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Chicago Cubs Rumors
Here’s the latest from the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo:
- With David Price of the Rays on the trading block, Cafardo asks Brewers GM Doug Melvin about the process of trading, or trading for, a top starting pitching. Melvin has been on both sides of that process, having traded Zack Greinke and having acquired Greinke and C.C. Sabathia. Melvin says he would have been willing to trade Greinke within the NL Central, but for an extra charge. “I had teams within the division asking for him, and my approach to that is this: I had no problem doing it, but I had to get a little extra if I was going to do it. And that’s what I told them,” he says. Even assuming that’s the Rays’ policy too, though, it isn’t clear there’s a great matchup between them and any other AL East team. The Blue Jays are one possibility, but Cafardo writes that they seem to be more interested on a lower-tier starter like Jason Hammel of the Cubs.
- A source tells Cafardo, “You could argue that Hammel is the most sought-after player, positional or pitcher, in the trade market right now.”
- This season, the Pirates are likely to pursue a starting pitcher and a reliever, but not an offensive player.
- Victor Martinez wants to stay with the Tigers. One potential hitch as he heads toward free agency, though, is that the Tigers will have to figure out how long Miguel Cabrera will be able to play defense until Detroit needs to move him to DH.
Cubs executive Jason McLeod, who’s also a candidate for the Padres’ open GM job, discusses drafting and player development in a wide-ranging interview with Fangraphs’ David Laurila that also addresses McLeod’s past in the Red Sox organization. McLeod says that one of the biggest challenges in drafting is weighing riskier high-school players against college players who are closer to being finished products. “It was ‘I can’t pass on this toolsy high school upside guy? The risk is big – it’s huge – but how can I pass? If I do, people will say I was too conservative, that I was too scared to make that pick because of the potential downside,‘” McLeod says, saying that he’s still haunted by the Red Sox’ decision to pass on high-schooler Chase Headley in the 2005 draft. Here are more notes out of Chicago.
- The Cubs are open to keeping players like Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel if they have a dramatic (and unlikely) season turnaround, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald writes. “I said the other day, if we want to win 15 in a row, we’d definitely be open to it,” says Theo Epstein. “Sometimes it’s more important why you’re playing well than if you’re playing well.”
- With Samardzija and Hammel likely to be dealt in the near future, the Cubs will likely continue to depend on lefty Travis Wood, Brian Sandalow of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Wood, who now has a 4.52 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings in 2013, suddenly looks like a part of the Cubs’ future, despite arriving in a relatively minor deal in 2011.
- Infielder Darwin Barney hasn’t hit much lately, so his future is murky, but ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers writes that Barney wants to stay in Chicago. “We all hope that our future is here,” says Barney. “We want to be here when things turn around. I think we can see that things slowly are.” Barney has hit .205/.256/.295 in 168 plate appearances this season.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that the Cardinals should not overpay to acquire David Price from the Rays by parting with Oscar Taveras. Rosenthal points to the decline of offense around the league and the rarity of controllable sluggers in opining that Taveras is too valuable a commodity to lose. He also notes that the Cardinals aren’t typically big spenders, but adds that the team could create room for Price’s remaining $7MM and roughly $18-20MM 2015 salary by electing not to re-sign free agents such as Jason Motte and Pat Neshek, as well as non-tendering arbitration eligible players such as Peter Bourjos. While St. Louis could put together a formidable package headlined by Carlos Martinez, he also notes that a team like the Dodgers could top such a package perhaps by including prized outfielder Joc Pederson.
Price’s name — and the names of several others — will be hot topics over the coming month. Here’s the latest on the pitching market…
- The Angels are interested in Price but don’t have the prospects to acquire him, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). He adds that Cubs hurler Jason Hammel is on a long list of alternative options for the Halos. Rosenthal also reports that the team would like to acquire left-handed relief, though landing a starting pitcher would allow them to use Hector Santiago in relief.
- In his daily blog post (subscription required/recommended), ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that several teams are looking at alternatives to the market’s two big-name starters — Price and Jeff Samardzija. Several clubs are interested in pulling off a deal similar to the Tigers’ acquisition of Doug Fister from the Mariners back in 2011. As such, the Diamondbacks are receiving interest in Wade Miley, and Padres righty Tyson Ross could become a target as well. Controllable arms like Miley and Ross will be highly appealing to rival clubs, as any team can afford them — regardless of payroll. He adds that the D’Backs and Padres might be years away from contention anyhow, and at that point, Miley and Ross will have become expensive via arbitration.
- Later in his post, Olney writes that the Giants will have a tough time lining up for a Price trade, as their 2015 roster is full of holes that will need to be filled – namely at third base, left field and second base. Price’s 2015 salary would prevent them from addressing their many needs, as would a Samardzija acquisition, albeit to a lesser extent.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports looks at three factors that will impact the Cubs’ ability to maximize their return on a Samardzija trade: Many contenders are hurting more for offense than pitching in 2014; interested parties will have Price as an alternative and may prefer to surrender more talent for the longer, more impressive track record; and Samardzija is seen by some GMs as unlikely to sign an extension regardless of setting. One interested GM confidently told Heyman, “No one’s going to extend him. He’s hitting free agency,” noting that Samardzija’s agency, Frontline Athlete Management, has a history of taking clients to the open market (e.g. Cliff Lee, A.J. Burnett, Mike Hampton).
We’ll keep track of today’s outright assignments and minor moves from around the league right here…
- The Nationals announced today that they have released right-hander Christian Garcia (hat tip: Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post). Garcia battled back from Tommy John surgery to throw 12 2/3 excellent innings for the Nats in 2012, but he missed 2013 with a partially torn flexor tendon and was once again on the shelf with right shoulder issues. He had posted a 2.75 ERA with a 17-to-4 K/BB ratio in 14 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Casper Wells, Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register tweets. Not long ago, Wells was considered by many to be a valuable platoon bat capable of handling all three outfield spots, but he struggled greatly between three teams last season and was hitting just .197/.290/.230 through 69 plate appearances with Triple-A Iowa this year.
- Southpaw Josh Outman has cleared waivers and accepted the Indians‘ outright assignment to Triple-A Columbus, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter). Acquired this offseason in exchange for Drew Stubbs, Outman posted a strong 3.28 ERA in 24 2/3 innings. While that ERA may have caused some to question the move, he walked 16 hitters in that time as well.
- MLBTR’s DFA Tracker reveals a slew of players in DFA limbo, including: Greg Dobbs (Nationals), Jonathan Diaz (Blue Jays), Jamie Romak (Dodgers), Chris Capuano (Red Sox), Brad Snyder (Rangers), Donnie Joseph (Royals), Roger Bernadina (Reds), Jake Dunning (Giants), J.J. Putz (D’Backs) and Evan Reed (Tigers).
The latest from ESPN’s Jayson Stark…
- Phillies ace Cliff Lee threw a bullpen session yesterday and is slated to return around the All-Star break, Stark writes for ESPN.com. Lee’s next step is to throw a simulated game this weekend before heading out on a minor league rehab assignment and returning either just before or just after the All-Star break. Rival teams tell Stark that they expect the Phillies to aggressively shop Lee, and they believe that Philadelphia would eat a significant amount of the remaining $50MM guarantee on Lee’s deal in order to net the right pieces.
- The Tigers, Pirates, Blue Jays and Angels are scouting the Phillies this week, Stark tweets. The Phillies are telling other teams around the league that this week could determine their status as buyer or sellers next month.
- Stark also tweets that he asked an unnamed club official if any teams other than the Cubs are aggressively selling at this point and was told him that in addition to Chicago, the Rays are “definitely open for business.” Stark’s colleague, Buster Olney, reported yesterday that the Rays would deal David Price “right now” if the right offer came along.
Congratulations are in order for Giants righty Tim Lincecum, who earlier today completed his second no-hitter of the division-rival Padres in the past calendar year. “Big Time Timmy Jim” was masterful, yielding just one walk and fanning six Friars on a mere 113 pitches in his historic gem.
Here are some notes from around the National League West:
- Jonah Keri, writing for Grantland, details some of the missteps made by former Padres GM Josh Byrnes but also notes that he was able to buy low on significant pieces such as Tyson Ross, Ian Kennedy and Seth Smith. Byrnes’ bigger failures were in evaluating Major League talent, he writes, but even that isn’t San Diego’s biggest problem. Rather, Keri opines, their problems are rooted in poor ownership decisions that have forced the hands of GMs Byrnes, Jed Hoyer and Kevin Towers in the draft, resulting in an abysmal track record in the first round. He adds that current leaders Ron Fowler and Mike Dee have been involved with ownership dating back into the 90s (Dee did leave for a decade but returned last summer) and wonders if relying on some of the same names they have been for decades could “turn out to be a bug, not a feature.”
- We took a look last night at the latest on the Padres‘ search for a new GM. It appears that the first interview will go to former Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest, per a tweet from MLB.com’s Corey Brock. Elsewhere, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides a full piece expanding upon his report last night regarding possible candidates for the gig. Finally, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the Yankees plan on granting the Padres permission to interview assistant GM Billy Eppler, who is on San Diego’s list.
- The Giants had some interest in adding Jason Hammel when he was available as a free agent, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi suggests that the club’s previous interest could make San Francisco a possible suitor for the Cubs starter at the trade deadline.
- Dodgers middle infielder Alex Guerrero has made significant progress in his recovery from a strange ear-biting incident earlier in the year, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. He is expected to begin baseball activities again soon. The Cuban signee, who was off to an impressive start at the plate in Triple-A, could presumably still figure in the club’s plans this year.
- Earlier today it was reported that Joaquin Benoit and Huston Street of the Padres were garnering serious trade interest, and reports also indicated that the D’Backs are preparing to sell, with Brandon McCarthy in particular drawing interest.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
- The Blue Jays are highly unlikely to deal for Cubs hurler Jeff Samardzija, and the clubs have not swapped trade proposals in some time. While a deal centered around pitching prospects Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris has been floated in the media, a source tells Heyman that there is “zero chance” that Toronto would part with that package.
- Instead, Toronto will probably focus more on the the “rental” market, says Heyman. But with many teams still waiting to see how they perform over the next month, the supply remains uncertain. Heyman cites Justin Masterson (Indians), Jorge De La Rosa (Rockies), Francisco Liriano (Pirates), and Jake Peavy (Red Sox) as arms that could join Jason Hammel of the Cubs in that segment of the market.
- The Jays are also likely to “take another look” at adding a second baseman after losing Brett Lawrie for a month or more to a broken finger. While minor league signee Juan Francisco will play third in the meantime, and now looks like an even more important piece of the puzzle, the club is running out a less-than-ideal assortment of options at second. Heyman suggests that the Jays would have interest in Chase Utley, but it remains far from clear that he will be an achievable target.
- The Mariners made a run at Kendrys Morales before he signed with the Twins, and Heyman has details. Seattle discussed a two-year concept and also offered a one-year deal for about $5MM.
- That would seem to reflect a desire to add bats, but GM Jack Zduriencik says that he is “wide open” in approaching acquisitions. According to Heyman, the team is interested in adding controllable, younger bats or starting pitching. Seattle has spoken with the Cubs about both Hammel and Samardzija, though the club remains loath to give up either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. While the club seemingly would deal away some of its young position players — such as Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Nick Franklin — it seems disinclined to part with them for less than a compelling return.
- While the M’s have plenty of strategic approaches available, one big issue cited recently has been the team’s apparent inability and/or unwillingness to add payroll. Heyman says that the club may have some free cash “for the right player,” however, possibly relating to incentives in Corey Hart‘s contract that will not be met.
We’ll keep track of today’s minor moves from around the league right here…
- Cubs backstop Eli Whiteside has cleared outright waivers and been assigned to Triple-A, reports Carrie Muskat of MLB.com (via Twitter). The 34-year-old, who saw only minimal action with the Cubs, was designated for assignment on Sunday.
- The Braves have inked righty Kanekoa Texeira to a minor league deal, according to the MLB transactions page. The 28-year-old, who last threw in the bigs in 2011 with the Royals, threw effectively over each of the last two seasons at Triple-A with the Reds. He had been pitching for the independent Bridgeport Bluefish in 2014 before joining Atlanta.
- Righty Kevin Slowey has been released by the Marlins, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (via Twitter). Slowey owned a 5.30 ERA through 37 1/3 innings this year, most of which came in relief. He had been a starter for much of his prior time as a big leaguer, and owns a 4.62 ERA over 662 career MLB frames.
- The Yankees have released reliever Heath Bell, reports MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (via Twitter). Bell, who recently signed a minor league deal, had a 7.50 ERA in five appearances at Triple-A Scranton. In 17 1/3 frames at the major league level with the Rays this year, Bell threw to a 7.27 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9.
- The Tigers have acquired southpaw Daniel Schlereth from the Pirates, reports John Wagner of the Toledo Blade. James Schmel of MLive.com tweets that the Pirates will receive cash considerations. This will be Schlereth’s second stint with the Tigers, as he spent the 2010-12 seasons in Detroit’s bullpen after coming over in the three-team Max Scherzer/Curtis Granderson/Ian Kennedy/Austin Jackson blockbuster. Schlereth’s long-standing control problems have been very apparent this season at Triple-A; he’s walked 18 batters and surrendered 18 hits in 18 2/3 innings en route to a 7.23 ERA. On the plus side, he’s also fanned 18 hitters in that time.
The Blue Jays continue to scout Jeff Samardzija, as pro scouting director Perry Minasian was in attendance for yesterday’s outing against the Reds, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Much of the chatter regarding Samardzija to this point has included speculation when it comes to Chicago’s asking price, but Morosi hears “strong indications” that the Cubs would deal Samardzija for a package highlighted by right-hander Aaron Sanchez, left-hander Daniel Norris and center fielder Dalton Pompey.
Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has maintained that he won’t include all three of those prospects in a deal for Samardzija or any other available pitcher — even David Price — according to Morosi’s report. He also notes that as much as the Blue Jays like Samardzija, they may prefer Price and Philadelphia southpaw Cole Hamels (though the latter isn’t guaranteed to be available).
The Blue Jays reluctance to deal three of their top prospects lines up with previous indicators that they may be more interested in rental players than controllable players due to a strong desire to preserve some of their farm system. Toronto has dealt away some notable prospect value — including Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Justin Nicolino, Henderson Alvarez and Anthony DeSclafani — to acquire the likes of R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes. One thing we do know is that Anthopoulos feels he will have ownership’s blessing to expand the team’s payroll if necessary.
As for the three prospects listed by Morosi, Sanchez entered the season with the highest stock of the bunch but has seen his star lose some of its luster after struggling to a 4.08 ERA and issuing 48 walks in 75 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Norris, on the other hand, has been electric, turning in a combined 1.62 ERA and 4.47 K/BB ratio in 72 innings between Class-A Advanced and Double-A. Pompey ranked just 17th among Toronto prospects (per Baseball America) prior to the season but has boosted his value with a strong .312/.392/.460 batting line, six homers and 27 steals (in 29 attempts).
Here’s the latest out of the NL Central:
- If the Cubs trade Jason Hammel as expected, the 31-year-old says that he would be open to returning to Chicago in the winter. “I would assume they are pretty happy with my body of work so far and if a trade happens it happens,” Hammel said, according to Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. “But I guarantee, say I was to go to another team, I love it here. I guarantee you they wouldn’t be opposed to bringing me back next year.“
- The Cubs‘ roster moves on Sunday will have long and short-term implications for the club, writes Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. The Cubs designated catcher Eli Whiteside for assignment and filled his spot on the roster with Tsuyoshi Wada. Wada, who had an opt-out clause in his deal, could be a replacement in the rotation when and if they trade Jeff Samardzija and/or Hammel.
- Don’t look now, but the Cardinals are about to promote another promising young arm in 2013 first-rounder Marco Gonzales. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently wrote, the lefty (whose best offering is said to be the change-up) had been following the track of the man whose rotation spot he will occupy. Of course, that also means concern for St. Louis fans, as Michael Wacha will hit the DL (along with fellow starter Jaime Garcia). As Goold reports, Wacha is dealing with a “stress reaction” to his scapula, which GM John Mozeliak says the club will handle carefully since the injury “is not a very common injury to pitchers and one that we don’t have a ton of experience on how to deal with it.”
- The Pirates may soon be looking at some roster challenges as players filter back from injury, writes Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. While the club can wait to settle on its rotation until after Francisco Liriano returns, which is still expected to be a few weeks off, the pending activation of Neil Walker could create a more immediate pinch. With Josh Harrison carrying a 131 wRC+ and offering immense versatility, Cook suggests that veteran Clint Barmes may be expendable for Pittsburgh.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.