Chicago Cubs Rumors

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

Cafardo On Drew, Swisher, Longoria, Gomes

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Orioles are still the team to beat in the AL East, a largely stagnant offseason which included losing two top players.  The Orioles are, in part, banking on Chris Davis having a bounce back season in his walk year and they believe healthy seasons out of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters will elevate them.  More from Cafardo..

  • Agent Scott Boras thinks the market for Stephen Drew will heat up in January after teams have exhausted trade possibilities for a middle infielder.  Boras hinted to Cafardo that a personal issue may have contributed to his offensive decline last season, though he declined to elaborate.
  • The Indians would like to trade Nick Swisher after acquiring Brandon Moss from Oakland and the Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Padres, Brewers, and Cubs could all be possible trade partners.  Swisher is owed about $30MM on his deal, however, so Cleveland might have to foot some of the bill.
  • One National League GM told Cafardo that he inquired about Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and was rebuffed.  The Rays have Longoria under contract at $11MM this year and $11.5MM next year before his extension kicks in in 2017, running through 2023.
  • Cafardo writes that Jonny Gomes could wind up with former Red Sox Jon Lester and David Ross on the Cubs to add some veteran presence to a young outfield.  “He’s still an effective player. He works for a team that’s on the verge and on a team like the Cubs or Astros who need a veteran presence,” said one National League GM.
  • At some point, the Phillies might have to release Ryan Howard and eat more than $60MM in salary.  Still, it’s not surprising to hear that a GM told Cafardo that an American League team would scoop him up as a DH if he is free.

NL Notes: Castro, Catchers, Padres

8:32pm: Castro has been cleared of any involvement in the shooting by the Dominican General of National Police, tweets Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com.

12:53pm: Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro’s agent, Paul Kinzer, denies reports that Castro was arrested following a shooting in the Dominican Republic, Paul Sullivan and Gregory Pratt of the Chicago Tribune write. Six people were injured in the shooting, which took place at a nightclub early Saturday morning. Kinzer says Castro went to the police station voluntarily to clear his name, but police told him they had video proof that he wasn’t involved. As Sullivan notes, it’s the second time in less than a month that Castro has had to speak to police about a shooting in the Dominican — police cleared Castro in a separate incident three weeks ago. Here are more notes from around the National League.


AL East Notes: Kuroda, Hardy, Orioles, Ross, Red Sox

Hiroki Kuroda recently opted to return to the Hiroshima Carp in Japan, but the move doesn’t appear to be a shock to the Yankees, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com writes. The team already re-signed Chris Capuano and traded for Nathan Eovaldi, suggesting that the Yankees either knew Kuroda wasn’t coming back or didn’t want to wait for him. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • The Orioles have lost Andrew Miller, Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis and haven’t done much this offseason to make up for those departures, but their winter would have been much worse if they hadn’t re-signed J.J. Hardy, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. Kubatko suggests that Hardy could have gotten more than the three years and $40MM he received from the Orioles if he’d hit the open market.
  • The Orioles are one of a number of teams that have had quiet offseasons, Andrew Simon of Sports On Earth writes. Despite the departures of Miller, Cruz and Markakis, the O’s might come out fine, as they could easily get more from Manny Machado, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters next season. But they probably still ought to add an outfielder, whether that’s a free agent like Nori Aoki or Colby Rasmus, or a trade acquisition like Marlon Byrd of the Phillies or one of a number of Padres outfielders.
  • Catcher David Ross recently agreed to a two-year deal with the Cubs, rebuffing the Red Sox and Padres, and Rob Bradford of WEEI.com provides an interesting chronicle of those negotiations. The Red Sox didn’t want to go to two years for Ross, and Jon Lester‘s decision to sign with Chicago rather than Boston might have had some effect on the Cubs’ willingness to commit to more years for Ross. Ross told the Red Sox he would sign with the Cubs, but then the Padres made a strong offer, which Ross told his agent they would discuss after he worked out. By the time that workout ended, the Padres had traded Ryan Hanigan to Boston, and there was also a report that Ross and the Padres had agreed to terms. “I couldn’€™t believe it,” says Ross, who ended up honoring his commitment to the Cubs. Ross adds that the level of interest in him took him by surprise after he hit just .184/.260/.368 in 50 games last season.


Quick Hits: Anthony Carter, KBO/NPB, Salary Inflation

Anthony Carter‘s deal with the Cubs is a split contract, Steve Adams of MLBTR reports on Twitter. Carter will earn at a $575K rate for time spent at the big league level, per Adams, who recently reported the righty’s signing with Chicago.

Here are a few more notes from a quiet Christmas Day:

  • Over at Fangraphs, Bradley Woodrum breaks down the next potential wave of talent from Asia. The KBO and NPB each have a variety of interesting players, and Woodrum provides context for their recent statistical achievements wile discussing their possible translation to the big leagues.
  • Writing for FOX Sports, Lewie Pollis presents a theory for the rise in player salaries. The influx of money into the game only means so much, argues Pollis, who cites to the economic notion of the “winner’s curse.” In essence, because the winning bidder for each free agent generally has the most optimistic view of that players’ likely future output and almost always outbids every other team, the overall spending environment is likely to overstate the actual number wins available for purchase in the market. In large part, says Pollis, the issue boils down to the fact that clubs overrate their own informational and analytical advantages against the rest of the league.

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Minor Moves: Gomes, Stewart, Wallace, Crosby

With a rash of waiver claims today, several players made it through without being added to another club’s 40-man. The Angels announced that outfielder Shawn O’Malley cleared waivers and was released. Meanwhile, the Athletics have outrighted righty Fernando Rodriguez to Triple-A after he cleared, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Indians lefty Nick Maronde has cleared waivers, been assigned to Triple-A, and received an invite to big league camp, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). And the Dodgers announced that outfielder/first baseman Kyle Jensen was outrighted to Triple-A.

Here are the day’s further minor moves:

  • The Rays announced that right-hander Brandon Gomes has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Durham. He will be invited to Major League Spring Training. The 30-year-old Gomes found himself designated for assignment last week following the Wil Myers trade.
  • Infielder Ian Stewart has joined the Nationals on a minor league pact, Matt Eddy of Baseball America tweets. As Eddy notes, Stewart seems to be a solid match for a Nats’ roster that currently features all right-handed-hitting infielders (if you count Danny Espinosa, who currently sits atop the depth chart at second and is a much better hitter from the right side than the left). Soon to turn 30, Stewart — not unlike Espinosa himself — has failed to maintain the promise of prior MLB seasons, but has shown significant power capability in the past. Stewart will receive $800K in the bigs plus a possible $350K in incentives, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets.
  • The Padres have signed first baseman Brett Wallace to a minor league pact (via Eddy, on Twitter). Like Stewart, Wallace was once a highly-valued prospect. But the 28-year-old has yet to end an MLB campaign with an above-average hitting line, and he does not offer the kind of defensive value that lets his bat play. That said, he could still have some upside remaining and will provide San Diego with a depth piece at a position of need.
  • The Red Sox agreed to terms with lefty Casey Crosby (again, via Eddy). Per Eddy, Crosby landed amongst the Tigers’ top thirty prospects seven times. The oft-injured 26-year-old only received three big league starts in Detroit, however, and continued to have control issues after being converted to relief last year at Triple-A.
  • 28-year-old outfielder Adron Chambers will head to camp with the Cubs, Cotillo tweets. After seeing minimal playing time at the big league level from 2011-13 with the Cardinals, Chambers spent last year at the Triple-A level with the Astros and Blue Jays. Over 206 plate appearances, he slashed a rather typical .283/.351/.411 in the highest level of the minors.
  • The Reds have added several more minor league signings, also via Cotillo. In addition to the previously-reported signing of Ivan De Jesus, Cincinnati has locked up outfielder Jermaine Curtis and righty Nathan Adcock. Curtis, 27, managed only a .675 OPS at Triple-A last year for the Cardinals, and will be looking for a fresh start after spending his entire professional career in that organization. The 26-year-old Adcock has thrown 104 MLB innings over the last several years, mostly in relief, working to a 3.86 ERA in that stretch.
  • The Twins have made a series of additions, per a club announcement (via Dustin Morse, on Twitter). Among them are outfielder Wilkin Ramirez and second baseman Jose Martinez. The former is a 29-year-old who has called the Minnesota organization home since 2012. Last year, he put up a .262/.305/.368 line at the highest level of the minors. Martinez, soon to turn 29, slashed .276/.345/.372 at Triple-A last year with the A’s.

Cubs Sign David Ross

The Cubs announced today that they have signed catcher David Ross to a two-year contract. Ross will reportedly earn $5MM over the life of the deal, including a $500K signing bonus and identical salaries of $2.25MM in each of the contract’s two seasons.

Ross, a client of Sports One Athlete Management client, will add yet more veteran leadership behind the plate for the Cubs and be reunited with friend and former teammate Jon Lester. He will slot in alongside the recently-acquired Miguel Montero, providing a right-handed-hitting complement.

Before joining the Red Sox in 2013, Ross spent four years as the reserve option for the Braves. He slashed a robust .269/.353/.463, but never made more than 200 plate appearances in a given season. Ross has fallen back to a .650 OPS over the last two seasons in Boston, over 287 plate appearances. Defensively, Baseball Prospectus did not value Ross’s work very highly last year.

In the aggregate, then, there are plenty of questions about Ross’s abilities moving forward. But he does have a rather high established ceiling for a backup catcher, and obviously is one of the game’s most respected elder statesmen at this stage of his career.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the deal (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted the salary breakdown.


Brewers Claim Shane Peterson From Cubs

The Brewers claimed outfielder Shane Peterson off waivers from the Cubs, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets. That move fills Milwaukee’s 40-man roster for the time being.

Peterson has emerged as a popular name for clubs that have an open roster spot, as this is his second transaction of the offseason. The 26-year-old is coming off of a .308/.381/.460 campaign (625 plate appearances) at Triple-A with the Athletics.


Orioles Claim Ryan Lavarnway, Release Quintin Berry

The Orioles have claimed catcher Ryan Lavarnway off waivers from the Cubs, Baltimore announced. Outfielder Quintin Berry was released to create roster space.

Lavarnway has been one of the most frequently-moved players of the offseason, bouncing around several times since the Red Sox exposed him to waivers. Once one of the game’s most exciting prospects, the backstop’s huge power seemingly disappeared in recent seasons. But he has yet to have a full chance at the big league level and has continued to achieve excellent on-base figures at Triple-A.

Berry, 30, received 330 plate appearances with the Tigers back in 2012, slashing .258/.330/.354, but has not figured large on a big league roster since. Over 432 plate appearances at Triple-A last year, he slashed .285/.382/.367 while adding 25 stolen bases.


Cubs Claim Mike Kickham From Giants

The Cubs have claimed lefty Mike Kickham off waivers from the Giants, San Francisco announced (per a tweet from Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News). Kickham was exposed to outright waivers to clear a roster spot for the signing of Jake Peavy, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).

Kickham, 26, has been knocked around in limited MLB experience over the last two seasons. But he continues to put up solid numbers in the PCL as a starter. Last season, he tossed 148 1/3 Triple-A frames, carrying a 4.43 ERA and 7.9 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9.

For the Cubs, Kickham represents a southpaw relief option as well as possible starting depth. Chicago has players like Felix DoubrontTsuyoshi WadaZac Rosscup, and Eric Jokisch potentially available as lefties in the pen, but will go without several of last year’s primary LOOGY arms.


Cubs Sign Jason Motte

DEC. 22: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets the breakdown of Motte’s incentives structure: Motte will receive $250K for appearing in 60 games and another $250K for appearing in 65 games. He also has incentives for games finished, as he’ll earn $250K for each of his 50th through 59th games finished.

DEC. 19: The Cubs have officially announced the signing of Motte to a one-year deal.

DEC. 15, 6:44pm: The deal comes with $2.5MM in achievable bonuses, Levine tweets.

5:32pm: Motte gets a $4.5MM guarantee, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter links). Motte has incentives based on games finished, Passan adds.

5:18pm: The Cubs have agreed to a one-year deal with free agent reliever Jason Motte, Bruce Levine of 670TheScore.com reports on Twitter. Motte, a 32-year-old righty, is represented by ACES.

Motte had a nice run with the Cardinals as one of the game’s better back-end relievers. Over 2010-12, he tossed 192 1/3 innings of 2.43 ERA ball with 9.5 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. He moved into the team’s closer role in 2012, locking down a league-leading 42 games.

But things took a turn when Motte was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. A long recovery period kept him out until the 2014 season, when he also missed time with a lower back issue. All said, Motte only appeared for 25 innings last year, struggling to a 4.68 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9.

More troublingly, perhaps, ERA estimators were down on Motte’s work last season: FIP (6.49), xFIP (4.58), and SIERA (4.25) all saw Motte as a below-average contributor. He was hurt significantly by the long ball, giving up a 20.0% HR/FB rate and a whopping 2.52 HR/9 that ranked second-to-worst in all of baseball among relievers who threw at least 20 frames.

He will look for a rebound in the same division, moving to a Cubs team that has some live young arms at the back of the pen. Motte should slot in as a setup option, but perhaps his experience in the closer’s role provides some measure of protection if Hector Rondon cannot repeat his strong effort from a season ago.