Chicago Cubs Rumors
Since picking up Justin Grimm from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal, the Cubs have liked what they've seen from him in a relief role, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Pitching coach Chris Bosio explains that the club is "presenting different roles for him," and Gonzales says that Grimm could stay in the pen going into spring training. On to more links from the AL and NL Central...
- The Pirates have shut down Wandy Rodriguez because of persistent pain and discomfort in his left forearm, according to a statement from GM Neal Huntington. The move will provide more time for the flexor tendon in Rodriguez's forearm to heal and sets him up to be ready for Opening Day 2014, Huntington said.
- Rodriguez says he hasn't considered whether he'll trigger his $13MM player option for next year, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets. However, it's unlikely that he doesn't do so, Biertempfel says. The Pirates are on the hook for $7.5MM of the option.
- The Twins don't plan to sign James McDonald, who elected free agency today after being outrighted to Triple-A by the Pirates, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com says. Minnesota will re-evaluate McDonald and take a look at his medicals over the offseason, however.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Let's take a quick look at some notes from the National League ...
- Recent Cubs trade acquisition Jake Arrieta is struggling with consistency even while flashing the potential to be a dominant starter, writes Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. Of course, as MLBTR's Zach Links noted back when he was shipped to Chicago, Arrieta was a nice buy-low, change-of-scenery candidate precisely because of his historical inability to harness his stuff.
- Looking forward to the club's right field opening in 2014, the Mets probably lack the top-end young bat that would be necessary to draw Giancarlo Stanton away from the Marlins, writes ESPNNewYork.com's Mark Simon. (Simon notes that catcher Travis d'Arnaud could fit the bill, but his struggles at the MLB level lower his value and he fills an obvious need for his current club.) Looking elsewhere, Simon tabs Shin-Soo Choo, Hunter Pence, Nelson Cruz, and recent Met Marlon Byrd as potential targets.
- Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg had his start skipped today after experiencing soreness in his right forearm, reports Tom Schad of MLB.com. Though manager Davey Johnson said that a medical examination revealed nothing of concern, the team is understandably proceeding with caution, even as it tries to hang on to the fringes of the Wild Card race. At this point, Strasburg has set himself up for a nice arbitration payday regardless of what happens over his remaining starts. He will enter the process for the first time with a career 2.95 ERA over 421 1/3 innings pitched, with 10.6 K/9 against just 2.5 BB/9, although his relatively low inning totals (he is at a career-high 170) and lack of wins this year (he has just seven) could limit his earning potential somewhat.
Former Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan isn't sure whether he wants to return to baseball, but he's listening, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. "I’ve had several clubs call me and talk to me not so much about coaching, but joining them in some other capacity," says Duncan. "I really don’t think I would coach again — not right now, anyway. But if someone is interested, I’d listen to whatever they’re thinking about." Duncan left the game in January 2012 as his wife Jeanine was suffering from cancer. Duncan still has an excellent reputation as a pitching coach, but he does not want to return to coaching, calling it "a grind." Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- It's unclear whether the Brewers will go with Scooter Gennett or Rickie Weeks at second base next season, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel writes. Haurdicourt wonders if Weeks' $11MM 2014 salary might be a factor. (Weeks also has a vesting option for 2015.) Weeks has struggled all season, hitting .209/.306/.357 with poor defense, while Gennett has hit brilliantly in his rookie year.
- Leury Garcia, who the White Sox acquired from the Rangers last month in the Alex Rios deal, is impressing his new teammates, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com writes. His defense at second base has played well so far, and although he hasn't yet provided much offense (he's hitting .214/.303/.214 in a small sample of 33 plate appearances so far), manager Robin Ventura says he thinks that will improve.
- Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who experienced four losing seasons in Pittsburgh before the Bucs finally broke through this year, advises Cubs players to worry about their own play and let management take care of the rest, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports. The Cubs are 22 games below .500, but McCutchen suggests players remember that, one day, things might be different. "When you lose for so long, you hope those things that happen in the minors, that those guys get the work they need to get done so when they get the chance to come here and play, they're ready to go," says McCutchen. "It's not fun when you are losing, but it's a process that down the road that things are going to get better.''
The Padres have promoted former star closer Trevor Hoffman to upper level pitching coordinator and special assistant to GM Josh Byrnes, according to a team release. His duties will include coordinating and evaluating pitchers in the high minors and at the big-league level. Hoffman has worked in the Padres front office since he retired as a player in 2011 after racking up 552 of his career 601 saves as a Padre. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- Giants general manager Brian Sabean and former manager Felipe Alou are currently in the Dominican Republic, scouting Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu, Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com tweets. In late August, the Giants were reported to be interested in Abreu. Abreu, who defected from Cuba earlier this summer, appears likely to receive a contract even larger than that of Yasiel Puig, who got seven years and $42MM from the Dodgers.
- Matt Garza has been a disappointment for the Rangers since they traded for him, but that's consistent with the rest of his career, ESPN's Jayson Stark says on ESPN Dallas' Fitzsimmons and Durrett podcast. "If you look at his body of work, you think that the performance has ever totally matched the stuff?" Stark asks. Garza's peripherals with Texas (8.5 K/9, 2.3 BB/9) remain above average, but it's likely a 4.46 ERA isn't what the Rangers were hoping for when they acquired him. Stark also adds that the Cubs "sold high" on Garza, dealing him after a string of good starts against bad teams.
Yesterday it was reported that Jhonny Peralta has left ACES for SFX as he prepares to hit free agency this offseason. Regarding his departure, Sam and Seth Levinson of ACES offered the following statement (via MLB.com's Jason Beck):
"ACES takes great pride in standing by our players during difficult times in their lives. Thankfully, the darkest chapter in Jhonny’s professional career has concluded. We wish him the best in all that he does moving forward, and fully understand that Jhonny is more comfortable with a Latin agent. ACES is proud to represent great players who are quality people for over three decades and we will continue to defend and assert our players’ rights under the rules of the game."
Here's more out of baseball's Central divisions...
- Royals closer Greg Holland is thriving in a role that he never would have expected to have before becoming a pro, writes MLB.com's Kathleen Gier. Holland was a high school third baseman in North Carolina and anticipated a future as an infielder before changing his path.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times asks if Kris Bryant is the Cubs' third baseman of the future. Bryant also has experience in the outfield and the Cubs have other candidates within their system (Javier Baez, Christian Villanueva, and Mike Olt) for the third base position.
- Wittenmyer also chronicles the journey that C.J. Edwards has taken from the small town of Prosperity, S.C. to prized Cubs pitching prospect, losing his best friend in a car crash and falling to the 48th round of the draft along the way.
- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters, including MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link), that Mike Pelfrey will not be shut down for the season and will continue to pitch. That's financially significant, as Pelfrey is 7 2/3 innings from reaching the first tier of incentives in his contract, as detailed by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press earlier this month.
With a 1-0 win over the Rangers Monday night, the Pirates clinched their first winning season since 1992. 2011 draftee Gerrit Cole pitched seven dominant innings for the Bucs on Monday, and the Pirates have, of course, gotten big contributions from draftees like Andrew McCutchen (2005) and Pedro Alvarez (2008). But much of the Pirates' success in 2013 has stemmed from Neal Huntington's spectacular 2012-2013 offseason. He signed Francisco Liriano and Russell Martin, who have emerged as two of the Pirates' top players behind McCutchen. He also re-signed Jason Grilli, who dominated as the Pirates' closer, and traded for Mark Melancon, who has been even more dominant and who stepped in as closer after Grilli got hurt.
Mike Axisa of CBS Sports digs deep into the construction of the 2013 Pirates, noting that many of this year's Bucs also came from earlier trades. He singles out the then-unpopular Nate McLouth trade, which brought back Jeff Locke and Charlie Morton, as an important one for the Bucs. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- Jason Giambi wants to return to play for the Indians next season, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports. "I would love to play next year," Giambi says. "Hopefully it will be here. I love it here. I love the direction the team is going and the things we've got going here." Giambi is hitting .186/.278/.372 in 198 plate appearances this season.
- The Cubs are giving Scott Baker starts in September, but it's unclear whether he'll be playing for them next year, writes Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com. Baker made his first start since 2011 on Sunday, after missing most of the last two seasons with an elbow injury. The Cubs figure to have Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson in their rotation next year, with a variety of possible back-end options, including Jake Arrieta, Carlos Villanueva and Chris Rusin. Mooney notes that the Cubs will likely pursue more starting pitching in the offseason.
- The White Sox will pursue position players via free agency and trade this offseason, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports. Sox GM Rick Hahn says he will be "open to" trading young pitching in order to acquire hitters. The White Sox's top young-ish pitchers at the big-league level include Jose Quintana, Nate Jones, Addison Reed and Hector Santiago. Chris Sale would obviously be a very valuable trade chip, but he's an elite talent and the White Sox signed him to an extension before the season, so that appears unlikely.
The NL Central features a pair of matchups this afternoon each at a different end of the spectrum. The division-leading Cardinals are hosting the Pirates and lead Pittsburgh by one-half game while the Brewers and Cubs are at Wrigley Field battling to avoid the cellar. The Brewers sit in fourth place by only one game. In other news and notes from the NL Central:
- The first place Cardinals can thank their deep farm system (especially in terms of pitching reinforcements) for their place in the standings, but it has had a ripple effect throughout the entire system, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Bernie Miklasz, Goold's colleague at the Post-Dispatch, agrees the Cardinals' young talent has been a tremendous resource; but, with Allen Craig nursing a sprained foot, the club will turn to a grizzled playoff veteran: David Freese.
- The Brewers have a glaring hole at first base with seven different players starting there this season, but Juan Francisco's audition to win the job for 2014 hasn't gone well, opines Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Since a two-home run, four-RBI game against the Rangers on August 14, Francisco has slumped with only seven hits in 44 at bats (.159), two RBIs, and 23 strikeouts.
- In an recent online chat, Rosiak explained trading either Yovani Gallardo or Kyle Lohse this offseason wouldn't make sense because it would create more holes in a rotation which already doesn't have enough proven arms.
- Within that same chat, Rosiak can envision the Brewers cutting ties with Rickie Weeks citing the recent examples of Bill Hall, Jeff Suppan, and Randy Wolf. Rosiak notes those three cases occurred in the final year of their contracts, which is what Weeks is entering in 2014.
- Right-hander Daniel Bard, claimed on waivers by the Cubs last Wednesday, threw his second bullpen session today, but there is still no timetable for him to see any game action, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "It’d be nice to see but it’s his timetable and we’ll evaluate and we’ll find out how he’s doing and how he’s feeling," said manager Dale Sveum. Bard is eligible for arbitration this winter.
- Earlier today, the Cubs designated infielder Cody Ransom for assignment to create roster space for right-hander Scott Baker, who is making his first MLB appearance in two years.
Ransom, 37, did well at the plate for the Cubs this season, hitting .203/.304/.449 in 57 games. The Cubs first acquired the veteran off waivers in mid-April after the Padres waived him. For his career, the outfielder owns a .213/.303/.400 slash line.
To keep track of Ransom and everyone else in DFA limbo, check out the MLBTR DFA Tracker.
In some non-traditional transactional news, some Tigers fans are mourning the apparent firing of one of Comerica Park's fixtures, opera-singing hot dog vendor Charley Marcuse. More from MLB's central divisions...
- The Tigers have a decison looming with Jhonny Peralta, who will return from a 50-game suspension with three games remaining in the regular season, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press notes. The club may not reinstate Peralta to avoid associated media scrutiny, as the infielder was suspended for his connection with the Biogenesis scandal. However, keeping him on could protect the Tigers in the case of an injury to his replacement at shortstop, Jose Iglesias, or second baseman Omar Infante.
- Though righty James McDonald has finally recovered after hitting the DL with shoulder discomfort in early May, he didn't factor into the Pirates' plans moving forward, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports in a tweet. McDonald, 28, was designated for assignment earlier today. The former top prospect is only a year removed from a 4.21 ERA, 171-inning campaign and has just a year of arbitration under his belt, so he could draw interest if clubs believe he's healthy.
- The Cubs' Ryan Sweeney figures to get playing time this month so that the club can evaluate him, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. Sweeney will be a free agent after the season. "You give him 500, 700 plate appearances that he’s never gotten before, I think you could project that to be a pretty good year," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. The 28-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the Cubs in April but missed more than two months after fracturing a rib.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league...
- After being designated for assignment by the Giants on Tuesday, lefty Dan Runzler has been outrighted to Triple-A, according to Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter). Having failed to regain his 2009-10 form, when he was effective out of the San Francisco pen, Runzler will become a minor league free agent after the season.
- The Cubs announced that Michael Bowden and Cole Gillespie have both cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Iowa after being designated for assignment earlier in the week. The 26-year-old Bowden pitched to a 4.30 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 37 2/3 innings for the Cubs this season. Gillespie, 29, batted .240/.328/.280 for Chicago in 59 plate appearances after hitting .277/.361/.455 in 269 plate appearances for the Giants' Triple-A affiliate in Fresno.
- The Giants have released second baseman/left fielder Kensuke Tanaka, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (on Twitter). The Giants designated Tanaka for assignment on Tuesday along with Runzler in order to clear 40-man roster spots for right-hander Heath Hembree and catcher Johnny Monell. Tanaka, 32, saw limited time with the Giants this season but excelled in 400 plate appearances at Triple-A Fresno, batting .329/.400/.397 with three homers and 22 steals (though they came in 32 attempts). Tanaka played 55 games at second base and 30 in left field, and he is a career .286/.356/.384 hitter in 4,278 plate appearances in Japan (all of which came with the Nippon Ham Fighters).
- Following these moves, seven players are in DFA limbo, as can be seen in MLBTR's DFA Tracker: Alex Liddi, Hector Ambriz, Edinson Rincon, Hideki Okajima, Juan Diaz, Tim Fedroff and Justin Freeman.