Chicago Cubs Rumors

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

Free Agent Notes: Sandoval, Miller, Martin, Gomes, Carter

The Red Sox are trying to set up a visit to Boston for Pablo Sandoval, perhaps as early as next week, reports the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Sandoval has drawn interest from four clubs, per Cafardo, but the Red Sox and Giants are the two most serious suitors. David Ortiz has been pitching Boston to Sandoval and trying to persuade him away from San Francisco, Cafardo hears.

Some more free agent notes as baseball news slows down following the conclusion of the GM Meetings…

  • A hefty 22 teams have reached out to agent Mark Rodgers regarding Andrew Miller, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Heyman adds that one team that’s unlikely to make a play for Miller is the Cubs, who are more focused on lengthening their ‘pen with lower-profile acquisitions. Reports yesterday indicated that the Cubs were out on David Robertson as well.A
  • Heyman also writes that the Dodgers are serious about making a run at Russell Martin but still facing competition from the Cubs, Pirates and Blue Jays. The Pirates, Heyman hears, are said to have already made a strong bid to retain Martin. Despite their acquisition of Francisco Cervelli, he notes, the Pirates are not out on Martin.
  • Six clubs have shown interest in Jonny Gomes to this point, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish. The Cubs are believed to be one of those clubs, though Gomes isn’t close to any kind of decision and is still “early in the process.”
  • Right-hander Anthony Carter, who spent this past season in Japan, will not have his mutual option with the Nippon-Ham Fighters exercised, MLBTR has learned. Carter technically has to clear waivers in Japan before he can become a free agent and become eligible to sign with a Major League organization or a different club in NPB. The 28-year-old posted a 3.97 ERA in 45 1/3 innings of relief in Japan this season and has a lifetime 4.93 ERA at Triple-A. His best season came in 2013 with the Red Sox when he posted a 3.47 ERA with 11.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 at Triple-A.

Korean Lefty Hyeon-jong Yang To Be Posted Monday

NOV. 13: Yang will be posted next Monday, the 17th, reports Feinsand in an updated piece. Feinsand notes that the Yankees might show interest in the lefty, and he lists the Cubs, Astros, Giants and Red Sox as other clubs with potential interest.

NOV. 4: Another high profile Korean pitcher and his KBO team have decided to take a run through the posting system. As Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports, lefty Hyeon-jong Yang will be posted by the Kia Tigers in the next few weeks.

Yang joins countryman (and fellow 26-year-old southpaw) Kwang-Hyun Kim in preparing for the posting process. Kim outperformed Yang last year, registering a 3.42 ERA to the 4.25 mark notched by Yang in a notoriously hitter-friendly environment.

Feinsand’s sources tell him that Yang has a low-to-mid 90’s fastball and useful slider (as well as a curve and change) that could hold appeal. According to the Yonhap News Agency, which recently reported that Yang was interested in coming to North America, Yang’s 2014 season was fairly characteristic of his results. Over his career, per Yonhap, he has struck out 740 over 860 1/3 frames.


NL East Notes: Desmond, Fish, Phils, Hamels, Braves, Medlen

The Nationals made Ian Desmond a seven-year, $107MM extension offer last year, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, though that also included contract deferrals that would have reduced its true value. Negotiations are expected to pick back up in the months to come, per Kilgore, and that offer will presumably be the starting point. Desmond, who put up another strong year and is now one year away from the open market, is one key piece of the team’s increasingly pressing long-term strategic questions.

Here’s the latest out of the division:

  • The Marlins‘ interest in the starting pitching market is fairly diverse, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. Possible trade targets range from buy-low (Ubaldo Jimenez) to buy-high (Johnny Cueto), and interest on the free agent markets includes Kyle Kendrick and Ervin Santana. The unifying force here is probably the expected ability of these varying arms to provide innings; as I noted yesterday, the Fish hope to add a solid, veteran presence to their staff.
  • Spencer also spoke with the Miami brass about Giancarlo Stanton, and discusses the team’s reasoning for trying to build a winner around him now, even if an extension cannot ultimately be worked out. “We’re trying to get away from that, that we have to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Hill said. “Enough of that. We want to win. We want to keep as many of our pieces as we can.”
  • There are “a lot of good fits” for Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is likely to be traded, sources tell Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia is seeing interest in Ben Revere as well.
  • Of course, the flashier chip for the Phils is lefty Cole Hamels. As Salisbury reports, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “the free agent market will kind of dictate where this thing goes,” referring to the possibility of striking a deal. “[A]t some point the dominores will start to fall and then we’ll see where it takes us,” said Amaro, who notes that there is no need to deal Hamels since he “traverses the timeline” of contention that the club has in mind.
  • Hamels would prefer to be dealt, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale provides additional teams to which Hamels cannot decline a trade (on top of the previously-reported Cubs): the Yankees and Rangers are the two A.L. clubs, with the Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, and Padres among the National League teams.
  • The Braves increasingly sound inclined to aim for the near future, and we’ve already heard several prominent names listed as possible trade candidates. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman provides two more, via Twitter: reliever Jordan Walden (who projects to earn $3MM in arbitration) and young second baseman Tommy La Stella.
  • Braves president of baseball operations John Hart says the sides will “need to get creative” to work out a deal to keep Kris Medlen, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. While the team has every hope of keeping the righty, his second Tommy John procedure and $5.8MM projected arb price tag do not make for a straightforward situation given the team’s tight payroll. Sherman suggests that a significantly lower guarantee, combined with incentives and a 2016 option, could be palatable for both sides. It seems that Medlen would be able to do better, however, were he to force the Braves’ hand: he would either be tendered a contract, or hit the open market with plenty of suitors given his upside.


Central Links: Reds, Cubs, Avila, Tigers, Tomas, Butler

Reds GM Walt Jocketty is of the mindset that his team will need to either be “all in” or “all out” in 2015, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. In other words, if the Reds decide to trade one of four starters who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season — Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon — others may very well follow. Sherman lists Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman as names to watch if Cincinnati does elect to go into a full rebuild. Both can be free agents after 2016, though the Reds have a club option on Bruce for the 2017 season.

Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Sherman also tweets that the Cubs aren’t likely to spend big on a closer this winter, which seemingly eliminates a potential suitor for David Robertson. Earlier today, reports indicated that Robertson is seeking a contract comparable to Jonathan Papelbon‘s four-year, $50MM contract.
  • The Tigers are willing to listen to offers on Alex Avila, tweets the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Avila has a $5.4MM club option for his final arb year and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn the same amount in arbitration. Cafardo notes that the Braves and Red Sox are both looking for left-handed bats. While both have inexperienced catchers (Christian Bethancourt and Christian Vasquez, respectively), adding Avila would limit each team’s ability to get an extended look at how their young backstop handles a full workload.
  • John Manuel of Baseball America tweets that the Tigers‘ defense up the middle in 2015 could be special with Jose Iglesias and the newly acquired Anthony Gose. He also notes that Devon Travis, who went to the Blue Jays in the deal, now has a clear shot to Major League playing time that he may not have had in Detroit.
  • The Royals could scout Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic next week, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Royals officials will be in the Dominican Republic on other business anyway and met with Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, earlier this week at the GM Meetings. The team’s payroll could surpass the $100MM mark for the first time next season, and there’s perhaps room for one significant expenditure such as Tomas, Ervin Santana or Melky Cabrera, McCullough writes.
  • Billy Butler is receiving interest from a number of clubs — even one National League club — tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The interest in Butler likely means that a return to the Royals isn’t the best fit, he adds. McCullough reported Tuesday that K.C. doesn’t seem inclined to go beyond two years to retain Butler.
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wonders if the Brewers will consider trading a starting pitcher (Twitter link). The Brew Crew needs some payroll flexibility, and the Braves are one team that has been poking around at the GM Meetings.

Yoan Moncada Expected To Receive Record Bonus For Amateur Player

Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada is quickly becoming one of the most hyped amateurs in history, and it’s expected that he will absolutely shatter the record for an amateur player — international or domestic — according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan spoke to a pair of GMs and two other executives, and all four agreed that they expect the 19-year-old Moncada to land an incredible $30-40MM bonus.

While that bonus doesn’t necessarily seem steep right off the bat, at least when juxtaposed with the commitments made to countrymen Yoenis Cespedes ($36MM), Yasiel Puig ($42MM), Jose Abreu ($68MM) and Rusney Castillo ($72.5MM), bear in mind that each of those players was viewed as a professional under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement and therefore was not subject to international spending limitations.

Moncada, on the other hand, will be subject to spending limits, but executives that spoke with Passan still seemed to believe the price tag could approach $40MM. That would obliterate any team’s bonus pool, and a signing team would have to pay a 100 percent luxury tax on all overages (in addition to subsequently being prohibited from spending more than $300K on a player in the next two signing periods). In that regard, then, a team would essentially be dropping $60-80MM to add Moncada to its farm system, based on the range Passan received in his poll of execs.

As Passan notes, Moncada has yet to be unblocked by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control or Major League Baseball, so the timeline for his arrival on the free agent market is uncertain, but the timing of his arrival is critical. If Moncada isn’t declared a free agent until next year’s signing period (the current signing period runs through June 15, 2015), the Angels, Yankees and Red Sox would not be able to sign him, as the penalties they’ve incurred prevent them from signing a player for more than $300K in the next two signing periods. If he’s declared a free agent in the current signing period, the Rangers and Cubs, who exceeded their bonus pool in the 2013-14 signing period, would not be able to sign him.

Nearly every team was on-hand today in Guatemala to see a Moncada showcase, although Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that the Angels weren’t there to see him (they’ve seen him in the past, Fletcher notes).

MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke to multiple scouts who were on-hand, with one scout giving Moncada a 60 hit-tool, 60 power, 70 speed, a 60 arm and a 50 in terms of fielding (on the 20-80 scouting scale). A scouting director told Mayo that Moncada is “worth going way over your international spending pool,” adding that the game is ultimately about talent, and Moncada “is the kind of talent worth the investment.” Another touted his five-tool potential and said he was in great shape. Mayo hears that Moncada looked better at third and second than shortstop, though he has the arm to play any infield position. The Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and Cubs all had four or more scouts in attendance, per Mayo.

Those wishing to learn more about the potential phenom can check out this report on him from Baseball America’s Ben Badler penned back in August.


Rizzo: Nationals Have Payroll Flexibility

The Nationals are entering the offseason with “an eye on 2015 and also beyond,” club president and GM Mike Rizzo said today from the GM Meetings in Phoenix. As it looks to build off of an NL East-winning 2014, the club will benefit from a measure of financial flexibility.

Last year’s Opening Day payroll evidently does not set a ceiling for the team’s spending, according to Rizzo. Asked where the club stood financially with a slate of guarantees and likely arbitration commitments that already push beyond last year’s starting salary point, the Nats’ head baseball decisionmaker told MLBTR: “There’s nothing off the table, there’s no restrictions. We’re going to make good, prudent baseball moves … regardless of payroll.”

At the start of last year, club ownership indicated that the $136MM+ budget was above where the organization wanted to be. But Rizzo said that the Nationals “have the flexibility to put the best club on the field.”

Rizzo also preached a balance between present and future in assessing the possibility of trading from the current roster. Though he rejected last night’s rumors that the Nats and Cubs were in talks on Jordan Zimmermann, he did say that the team is always willing to listen in an effort to improve.

The team does “not necessarily have to have a major league return on one of [the] 5+ [service-time] guys,” Rizzo said, explaining that he would be looking for “the greatest impact that you can make with the players you trade, especially when you don’t have to trade them.” In terms of value maximization, Rizzo also emphasized the fact that several of the Nationals’ 5+ players would likely be qualifying offer candidates next year.

Of course, players like Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, and (to a much lesser extent, given the team’s rising younger players) Denard Span all figure as extension candidates. I asked Rizzo about the equally impressive group of players coming behind those who are nearing free agency. The team has “a long-term outlook and a long-term plan,” said Rizzo. “We’ve definitely thought about who and how and what players we should look into extending and we certainly have our plans in place to do what we need to do to protect the longevity and success of the franchise.”


Six Teams Showing Legitimate Interest In Jon Lester

Six teams have expressed “legitimate interest” in signing Jon Lester, a source tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. The Red Sox are among the six interested parties, while the Mariners have not shown real interest to this point. As Bradford notes, Boston GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including Bradford, that while he did meet with Lester’s camp on Tuesday evening, no figures were exchanged. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that Cherington spoke with one of Lester’s agents again today, making the second straight day the two sides have talked.

While Cherington said he doesn’t expect any signings from Boston by the end of the week, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com tweets that Red Sox ownership has requested to meet with Lester’s representatives at ACES personally, possibly as soon as this week. Beyond that, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com hears from a source that Boston is willing to make an exception to its well-known aversion to significant investments in pitchers on the wrong side of 30 in order to bring Lester back into the fold. Meanwhile, Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com tweets that Lester will meet with the Cubs in Chicago sometime next week.

Last night, Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com reported that Lester is willing to sign at any time, whether it be within a matter of days or months, if a team presents an offer to his liking. The Yankees, reportedly, will not pursue Lester or any of the top three starters on the market.


Minor Moves: Roach, Kieschnick, Roberts

Here are today’s minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Cubs claimed right-hander Donn Roach off waivers from the Padres, according to a Cubs press release.  Roach was designated for assignment by San Diego last week.  Roach, an Angels third-round pick in the 2010 draft, joined the Padres as part of the Ernesto Frieri trade in May 2012.  He made his Major League debut in 2014, posting a 4.75 ERA in 30 1/3 IP for San Diego.
  • Outfielder Roger Kieschnick has cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Angels‘ Triple-A affiliate, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.  Kieschnick was claimed off waivers from the D’Backs last month and was DFA’ed by the Angels earlier this week.
  • The Royals have signed veteran infielder Ryan Roberts and left-hander Joe Paterson to minor league contracts, the team announced (via Twitter).  Both deals contain Spring Training invites.  Roberts signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox in April and appeared in eight games for the club, though he spent most of his season at Triple-A Pawtucket.  Paterson pitched 34 innings out of the Diamondbacks bullpen in 2011 but only 6 1/3 Major League innings since.  The southpaw has posted strong numbers in the minors over his career, notching a 2.75 ERA, 2.75 K/BB rate and 358 strikeouts over 356 1/3 innings, all in Arizona’s farm system.

NL Central Notes: Zimmermann, Cards, Miller

A rumored deal of Jordan Zimmermann to the Cubs is reportedly not happening, which makes sense to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal since such a trade wouldn’t really be a fit for either the Cubs or the Nationals.  The Cubs are likely to address their pitching need by either signing a top free agent arm or trading one of their infield prospects for a controllable younger arm.  Dealing for Zimmermann would the Cubs to both give up prospects and spend big, Rosenthal notes, since Chicago would obviously want to sign the righty to a long-term extension.

Here’s some more from around the NL Central…

  • The Cardinals are wary of making commitments that will result in future roadblocks to upcoming younger players, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  GM John Mozeliak notes that the team feels it could be “exposed” at first base or the corner outfield if it does not get the performances it hopes for, and is interested in left-handed relief help and a utility infielder.
  • In fact, the Cardinals met with representatives for Andrew Miller on Tuesday, Goold tweets. The meeting was characterized as exploratory in nature, though the fit is obvious.
  • Both the Cardinals and Reds had interest in Michael Cuddyer before he signed with the Mets, Goold reports in a separate piece.
  • Though the Reds are interested in Nori Aoki and Michael Morse, that is not an exclusive list, GM Walt Jocketty tells C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). The club’s top priority is adding offense, and it is considering trade scenarios in addition to looking at the free agent market.

NL East Notes: Stanton, Heyward, Nats, Mets, Cuddyer, Phillies

For those who need further convincing that the Marlins are serious about extending Giancarlo Stanton, president of baseball operations Michael Hill told reporters, including the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo (Twitter link), that teams aren’t even bothering to call and ask about Stanton’s availability anymore. Joel Sherman of the New York Post expands on that quote from Hill, noting that there are some indications that the team is willing to break its policy of not giving out no-trade clauses in order to lock up Stanton. Hill wouldn’t directly state that the team is willing to give Stanton a no-trade clause, but that could certainly be inferred from his comments: “It’s been an organizational policy, but you are talking about a star talent. You look at the marketplace and what other stars have gotten. It will be a topic of discussion.”

More from the NL East…

  • Braves president of baseball operations John Hart tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he doesn’t envision an extension for Jason Heyward this offseason (Twitter links). That’s not due to a lack of interest on Atlanta’s behalf, but rather due to Heyward’s proximity to free agency. With Heyward set to hit the open market next winter, Hart said that his assumption is it’s “probably the wrong time,” though he said the team could still try to sign Heyward as a free agent.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo acknowledged to James Wagner of the Washington Post that he’s been in contact with Asdrubal Cabrera‘s agent as the team looks at all options on the second base market (Twitter link).
  •  Wagner also tweets that the Nationals and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann aren’t engaged in any form of extension talks at the moment. The ace righty is slated to hit the open market next winter after pocketing a $16.5MM salary in 2015.
  • Marc Carig of Newsday provides a breakdown of where the Mets are in their pursuit of a shortstop. The Mets aren’t big on the idea of multi-year deals for either Jed Lowrie or Asdrubal Cabrera, and looking to the trade market has been difficult thus far. Arizona’s asking price on Didi Gregorius is high — GM Dave Stewart said the return would need to be “earth-shattering” in terms of controllable pitching — and the Cubs haven’t given indication they’ll part with Starlin Castro. The Mets are concerned about Alexei Ramirez‘s declining range, and while they briefly floated the idea of pursuing Jimmy Rollins, that notion went nowhere when they learned that Rollins wouldn’t waive his no-trade rights to go there. A trade for Troy Tulowitzki is considered an extreme long shot, he adds.
  • Matthew Cerrone of SNY.tv’s Metsblog has some highlights (and the audio) from the Mets‘ conference call announcing Michael Cuddyer‘s signing today. Within, he notes that GM Sandy Alderson admitted to being caught off guard by the Rockies’ qualifying offer, but they ultimately decided that they’d prefer to sacrifice a draft pick rather than sacrifice a current minor league prospect in a trade for an outfielder. That makes some sense, considering they figure to do so in order to acquire a shortstop at some point.
  • The Phillies are willing to trade anyone, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, but they may have to wait until the free agent market pans out a bit further before seeing some big deals come to fruition. If they’re able to find a taker for Ryan Howard, it may not come until big bats like Victor Martinez, Nelson Cruz and Melky Cabrera are off the market. The same could be said regarding Cole Hamels in relation to Max Scherzer, James Shields and Jon Lester; GM Ruben Amaro Jr. might find teams more willing to part with a significant prospect package when there are no longer ace-caliber alternatives in free agency.