Chicago Cubs Rumors

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

Cafardo On Hamels, Shields, Duquette, Maddon

It’s time to add Pete Rose’s name to Hall of Fame ballot, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  Cafardo always agreed with the decision from commissioner Bart Giamatti to keep Rose out of baseball after he bet on games but after 25 years at the age of 73, he feels that the all-time great has paid for his crime.  He’s not sure whether he’d vote for Charlie Hustle, but he should at least have the opportunity to be elected.  More from today’s column..

  • Cafardo hears that there have been no talks this month between the Phillies and Red Sox regarding Cole Hamels.  Boston will not part with Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart but the Phillies want one of the two to make a deal.  West Coast teams, meanwhile, are in pursuit of the left-hander.
  • One National League GM speculated that James Shields hasn’t jumped on his rumored $110MM offer because he doesn’t want to play for that team.  Of course, at 33, teams are wary of giving a five-year deal.  “There isn’t a team who wouldn’t want Shields for three years. But five? That’s where it gets tough,” one GM said.
  • Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette is still in the running for the Blue Jays president’s job, according to a major league source that spoke with Cafardo.  In order that that to advance, of course, the two teams would have to agree on compensation, which is where deals such as this usually break down.
  • The tampering charge the Rays filed against the Cubs over manager Joe Maddon is still alive.  A major league source tells Cafardo that MLB investigators have been gathering information on the matter.
  • Alexi Ogando‘s shoulder medicals don’t look great, according to an American League executive.  Still, once his price lowers and he’s no longer holding out for a major league contract, teams will compete for his services.
  • Mark Mulder says he’s in the final stage of rehab for his Achilles’/ankle injury and will soon make a decision on whether to resume his pitching career.  “The ankle is great,” Mulder said.

Minor Moves: Royals, Braves, White Sox, Cubs

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league, with the most recent updates at the top.

  • The Royals have signed pitcher Roman Colon, outfielder Brandon Jacobs and third baseman Alex Liddi, and they’ve re-signed outfielder Mitch Maier, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. The 26-year-old Liddi, who appeared with the Mariners in the 2011 through 2013 seasons, is perhaps the most interesting of those, although he’s coming off a .207/.286/.355 season at Double-A and Triple-A in the Dodgers and White Sox systems.
  • The Royals also outrighted infielder Ryan Jackson to Triple-A Omaha, per the Pacific Coast League transactions page. Kansas City had previously designated Jackson for assignment to clear space for Edinson Volquez. Jackson missed most of last season (which he spent in the Padres organization) with a wrist injury. The 26-year-old has a career minor league line of .268/.338/.363.
  • The Braves have signed outfielder Joe Benson and lefty reliever Leyson Septimo, Eddy tweets. Benson, 26, hit .264/.364/.410 with Double-A Jacksonville in the Marlins system in 2014. The 29-year-old Septimo, who appeared in the big leagues with the White Sox in 2012, pitched in 2014 with Southern Maryland in the Atlantic League. There, he issued ten walks in 6 2/3 innings, continuing to have the control problems that have persisted throughout his career.
  • The White Sox have re-signed outfielder Michael Taylor and signed third baseman Andy LaRoche, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. Chicago acquired Taylor from the Athletics last June, and the 29-year-old hit well for Triple-A Charlotte down the stretch to finish the year with a .275/.371/.437 minor league line in 512 plate appearances. LaRoche, a former top prospect with the Dodgers and Pirates and the brother of current White Sock Adam LaRoche, spent most of the past two seasons with the Blue Jays’ Triple-A club in Buffalo, where he hit .248/.309/.396 in 2014. The White Sox also signed first baseman Chris Jacobs, a 26-year-old who played for Class A+ Rancho Cucamonga in the Dodgers system last year.
  • The Red Sox have signed outfielder Blake Tekotte, Eddy tweets. The 27-year-old Tekotte, who has appeared in the big leagues in past years with the Padres and White Sox, hit .249/.320/.439 in 340 Triple-A plate appearances last season in the White Sox and Diamondbacks systems.
  • The Cubs have signed righty Andres Santiago, according to Baseball America’s Minor League Free Agent Tracker (via the Tennessee Smokies’ Andrew Green on Twitter). Santiago, 25, pitched for the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga last season, posting a 4.47 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 129 innings. Green points out that Santiago no-hit the Cubs’ Smokies team last season.
  • The Cubs have also added catcher Taylor Teagarden and righty Jorge De Leon, Eddy tweets. The 31-year-old Teagarden hit .303/.403/.579 in 211 plate appearances with the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season. De Leon, 27, posted a 3.01 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 68 2/3 innings in the Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Oklahoma City bullpens in the Astros system in 2014, also making eight appearances in the big leagues.

West Notes: D’Backs, Rockies, Haren, Profar

MLBTR offers its best wishes to the family and friends of former Negro League player Herb Simpson, who passed away Wednesday at age 94. As MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes, Simpson was the last known surviving member of the Seattle Steelheads and also saw action with the Birmingham Black Barons and Chicago American Giants.

As we honor an early pioneer of African-American baseball in the Pacific Northwest, here are some notes from the league’s western divisions:

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that asking prices in trade talks for another backstop are simply too high at present. “We’ve not made a whole lot of headway in that area yet,” said Stewart. “Without really giving up something that’s going to cost us a player that we don’t want to give away, we don’t have a whole lot of motion yet.” Arizona has had talks with the Blue Jays regarding Dioner Navarro and with the Cubs regarding Welington Castillo, says Piecoro.
  • The Rockies have “mild” interest in trading for Dan Haren, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. However, as he notes, the thin air and homer-friendly nature of Coors Field make Colorado a fairly poor fit for Haren. Morosi also tweets that while the Giants did have interest earlier in the offseason (prior to re-signing Jake Peavy), there’s no active dialogue between Miami and San Francisco.
  • Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar, who missed the entire 2014 season after tearing the same muscle in his right shoulder twice, has been cleared to begin a throwing program on Jan. 19, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Still just 21 years old, it was only two years ago that Profar was the consensus No. 1 overall prospect in baseball (per Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com). A healthy Profar would give the Rangers somewhat of a surplus of middle infielders, as Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor are both in the fold as well.


Cubs Designate Mike Kickham For Assignment

The Cubs announced today that they have designated left-hander Mike Kickham for assignment in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for outfielder Chris Denorfia, whose one-year contract is now official.

The Cubs claimed Kickham off waivers from the Giants last month, following a season in which he threw just two innings at the big league level. Kickham, 26, has struggled in parts of two seasons in the Majors, yielding an alarming 37 earned runs in 30 1/3 innings (10.38 ERA). However, he’s posted a solid 30-to-11 K/BB ratio in that time and has a better minor league track record; in 259 Triple-A innings, Kickham has a 4.37 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9.


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NL Central Links: Walker, Cubs, Cardinals

We’ve already shared one set of NL Central notes earlier today, and here’s even more news out of the division…

  • The possible addition of Jung-ho Kang could be a sign that the Pirates are preparing to eventually part ways with Neil Walker, MLB.com’s Tom Singer writes.  The Bucs have discussed an extension with Walker, who will be 31 when his current deal expires after the 2016 season, though seemingly little progress had been made.  Singer notes that shortstop prospect Alen Hanson has been playing second base in Dominican Winter League action, which could simply be a developmental move, or another hint that the Pirates are covering their bases if a Walker extension can’t be worked out.  Of course, this could be a moot point if Pittsburgh doesn’t sign Kang — the team has about two more weeks to work out a contract with the Korean infielder after posting the highest bid for his services.
  • With the Cardinals rumored to be looking for a top-tier starting pitcher, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch speculates that this interest could be fueled by the Cubs‘ aggressive offseason.  “If indeed the Cardinals view the Cubs as a rising power, then that’s another reason to make a big move here to strengthen your roster for the long haul,” Miklasz writes.
  • The Cubs and WGN-TV announced a new broadcasting deal today that will see the local station air 45 Cubs games per year through the 2019 season.  No financial terms of the contract were revealed.  As Robert Channick of the Chicago Tribune notes, the Cubs’ local and cable TV rights are now both set to expire after the 2019 season, so the team could pursue creating its own regional sports network.

Cubs To Sign Chris Denorfia

JANUARY 6: Denorfia will be guaranteed $2.6MM this year, with an additional $400K in achievable incentives, Heyman tweets.

DECEMBER 31: The Cubs have agreed to terms with outfielder Chris Denorfia, former teammate John Baker tweets. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal confirms the deal (via Twitter), adding that it’s for one year. He will receive about $2.5MM, tweets CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. Denorfia is a client of Pro Star Management, Inc.

Denorfia, 34, hit .230/.284/.318 in 330 plate appearances with the Padres and Mariners in 2014. Before that, though, he had four straight productive years in San Diego, always posting OPS figures in the .700s despite the difficulties hitting there. He’s also hit well against lefties throughout his career, batting .292/.358/.430 against them, and he can play all three outfield spots (although he didn’t play much center in 2014).

The Cubs traded another righty outfielder, Justin Ruggiano, to the Mariners two weeks ago for relief prospect Matt Brazis, and Denorfia should be a reasonable substitute. (And not just with his play — MLBTR projects Ruggiano will make $2.5MM this season, approximately the same amount Denorfia will now make.) The Cubs can platoon Denorfia with lefty Chris Coghlan in left field while also having him fill in as needed at the other outfield spots.


Cafardo On Shields, Zobrist, Uggla, Papelbon, Aoki

The return of Alex Rodriguez headlines the top ten baseball storylines in 2015, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With the 39-year-old Rodriguez and his two degenerating hips returning after serving a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, Cafardo posits the best-case scenario for the Yankees would be if A-Rod cannot hold up physically or the team and/or MLB come up with more damaging material to keep him out of baseball for good. Also making Cafardo’s list, the start of Rob Manfred’s tenure as Commissioner and Pete Rose testing the waters of reinstatement in the wake of the retirement of Bud Selig, a staunch opponent of allowing the all-time hits leader back into the game.

In other tidbits from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:

  • It has been hard to gauge the market for James Shields because his negotiations have been private. However, a MLB source tells Cafardo the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have had discussions or shown interest in the right-hander. Cafardo adds the Giants have cooled on Shields after re-signing Jake Peavy, but remain open-minded.
  • The Giants, Nationals, Angels, and Cubs are seriously pursuing Ben Zobrist with the Rays‘ asking price being at least one top prospect and a mid-level one.
  • Dan Uggla is confident in returning to his former self after being diagnosed with oculomotor dysfunction (poor motion vision when moving the head or body), which was caused by being hit in the head by a pitch on two separate occasions. After a two-week exercise regimen, doctors have declared the second baseman’s motion vision normal. The Nationals, who signed Uggla to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite the day after Christmas, have prior experience in dealing with oculomotor dysfunction, as Denard Span suffered through it in 2013. The Orioles and Rangers also expressed interest in Uggla.
  • Despite his less-than-stellar reputation, Cafardo finds it hard to fathom a team would not trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Cafardo notes Papelbon has found a way to keep getting batters out with diminished velocity as evident by his 106 saves over the past three seasons, including 39 (with just four blown saves) for a bad Phillies team last year.
  • Clubs are only offering outfielder Nori Aoki two-year deals. The Orioles have definite interest in Aoki, who also has some appeal to the Giants.

 


Quick Hits: Scherzer, Zobrist, Young

ESPN’s Buster Olney is the latest analyst to complete an analysis of Max Scherzer‘s market. In his team-by-team breakdown, Olney doesn’t uncover any blatantly obvious match. There are a handful of teams who can theoretically afford the Scott Boras client, but none of them feel pressure to ink an ace. An offseason injury to an existing ace could change Scherzer’s market – as it did with Prince Fielder a few years ago. Then, Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez injured himself while training, opening a need for the club. Detroit remains the default guess for Scherzer’s landing spot, but it’s beginning to feel like something unplanned is necessary for the market to move forward.

  • Rays trade candidate Ben Zobrist makes sense for either Chicago club, writes Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago. There are the geographical coincidences – Zobrist is a Eureka, Illinois native and is represented by Chicago-based agent Alan Nero. There is history – Zobrist has played his entire career for Cubs manager Joe Maddon. More to the point, there is a need. Zobrist’s versatility would improve either club, although they both would lean upon his ability to play multiple positions rather than handing him a steady home.
  • Delmon Young‘s physical is scheduled for Wednesday, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. It was reported on December 24 that Young and the Orioles had agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal with $750K in incentives. The deal will be officially announced after the physical.

Minor Moves: Dae-eun Rhee

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan have announced that they’ve signed former Cubs prospect Dae-eun Rhee to a one-year deal worth around $450K, according to the Japan Times (via Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune on Twitter). Rhee, 25, posted a 3.42 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in a 152 2/3 innings split between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014. The Cubs signed Rhee out of Korea for $525K in 2007.

Sherman’s Latest: Drew, Rios, Myers

Here’s the latest from Joel Sherman of the New York Post:

  • The Blue Jays, Athletics, Cubs, White Sox and Angels are interested in Stephen Drew to play second base but don’t want to pay his $9MM-$10MM asking price, Sherman writes. There’s concern that Drew’s poor 2014 season marks the beginning of a serious decline. “Fine, you want to say June and July [last year] were spring training for him, well, how about August or September? There was never a time in which he looked like a major league hitter,” says one executive. The Yankees could have interest in him, but want to commit to Didi Gregorius at shortstop and could have concern Drew would provide an easy distraction from those plans, even if he’s signed as a second baseman. Earlier this month, we guessed Drew would get a one-year, $7MM deal.
  • The Royals signed Alex Rios this offseason even though Rios rejected a trade to Kansas City last summer, Sherman says. The Rangers tried to trade Rios to the Royals, but Rios requested that Kansas City exercise his 2015 option as a condition of the deal. The Royals said no, so Rios used his no-trade clause to stop the trade. Rios thus spent the entire season with the Rangers, refusing a chance to join a team in the midst of a playoff race.
  • There have already been rumors of the Padres trading Wil Myers to Philadelphia in a Cole Hamels deal, and Sherman writes that San Diego would, in fact, consider dealing Myers, who they might feel isn’t good enough defensively to handle center field.