Chicago Cubs Rumors
The Red Sox won a World Series last year thanks to their daring offseason gameplan. Will they break away from those habits going forward? “So far, I don’t think it’s been all that different,” Lucchino told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “We still value the draft picks enormously and our behavior has shown that we still prefer shorter- to longer-term contracts and a presumption against really long-term contracts. A lot of things we did last year proved to be successful at least in the short term, and I think we’ll behave accordingly going forward.” Here's more from today's column..
- Trade talks for Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija have been going on and he could be on the move, but the Cubs’ preference would be to re-sign Samardzija and lock him in beyond 2015 and build their future around him, according to a major league source. The Cubs will continue to work on both fronts until an extension is reached or an extension proves to be improbable.
- The Rays, unsurprisingly, have gotten a number of inquiries on David Price. However, none of them have been strong enough to make Tampa Bay give serious consideration to parting with him.
- Moving Matt Kemp would require the Dodgers to eat some of the $128MM he's owed over the next six years. If L.A. knocks that down to $80-90MM, the market is expected to open up.
- The notion that A.J. Pierzynski is bad for a team is way off-base, according to one longtime teammate who said, “He may rub people the wrong way on other teams, but if he’s your teammate, he’s great. He’s tough, loyal, can call a game, and he can hit. I wish we had him back.”
- Daniel Bard's control issues have followed him into winter ball. The Cubs are expected to keep working with Bard, however, as they can give him a longer leash than the Red Sox did.
- Most teams, including the Brewers, want Corey Hart on a one-year deal. However, because there are a number of teams in on him, he might get two.
The market for starting pitchers has actually started off at reasonable prices, argues Mike Axisa of CBSSports.com. Running the numbers on the price of a projected win for the starters who have signed to date, he says that a preliminary look shows that early-moving teams look to have achieved solid value. Here's more on the pitching market around the league:
- Even if the Dodgers are willing to spend the huge amount of cash that Masahiro Tanaka's posting and signing is expected to require, says Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com, it is far from clear how the club would sort its rotation out to accomodate him. GM Ned Colletti has said that he is "not going to close the door on any more starters" even after adding Dan Haren on a one-year deal with a vesting option. Saxon notes, however, that it would be more difficult to push aside Josh Beckett and/or Chad Billingsley than it was for the club to do last year with Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang. Of course, Tanaka may be good enough that, if the price is right, that problem is one you just deal with as best you can.
- The Giants, on the other hand, seem less likely than their rivals to the south to consider the addition of another starter, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting that the club's rotation is set after re-signing Ryan Vogelsong. As Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News noted earlier today, the rotation seemed complete upon the return of Vogelsong, given GM Brian Sabean's earlier comments that he would not make the veteran compete for his slot in the spring. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, and Tim Hudson round out the club's starting five.
- Meanwhile, it could well be that San Francisco could look to add pen pieces given their decision to add veteran arms to the back of its rotation, reasons Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Sulia). It is easier and cheaper to add relief arms, he notes, and the club could look to ease the burden on its starters by following the Dodgers and Cardinals in trotting out multiple arms that can throw quality innings.
- Free agent reliever Edward Mujica of the Cardinals is drawing interest from a variety of teams, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The Angels are probably out after inking Joe Smith, Cotillo notes. But the Orioles, Indians, and Cubs have at least kicked the tires on Mujica, joining the Phillies in pursuit of the 29-year-old.
- Right-handed reliever Luis Ayala, who produced solid results last year at age 35 for the Orioles and Braves, is also in search of a multi-year deal, Cotillo reports. He has not yet seen an offer, but has received interest from the Red Sox and Rays as well as the Dodgers, Giants, O's, and Phils. Meanwhile, the Royals have seemingly stepped away from Ayala after showing initial interest.
- One other arm that could enter the market is Angels righty Jerome Williams. Soon to turn 32, Williams' agent Larry O'Brien tells Cotillo (Twitter link) that he is rooting against a tender from the Halos since "there are many teams he could effectively start for." That statement seems to imply what has long been suspected about Williams, which is that Los Angeles does not intend to use him as a starter. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes wrote in reporting Matt Swartz's $3.9MM projection for Williams, a non-tender is a very real possibility for the swingman. Of course, as MLBTR's Zach Links has explained, there are few teams with as many projected rotation holes as the Angels.
The Mets surprised some observers when they gave outfielder Chris Young a one-year, $7.25MM contract to kick off their offseason. However, they weren't the only club with interest. Young says that the Cubs, Giants, Royals, and Red Sox all reached out to him, but the Mets were aggressive, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Here's a look at the latest out of the NL East..
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post makes the case for the Nationals to go after Robinson Cano. Some would argue that the Nats should go after a similarly high-impact player that will fill an actual hole for them, but Kilgore says that such a player may not come along for Washington in today's landscape.
- In today's inbox, a reader asks Joe Frisaro of MLB.com if there's a possibility that Dan Uggla could return to the Marlins this winter. Frisaro doesn't see the second baseman coming back to Miami since his cost and declining numbers over past two seasons raise red flags. Besides that, bringing him back would block Derek Dietrich and/or Donovan Solano from playing second.
- The Marlins announced two additions to their baseball operations staff. Mike Berger was named Vice President/Assistant GM while Jeff McAvoy will take over as the new Director of Pro Scouting.
3:12pm: The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan tweets that the Cubs will send cash to the Royals for Kottaras, who will compete for the backup job in Spring Training.
Kottaras, 30, hit .180/.349/.370 in 126 plate appearances for the Royals in 2013. Kottaras has outstanding plate discipline and power for a catcher, as evidenced by his career 14 percent walk rate and .192 isolated power mark. He struck out in 33.3 percent of his plate appearances in 2013, however, and has whiffed at nearly a 23 percent clip throughout his career.
The Athletics have reached a new lease agreement with O.Co Coliseum that runs through December of 2015, according to an Associated Press report (via ESPN). The A's will pay $1.75MM in each year of the lease. Here are some more links pertaining to baseball's western divisions...
- The Mariners are pursuing both Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN. He wonders -- as many do -- whether or not Seattle will appeal to major free agents, as they've had difficulty luring top hitters there in previous years.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports definitively writes that the Mariners are interested in Mike Napoli (he'd received conflicting information earlier in the month). Rosenthal also notes the difficulty that the Mariners have had in luring top free agents such as Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder but notes that Seattle could simply overpay to land their free agent targets. Two separate sources called the Mariners "desperate," and as Rosenthal notes: "Desperate teams spend money. Desperate teams are capable of just about anything." Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury are also on the team's wish list, says Rosenthal.
- Also from Rosenthal, the Angels learned that Peter Bourjos didn't have enough value to land them the controllable young starting pitcher they coveted on the trade market, and so they elected to use him to fill another hole -- third base. While many in the media have pegged the deal as a win for the Cardinals, Rosenthal writes that the common perception of Bourjos' value may not line up with the actual perception among teams.
- Lastly from Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks know what it would take to land Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs, but their fear is that if they pounce too soon on a deal, they could miss out on a bigger value later in the offseason. The Angels aren't a fit for Samardzija, Rosenthal adds, because the Cubs want young pitching in exchange for Samardzija.
- The Dodgers' biggest risk in weighing Matt Kemp trades isn't deciding to hang onto him and finding out he's no longer an MVP-caliber player, opines Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Rather, the biggest risk facing the Dodgers is learning that Kemp indeed still is that player, but finding out by seeing him prove it in a Mariners, Red Sox or Rangers uniform. Brown feels it's in the Dodgers' best interest to hang onto Kemp.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that the Angels' acquisition of Fernando Salas and Joe Smith could make Kevin Jepsen a non-tender candidate.
Teams have inquired on Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija and the Blue Jays are putting together a package of young players to try to land him, a source tells Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com (on Twitter). For his part, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos didn't deny that he has discussed Samardzija with Chicago in an interview with Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter). Even though Anthopoulos is looking into starters, he insisted that he has yet to make an offer to anyone (link).
As it stands, Samardzija is set to hit the open market prior to the 2016 season. Most reports throughout the 2013 season indicated that an extension would be tricky, but GM Jed Hoyer indicated recently that he has had discussions with the 28-year-old, making a new deal seem more plausible than it has in the past.
The Blue Jays are far from the first club to be linked to Samardzija and the Nationals and Diamondbacks are two of the more recent clubs with rumored interest. The Cubs hurler posted a 4.34 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 2013 and his xFIP of 3.45 suggests he was stronger than his ERA shows.
We'll keep tabs on the day's minor moves here:
- The Royals announced a series of minor league signings, including for third baseman Brandon Laird, outfielder Paulo Orlando and right-hander Wilking Rodriguez. Laird, 26, is the younger brother of Gerald Laird and joins the Royals from the Astros, where he received major league playing time in 2013. Orlando, 28, is re-upping with the Royals after six seasons in the organization. The 23-year-old Rodriguez will transition to the Royals after seven seasons in the Rays' farm system. He has a career 3.90 ERA, mostly as a starter, but has never reached Double-A.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America has updates on a number of clubs' minor league signings. Among those with MLB experience (with links to Twitter): The Rockies will return Bobby Cassevah and Matt McBride, and have added righty Greg Burke. Headed to the Tigers is righty Jhan Marinez, while Gorkys Hernandez and Edinson Rincon will stick with the Royals organization. The Phillies have brought back shortstop Andres Blanco. And the Dodgers inked utility infielder Brendan Harris. Other clubs with new signings include the Orioles, Reds, Marlins, White Sox, and Athletics.
- The Cubs have signed outfielder Casper Wells, according to a tweet from Eddy. The team also added righties Paolo Espino and Carlos Pimentel, along with shortstop Jeudy Valdez. Wells got 102 plate appearances with three different clubs last year, posting a meager .126/.186/.147 line that is perhaps understandable given his constant movement and scant playing time. In 2012, over 316 plate appearances with the Mariners, Wells was good for a .228/.302/.396 slash.
- In addition to bringing back righty Benino Pruneda and catcher Jose Yepez on minor league deals, the Braves have added former Phillies backstop Steven Lerud, tweets Eddy. Lerud appeared in nine games for the Phils between 2012-13. At Triple-A last year, he had an interesting .217/.353/.311 line over 219 plate appearances, as he drew nearly as many walks (35) as he had hits (39).
- Cutting ties with a major international acquisition, the Nationals have released righty Yunesky Maya, Eddy tweets. Washington saw little return on its $6MM investment in Maya, who had been outrighted off of the club's major league roster early in the 2013 season. After struggling in two brief call-ups in 2011-12, Maya's last stint with the Nats was even more regrettable. In his only MLB appearance of the 2013 season, Maya retired one batter in the bottom of the tenth before surrendering a walk-off home run to Pablo Sandoval.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Dave Sappelt, tweets Eddy. As Eddy notes, Sappelt was one of the pieces -- along with lefty Travis Wood and second baseman Ronald Torreyes -- picked up by Chicago in the deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The 26-year-old Sappelt has a .251/.301/.343 slash line in 274 plate appearances spread over the 2011-13 seasons. He has spent most of his time in Triple-A over that time frame, and posted a sub-.700 OPS in each of his two years at Iowa.
We'll keep track of today's minor moves here. All news is courtesy of the MLB.com transactions page, unless otherwise noted.
- The Cubs signed infielder Chris Valaika to a minor-league deal with a spring training invite, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Valaika hit .219/.261/.344 in 70 plate appearances with the Marlins last season.
- The Cubs signed free agent catcher Eli Whiteside to a minor league contract. The 34-year-old spent last season with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate and hit just .187/.242/.280 in 67 games. Whiteside, who last appeared in the majors with San Francisco in 2012, owns a career .215/.273/.335 slash line across parts of five seasons.
- The Yankees signed third baseman Zelous Wheeler to a minor league contract. Wheeler split time between the Orioles' Triple-A and Double-A affiliates in 2013, posting a .275/.354/.414 batting line.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Wally Joyner has left his post as the Phillies' assistant hitting coach, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that Joyner will head to Detroit, where he'll serve as the Tigers' new hitting coach under manager Brad Ausmus. Joyner served under head hitting coach Steve Henderson in 2013. Salisbury writes that the Phillies will stick with two hitting coaches in 2014. One possibility might be former big-league infielder Mickey Morandini, who managed in the Phillies system at Class A Lakewood in 2013. Here are more notes on coaches and managers.
- Joyner isn't the only Phillies coach heading to the Tigers. Also bound for Detroit is former Phillies catching coach Mick Billmeyer, who will serve as the Tigers' bullpen coach, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter). The Phillies announced in October that Billmeyer's contract would not be renewed.
- New manager Rick Renteria did a five-plus-hour interview with the Cubs while wearing sweatpants, MLB.com's Corey Brock writes. With Renteria recovering from hip replacement surgery, the Cubs -- along with the Mariners and Tigers, with whom he also interviewed -- traveled to talk to him, rather than the other way around. "At that point, I'm just wearing loose sweats," says Renteria of his interview with Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer. "They started asking me different questions: How do you deal with players? How I would handle different situations."
Let's take a look at the latest from the MLB's Central divisions:
- Multiple teams have approached the Indians with interest in Drew Stubbs, Buster Olney writes in an article for ESPN Insiders (sub. req'd). MLBTR's Matt Swartz projected that Stubbs is on track to earn $3.8MM in arbitration this offseason after hitting just .233/.305/.360 in 2013. However, Olney says a salary in that range in today's market is acceptable for a player like Stubbs, who's a strong defender with power and speed and can handle all three outfield positions.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian considers a rumored swap of Indians righty Corey Kluber and two minor leaguers for the Angels' Mark Trumbo, which was later shot down by Angels GM Jerry Dipoto. While Trumbo's right-handed power would help the Indians, such a deal undervalues Kluber, who was one of the better starters in the AL for much of 2013, Bastian says.
- Pitching is the highest priority for the Indians this offseason, Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer notes in a reader mailbag column. The Tribe faces the possibility of losing free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir from the rotation, while Joe Smith, Chris Perez, Rich Hill and Matt Albers could all depart from the bullpen.
- A Wednesday night deadline looms for teams to set their 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 draft, and for the Royals, that means deciding who from a list of approximately six players is worth protecting, The Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton says. As Dutton notes, it can be easier to stash an arm than a position player on the 40-man for an entire season, as pitchers can be used in a mop-up role in the bullpen.
- Some have suggested that Darwin Barney may not be long for the Cubs' roster, Carrie Muskat writes in response to a reader question for MLB.com. On the cusp of arbitration after slashing just .208/.266/.303 in 2013, Barney is a non-tender candidate, though MLBTR's Tim Dierkes believes that may be a bit hasty given that Barney's only likely to earn around $2.1MM in his first go at the arbitration process. If the Cubs do decide to part ways with the infielder, Luis Valbuena would be one possible replacement, Muskat says.