Chicago Cubs Rumors
Here's the latest news from both the NL and AL Central divisions...
- The Brandon Phillips trade rumors may have temporarily stopped, though Reds president/CEO Bob Castellini left the door slightly open when talking to reporters today (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon and the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay). "Brandon is part of the team, boys," Castellini said. "Walt [GM Walt Jocketty] was just exploring. You have to understand what he's up against. He's got to look around. Brandon Phillips is an integral part of this franchise....But you never say never."
- The Cubs and John Axford share a mutual interest in each other, Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com reports. Axford would get a chance to compete for the Cubs' closing job, though the right-hander seemingly has plenty of opportunities around the league, with a reported 14 teams checking in following his non-tender from the Cardinals.
- The Cubs and Royals are two of the teams who have shown interest in Joba Chamberlain, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets. No signing seems to be imminent for either team, however. Chamberlain is another relief arm who has drawn significant attention on the open market, as he may be seen as a reclamation candidate after some tough seasons with the Yankees.
- The Twins have spoken to John Buck's agent, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, and a source tells Berardino that Buck is Minnesota's top target amongst available catchers. It isn't clear how interested in the Twins are, however, given that Josmil Pinto is still the club's preferred choice to take over the everyday catching job now that Joe Mauer has been moved to first base.
- Carl Pavano talked with Berardino about his comeback attempt from a freak snow-shoveling accident that left him with a ruptured spleen and sidelined the veteran righty for the entire 2013 season. Pavano said the Twins haven't contacted him about a return: "I haven't really talked to them. I don't know if that would be a good fit anyway. I think we're in different places. They need those younger guys in their rotation."
After the departures of Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, the Braves have needs, and may not have much money available to meet them, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in a long essay about what to expect from the Braves in the coming weeks. They could try to trade for a pitcher like Jeff Samardzija, John Lackey or Kyle Lohse, or they could sign Bartolo Colon. Colon is an appealing option for the Braves, O'Brien says, because his age makes him unlikely to receive a huge contract. The Braves also hope to trade Dan Uggla to clear salary. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Cuban shortstop Erisbel Barbaro Arruebarruena will put on a showcase for clubs this weekend and the Mets will be among the teams in attendance, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Post. The 23-year-old, ranked as the tenth-best prospect in the World Baseball Classic not signed to an MLB club by Baseball America, defected from Cuba in November.
- It appears the Cubs will cede their top pick in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft to resolve a dispute involving former Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. The Cubs picked Castillo from the Phillies in 2011, and Castillo missed 91 days of the following season due to injury, then spent the entire 2013 season in the minors. In case of injury, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must stick on their new teams' active rosters for at least 90 days. The Phillies will receive the Cubs' pick after they filed a grievance regarding Castillo. The Cubs don't plan to select a player this year anyway. The Rule 5 Draft will be held next Thursday.
- A recent report listed a number of teams as possible landing spots for David Price, but it would be easy to overpay for Price, FanGraphs' Dave Cameron argues. Price is a great pitcher, but he's only under control for two more years, and will cost a total of about $30MM for those two seasons. Cameron's back-of-the-envelope math suggests Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco, for example, could be worth about $91MM of surplus value over his six cost-controlled seasons, about three times as valuable as Price. The Royals' trade of Wil Myers and other youngsters for James Shields and Wade Davis was an overpay and should not determine the market for Price, Cameron argues.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Here are the latest updates from the National League side of the ledger:
- The Mets are increasingly expressing optimism about their efforts to bring Curtis Granderson into the fold, reports Marc Carig of Newsday, though nothing appears to be immiment. Joining the Mets in pursuit of Granderson are the White Sox and Mariners, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. If that does not work out for New York, says Puma, the club will "likely" turn its attention to Nelson Cruz.
- After parting ways with two left-handed relief options in Fernando Abad and Ian Krol, the Nationals remain interested in adding Oliver Perez, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore says that the Mariners and Padres also have interest in the 32-year-old southpaw, who pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings last year for Seattle.
- Echoing previous reports, Reds GM Walt Jocketty says that the club has told second baseman Brandon Phillips that it is "not in any talks to trade him," reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Though Jocketty also noted that he could not rule out that possibility, he definitely left the impression that he is not actively shopping Phillips.
- Jocketty also indicated that the club is likely going to keep Aroldis Chapman in the closer role rather than converting him to a starter, reports Sheldon. Though Cincinnati will keep the starting option on the table in the spring, Jocketty said that the club likes its depth at the present. As MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth wrote at the start of the off-season, the Reds could tinker with their rotation, but lack a pressing need to do so.
- Though the latest scuttlebutt has Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija marked for trade talks, club president Theo Epstein says that the club still hopes to extend him, tweets Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Of course, Chicago could certainly be keeping both options on the table for the time being.
- After trading away center fielder Dexter Fowler, the Rockies plan to shift Carlos Gonzalez over to fill the vacancy, reports the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). Meanwhile, the club is still shopping for relief pitchers, reports the Denver Post's Troy Renck (via Sulia), and may be most likely to add a bullpen arm via trade.
- The Diamondbacks are still looking to add a major piece, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, and GM Kevin Towers has indicated that the club would be willing to give up its first-round draft choice to sign a free agent who turned down a qualifying offer. Towers indicated that the club is most likely to add a starter via trade, leaving Piecoro to posit that the most likely open-market targets would be Granderson, Nelson Cruz, or Carlos Beltran.
- Meanwhile, the D-Backs could be much more willing to deal pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs than they had been in the past, Piecoro writes. In fact, the club apparently recently explored just that possibility. Coming off of a down year that saw his velocity drop, however, the 22-year-old probably also has diminished trade value at the moment, Piecoro further notes.
The Cubs have signed left-handed reliever Wesley Wright to a one-year deal believed to be for $1.425MM, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Wright, who was recently non-tendered by the Rays, is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.
The 28-year-old came to Tampa for the stretch last year after he was traded via waiver claim from the Astros. He posted a combined 3.69 ERA in 53 2/3 innings for the two clubs. As one might expect, Wright has historically been much more effective against lefties. When facing same-handed hitters, he has posted a career 3.11 K:BB ratio while surrendering only a .655 OPS.
Entering the off-season with four years and 105 days of Major League service, Wright was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $1.4MM in arbitration. Since Wright will fall shy of qualifying for free agency following next year, the Cubs will also have future control over their new left-hander.
DEC. 4: The Cubs are preparing to do some "serious listening" on Samardzija at next week's Winter Meetings, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).
NOV. 27, 7:08pm: The Cubs are going to keep trying to sign Samardzija long-term despite the trade rumors, a major league source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter).
6:30pm: Jeff Samardzija's name has been swirling about the rumor mill for quite some time, and David Kaplan of CSN Chicago reports that as many as eight teams have shown "considerable" interest in Samardzija. Kaplan lists the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Diamondbacks as frontrunners to land the pitcher often referred to as "Shark," though as Kaplan notes, the asking price is substantial.
One Major League source told Kaplan, "I don't see him throwing another pitch for the Cubs," while a second offered a laundry list of reasons that Samardzija is an excellent trade candidate: he has two years of control remaining, has no injury history, comes with relatively low mileage on his arm due to his prolific football career at Notre Dame and is an excellent clubhouse presence. "Add in the fact that this guy is a big-time competitor, and I would have no hesitation in acquiring him," said Kaplan's second source.
Kaplan points out that teams run a serious risk by waiting for resolution to the Masahiro Tanaka situation since teams that miss out on the Japanese standout will swarm on Samardzija and other alternatives. One NL scout suggested that if he were a GM and didn't have pockets deep enough to guarantee landing Tanaka, he'd give up more than he'd like to get the Cubs' hurler.
The Orioles are among the frontrunners for Samardzija but most scouts that Kaplan checked in with do not expect the Cubs to trade for catcher Matt Wieters unless he was part of a much larger deal that also included young starting pitching that is nearly MLB ready.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
3:30pm: The Diamondbacks may also be looking to the trade market for power bats, according to a recent series of tweets from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal reports that the D-Backs and A's recently discussed a trade that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Arizona in exchange for Tyler Skaggs, A.J. Pollock and others. Both sides have cooled on the idea and backed off the trade at this time, however, and the A's would only trade Cespedes for a "monster" return, according to Rosenthal. Still, as he points out, it serves as an example that the Diamondbacks will be aggressive and creative in their search for a power bat in the outfield.
1:54pm: The Diamondbacks are motivated to swing a trade for an ace-caliber pitcher, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick spoke with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, president/CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick in an excellent, in-depth breakdown of the situation. While Towers was quick to say that no player is untouchable, he sounded loath to part with prized pitching prospect Archie Bradley, a consensus Top 10 MLB prospect. Asked about the possiblity of trading Bradley, he replied:
"I don't see that happening. Not that anybody is untouchable, but we're hoping he's our David Price, and we can control him [for several years]. He's gonna get every opportunity to crack our rotation this spring ... He's not looking to make our rotation as the fifth guy -- he's looking to make it as the ace."
Hall pointed to the Diamondbacks' success in 2011 when Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the Cy Young race, noting how impactful having a "No. 1 type starter" was to that year's team. Hall expects activity to pick up: "We're getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls, and we can see the interest is there. We're probably a good fit for a lot of clubs."
In addition to enviable pitching depth, the Diamondbacks also have several intriguing shortstops in the form of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed. Martin Prado's presence means that Arizona could also be inclined to include Matt Davidson in potential trades, and the presence of both A.J. Pollock could mean that Adam Eaton is attainable as well, notes Crasnick.
Crasnick lists familiar trade targets Price and Jeff Samardzija for the Diamondbacks, though Price has had multiple ace-caliber seasons while Samardzija has more so flashed ace potential. Crasnick adds that Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado, each of whom is still younger than 24, may be more likely to be included in potential trades.
The Diamondbacks are also looking to add an impact bat to the outfield, though that addition may be more likely to come via free agency, reports Crasnick. Big-name items like Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson may not fit into Arizona's payroll, which could lead to pursuits of names like Corey Hart and Michael Morse, though there are many who don't consider either one to be capable of handling the outfield at this point.
Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of National League non-tenders here. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR's Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates as well. Also of use will be our Arbitration Eligibles series, which includes Matt Swartz's projected 2014 salaries for all arbitration eligible players.
- The Reds non-tendered outfielders Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson, according to the AP. Robinson had been designated for assignment last Thursday to open a roster spot for Skip Schumaker.
- The Rockies have non-tendered reliever Mitchell Boggs, tweets Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
- The Dodgers have non-tendered Ronald Belisario, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Marlins have non-tendered outfielder Chris Coghlan and reliever Ryan Webb, the club announced via press release.
- The Pirates have non-tendered Garrett Jones, Michael McKenry, and Kyle McPherson, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Giants have non-tendered Sandy Rosario and Francisco Peguero, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- The Cubs have non-tendered Mat Gamel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The club has also non-tendered Chang-Yong Lim, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com.
- The Mets officially announced their slate of non-tenders, which includes a few new names in Jeremy Hefner and Justin Turner (via tweet from Andy Martino of the New York Daily News).
- The Braves announced that they have non-tendered infielders Elliot Johnson and Paul Janish as well as right-hander Cristhian Martinez (Twitter link). Johnson, 29, batted .209/.255/.283 in 275 plate appearances between the Royals and Braves last season. Janish was less productive in 45 PAs, batting .171/.222/.220. Martinez, 31, missed nearly the entire season due to shoulder surgery. However, he posted a 3.63 ERA in 151 1/3 innings for Atlanta from 2011-12, making him a potential buy-low candidate for another club.
- The Mets have non-tendered Jordany Valdespin, Rubin reports. Valdespin has been a persistent source of drama for the Mets, lashing out at manager Terry Collins after being demoted and also being slapped with a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal. The soon-to-be 26-year-old is a career .219/.271/.380 hitter in 350 big league plate appearances. Valdespin's non-tender comes despite him not yet being arbitration eligible, illustrating the Mets' frustration with the second baseman/outfielder.
- The Cubs will non-tender right-hander Daniel Bard, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Bard was claimed off waivers in September and never threw a pitch for the Cubs organization. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford notes that Bard was pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League but walked nine batters while recording just one out. The Cubs could still agree to a non-roster deal with Bard, he adds. Bard's control has vanished into thin air, as the formerly dominant setup man has also walked 56 batters over his past 47 1/3 minor league frames.
- The Mets have informed shortstop Omar Quintanilla that he will be non-tendered, Quintanilla told Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. Quintanilla projected to earn $900K this offseason after batting .222/.306/.283 in a career-high 359 plate appearances last season.
- ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets that the Mets will also non-tender Scott Atchison. The right-hander projected to earn $1.3MM coming off a 4.37 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 45 1/3 innings. Atchison will turn 38 in late March.
With tonight's non-tender deadline looming, several players figure to not only be tendered contracts but agree to their 2014 salaries prior to 11pm CT. We'll run down the players to avoid arbitration with their respective clubs in this post, and remember that you can track the progress on all arbitration eligible players by using MLBTR's 2014 Arbitration Tracker. For a reminder on the projected salaries for each of these players, check out Matt Swartz's projections in MLBTR's Arbitration Eligibles series.
- The Nationals announced they've avoided arbitration with righty Ross Ohlendorf, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Ohlendorf's deal will guarantee him $1.25MM and can reach $3MM via incentives that can be achieved as a starter or reliever, per the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with utility infielder Donnie Murphy, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com (via Twitter), agreeing to a one-year, $825K pact that includes incentives.
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Steve Pearce for $700K, tweets Rosenthal.
- The Padres have reached terms with pitcher Eric Stults on a $2.75MM deal to avoid arbitration, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He had been projected by Swartz to earn $3MM through arbitration. Unlike most arbitration deals, tweets Rosenthal, this one will be guaranteed. Also getting a guaranteed deal from the Padres, per Rosenthal, is righty Tim Stauffer at $1.6MM.
- The White Sox have avoided arbitration with catcher Tyler Flowers with a $950k contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- The Athletics have avoided arbitration with righty Fernando Rodriguez, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Rodriguez, who is represented by Metis Sports Management, LLC, will earn $600K plus award bonuses, MLBTR has learned. The A's will tender contracts to its remaining arb-eligible players, Slusser notes via Twitter.
- The Indians have avoided arbitration with relievers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood, the club announced. Each player will earn $560k, tweets Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, which falls below their respective projections from MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- Newly-acquired catcher George Kottaras has reached agreement on a one-year, $1.075MM deal to avoid arbitration with the Cubs, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The contract includes incentives, according to Heyman. A left-handed batter, Kottaras managed only a .180 batting average last year, but got on base at a .349 clip in addition to posting a .370 slugging mark in his 126 plate appearances.
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Nolan Reimold, sources tell Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (link to Twitter). The 30-year-old will get a one-year, $1.025MM deal that includes incentives. Reimold lost most of the last two seasons to injury, but has a career .252/.327/.439 slash in 1,056 plate appearances dating back to 2009. His salary will be guaranteed, tweets Connolly.
- The Phillies have avoided arbitration with infielder Kevin Frandsen, the club announced. Frandsen will receive a one-year, $900k deal that includes performance incentives. Last year, Frandsen had a .234/.296/.341 slash line in 278 plate appearances. The deal is guaranteed, Rosenthal tweets.
- The Braves announced that they have avoided arbitration with infielder Ramiro Pena and left-hander Jonny Venters (Twitter link). Pena, 28, batted a solid .278/.330/.443 in 107 PAs this season before shoulder surgery ended his season. Venters' contract was first reported two weeks ago and is said to be worth $1.625MM.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with Don Kelly by agreeing to a one-year, $1MM contract for 2014. Kelly will turn 34 in February and batted .222/.309/.343 in 2013 -- all numbers that are nearly mirrored by his career .229/.290/.344 batting line. He is represented by LSW Baseball.
- The Pirates have avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal (on Twitter). Barbarisi reports that the trade sending Stewart to Pittsburgh was actually in place on Friday but was also contingent on Stewart agreeing to a new contract with the Pirates. Stewart, a client of James A. Kuzmich, PLLC, agreed to his new contract today, thereby finalizing the trade. He projected to earn $1MM, per Swartz.
McDonald boasts a career .285/.353/.453 slash line against left-handed pitchers at the Major League level. The 35-year-old spent the bulk of 2013 at Triple-A Iowa, where he slashed .236/.307/.346 in 294 plate appearances with four homers. He was solid in the bigs as well, however, hitting .302/.351/.434 with a homer in 57 PAs. McDonald is represented by McNamara Baseball Group, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.
The Dodgers have a thrown a wrench into the free agent outfield market by listening to trade offers for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio in an Insider post (subscription required). Scott Boras is also a complicating factor, according to Bowden, because he represents the two top free agent outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo (#2 and #3, respectively, on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list). Bowden theorizes the other top-tier free agent outfielders may wait to sign in order to see how Boras sets the market for Ellsbury and Choo. In today's news and notes from the National League:
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort provided Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post with a detailed line-by-line budget for his franchise. Monfort explains how revenue from the new national TV contract is absorbed by payments on the club's MLB credit line, player raises, and projected revenue losses for not having home dates with the Yankees and Red Sox. Monfort estimates being able to reinvest only $4-5MM of the new TV money into the on-the-field product.
- Renck, via Sulia, agrees with the assessment of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes that the Ricky Nolasco contract resembles Edwin Jackson's. Renck believes the Rockies would have been paralyzed under their self-imposed budget constraints had they signed Nolasco, so their best option for a rotation upgrade is through a trade.
- The Mets will have interest in catcher Tyler Flowers, if he is non-tendered by the White Sox, tweets the New York Post's Mike Puma. Mets executives have liked Flowers in the past and see him as a potential backup to Travis d'Arnaud. Flowers, however, told Scott Merkin of MLB.com "(t)here have been a couple of conversations" with the White Sox about reaching an agreement to avoid arbitration. "I put it at 51-49 in favor of staying because of the contractual conversation we've had before," Flowers said. "They've reached out to me to try to see where each other is at. If they didn't care at all, they would have done nothing and non-tendered me."
- It would be a surprise if the Diamondbacks non-tender left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher because free agent bullpen arms aren't cheap, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Thatcher struggled after Arizona acquired him from San Diego in the Ian Kennedy trade to the tune of a 6.75 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, and 11.6 H/9 in 9 1/3 innings (22 appearances).
- The Cubs will likely tender second baseman Darwin Barney, despite a career-worst season at the plate (.208/.266/.303 in 501 plate appearances), because the only realistic in-house replacement is Luis Valbuena, reasons MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM arbitration salary for Barney and $1.5MM for Valbuena, who is playing second base in the Venezuelan Winter League.
- The Cardinals made the right move in signing Jhonny Peralta because they were able to upgrade a position of need while retaining their prized young arms, opines MLB.com's Richard Justice.