Chicago Cubs Rumors

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

Diamondbacks Acquire Brett Jackson From Cubs

The Diamondbacks have acquired former first-round pick and top prospect Brett Jackson from the Cubs in exchange for minor league reliever Blake Cooper, the Cubs announced. The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro tweets that Jackson will be assigned to Triple-A Reno in the D’Backs organization. Piecoro adds that Jackson had been claimed off waivers prior to the trade’s completion.

Jackson, 26, rated as one of the game’s top 100 prospects from 2010-12, according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus (he topped out at No. 32 on BA’s list and No. 44 on BP’s list). When his stock was at its highest, BA likened him to Jim Edmonds, noting that he had that type of ceiling at the plate, if not that type of Gold Glove caliber defense in center field. However, Jackson’s swing-and-miss tendencies caused his stock to plummet, as a problem he looked to have eliminated at the Double-A level resurfaced in Triple-A and still has yet to be corrected. Jackson was batting just .210/.298/.348 with a 37.3 percent strikeout rate for Triple-A Iowa this season and will look to deliver on some of his once sky-high potential in a new organization.

Cooper, also 26, was a 12th-round pick by the Diamondbacks in 2010 and reached Triple-A for the first time in 2014. Though he’s struggled to a 6.00 ERA in 24 innings there, Cooper was excellent at Double-A this year, posting a 1.85 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 34 frames. His command has faltered since moving up to the top minor league level, as he’s walked 17 hitters in his 24 innings at Reno. The 5’11″, 190-pound righty has never ranked among Arizona’s top 30 prospects, according to BA, and he didn’t rank on MLB.com’s midseason list of the D’Backs’ top 20 prospects either. In parts of five minor league seasons, Cooper has a 3.27 ERA with a 217-to-98 K/BB ratio (seven of those free passes were intentional) in 236 2/3 innings.

Because Jackson was waived by an NL team, the D’Backs had the second-highest priority of any club in placing a claim (by virtue of the second-worst record in the NL). Only the Rockies had a higher priority, and it’s not a surprise to see a team with as many outfield options as Colorado pass on a contact-challenged outfielder such as Jackson.


Quick Hits: Orioles, Cubs, Butler, Phillies

Over the last three years, the Orioles have consistently walked away with more victories than models would predict (whether based on forecasts or observed game action), but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs argues that random variation is still the most likely explanation. You’ll need to read the full piece, but in essence, Cameron says that the O’s outperforming streak is probably not attributable to some skill or special insight, but is rather an outlier that falls within the expectations of the models that predict win-loss record.

More from around the game:

  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer indicated that the team is focused on building out its big league staff in the near term, as Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter“We know we have to have balance,” said Hoyer. “That’s going to be our main area of focus.” With several of Chicago’s touted young position players beginning to make an impact at the MLB level, many have suggested that the organization could become a big player on next year’s free agent market — especially to fill out a rotation that is now without Jeff Samardzija.
  • Designated hitter Billy Butler reiterated recently that he is still hopeful of remaining with the RoyalsJeffrey Flanagan of FOX Sports Kansas City reports. In spite of a recent hot streak, his $12.5MM club option for 2015 seems a bit steep. “After the season, we’ll see what happens,” said Butler. “We’ll know five days after the World Series what will happen. But even if they decline, it doesn’t mean they won’t offer me something else. I hope that’s the case.”
  • Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg’s comments about Darin Ruf‘s playing time reveal a continued flaw in the organization’s decisionmaking, argues David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News“The situations he’s been in the last couple of years here, not being able to have a string of at-bats, it’s hard to really get a gauge still,” Sandberg said of Ruf. But while consistent playing time would appear to offer a means of evaluating the outfielder/first baseman, Sandberg said “that’s the tricky part about making lineups and also trying to win a game.” As Murphy opines, this line of thinking suggests that the organization is still focused primarily on winning meaningless games this year, rather than setting up the organization for future success.

Cubs Request Release Waivers On Nate Schierholtz

AUG. 13: The Cubs have placed Schierholtz on release waivers, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. He will officially be a free agent when he clears on Friday.

AUG. 6: The Cubs have designated outfielder Nate Schierholtz for assignment, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. With the move, roster space was created for Kyuji Fujikawa‘s activation from the 60-day DL.

Schierholtz, a 30-year-old left-handed hitter, was playing on a $5MM salary this season in his final year of arbitration eligibility. Unless Chicago can find a taker for all or part of that figure, they’ll be on the hook for most (if not all) of the money left owing.

The veteran of eight MLB campaigns had struggled to a .192/.240/.300 slash through 341 plate appearances this year, after posting a strong .251/.301/.470 line in 503 trips to bat in 2013. He had actually turned in three straight seasons with above-average OPS marks before hitting a wall this year.



NL Notes: Sandoval, Arrieta, D’backs, Martin

Here’s the latest out of the National League:

  • The agent for Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval says that the free agent-to-be is still open to discussing a new deal, though no talks have occurred “in months,” according to a tweet from Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Sandoval, who will hit the market before his age-28 season, has put up a solid walk year. In addition to a .283/.330/.438 line and 14 home runs through 463 plate appearances, Sandoval has impressed defensive metrics and scouts alike with his glovework on the hot corner. Even better, his primary competitor on the third base market, Chase Headley, has not impressed. Of course, many clubs will probably view Hanley Ramirez as a third base option at this point as well.
  • Cubs starter Jake Arrieta says he is open to an extension with the club, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Though his agent, Scott Boras, typically advises his clients to go year-to-year until reaching free agency, Arrieta says he loves playing in Chicago and would be interested in a reasonable new contract. “I don’t think I’m a guy that’s going to ask for an astronomical amount of money,” he said. “But I think if there’s a fair deal to be reached, I’m in 100 percent.” Arrieta added that he felt Boras would not be any hindrance to a deal, but would instead arm him with the necessary advice and information to enable him to reach a decision. He did note that no talks had occurred to date: “I don’t think it’s out of the question. I don’t think there’s been anything formal in the works, but this is an organization that I’ve really seen a transformation take place … .” Arrieta will be arb-eligible for the first time next year, entering his age-29 season, and could not have set himself up much better. His current line: 2.77 ERA over 110 1/3 innings with 9.2 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9.
  • The Diamondbacks will be in the market for starting pitching over the coming winter, and could look to the Japanese market to fill the need, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Having worked to increase the team’s presence in Japan, the D’backs have been among the many teams watching 26-year-old righty Kenta Maeda, says Piecoro.
  • Braves righty Cody Martin drew plenty of interest as the club looked to bolster its bullpen and bench at the trade deadline, writes Bill Ballew of Baseball America. With a solid feel for multiple quality offerings, Martin has drawn comparisons to Kris Medlen and is viewed as a solid rotation or pen candidate despite his lack of a single plus pitch.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Tigers, Lester, Front Offices

The Tigers have “kicked around” the idea of trading for a hitter to bolster the back end of their lineup, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports in his latest Full Count video.  Finding a quality bat will be more difficult in the August waiver period, of course, and there also isn’t any position that Detroit would clearly be looking to upgrade.  Rosenthal says the team is “pretty much set in the outfield,” though I’d argue that adding another outfielder to complement or even replace J.D. Martinez or Rajai Davis (both of whom were originally acquired to be part-timers) would help the Tigers down the stretch.

Here’s some more from Rosenthal’s video and a separate piece that examines which managers and general managers could be on the hot seat…

  • Some of Jon Lester‘s former teammates believe the southpaw will sign with the Cubs this offseason.  Lester, of course, has ties to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, and the Cubs’ recent waiver claim of Cole Hamels indicates that the team is prepared to spend big money on a top-tier starting pitcher.
  • Had the Padres hired Yankees assistant GM Billy Eppler, the return of Kevin Towers to the San Diego organization “would’ve been almost automatic.”  (The two worked together in New York.)  Between Tony La Russa’s hiring in Arizona and the firing of Josh Byrnes in San Diego, rumors have swirled for weeks that Towers would find himself back with the Friars given his friendship with Padres president/CEO Mike Dee.  As Rosenthal notes, Towers could still return under new GM A.J. Preller, though rival executives are split as to whether Towers’ presence would be a positive or a negative for Preller as a first-time general manager.
  • Bud Black “would be out of work for about five minutes” if Preller decided to make a managerial change.  Mike Dee recently told Rosenthal that Preller would decide on Black’s future with the Padres, though the fact that Black’s removal was “never seriously considered” by upper management would seem to bode well for the long-time skipper.
  • While Reds GM Walt Jocketty is in the final year of his contract, “there is no indication that Jocketty wants to leave, or that owner Bob Castellini wants him out.”  Rosenthal speculates that a reunion between Jocketty and La Russa in Arizona could be a possibility, though Jocketty might prefer to stay with the contending Reds rather than face a rebuilding job with the D’Backs.
  • Ruben Amaro’s future as the Phillies‘ GM has been in question given the team’s struggles, which could also mean that manager Ryne Sandberg’s continued employment could also be up in the air.  The Hall-of-Famer has “at times looks overmatched, struggling in his communications with veterans and with his in-game management,” Rosenthal writes, though he points out that Sandberg hasn’t been given much to work with on the roster.  Sandberg is under contract through the end of the 2016 season.
  • Could Jeff Luhnow’s job actually be in jeopardy?  Rosenthal isn’t sure, though he notes that “internal tension seems unavoidable” in Houston.  The Astros have seen little improvement on the field this season and Luhnow’s front office was widely criticized for its handling of the Brady Aiken negotiations.
  • Mike Maddux’s Rangers contract is up at the end of the season, and while extension talks probably won’t take place until then, both Maddux and the team seem eager to see the long-time pitching coach remain in Texas.

Minor Moves: Falu, Mills, Abreu, Kalish, Herrmann

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

  • The Brewers have outrighted infielder Irving Falu, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. They claimed him last month from the Padres, who had previously claimed him from Milwaukee, so that the Brewers finally got him through to the minors must represent a small victory. The 31-year-old has hit .289/.342/.333 in 230 plate appearances for Triple-A Nashville this season.
  • The Blue Jays have announced that they’ve selected the contract of lefty Brad Mills and optioned infielder Ryan Goins to Triple-A Buffalo. The Jays outrighted Mills in late July. He’s posted a 1.81 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 at Triple-A this season.
  • The Mets have released outfielder Bobby Abreu, according to MiLB.com. The 40-year-old was designated for assignment last week after hitting .238/.331/.336 in 142 plate appearances in his first big-league action since 2012.
  • The Cubs have outrighted outfielder Ryan Kalish to Triple-A Iowa, per the team’s transactions page. The 26-year-old was designated for assignment Friday after posting a slash of .242/.303/.330 in 100 plate appearances.
  • The Indians have released right-hander Frank Herrmann from their Triple-A affiliate, tweets MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. The 30-year-old, the longest-tenured player in the Cleveland organization, has struggled in 28 relief outings for Columbus to the tune of a 6.37 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and 5.8 BB/9 in 29 2/3 innings. Herrmann hasn’t pitched in a MLB contest since 2012 when he recorded a 2.33 ERA, 6.5 K/9, and 1.9 BB/9 over 19 1/3 innings (15 games) for the Indians.
  • The White Sox have released right-hander Shawn Hill from Triple-A Charlotte, according to the International League transactions page. The veteran 33-year-old pitched to a 4.81 ERA with 4.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 58 innings for the Knights after being acquired in a minor trade with the Blue Jays back in June. Hill last saw the bigs in 2012 with Toronto, and he has a lifetime 4.69 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 242 Major League innings.
  • Jason Pridie has accepted his outright assignment by the Rockies to Triple-A, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 30-year-old outfielder, who was designated for assignment Wednesday, had the option to become a free agent since he had been outrighted previously, but chose to remain at Colorado Springs where he has hit .275/.341/.426 in 378 plate appearances.
  • Cotillo also tweets Andy Marte has accepted his outright assignment with the Diamondbacks rather than electing free agency. Marte, who batted .332/.385/.513 at Triple-A this season, will return to Reno in pursuit of the Pacific Coast League batting title, Cotillo adds. Marte was DFA’ed last week and sent outright to Reno last night, but, like Pridie, had been outrighted in the past and had the option to elect free agency.
  • With the Dodgers and Phillies designating Colt Hynes and Sean O’Sullivan, respectively, for assignment today, a total of six players are now in DFA limbo. As can be seen in MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, in addition to Hynes and O’Sullivan, the following players have yet to have their DFA situation resolved: Chris Young (Mets), Ernesto Frieri (Pirates), Nate Schierholtz (Cubs) and Chone Figgins (Dodgers).

Edward Creech and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


Latest On Rusney Castillo

AUG. 9: The Yankees are ready to begin negotiating with Castillo, who worked out at their minor league complex Friday, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. The Yankees would want to use Castillo as a second baseman, with the outfield as a backup plan, King writes.

AUG. 6: While touring Wrigley Field on vacation, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith learned that the Cubs held a private workout for Castillo today (Twitter link).

AUG. 3: Castillo’s workout for the Mariners has been postponed and is expected to be rescheduled, tweets Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN.

JULY 29: Castillo, who worked out for the Phillies today, has set up a private workout with the Mariners on Sunday as well, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter). His one-on-one workout with the Red Sox is still set for Friday.

JULY 28, 8:29pm: Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that the Yankees indeed have a private workout scheduled with Castillo.

7:33pm: General Manager Jeff Luhnow says the Astros may schedule a one-on-one workout with Castillo, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.

7:24pm: A source tells Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (on Twitter) that only the Phillies (on Tuesday) and the Red Sox (Friday) have private workouts set up with Castillo.  However, private workouts are in the works for the Yankees and other clubs.

Unsurprisingly, the Twins are not among the teams looking to line up a workout with Castillo, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.  Minnesota likes Castillo, but the expected asking price is too rich for their blood.

3:11pm: Reports indicated that 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams were represented at Rusney Castillo‘s showcase over the weekend, and Ben Badler of Baseball America has the latest on the 27-year-old Cuban free agent. Castillo will have private workouts with the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies this coming week, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Orioles are also arranging a private workout.

Badler lists the White Sox, Mariners, Giants, Blue Jays, Cubs and Braves as other potential suitors. Because multiple teams have interest in getting a deal worked out quickly, however, there aren’t likely to be any further private workouts before a deal gets done, Badler writes. Additionally, Badler has posted some video footage from Castillo’s weekend showcase.

Multiple sources indicated to Badler that the Red Sox had the largest contingent on-hand Saturday for Castillo’s showcase. He notes that Jackie Bradley has more upside at the plate, and Mookie Betts might factor in as a corner outfield option in the long-term due to the presence of Dustin Pedroia, but Boston could be intrigued by Castillo as a corner option as well. He did play right field in Cuba, Badler adds.

The Yankees, meanwhile, could weigh the possibility of trying Castillo at second base, though they could have a corner spot open alongside Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner as well. Castillo played second base (and some third base) back in 2009-10, but scouts at the showcase weren’t overly impressed with his glovework as an infielder.

Center field is Castillo’s best position, Badler writes, so it stands to reason that the Phillies could view him as an upgrade over the light-hitting Ben Revere. Playing Castillo in center field allows him to maximize his best tool — 70-grade speed.

While the White Sox are very well-versed in the Cuban market — as evidenced by the presence of Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo on their roster — the presence of countrymen on their roster won’t influence Castillo, Badler hears. His decision will come down to financial terms.

Badler adds that the Giants also had a very strong presence at Castillo’s showcase, and he makes sense for them as their system has thinned following a trade for Jake Peavy and their continued interest in Ben Zobrist. The Cubs also had “a team” of evaluators on-hand to witness Castillo, who would bolster an already enviable crop of hitting prospects.


NL Notes: Preller, Byrd, Cubs, Beckett, Anderson

We read many reports about who was being considered and moved forward in the Padres‘ search for a new general manager, but MLB.com’s Corey Brock provides some more details on what was happening behind the scenes. Give his piece a read to see what led San Diego to choose A.J. Preller to take the helms of the club’s baseball decisionmaking. In other executive chatter, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic profiles Diamondbacks scouting director Ray Montgomery, who was one of the candidates for the game’s latest GM opening.

Here’s more from the National League:

  • Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd has apparently been pulled back from revocable waivers after being claimed by an as-yet-unidentified team, as he played tonight for Philadelphia. Reports suggested Byrd was claimed on or before Wednesday, and the 48.5 hour window to complete a transaction (or withdraw the claimed player) would have expired by now.
  • The Cubs, meanwhile, were unable to work out a deal for Phillies starter Cole Hamels, who was also withdrawn from waivers by Philadelphia. But, as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes, the move to claim Hamels showed a new willingness to spend that could tell in the coming months. And missing on the veteran lefty did not stop the club from adding an arm, with Jacob Turner coming in from Miami in exchange for a pair of relievers who have yet to advance past High-A and are both his elder. President Theo Epstein’s comments indicated what many expected he was thinking: “We’ve had some success with talented pitchers who were going through tough periods. Getting them here, let them re-set a little. … We’re hopeful that will happen with Jacob. … Between now and next spring training there are things we can work on.”
  • Dodgers starter Josh Beckett could be out for the year, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, though manager Don Mattingly expressed optimism that the righty would make his way back. Either way, his uncertain contribution going forward would appear to support GM Ned Colletti’s statement from earlier today that the team was still looking to add an arm.
  • The Rockies are awaiting word on the severity of a back injury to oft-DL’ed starter Brett Anderson, reports Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. Colorado is worried that Anderson will be out the rest of the year. Though he’s been out with a variety of other issues in the past, the back problem is a new one. The 26-year-old lefty has been effective when healthy, but his 2.91 ERA this year has come over just 43 1/3 innings. The Rockies face a tough call on whether to exercise a $12MM option for Anderson for 2015.

Phillies Pull Hamels Back From Waivers

1:53pm: The Phillies have pulled Hamels back off waivers after the two sides were unable to strike a deal, tweets Paul Sulivan of the Chicago Tribune.

FRIDAY, 8:43am: In an updated version of his original article, Wittenmyer writes that the Cubs may prefer to add an ace-caliber starter via free agency this winter. They’ll have multiple options to do so with Max Scherzer, James Shields and Jon Lester (whom Cubs president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer know well) hitting the open market. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports hears the same, reporting that the Cubs are “expected to be aggressive” on the free agent market.

THURSDAY: As many have been speculating since Cole Hamels was placed on revocable waivers, the Cubs have indeed been awarded the claim on the Philadelphia ace, Mike Missanelli of ESPN 97.5 in Philadelphia first tweeted. However, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that a deal is almost certainly not going to happen. The Phillies, according to Wittenmyer’s sources, have asked the Cubs for one of their prized young shortstops as the centerpiece to a trade. Because both Starlin Castro and Javier Baez are already on the 40-man roster and would therefore be subject to revocable waivers themselves, Addison Russell (and others) is the likely asking price, according to Wittenmyer.

The two sides will have 48.5 hours from the moment of the claim in order to work out a trade. Any 40-man roster players to change hands in a theoretical deal would also need to clear waivers. If and when the two sides decide that a deal cannot be reached, the Phillies can simply pull Hamels back off waivers. Hamels’ contract does allow him to block trades to 20 teams, but as ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported earlier today, the Cubs are not one of those 20 clubs. So, in the unlikely event that a deal is agreed upon, Hamels would have no say in vetoing the transaction.

While the Cubs have the financial capability to assume the remaining $100MM+ on Hamels’ contract and the prospect depth to acquire nearly any available player via trade, Wittenmyer reports that the team has “no desire” to use both surpluses on a single player.

It’s certainly not outlandish for the Phillies to ask for Russell and other high-end prospects in order to part with Hamels. The Cubs, after all, acquired Russell (along with 2013 first-rounder Billy McKinney and controllable starter Dan Straily) in exchange for a year and a half of Jeff Samardzija‘s services and three months of Jason Hammel.

Clearly, Hamels has more long-term value than the combination of the two arms the Cubs sent to Oakland. While his salary is sizable, a $22.5MM annual commitment is actually below-market for a top-of-the-rotation arm, which Hamels clearly is. He’s pitched to a 2.42 ERA with 9.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 46.9 percent ground-ball rate in 137 1/3 innings this season. He’s controlled through the 2018 season at that same $22.5MM rate, and his vesting option for the 2019 campaign comes with a $6MM buyout. However, if the Phils truly wish to shop Hamels — and there’s been little to no indication that they do — they’d likely be better suited to wait until the offseason, when all 29 other teams could bid for his services and potentially drive up the price.

For those who are unfamiliar with revocable waivers or post-July 31 trading, check out MLBTR’s primer on August trades.


Cubs Designate Ryan Kalish For Assignment

The Cubs have designated outfielder Ryan Kalish for assignment in order to clear roster space for the newly acquired Jacob Turner, reports MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat (Twitter link).

The 26-year-old Kalish was once considered among baseball’s top 100 prospects by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, but he’s never been able to capitalize on the tools that resulted in that hype, due in large part to a series of neck and shoulder surgeries. In an even 100 plate appearances with the Cubs this season, he batted .242/.303/.330 — numbers that aren’t much of an improvement over his career .243/.296/.346 batting line.

Kalish, a former ninth-round pick, has a .245/.319/.391 triple-slash in his career at the Triple-A level. He’s capable of playing all three outfield positions, though he spent more time in left than center with Chicago this season, and defensive metrics haven’t been kind to his glove at the Major League level.