Chicago Cubs Rumors

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

Phillies Notes: Lester, Hamels, Gillick

While the Phillies aren’t a part of the Jon Lester sweepstakes, they’re paying attention to the outcome, writes Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. The best matches for Hamels appear to be the Dodgers, Red Sox, and Cubs, who just happen to be three of the four finalists for Lester. If he signs with the fourth team – the Giants – then the Phillies can maximize their leverage. Hamels has some advantages over the other options on the market. He’s under contract for four years, presumably at a lesser rate than Max Scherzer (he already turned down a contract nearly identical to Hamels’). Hamels is better than James Shields, and both Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Zimmermann are free agents after the season.

  • The Dodgers line up best to acquire Hamels, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Phillies covet outfield depth like Joc Pederson and the Dodgers are swimming in outfielders. The big budget club could also feature a dominant rotation with Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Hamels.
  • For his part, Hamels is conflicted about the trade rumors, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. On the one hand, he’s comfortable in Philadelphia. He also understands that the club is rebuilding, so he has a better chance to win elsewhere. Hamels does possess a no trade clause which includes the Red Sox. It’s speculated that he would waive the clause if the acquiring team picked up his 2019 option.
  • Pat Gillick discussed the club’s rebuilding process with reporters including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Gillick stressed the need to be patient and methodical. The club wants to get younger, but it can’t be done all at once. Each older piece needs to be converted into a meaningful, younger piece. There’s no point in gutting the roster simply to clean house. If the Phillies can’t acquire the right pieces for Hamels, Marlon Byrd or others, they’re liable to keep them. That said, Gillick admitted it would be disappointing if the club failed to make any changes before the season.
  • Amaro has three or four trades he could make today, but they don’t benefit the club, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Amaro says he’s had many good conversations that could lead somewhere. The rumors that he’s asking too much in trade discussions are “malarkey.” Everybody is available, but certain guys like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins will be hard to move do to 10-and-5 rights.

Cubs, D’Backs Discussing Miguel Montero

11:31pm: A source tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter) that a deal isn’t close to fruition.

10:30pm: If the deal happens, Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter) hears it’ll “likely” be for two Single-A pitchers.

8:46pm: The return for Montero wouldn’t be big, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (two tweets). The DBacks would receive low level prospects with the Cubs assuming most or all of Montero’s $40MM contract. Rosenthal hears Arizona would receive pitching prospects (via Twitter).

8:28pm: The Cubs and Diamondbacks are discussing a trade that would send Miguel Montero to Chicago, sources tell Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  The two teams are expected to talk again tonight, Rosenthal tweets.  The Cubs and Diamondbacks have been engaged for weeks and a deal appears to be getting closer. There is no word yet as to what the Cubs have on offer.

Montero, 31, has three years and $40MM remaining on his current contract. The left-handed backstop struggles against same-handed pitching, including a .198/.252/.311 line in 115 plate appearances last season. He was considerably better against right-handers, with a .256/.348/.386 slash.

He started strong last season. His performance dwindled as the season wore on, leading some (including me) to speculate that he tired. In Chicago, Montero could form a potent platoon with Cubs incumbent Welington Castillo, who hits very well against southpaws – .301/.350/.505 last year. The presence of Castillo could also help to keep Montero fresh.

As a catcher, Montero draws strong grades on his pitch framing. Per StatCorner, he accrued the most framing value of any catcher last season. He caught 29% of base runners in 2014 which is solid but slightly below his career average.

Interestingly, the Cubs recently hired former Diamondbacks coach Henry Blanco. He mentored Montero last season and could be a factor in the Cubs interest. Buster Olney of ESPN was the first to deduce the connection (via Twitter).


Central Rumors: Cubs, Lester, Masterson

If the Cubs land Jon Lester, an industry source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) they’re next move would be to pursue a big bat – to go along with Miguel Montero – to try and accelerate their revival. The Cubs are reportedly discussing Montero with the D’Backs in a deal that wouldn’t require them giving up much in the way of assets.  More out of the Central divisions..

  • The Indians kicked the tires on Justin Masterson, but were never really “all in” on bringing him back, according to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter).
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan says he has no interest in the Blue Jays’ president/CEO role, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter).  “[I’m] very humbled to hear [that], but I’m a GM.  I’m a baseball guy,” Ryan said.
  • Even though word has only recently leaked, White Sox executive Kenny Williams was contacted by the Blue Jays about their team president position shortly after the end of the season, writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. Current Jays president Paul Beeston is part of the executive search process, which indicates the club isn’t going behind his back to make a change. Williams also likes the idea of being the first African American MLB CEO.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti is comfortable with his current roster, he tells Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (Twitter). The acquisition of Brandon Moss affords the club depth and versatility. We learned earlier tonight that the club would now look to build upon its seven pitcher deep rotation. We could also see them shop Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, or David Murphy, but I doubt they would receive much salary relief in a trade.
  • Ryan went on to say that the Twins have been in serious talks with both agents and clubs about acquiring pitching, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com (on Twitter).
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer isn’t making any secret about what he wants to do this winter, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com.  “Clearly we want to add multiple starting pitchers this winter. We need to,” Hoyer said.


AL East Notes: Cespedes, Ichiro, Rays

The latest from the AL East..

  • The Red Sox spoke with the Tigers about a deal involving Yoenis Cespedes and Rick Porcello, but there wasn’t a match there, accoridng to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (via Twitter).  Yesterday, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported that those talks were “not hot” between the two teams.
  • Ichiro Suzuki‘s agent John Boggs says his client isn’t in a rush to find a new home, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. However, if the right offer came along, he would sign “in two seconds.” Ichiro is entering his age 41 season after hitting .284/.324/.340 in 385 plate appearances with the Yankees.
  • The Rays have reached an agreement with St. Petersburg that will allow the club to search for stadium sites in nearby Hillsborough County, reports Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times. Under the deal, the Rays will pay a set annual amount based on the amount of time remaining in their current lease of Tropicana Field, which expires in 2027. The Rays will pay $4MM per season until 2018, $3MM through 2022, and $2MM for the remainder of the term.
  • MLB is still investigating the Cubs on charges of tampering with former manager Joe Maddon, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Maddon, now with the Cubs, opted out of his contract with the Rays earlier this offseason. Per Tampa GM Matt Silverman, “they’re handling it.”

Brad Johnson contributed to this post.


Pitching Notes: Miller, Giants, Cards, Masterson, Axford

Before he joined the Yankees, the Astros actually offered Andrew Miller a deal that included not only four guaranteed years but also a fifth-year option, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen how Houston will reallocate the funds it had earmarked for the lefty.

  • If the Giants miss on Jon Lester, they are more likely to go to the next tier of free agent pitchers than to go all out for Max Scherzer, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). San Francisco could aim for options of the ilk of Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano, says Shea, though it is not clear if those illustrative names or particular targets.
  • The Cardinals met with Scherzer at some point over the offseason and are at least weighing a run at him, Jon Heyman of CBSSportscom reports. It remains something of a longshot that Scherzer will land in St. Louis, Heyman notes, though the fact that he is from the area can’t hurt.
  • The Red Sox met with Justin Masterson over the weekend, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports on Twitter. The Twins, meanwhile, have not managed to gain traction with Masterson’s camp, Wolfson adds.
  • The MarlinsWhite Sox, and possibly Cubs will also sit down with Masterson in San Diego, Heyman reports.
  • Reliever John Axford has drawn interest from the Reds, though nothing is close and there are other teams involved, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

Jon Lester Rumors: Sunday

Here’s the latest on free agent ace Jon Lester.

  • The Giants are “very serious” about Lester, but are considering possible alternatives in case Lester doesn’t sign with them, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. Those alternatives include free agents Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano, Max Scherzer and James Shields, along with potential trade target Cole Hamels.
  • It looks like at least two teams have bid more than $130MM for Lester, Heyman writes. The Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers are all contenders for Lester, but the Cubs are reportedly trying to separate themselves, with an offer that could top $140MM. Lester appears likely to pick a new team by the end of this week’s Winter Meetings.

Cubs Tell Other Teams Castro Not Available

The Cubs have informed other clubs Starlin Castro is not available in trade, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman lists the Mets and Yankees (prior to obtaining Didi Gregorius) as teams who have been told the Cubs want to hang onto the 24-year-old All-Star shortstop. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets the Cubs have also assured Castro he will not be traded this offseason.

With a thin shortstop market and the Cubs having prospects Javier Baez and Addison Russell in the wings, Castro was a popular name for teams in need at the position. The Yankees were able to fill their shortstop vacancy by acquiring Gregorius earlier this week, but the Mets are still in the hunt for an upgrade over Wilmer Flores. Heyman, in a separate report, writes Jimmy Rollins still has not changed his stance on waiving his no-trade clause and the Phillies have relayed that position to the Mets and some other teams.


AL East Notes: Yankees, Scherzer, Red Sox

David Ortiz plans to give some guidance to Hanley Ramirez as he begins his next chapter with the Red Sox, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  “He looks at me as one of his older brothers,” Ortiz said. “I’m going to try to encourage him to do the right thing as long we keep on playing [together] and probably beyond that because I don’t have the time that he has left. I’m going to, like we normally say, take him under my wing and show him whatever I can help him with and make sure he’s really successful in Boston.”  More from the AL East..


NL Notes: Markakis, Ethier, Cubs, Rosario, Gattis

New Braves outfielder Nick Markakis is leaning toward undergoing neck surgery to repair a bulging disc, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The possibility of the surgery, which could come with a recovery time as long as 12 weeks, was known to the Braves before signing him, Rosenthal adds. The neck issue is believed by some to be one of the reasons that the Orioles were reluctant to go beyond three years for Markakis. Even with a 12-week recovery, Markakis would seemingly be ready to go for most of Spring Training. The Braves are confident that he’ll be ready for Opening Day, per Rosenthal.

Here are some more notes from around the Senior Circuit…

  • An executive from a team with interest in trading for Matt Kemp tells ESPN’s Jayson Stark that he’s still unconvinced that the Dodgers will actually move Kemp (Twitter link). Stark’s source feels that Andre Ethier is “still the guy they want to move.” Earlier today, it was reported that Ethier has communicated to the Dodgers that he prefers to be a starter next season, even if it means with another club. Ethier took his loss of playing time in stride this past season and has drawn praise for handling it quite well.
  • The Cubs are still looking for help behind the plate, president Theo Epstein told reporters, including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. On the one hand, Epstein praised incumbent Welington Castillo, noting that he does a “nice job” of many things and has a promising future. In particular, Epstein praised Castillo’s throwing and blocking, though he noted that framing and receiving are areas to improve. He also added that, “…catching is one of the few areas on the field where we can add some veteran leadership — in the near term, anyway — and not block a potential impact player.” The allusion to veteran leadership could imply a backup catcher, though Rogers also speculates on adding someone like Miguel Montero to platoon with Castillo and receive the lion’s share of playing time.
  • In an excellent analysis for GammonsDaily.com, David Golebiewski examines whether or not trade candidates Evan Gattis (Braves) and Wilin Rosario (Rockies) should remain behind the plate or only be of interest to teams who can move them off the position. Golebiewski notes that Gattis is a perhaps surprisingly competent pitch-framer, though he struggles to block balls in the dirt and is below-average at catching base stealers. Rosario, on the other hand, averages -12 runs in pitch-framing and -5 runs in blocking per season. Golebiewski feels that Gattis can follow a career path similar to Mike Napoli, providing a few solid seasons behind the plate before his large 6’4″, 260-pound frame causes him to move for another pitcher. Regarding Rosario, he offers a much bleaker take: “No matter where he suits up in 2015, it’s time to hide his mask and chest plate.”

Jon Lester Rumors: Friday

The Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers are believed to be the top four suitors for Jon Lester, who reportedly isn’t expected to make a decision prior to the beginning of next week’s Winter Meetings. We’ll keep track of today’s Lester rumors here…

  • Ryan Dempster, who joined the Cubs‘ front office today, has been in contact with Lester and talked up how great it is to pitch with the Cubs, writes ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. A source familiar with the Lester negotiations told Rogers that reports indicating a $130-140MM offer from the Cubs are actually low. Lester is expected to top $150MM, Rogers writes, and if a team “blows past” that number by adding a seventh year or bidding $160-170MM, Chicago is likely to bow out of the race.