Chicago Cubs Rumors

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

NL Central Notes: Hammel, Wada, Cards, Bucs

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.


Minor Moves: Despaigne, Wolf, Stinson, Escalona

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

  • The Padres are set to promote Odrisamer Despaigne, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. They’ll need to clear a spot on their 40-man roster to make space for him. Despaigne, a Cuban pitcher who the Padres signed to a minor league deal in May, had two good starts for Double-A San Antonio before posting a 7.61 ERA in five starts for Triple-A El Paso. He did, however, post 11.0 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 23 2/3 innings there. Despaigne will start in place of Andrew Cashner on Monday, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman suggests (via Twitter). (The Padres are merely being “conservative” in scratching Cashner, Heyman says, although he does not give an exact reason why Cashner won’t be starting.)
  • The Orioles have signed Randy Wolf to a minor league contract and he will pitch three innings for Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday, tweets David Hall of the Virginian-Pilot. The deal is pending a physical, tweets MASNsports.com Roch Kubatko.
  • Right-hander Josh Stinson has accepted his outright assignment by the Orioles to Triple-A Norfolk, tweets Kubatko and MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli.
  • The Orioles have outrighted right-hander Edgmer Escalona to Triple-A, tweets Hall. In a separate tweet, Hall reports Escalona is still processing the move and will consult his agent as to whether to accept the outright or declare free agency. The 27-year-old has appeared in six games (three starts) for Norfolk this year posting a 6.10 ERA, 6.1 K/9, and 2.2 BB/9 in 20 2/3 innings.
  • The Cubs added left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada to their 40-man roster and optioned him to Triple-A Iowa, the club announced.  Wada has been pitching for Iowa all season but, as Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald tweets, the Japanese southpaw had an opt-out clause in his contract, so putting Wada on the 40-man allows the Cubs to keep him.  Signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, Wada has an impressive 2.81 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 3.61 K/BB rate in 14 Triple-A starts in 2014.
  • The Phillies released outfielder Tyson Gillies, the team announced.  A career .284/.364/.411 hitter over 2060 minor league PA, Gillies struggled at the Triple-A level over the last two seasons.  Gillies joined the Phillies from the Mariners organization in December 2009 as part of the trade package (along with J.C. Ramirez and Phillippe Aumont) that Philadelphia acquired from Seattle in exchange for Cliff Lee.
  • The Tigers shifted right-hander Luke Putkonen from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL in order to create a 40-man roster spot for the newly-recalled Pat McCoy, the team announced.  In another corresponding move, Ian Krol was put on the 15-day DL to make room for McCoy on the 25-man roster.  Putkonen only pitched 2 2/3 innings for Detroit and five total minor league innings this season due to elbow problems, and he is expected to be out for 6-8 weeks after recently undergoing surgery.
  • Per MLBTR’s Transaction Tracker, there are six players in DFA limbo: Kevin Slowey (Marlins), Josh Outman (Indians), Evan Reed (Tigers), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Jake Dunning (Giants), and Roger Bernadina (Reds).

Edward Creech and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


NL Central Notes: McCutchen, Brewers, Cards, Wada

Earlier today, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk posted divisional roundups for the NL East and AL Central. Now, let’s take a look at the news and notes from the NL Central:



NL East Notes: Jennings, Braves, Hamels, Mets

Dan Jennings was a guest on MLB Network Radio’s Front Office show this morning, and the Marlins GM told hosts Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden (as per Bowden’s Twitter account) that owner Jeffrey Loria is willing to “open the checkbook” to make additions before the trade deadline.  Miami began the season with one of the league’s lowest payrolls at just under $46MM, yet despite losing ace Jose Fernandez to Tommy John surgery, the Fish began the day just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL East.  The Marlins could be looking to take advantage of their surprising good form, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported earlier today that Miami has been as aggressive as any team in scouting for upgrades.

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • The Braves likely won’t be involved in the bidding for the RaysDavid Price or the CubsJeff Samardzija, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.  The team is already over budget and still has a solid starting rotation, despite the loss of Gavin Floyd.
  • The easiest way for the Phillies to rebuild would be to trade Cole Hamels, Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes.  Despite Hamels’ big contract (he is owed approximately $107.5MM through the end of the 2019 season), he is younger and carries fewer health question marks than other veteran Phillies who could be available in trades.  “If I were in their boat, I’d really hate to move [Hamels],” a rival executive tells Brookover. “But if you go back to question about which player is going to bring you the most value, you’re going to get the most for that guy. You have to get the most you can for a guy like that. If you don’t, you keep him. But you’re only going to get 1.5 pieces for someone else when you could get a lot more than that for him.”
  • When Travis d’Arnaud returns this week, the Mets have the choice of either optioning Anthony Recker to Triple-A or exposing Taylor Teagarden to waivers, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes.  Also, Teagarden has the option of becoming a free agent if he is outrighted again.  Rubin explores several factors in the decision, such as whether the Mets would mind losing Teagarden, and the effect this roster move could have on catching prospect Kevin Plawecki‘s development.

Rockies Notes: Cubs, De La Rosa, Tulowitzki

It’s been a rough week for the Rockies, who have lost five games in a row, got no-hit by Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday and allowed three runs to score on one wild pitch in yesterday’s 9-4 defeat to the Brewers.  Here’s the latest on a Colorado team that is trying to hang on in the NL playoff race…

  • The Rockies aren’t interested in Cubs starters Jeff Samardzija or Jason Hammel, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports.
  • It may be too soon to tell if the Rockies will be sellers or buyers at the trade deadline, but if the team does decide to sell, Saunders notes that two of its key trade chips have very limited value at the moment.  Michael Cuddyer is on the DL until August, while southpaw Jorge De La Rosa is battling a stiff back and has pitched poorly over his last three outings.
  • In an MLB Network Radio appearance today, Rockies director of Major League Operations Bill Geivett told Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden that Troy Tulowitzki won’t be traded and Geivett hopes the star shortstop will spend his entire career in Colorado (via Duquette’s Twitter account).  With Tulowitzki healthy and putting up MVP numbers, it could be argued his trade value has never been higher, though Geivett and other members of Rockies management have steadfastly insisted for a few years now that Tulowitzki isn’t going to be dealt.

AL Central Notes: Twins, Outman, Rodon

A new or upgraded stadium just represents a new revenue stream for a franchise, not a surefire promise of a winning team, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes.  Sullivan focuses his piece on the Cubs‘ planned renovations to Wrigley Field, though he uses the Twins and Target Field as an example of a team whose move into a new ballpark was undermined by moves that currently look like expensive mistakes (i.e. the Ricky Nolasco contract, Joe Mauer‘s extension).

Here’s some more from around the AL Central…

  • Jim Souhan of the Star-Tribune presents a different view of the Twins‘ future, listing four reasons why he feels the team is turning the corner back to respectability.
  • The Indians are trying to make a minor trade to send southpaw Josh Outman elsewhere, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  The Tribe designated Outman for assignment on Wednesday.  Outman’s strong numbers against left-handed batters should generate some interest, though as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted, Outman’s peripherals suggest his performance this season isn’t as solid as his 3.28 ERA would suggest.
  • Carlos Rodon was seen as perhaps the most Major League-ready pitcher of any 2014 draft pick, which is why White Sox assistant GM Buddy Bell feels Rodon would best be served by signing soon.  “You want to get started sooner than later….But I just think the sooner you sign and with his ability and how I see him, this kid is going to be in the big leagues soon,” Bell told reporters, including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes.  “It just seems to me if money is the issue, he’s going to make a helluva lot more getting it started than not.”  The Sox have until July 18 to sign Rodon, who is rumored to be looking for a bonus above the $5.72MM slot value for the No. 3 overall pick.

Cubs Designate Eli Whiteside For Assignment

The Cubs have designated catcher Eli Whiteside for assignment, Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald reports (Twitter link).  Welington Castillo has been activated from the disabled list in a corresponding move.

Whiteside was called up from Triple-A Iowa when Castillo hit the DL earlier this month.  Whiteside hit only .120/.115/.160 in 26 PA over eight games with Chicago, his first taste of big league action since 2012 when he was a member of the Giants.  The 34-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Cubs in the offseason and Miles believes Whiteside will return to Iowa if he isn’t claimed.

According to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker, Whiteside joins Kevin Slowey (Marlins), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Josh Outman (Indians), Roger Bernadina (Reds), Jake Dunning (Giants) and Evan Reed (Tigers) in “DFA limbo.”


Cafardo’s Latest: Morales, D’Backs, Kemp

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has lots of hot stove information to share in his latest Sunday Notes column

  • Kendrys Morales has already become a positive clubhouse figure in his short time with the Twins and Cafardo wouldn’t be surprised to see Minnesota try to extend the slugger.  It’s also possible the Twins could deal Morales before the deadline and then re-sign him as a free agent this winter.
  • The Diamondbacks seem willing to listen about trade offers for any player except Paul Goldschmidt, Cafardo notes.  Martin Prado could be an attractive trade chip, though possible trade candidates like Bronson Arroyo and Mark Trumbo might not have enough time before the deadline to show that they’re healthy.  “We’re meeting on it.  Figures we are sellers, not buyers,” D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said.
  • The Red Sox “spent significant time watching Matt Kemp last week,” though Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Cafardo that Kemp isn’t being traded.  Kemp’s recent hot streak has “reinforced” his value to Colletti given the dearth of right-handed power options around the game.
  • The Nationals could make Danny Espinosa available to second base-needy teams like the Giants or Blue Jays once Bryce Harper returns from the DL.  With Harper back in the outfield, Washington would use Ryan Zimmerman at third and Anthony Rendon at second, leaving Espinosa without a regular job.  Given Zimmerman’s shoulder problems and questionable future as a third baseman, however, I’d tend to think that the Nats would keep Espinosa as a valuable depth piece.
  • Phillies outfielders Marlon Byrd and Ben Revere appear to be available, as Cafardo adds them to the long list of notable Philadelphia players who could be trade targets before the deadline.
  • Red Sox catching prospect Christian Vazquez would be the top ask for any team looking to make a major trade with Boston.  “That would be across the board, even for a major hitter. He’s major league-ready right now offensively and defensively,” a scout tells Cafardo.  “We also think he’ll hit for some power in the majors. Because they have Blake Swihart, who a lot of teams will ask for as well, they probably would reluctantly give up Vazquez.”  This same scout, however, says that between the two young catchers, he would keep Swihart.
  • While Nate Schierholtz has only hit .207/.261/.313 in 249 PA this season, the Cubs will likely still trade the outfielder.  Schierholtz is only signed through the end of the season and he is owed approximately $2.78MM in remaining salary.
  • The Padres “would like to conduct a fire sale” and Chris Denorfia, Chase Headley, Carlos Quentin and Seth Smith could all be available.  Cafardo notes that Smith would be a good fit in the Red Sox outfield.
  • Several teams are interested in Grady Sizemore, who one scout feels will perform better now that he has had time to get re-accustomed to playing.  “Whoever gets him next will probably get a better player than what Boston had. He needed more time, and with that problem offensively up there they [the Red Sox] couldn’t wait,” the scout said.
  • The Blue Jays, Cubs, Marlins, Phillies and Rangers have been the teams who have been most aggressively scouting the major and minor league rosters of other clubs, Cafardo reports.

Cubs Notes: Bryant, Schwarber, Trades, Samardzija

The Cubs promoted top prospect Kris Bryant from Double-A to Triple-A yesterday, but as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat writes, president Theo Epstein doesn’t feel the 2013 No. 2 overall pick’s development is complete yet. Muskat spoke with manager Rick Renteria and current Cubs players Jake Arrieta and Anthony Rizzo about Bryant’s future as well. The 22-year-old Bryant, who slashed an unthinkable .355/.458/.702 with 22 homers in 69 Double-A games, didn’t seem to have a hard time adjusting to his new Triple-A surroundings; he went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in last night’s Iowa debut.

More on Bryant and the Cubs…

  • Despite Bryant’s tremendous minor league success, Epstein told reporters, including the Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles, that he doesn’t expect Bryant to be promoted to the Major Leagues this season (Twitter link). That may be disappointing for Cubs fans, but from a business standpoint there’s little harm in letting Bryant develop at Triple-A and waiting to start his service clock.
  • Via Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago (on Twitter), Epstein also said that if No. 4 overall pick Kyle Schwarber‘s bat warrants fast-tracking him to the Major Leagues, the team won’t slow him down by leaving him behind the plate to develop. A catcher and outfielder at Indiana, Schwarber’s bat is said to be much closer to big-league ready than his glove behind the plate. However, the consensus seems to be that he could reach the Majors quickly as an outfielder.
  • As for the team’s more immediate concerns — presumably, dealing away several veterans from the big league roster — Epstein says that trade talks remain sporadic at present, Rogers reports“The rule of thumb is there is more speculation this time of year than actual trade talk,” said Epstein. “Teams don’t like to rush into those types of things.” While last year’s Scott Feldman deal went down in early July, Epstein said that did not mean anything for this year’s plans. The head baseball man also hinted that he hopes a healthy number of buyers could work to his team’s advantage. “The parity creates more potential buyers,” he said. A lot of teams are out there that could be one or two players away from getting into the playoffs and doing some damage.”
  • The Cubs may come to regret not locking up staff ace Jeff Samardzija when they had the chance to do so at a lower price, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times. Wittenmyer reports that, earlier in the year, Samardzija had proposed a $100MM deal while the Cubs were sitting at $60MM. Samardzija’s representatives signaled that they would split the difference, but Chicago only increased its offer by $500K. Now, with the asking price much higher, it seems as though the 29-year-old will instead be dealt, and Wittenmyer argues that the club will struggle to replace him for anything approaching a reasonable price.

2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. Here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options…

  • Nick Punto: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. He did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, though for the time being, he’s on pace to see his option vest simply due to the fact that he’s avoided the DL entirely. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would need to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He’s being platooned heavily with Scooter Gennett and has just 112 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Should he reach 400 PAs (which only seems likely in the event of Gennett injury), Weeks would be entitled to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins: Rollins’ option vests if he reaches 600 PA in 2014 or if he totals 1,100 options from 2013-14 and finishes the season on the active roster. He’s 141 PA shy of that combined 1,100 number, meaning he’s highly likely to end up with an $11MM guarantee for 2015.
  • Dan Haren: If Haren pitches 180 innings or more in 2014, he triggers a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. He’s averaging just over six innings per start, so he’s on pace to clear that mark given 30-31 starts. However, if he finishes the season anywhere near his current 3.54 ERA, he may prefer to test the open market in search of a multi-year deal.
  • Mike Adams: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 vests with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s once again on the disabled list for the Phillies and has thrown just 17 innings. Adams has thrown 42 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that they would pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles.
  • Rafael Soriano: Soriano’s $14MM club option will vest if he finishes 120 games combined in 2013-14. He’s currently at 81 games finished on the season, meaning he’d need to finish a rather unlikely 39 of his team’s final 92 games (42 percent) this season. Should the option vest, half of his salary will be deferred and paid in annual installments from 2018-25.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that threshold.
  • Sean Burnett: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs: Downs has a $4MM vesting option, and while the specifics haven’t been reported, Ken Rosenthal noted at the time of the deal that it would vest were Downs to pitch “a normal workload.” He’s headed in that direction, as he’s on pace for his highest innings total since 2011. Downs has pitched to a 5.48 ERA in his 23 innings, so the White Sox may not wish to see that option vest. Then again, he has a 3.95 ERA dating back to May 3, so he’s shown some signs of improvement.