Chicago Cubs Rumors
The St. Louis Cardinals are the class of the National League right now, having won exactly two-thirds of their first 39 games. They're fourth in the league in OBP and ninth in slugging, and third in runs scored per game partially due fantastic work with runners in scoring position. Their rotation has easily been the league's best with a 2.33 ERA, even without Chris Carpenter. While the Jason Motte-less bullpen has an NL-worst 5.00 ERA, it's at 3.27 in May, with most of the damage coming in one Carlos Martinez outing. By measure of FanGraphs WAR, Adam Wainwright, Matt Carpenter, Shelby Miller, and Yadier Molina have been the team MVPs so far. Now let's look at some links from elsewhere around the NL...
- First baseman Anthony Rizzo has a new seven-year, $41MM deal with the Cubs, but pitcher Jeff Samardzija says he isn't ready to talk contract with the club, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. "Absolutely not," said the pitcher when asked if he's looking to hammer out an extension. "Nope. This is a great team, really coming around right now, playing great baseball. I'm just really looking to keep this going. It's fun to play with these guys." Samardzija, 28, will have four years of Major League service after the season. This is just a theory of mine, but having been lured away from football in '06 with a $10MM contract, Samardzija has more financial security at this point in his career than most players, and continuing to bet on his talent will enable him to maximize his next contract.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean told Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com that he hasn't been in touch with former closer Brian Wilson lately. Sabean says that he doesn't know how Wilson is throwing but has heard The Beard is "working out like a fiend" and is "going to try to showcase himself over the All-Star break or thereabouts."
- The Phillies issued a statement regarding Roy Halladay today: "Roy had successful shoulder surgery yesterday. He had an arthroscopic evaluation and underwent debridement of his labrum and rotator cuff as well as removal of an inflamed bursa. He'll begin a progressive rehabilitation program and if all goes well, he may possibly begin a throwing program in 6-8 weeks." The 36-year-old will be eligible for free agency after the season. Scrambling for depth in the wake of the injuries to Halladay and John Lannan, the Phillies signed Carlos Zambrano to a minor league deal yesterday with a July 1st opt-out date.
- In other NL East injury news, the Braves announced reliever Jonny Venters had the second Tommy John procedure of his career today. The 28-year-old will be arbitration eligible for the second time after the season, with an expected salary similar to this year's $1.625MM.
- A clerical error could have enabled Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt to pocket an extra $500K a few years back, but he wasn't willing to pocket the money, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle via Affeldt's book, "To Stir a Movement." Affeldt believes his subsequent contract with the Giants went smoothly partly because of that decision.
Yesterday, we learned that the Brewers offered a contract extension to Jean Segura about a month ago, but no deal is close between the two sides at this time. The 23-year-old has just 81 big league games under his belt and there's not a great deal of precedent in place to work out a new deal as only two position players with less than one year of service (Evan Longoria and Salvador Perez) have inked extensions. Still, Milwaukee would love to lock up their young standout to a team-friendly deal as the Cubs did earlier this week. Here's more out of the NL Central..
- Today was Francisco Rodriguez's opt-out date with the Brewers and the club decided to call him up to the big league roster, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Now that he has been promoted to the varsity squad, K-Rod's deal calls for him to earn roughly $2MM for the 2013 season. Milwaukee had 30 days to evaluate Rodriguez before making their determination today.
- Despite his struggles, Carlos Marmol firmly denied a rumor that he wants out of Chicago in order to get a fresh start, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. “I’m not going nowhere,” Marmol said. “I’m very happy here. I can’t wait until they do something so I can stay here. I always talk about how I love Chicago, I love being here, I love my teammates, I love everybody here.” The pitcher met with agent Paul Kinzer earlier today but Marmol says they weren't talking about moving on from the Cubs.
- In his latest mailbag, a reader asks Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune if the club could get Marmol back on track by moving him to the starting rotation. Sullivan notes that the reliever began as a starter in 2006 and didn't succeed and opines that a trade is the only solution.
The Orioles are likely to seek a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher but are completely unwilling to include top prospects Kevin Gausman or Dylan Bundy in a package, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Orioles starters currently rank 23rd in ERA, and they recently lost Wei-Yin Chen to the disabled list with an oblique strain. There's no exact timetable no Chen, though Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun speculated today that he could be sidelined for as long as six weeks.
The Orioles were very interested in R.A. Dickey this offseason, according to Heyman, but even with the Blue Jays' disastrous start there's no guarantee that he would be available. Dickey can be controlled through the 2016 season, so the Blue Jays can hang onto him even if they don't contend this year. Baltimore has "little, if any" interest in mending Cubs ace Matt Garza, Heyman adds.
The Orioles went out and got some pitching help last summer by adding Joe Saunders in an August trade, but it sounds like GM Dan Duquette and his staff are eyeing bigger targets this time around. Heyman notes that before pursuing second tier options again (e.g. Ricky Nolasco, Edinson Volquez and Jason Vargas), the team is likely to exhaust its internal options.
I imagine that the Orioles will have an incredibly difficult time putting together a package for an ace-caliber pitcher without Gausman and Bundy, as the rest of their farm system lacks elite talent. Neither Baseball America or MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo listed an Orioles prospect besides those two in their respective Top 100 lists this offseason. ESPN's Keith Law (Insider required) ranked infielder Jonathan Schoop 50th overall (noting that he prefers him at third base) and lefty Eduardo Rodriguez 100th, but neither is the type of impact talent typically required to land a front-line starter.
Baseball is seeing the emergence of numerous quality young shortstops at the same time, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Brandon Crawford, and Starlin Castro are among the young shortstops already making an impact in the big leagues. All play on National League clubs. One of these players (Castro) has already been locked up long-term, while another (Segura) is an early extension target for his club. It will be interesting to see whether and when the rest of this deep group of middle infielders are approached about extensions. Elsewhere in the National League ...
- The Cardinals, one of baseball's most storied franchises, are perhaps its best-run present organization, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Prioritizing continuity and foregoing excuses, the Cards are respected in the front office, field staff, and active roster. Sherman explains that the Cardinals' success in acquiring and developing players has been accompanied by a consistent philosophy of professionalism. This has allowed the team to weather significant injuries without missing a beat. As former manager Tony LaRussa describes it: "The Cardinals are winning because they have done things right for years to be in a position to be successful. Don't get me wrong, the Cardinals' talent level is really good, but their team chemistry is off the charts."
- Former Phillies' prospect Michael Bourn fully bloomed after leaving the club, but thought he might return as a free agent this past offseason. As MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes, when Bourn's asking price looked too steep, the Phils went after another center fielder in Ben Revere. By the time Bourn's price had dropped, then, the position was filled, and Bourn signed with the Indians. From his perspective, Bourn says: "I think I might have been on their hit list. I don't know how high or what their target was, or if they were worried about what Scott [Boras] was going to do. There are a lot of teams that say they want you to be part of their organization, but you don't know if they really do. ... Yeah, I guess the Phillies were interested a little bit. But that's not how it went down."
- With long-term deals locking up cornerstone infielders Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs could turn their attention to spending on pitching, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Of course, the club intends to fill two rotation spots with Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson for the foreseeable future. While Wittenmyer says that extension talks have not been planned with starter Matt Garza, the soon-to-be free agent says he would be amenable. Garza, of course, has yet to appear this season. Likewise, rotation member Travis Wood says he would love to make his career in Chicago. Though he says "that's out of my hands," Wood has done everything he can this year to lock down a spot going forward. If nothing else, he is setting himself up nicely for his first season of arbitration eligibility. As manager Dale Sveum noted, and Wittenmyer documented, Wood has posted a 3.50 ERA and logged 192 2/3 innings over his last 31 starts (extending into last year).
- The Padres have several players in their minor league system whose contracts contain out clauses that are approaching, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Pitcher Tim Stauffer can elect free agency on June 1, while fellow righty Sean O'Sullivan's date is June 15. It was previously believed that both pitchers had opt-out dates around June 1. Other players with June 15 opt-out dates are catcher Rene Rivera and outfielder Travis Buck. Each has made a reasonable case in Triple-A that they can contribute. Stauffer has pitched to a 3.16 ERA in 42 2/3 innings. O'Sullivan's ERA is 4.19 across 43 innings, but he has put up 8.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. Meanwhile, Rivera has a .375/.430/.477 line in 101 plate appearances, and Buck has hit .275/.321/.480 in 112 appearances.
The July 2nd international signing period is less than two months away. Every team had a $2.9MM bonus pool for 2012-13, but as Baseball America's Ben Badler outlined here, the 2013-14 pools "will be tiered based on reverse order of 2012 major league winning percentage." The Astros, Cubs, and Rockies each have at least $4.2MM to spend, plus teams can trade for additional money. The Twins, Indians, Marlins, and Red Sox each have more than $3MM to spend, while the Royals and Blue Jays are close to that figure. Badler has the latest on ten prospects who are expected to sign for at least $1MM apiece.
- The highest bonus is likely to go to Dominican outfielder Eloy Jimenez, potentially $2.6-2.8MM with the Cubs as the "heavy favorite." The Cubs are also the frontrunners to sign one of the top Venezuelan players, shortstop Gleyber Torres.
- Dominican third baseman Rafael Devers "might be the best hitter on the international market," writes Badler. He's the primary target of the Red Sox. Another contender for the best bat is third baseman Luis Encarnacion, who is most likely to sign with the Phillies.
- The Yankees are the most likely suitor for Leonardo Molina, perhaps the best athlete in the class. He can sign when he turns 16 on August 1st. The Yankees' preliminary bonus pool is reportedly $1,877,900.
- The biggest raw power belongs to Dominican outfielder Micker Zapata, who has been connected to the White Sox and Padres.
- Badler's article has much more information, so be sure to give it a click and a read.
Earlier today, the Cubs confirmed last night's reports of a seven-year extension for Anthony Rizzo. At today's press conference to announce the move, general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters, including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, that the deal was first discussed in Spring Training, and talks accelerated in the past 10 days (Twitter link). Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago adds (also via Twitter) that the contract was actually finalized last week; Rizzo took his physical his physical on the Cubs' off-day. Here's more on the Cubs in what will go down as a critical day in their franchise's history...
- Jeff Samardzija's agent Mark Rogers tells Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago that there are still no talks on the extension front with his client. The two sides will re-visit discussions in the offseason to see if they can hammer out a long-term deal Samardzija is controlled through the 2015 season. The Cubs consider Samardzija "one of their upper-tier starters of the future," writes Levine.
- Selecting a pitcher with the No. 2 pick in this year's draft "appears to be a sure thing," Levine adds. Stanford right-hander Mark Appel and Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray are the consensus top two arms in the draft right now, though Levine doesn't list any specific names.
- In addition to extending Samardzija, signing one other free agent starter this offseason "seems essential" to Levine. That would give the Cubs a pitching core of Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, the pitcher selected second in the 2013 draft, and a solid free agent, with another high draft pick in 2014 likely on the horizon. Here's a look at all of the available 2014 free agents.
- David Kaplan of CSN Chicago offers a similar sentiment, stating that fans should expect the Cubs to spend on free agency once again this coming offseason. Multiple Major League sources, including an AL front-office executive, told Kaplan they expect the Cubs to be in on the top free agent names this offseason, including Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury, of course, was drafted by Cubs president Theo Epstein when he was GM of the Red Sox.
- MLBTR collected some reactions to Rizzo's extension from around the web earlier today, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
The Cubs made their seven-year, $41MM extension of Anthony Rizzo official earlier today and will hold a press conference to announce the move at 3pm. Rizzo and the Cubs are the talk of the blogosphere right now, so here are some media reactions from around the web...
- The Cubs are preparing to market Rizzo as the new face of the franchise, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The contract also shows Rizzo's desire to be a Cub for life, as Rizzo would surely have made more going year to year. Sullivan adds that Jeff Samardzija is now likely the next extension target for the Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, and Travis Wood may not be far behind.
- Both sides have received security in this deal, writes Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, who adds that Rizzo may not have to wait until this deal's completion to sign a new contract. Rogers points to Evan Longoria, who signed a new $100MM extension midway through his last conract and says that Rizzo can likely expect that kind of treatment from Hoyer and Epstein if he remains productive.
- Rizzo's new contract "looks fantastic" for the Cubs in the mind of SB Nation's Rob Neyer. Neyer goes on to point out that the Cubs control Rizzo's age 23-31 seasons for roughly $7.5MM per year, and that those are typically the best seasons of any player's career.
- Part of the reason the Cubs thought it prudent to extend Rizzo was that he stood to make a considerable amount of money as a Super Two player, says Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Sherman points to the case of fellow Super Two player Hunter Pence, whose four arbitration years cost $34.6MM. The Cubs were able to secure control of three free agent years by guaranteeing just $7MM more than that.
- Yet again, it looks like Hoyer will come out as the victor in a deal involving Rizzo, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Hoyer was an Assistant GM with the Red Sox when Rizzo was drafted, the Padres GM when they acquired Rizzo in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, and the GM of the Cubs when they acquired him from the Padres for Andrew Cashner last year.
The Cubs have a new face of the franchise, and his name is Anthony Rizzo. The team announced today that it has officially signed the 23-year-old first baseman to an extension covering the 2013-19 seasons, which is reportedly worth $41MM.
The new deal overrides Rizzo's existing 2013 contract, and is therefore essentially a six-year extension. Rizzo will reportedly receive a $2MM signing bonus and earn $750K in 2013. He'll make $1.25MM in 2014, $5MM in 2015-16, $7MM in 2017-18 and $11MM in 2019. The two options are worth $14.5MM each. Rizzo is a client of Sports One Athlete Management.
Rizzo's contract contains escalators could drive the total value of the deal to $73MM. The contract does not contain a no-trade clause, though Rizzo may be able to void the 2021 option under certain conditions if he is traded.
Last August, the Cubs signed shortstop Starlin Castro, their other key young offensive player, to a seven-year deal that also contained guaranteed money through 2019. Rizzo, 23, is currently hitting .288/.361/.554, and he has a line of .255/.333/.437 for his career. The Cubs acquired Rizzo and a minor-leaguer from the Padres before the 2012 season for Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na.
Without the extension, Rizzo would have been eligible for Super Two status after the 2014 season, Rosenthal notes. Rizzo would have been arbitration-eligible four times, and could not have become a free agent until after the 2018 season, so this deal buys out one year of free agency eligibility and gives the Cubs the rights to two more.
Rizzo's deal tops the five-year, $32MM extension for Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, to which the two sides agreed shortly before the start of the season. Like Rizzo, Goldschmidt would have been eligible for arbitration after the 2014 season, although Goldschmidt was scheduled to become a free agent a year earlier. Significantly, however, Rizzo is two years younger than Goldschmidt, and would have been eligible for free agency heading into his age-29 season. With the two team options, Rizzo's extension ensures the Cubs can keep him under control through 2021, after which he will be 32.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to report the seven-year agreement. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the contract contains a pair of options but does not include a no-trade clause He also added the contract breakdown (All Twitter links). Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago added that Rizzo could be able to void the 2021 option if traded (Twitter link).
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here's the latest news and notes from the National League:
- Matt Garza, number seven on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Rankings, is slated for one or two additional minor league rehab starts after an abbreviated outing yesterday, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Garza threw 66 pitches (40 for strikes) over 3 1/3 innings for Double-A Tennessee allowing three hits and two walks. "He felt great and everything, but not real efficient," Cubs mangager Dale Sveum said. "Right now, we have to get him built up to get to the fourth, fifth and hopefully sixth inning." Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets Garza is expected to throw 85-95 pitches in his next rehab start, which will come next week for Triple-A Iowa.
- Pirates second baseman Neil Walker is set to return from the disabled list tomorrow and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review doesn't expect utilityman John McDonald to be designated for assignment to create space on the 25-man roster. McDonald, hitting only .067/.176/.100 in 34 plate appearances this year, would have to clear waivers while infielder Jordy Mercer still has minor league options available. "I think the term general managers use is you want to maintain all of your assets," manager Clint Hurdle said. "You don't want to release somebody if another guy has options. We're mindful of that."
- Despite a slow start offensively, the Diamondbacks are already seeing dividends from their four-year, $40MM investment in Martin Prado, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Steve Hummer.
- The Padres, who have the 13th overall pick in next month's amateur draft, aren't concerned that the perceived top players will be off the board when it comes their turn, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com. "There's probably more balance [in the Draft] than people give it credit for," said Chad MacDonald, vice president and general manager of player personnel, who will preside over the Padres' draft. "There are a lot of high school hitters out there. I think people are quick to grade a Draft." In addition to their area scouts and cross-checkers, the Padres have had GM Josh Byrnes, vice president/assistant GM AJ Hinch, and senior vice president Omar Minaya in the field scouting players.
Trade winds could be swirling around the Windy City in the coming months given that both the Cubs and White Sox are in last place in their respective divisions. Here's the latest from both Chicago teams as the focus is already turning towards the July trade deadline...
- Jed Hoyer is "not sure" if Ian Stewart has a future with the team, the Cubs GM told reporters (including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune). The third baseman was outrighted to Triple-A earlier this week and has battled injuries since signing with Chicago in the 2011-12 offseason. Stewart hit .201/.292/.335 in 202 PA in 2012 and is struggling in the minors this year. "I hope he starts playing well. I do think there is a lot of talent there… But at this point it’s going to be about performance. Potential can only take you so far," Hoyer said.
- Also from Hoyer (via Sullivan), he feels the Cubs can still turn things around before it's time to consider moving players at the deadline. "We don't want to be a seller. That's not a position you want to be in. But if you are in that position, you have to take advantage of it. You certainly hope you're looking to buy. It's a lot more fun," Hoyer said. With the Cubs in Washington to face the Nationals this weekend, Hoyer praised Mike Rizzo's job in gradually turning the Nats from also-rans into World Series contenders.
- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn was similarly optimistic about his team's chances of getting back into the pennant race. Hahn spoke to the media (including ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine) about how he feels the Sox can rebound once players return from injury and a few key hitters break out of slumps. “Our intent from the beginning was that at some point we would be a buyer,” Hahn said. “We continue to have our pro scouts out there looking and talking through ideas. At the same time it will be nice to get some of our injured players back. Trades will not be dictated by speculation, it will be a function of how we play on the field.”
- If the Chicago teams do become deadline sellers, both will have interesting trade chips in the outfield. MLBTR's Steve Adams and Jeff Todd recently looked at the trade candidacy of David DeJesus and Alex Rios, respectively.