicago Cubs trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Free Agent Rumors: Furcal, Grilli, Young, Mets

Free agent infielder Rafael Furcal could be a fit for the Royals on a minor league deal thanks to his connection with GM Dayton Moore, according to Tim Dierkes of MLBTR (via Twitter).  Here are some of the latest free agency rumors out of San Diego..

  • Jason Grilli has multiple offers from teams in major markets but the Tigers are not one of them, his agent tells Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter).
  • The Rangers have interest in Eric Young Jr., but they may have already been outbid, according to Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he is considering bidding in the posting of Jung-ho Kang, but he’s unresolved as to whether he will, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • The Orioles could be a landing spot for former Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogando, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (via Twitter).
  • After signing Jon Lester, the Cubs are now pursuing outfielder Jonny Gomes in an apparent effort to get the band back together, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).
  • Catcher David Ross tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) that he’s not close on a deal with any club even though he has interest from the Red Sox, Cubs, Braves, D’Backs, and Padres.

Outfield Trade Notes: Pads, Cubs, Upton, Gattis, Kemp, Trumbo

There is a fairly lengthy list of right-handed hitting outfield bats being discussed in trade scenarios. Here’s the latest on some members of that group:

  • The Padres and Cubs are “turning up” their efforts to add a right-handed power bat, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who notes that Upton is one elite option on the market. At this point, the possible involvement of the Cubs on more prominent outfield targets remains largely an undercurrent, and O’Brien himself cautions not to read between the lines too much on that possibility.
  • The Cubs are pursuing a power bat capable of playing in left, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com. Chicago has, of course, been tied to Jonny Gomes, but it is not clear if the club might have its eyes on a larger prize.
  • As noted in a separate post, the Orioles have expressed interest in Yoenis Cespedes, though nothing is imminent.

Earlier Updates

  • The Braves continue to get hits on both Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. The GiantsRangersRoyals, and Padres have interest in both players, while the Mariners are only interested in the former.
  • The Royals are indeed interested in Upton and Gattis but remain disinterested in parting with Danny Duffy or Yordano Ventura, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets.
  • While the Dodgers and Padres are continuing to discuss a Matt Kemp deal, the sides do not have a direct match, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The clubs are attempting to involve a third team to make a deal, says Rosenthal.
  • The Diamondbacks are still fielding calls on Mark Trumbo, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen, of course, just how interested Arizona is in moving the slugger. Rival executives feel they are receiving mixed signals on that point, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

Starter Rumors: Red Sox Yet To Engage On Hamels, Giants May Be In

With Jon Lester off the market, we should start to see some dominoes fall.  Here are the latest pitching rumors from around baseball.

  • Talks between the Tigers and Red Sox have yet to gain any traction, tweets Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.
  • The Red Sox have yet to engage the Phillies on Hamels, Stark reports (Twitter links). It is early, of course, though perhaps it would have been expected that Boston would immediate move to that option. The team is, however, working on several other deals including a previously-rumored swap involving Yoenis Cespedes and Rick Porcello.

Earlier Updates

  • After missing on Lester, the Giants have interest in dealing for Hamels, sources tell Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Earlier rumors that San Francisco is casting a wide net appear to have been well-founded, as the team has been reported to have at least some involvement in a wide variety of possible additions.
  • The Twins have interest in Kyle Kendrick and have already had a meeting in San Diego, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.
  • Dillon Gee is the most likely Mets pitcher to go in trade, followed by Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).  The Rangers aren’t enamored with the Mets’ pitching but the Royals and Twins have been mentioned as possibilities.
  • The Red Sox aren’t currently close on acquiring Cole Hamels from the Phillies, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  They could now turn their attention to Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley instead and one of five other pitchers that they have their eyes on.  James Shields could also be a free agent option for Boston.
  • Two unnamed owners traveled to the winter meetings to meet with Max Scherzer‘s agent Scott Boras, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Scherzer’s market should develop after Lester signed for $155MM over six years, but he’s aiming much higher this winter.  The losers in the Lester derby – the Giants, Red Sox, and Dodgers – could all be candidates for Scherzer with the Giants being the one team in the group certain to take a serious look.


More Reactions To Jon Lester Signing

We already took a look at one round of reactions to Jon Lester‘s deal with the Cubs, but the big lefty’s much-anticipated decision has drawn plenty of thoughts from around the game. Here are some more:

  • Cubs manager Joe Maddon found it impossible to hide his excitement for the still-unannounced addition of Lester, as ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark writes. The reason is clear, says Stark: the move steps up the organization’s image and its timetable for competing.
  • Don’t expect the Cubs to push for contention next year, cautions Rob Neyer of FOX Sports, who writes that the real target probably still remains 2016 and beyond.
  • With the Lester signing, the Cubs are officially ready to try and go to the playoffs, opines Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs. Sullivan, who feels that the Cubs are a good fit for Lester, looks at how the rest of the offseason might play out now that the left-hander is off the market.
  • The Red Sox simply “blew it” with regard to Lester, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney opines in an Insider piece.
  • As the Red Sox look to alternatives, Alex Speier of WEEI.com breaks down the top replacement options for Lester.

Reactions To And Fallout From The Jon Lester Deal

Here’s a roundup of reactions from around the web on the Cubs’ $155MM deal with Jon Lester:

  • Adding Lester is huge for the Cubs, but they’re at least one more good starter away from contention, ESPN’s Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Brandon McCarthy would be a good fit, Law suggests, or they could trade young hitting for another starter. Even if the Cubs’ core of young hitting needs another year to develop before the team can contend, though, Lester figures to age well and should still be pitching at a high level in 2016.
  • The Lester deal gives the Cubs more credibility, new manager Joe Maddon told reporters, including MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. “It definitely makes it more believable to everybody else in that [clubhouse],” Maddon said. “I’ll stand up and make the same speech regardless, but when you have it backed up by that particular kind of presence, it adds to it. … Having people like that in the room definitely helps other guys believe this is possible.”
  • The deal is an awkward one for the Red Sox, tweets Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan. They could have offered Lester far less last spring than their losing bid this time around, and he would have accepted.
  • The Red Sox still have to upgrade their rotation, and their missing out on Lester by $20MM is a bad sign, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes writes. It will be hard, Edes writes, for the Red Sox to have a rotation without Lester as good as the one they could have had if they had signed him.
  • Lester becoming a Cub shifts the balance of power in the NL Central, and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman wonders (via Twitter) if it will be what causes the Reds to begin rebuilding.
  • On a related note, Lester’s contract sets the standard for extension talks between the Reds and Johnny Cueto, who is eligible for free agency after 2015, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Rosecrans also notes that, with Lester heading to Chicago, the Red Sox figure to be clearly in the market for starting pitching, and there might be a match between the Red Sox and Reds, who could offer Mat Latos or Mike Leake.

David Ross Drawing Interest From Five Teams

Catcher David Ross is drawing interest from the Cubs, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Padres and Braves and could soon sign, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter links). Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart said earlier today that his team was keeping tabs on Ross, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).

With Jon Lester in Chicago, there will likely be plenty of speculation about Ross signing with the Cubs. Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan noted earlier tonight (again on Twitter) that Lester’s decision to sign with the Cubs greatly increased the chances that Lester’s former Red Sox teammates Ross and Jonny Gomes would wind up in Chicago as well. The Cubs recently traded for Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero, but they non-tendered backup catcher John Baker are expected to consider trading Welington Castillo.

Ross, 37, hit .184/.260/.368 in 171 plate appearances in Boston last season. The 13-year veteran has also played for the Dodgers, Pirates, Padres, Reds and Braves.


Giants, Dodgers Out Of Running For Jon Lester

9:10pm: The Dodgers aren’t in on Lester, Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times tweets.  It indeed seems that the Cubs and Red Sox are the two finalists for Lester’s services.

8:36pm: Lester is still finalizing his choice between the Cubs and Red Sox, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.

8:21pm: The Giants were called by Lester earlier tonight to inform them that he was signing elsewhere, assistant GM Bobby Evans told reporters (including Alex Pavlovic of the Bay Area News Group).  As Evans put it, “We did not receive a rose.”

7:36pm: CSN Chicago’s David Kaplan hears from “two very good MLB sources” who believe the Cubs are the leading contenders to sign Lester.  An executive connected to at least one of the teams in the hunt, however, tells Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link) that he thinks Lester is leaning towards San Francisco.

5:31pm: The Lester sweepstakes “is nearing [the] finish line” and there is a “reasonable belief” that Lester could pick his new team by tonight, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets.  Olney adds that Lester will soon be presented with his final offers from teams, though WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports that Lester’s agents are not quite ready to present those final offers to their client.  There’s “still a strong possibility” that Lester make his decision until Wednesday, Bradford writes.

4:41pm: Giants GM Brian Sabean thinks his team is still “very much in” the hunt for Lester, The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo tweets.

2:58pm: Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans says that he has been led to believe that lefty Jon Lester is leaning toward signing with another club, Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM reports (links to Twitter). San Francisco is “in the back seat” in negotiations at present, Evans said.

Lester has told the Giants that he is not going to simply take the highest bid, as has previously been reported. Evans left Bowden with the impression that San Francisco believes the starter is drawn to joining the Cubs or Red Sox.

Various reports have suggested that Lester’s decision would continue to be delayed as the teams involved — up to and including their owners — make a final push to land him. With the bidding said to be at or even above the $150MM level, Lester will surely feel comfortable that he has earned a market-value deal regardless of where he ends up.


Cubs To Shop Welington Castillo

6:53pm: The Cubs received a few inquiries about Castillo after the Montero trade but the club isn’t actively shopping him, Theo Epstein told reporters (including Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune).

3:39pm: After adding Miguel Montero via trade, the Cubs will shop incumbent starter Welington Castillo, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Chicago had already participated in exploratory talks earlier in the offseason when the team was pursuing Russell Martin.

Castillo, 27, comes with three years of control. MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz project him to earn $2.1MM this year, a modest sum for a starting-caliber backstop.

The right-handed-hitting catcher posted two straight above-average years of offensive production before stepping back slightly in 2014. He slashed .237/.296/.389 last year, with a career-best 13 home runs in 417 plate appearances. StatCorner was down on his pitch framing work, though Baseball Prospectus had a more optimistic overall outlook on his defensive value.


Cubs Acquire Miguel Montero

Catcher Miguel Montero is officially headed from the Diamondbacks to the Cubs. Young pitchers Zack Godley and Jeferson Mejia make up the return to Arizona in the deal.

While final details remain unknown, reports have consistently indicated that Chicago will take on most or all of the remaining financial commitments to Montero. The sides were said to be in talks yesterday.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona DiamondbacksMontero, a left-handed hitter, has three years and $40MM left on his deal. The 31-year-old has had two down years after establishing himself as one of the best-hitting backstops in the game. Last year, he slashed .243/.329/.370 with 13 home runs in 560 plate appearances.

But Montero still hits righties quite well and could make up half of a high-quality platoon in Chicago with incumbent Welington Castillo. (Unless, that is, Castillo is dealt elsewhere, in which case Montero will presumably be paired with a different right-handed bat.) Montero rated as an excellent pitch framer (per StatCorner) and strong overall defender (via Baseball Prospectus) last year.

Godley is a 24-year-old righty who has yet to move past the High-A level in Chicago’s system. Working at Daytona last year, he put up a 3.57 ERA in 40 1/3 frames with 11.6 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.

Mejia, 20, reached Rookie ball last year after being inked by the Cubs on July 2 of 2013. As Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote at the time, the 6’7 prospect had been adding weight and fastball velocity at the time of his signing. He ultimately went for a $850K bonus. Mejia features a low-90s heater with a good change and decent curve. That fastball velo may still be trending up, per MLB.com, which ranked him 17th among Cubs prospects. Working mostly as a reliever, he threw to a 2.48 ERA with 10.1 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 in 40 innings last year.

As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes notes on Twitter, Arizona would leave itself without much behind the dish were it to deal away Montero. The free agent market for backstops is rather thin, of course, with Geovany Soto among the most appealing options. Players such as Dioner Navarro may be had via trade, though prying loose a more permanent solution may be difficult.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Twitter that the deal was in its final stages of completion. Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com (via Twitter) reported that the deal was done. And Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter) and Levine (Twitter link) reported the other pieces in the deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Latest On Jon Lester

TUESDAY, 3:37am: The Cubs, Giants, Dodgers and Red Sox have all made offers to Lester of around six years and $150MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. One unknown team is willing to go to seven years and around $175MM, but Rosenthal suggests (as Jon Heyman also did earlier this morning) that might not matter, because Lester might simply choose the team he prefers, regardless of the financial specifics.

1:44am: Lester’s limbo could continue until Wednesday, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets. Team owners are now involved in the process and are slowing it down.

1:21am: Lester has six- and seven-year offers in hand, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. It’s possible, however, that Lester won’t take the biggest-money offer. Heyman tweets that Lester’s deal is expected to wind up being somewhere from $150MM to $175MM.

MONDAY 11:54pm: Lester will not make his decision tonight, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.

8:44pm: Giants GM Brian Sabean hasn’t been told when a decision is coming, but he believes that Lester will make his call soon, tweets Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News.

Sabean says that Lester is the only player that he’s currently engaged in, according to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).  He also says there are five teams that are in on Lester, not four (link).

7:32pm: There is no real evidence that the Yankees are in on Lester, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Among the top free agents, they prefer Max Scherzer.

6:09pm: A front office person cautioned Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (on Twitter) not to count the Yankees out of the Lester sweepstakes.  Crasnick also spoke with a scout who is hearing the same thing.

4:38pm: The hope within the Giants’ organization that they have a legitimate shot to sign Lester has grown over the last 24 hours, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).  Just a week ago, they felt like they were a longshot in the chase.

4:16pm: Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe (on Twitter) hears that Lester has not eliminated the Red Sox.  “Absolutely not,” a source said.

3:51pm: The Giants and Cubs seem to be the favorites, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.

3:45pm: Lester’s agent Seth Levinson denies that his client has whittled his list down to two finalists, tweets Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. The team has also said it has not been informed of any decision on its bid, per Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (via Twitter).

3:39pm: Free agent starter Jon Lester is choosing between the Cubs and Giants, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Rosenthal does caution that a late change in the bidding could shake things up.

The other teams said to be amongst the last suitors for Lester are the Red Sox and Dodgers. Boston, of course, was the only team that the 30-year-old had played before until he was dealt to the Athletics at the 2014 trade deadline.

Lester’s choice could have wide-reaching ramifications for the broader market, to say nothing of the teams involved.