Chicago Cubs Rumors
Reds closer Aroldis Chapman got relatively good news a day after being struck in the face with a ball, as MLB.com's Mark Sheldon notes. He's having surgery today, but he could be out of the hospital by this weekend. He'll likely be out six to eight weeks, and the Reds believe he will definitely pitch this season. Best of all, he had only a mild concussion, and not a serious brain injury. Here are more notes from the National League.
- The Marlins could deal starting pitcher Jacob Turner due to their depth of starting pitching, FOX Sports Jon Morosi tweets. The Mariners and Diamondbacks could be possible trade partners. Turner, who will be 23 in May, posted a 3.74 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 2013. He will be eligible for arbitration after the 2015 season and free agency after the 2018 season.
- The Cubs are currently considering at least 12 players as potential selections with the No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft, Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com writes. The draft isn't for another two-plus months, so it's hardly surprising that the Cubs' list would be so long. It includes now-familiar names like NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon (who very likely will be gone by the time the Cubs pick), East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman, Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, and Texas high school pitcher Tyler Kolek.
The Tigers' best way to address their shortstop issue is to try an internal option, like Danny Worth, then reevaluate the matter if Worth struggles, MLive.com's James Schmehl writes. At that point, if Stephen Drew is still a free agent, the Tigers could call agent Scott Boras. Schmehl also doesn't think the Tigers should pay a high price for the Diamondbacks' Chris Owings when the injured Jose Iglesias remains their shortstop of the future. Drew was the top option in an MLBTR readers poll earlier today, as over 37% of voters felt that the Tigers will ultimately just sign the veteran shortstop to replace Iglesias.
Here are more notes from around the AL Central...
- The Phillies and Cubs were among the many teams who had scouts watching the Tigers' minor leaguers in action on Wednesday, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports. Earlier today, we heard that the Tigers were scouting Darwin Barney and Nate Schierholtz of the Cubs to address their holes at short and left field, respectively.
- Shaun Marcum would like to stay in the Indians organization even if he doesn't make their rotation, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets. Marcum can opt out of his deal if he does not make the team out of spring training. Marcum was supposed to compete for the Indians' fifth starter job, but he has fallen behind as he has continued to recover from thoracic outlet syndrome and is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season.
- The Pirates have reportedly been shopping outfielder Jose Tabata, but the Twins are probably not among the interested teams, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
- The Twins' final roster decisions are being complicated by both a number of out-of-options players and the fact that several players competing for jobs simply haven't performed well at Spring Training, MLB.com's Andrew Simon reports. "Nobody's really stepped up to try to earn the spots, and that's a bad feeling when you're looking at giving spots away," Twins assistant GM Mark Antony told reporters, including Simon.
MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth also contributed to this post
Tigers executive Scott Reid is scouting Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz and infielder Darwin Barney, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. The Cubs would be looking for pitching in return. The Tigers have lost outfielder Andy Dirks and shortstop Jose Iglesias to serious injuries. Dirks was slated to form the left-handed side of a left-field platoon with Rajai Davis. The left-handed Scherholtz would seem to fit the bill as his replacement, even though he has mostly played right field in recent years.
Barney has played shortstop only sparingly since 2010, and the Tigers have no real need at second base, with Ian Kinsler in tow. Barney is a strong defensive second baseman, however, and he has played a bit of shortstop this spring with Starlin Castro dealing with a hamstring injury. Barney recently told the Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales that he would be fine playing shortstop. "Shortstop is my natural position," he said. "I feel very comfortable over there. The past three years at second base I've still taken balls at short almost every day as part of my workout to stretch my arm out. So I don't look at it as a transition." Barney hit poorly in 2013, with a line of .208/.266/.303 in 555 plate appearances, but he produced enough value with his defense to be above replacement level.
It seems like every club is getting bad news regarding its pitchers these days, but the Mets can breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to lefty Jon Niese. ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin reports that Niese, who was pulled from Sunday's start early due to elbow discomfort, learned that he has some inflammation but no ligament damage in the elbow. He received a cortisone shot and is tentatively set to resume throwing on Wednesday. Niese still figures to open the season on the DL, according to Rubin, but only for a few days, as the Mets won't need a fifth starter until April 6. Niese is likely to be activated at that point.
Here are some more notes specifically pertaining to pitchers...
- The Diamondbacks are likely to again scout Jeff Samardzija in the wake of Patrick Corbin's probable Tommy John surgery, reports Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com. However, Levine writes that the Cubs would likely ask for Archie Bradley in return, which would seemingly end conversations before they began.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that free agent closer Joel Hanrahan is up to 90-92 mph in his rehab from Tommy John and flexor tendon surgery and could sign with a team soon. Hanrahan is coming off a season in which he pitched just 7 1/3 innings for the Red Sox before undergoing surgery on May 16. He still has a ways to go on his velocity, as he averages 96-97 mph when he's at his best.
- Free agent left-hander Clayton Richard tells MLB Network Radio's Scott Braun that he underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last month (Twitter link). Richard rejected an outright assignment from the Padres and elected free agency at season's end, but this seems to rule out the possibility that he'd be ready to pitch anytime soon.
Sticking with the Cubs didn't work out for Matt Garza, and now the Brewers starter wants to "kick their teeth in every time I get the chance," Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Garza isn't as angry as that makes it sound, though -- he's just an energetic player looking for motivation. Wittenmyer notes that the Cubs had previously offered Garza a five-year extension that might have been worth around $65MM, but the two sides couldn't settle on a deal, and the Cubs ended up shipping him to the Rangers in the middle of last season. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- The Royals offered Carlos Beltran $42.5MM this offseason, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. That's only a bit below the $45MM Beltran received from the Yankees. (MLBTR's Steve Adams recently looked back the moves the Royals were able to make in an offseason that featured the departure of Ervin Santana but the additions of Omar Infante and Jason Vargas, both on four-year contracts.)
- The Indians plan to have Justin Sellers, who they recently acquired in a minor trade with the Dodgers, start at shortstop for Triple-A Columbus, writes Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer. The Indians are fans of Sellers' fielding. Top prospect Francisco Lindor will start the season at Double-A Akron, perhaps bumping Sellers into a utility role at Triple-A if Lindor plays well enough to earn a promotion there.
The Diamondbacks will return Rule 5 choice Marcos Mateo to the Cubs, reports Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). The right-handed reliever was the eighth player chosen in this year's draft, though he was selected from the 15th slot.
Since seeing time in the bigs over 2010-11, Mateo missed all of 2012 and threw at Triple-A last year. In 31 innings, he posted a sparkling 1.74 ERA, with 8.7 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9. Across his previous 44 2/3 MLB innings, Mateo notche only a 5.04 ERA but for every nine innings did manage to strike out 10.3 while surrendering only 3.8 free passes.
As with most Rule 5 choices, Mateo would have struggled to stick on Arizona's roster for the year. That was especially so given the number of additions and commitments the team made to the pen made over the offseason. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has noted, Mateo was among the NL West players who are out of options. As a result, Arizona had little reason to work out a trade to retain Mateo's rights, since it could not hold onto him in the minors without passing him through waivers.
The seven-year, $140MM offer that the Yankees offered Shin-Soo Choo was only on the table for less than a day. As MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince notes, New York offered Choo the contract and then pulled it back almost as quickly in order to instead sign Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45MM deal. "In my opinion, it takes some time to make a decision, maybe at least a couple days," Choo said. "You want to learn a city and a team. They gave me 21 hours." The Yankees' withdrawal could've been due to Beltran simply accepting his offer first, or perhaps because Scott Boras (Choo's agent), reportedly asked the Yankees to match the $153MM the Bombers gave to Jacoby Ellsbury. Choo didn't end up doing too badly for himself at any rate, signing a seven-year, $130MM deal with the Rangers.
Here's some news from around the baseball world...
- CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman lists 14 players who could traded during Spring Training. Most of these names have popped up on the pages of MLBTR over the last few weeks, though one new name is Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner. Heyman says there's "not a great chance" Miami would deal Turner but since the Marlins have a lot of good young pitchers, "folks on other teams speculate this could be the one arm the Marlins might move in that right deal" for offensive help.
- Ike Davis' calf injury has not only set back the Mets' first base competition, but it has also ruined any possible chance of a trade showcase for Davis during Spring Training, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. The Brewers, Pirates and Orioles have all been connected to Davis in trade rumors during the offseason but obviously no move will be made any time soon, as Davis is currently in a walking boot and recently had an MRI on his right calf.
- Speaking of the Pirates' first base search, the team could end up finding its left-handed platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez already on the roster in the form of Andrew Lambo, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. While maturity issues and a 50-game suspension reportedly relating to marijuana use have set back Lambo's career, he is still only 25 and has posted some strong power numbers in the minors.
- "I just don't see what we have to lose," Indians manager Terry Francona says about Carlos Santana's attempted conversion to third base. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal recaps the reasons behind Santana's surprising decision to try the hot corner and how it could be a boon for the Tribe if Santana could handle the position.
- Nate Schierholtz wants to remain with the Cubs but is cognizant of the fact that could be traded, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. The veteran outfielder said he hasn't spoken to Cubs management about staying beyond his current one-year contract. Recent rumors put Schierholtz on the trading block thanks to Ryan Kalish's progress, not to mention the fact that Kalish is playing on a minor league deal while Schierholtz is owed $5MM this season.
Here are today's minor moves and outright assignments from around the league...
- The Cubs granted outfielder Aaron Cunningham his release, the team announced. Cunningham, 27, signed a minor league deal with Chicago in November and had appeared in six Spring Training games for the Cubs. Cunningham last appeared in the majors with the Indians in 2012, and he has a career .628 OPS over 501 PA with Cleveland, San Diego and Oakland.
- The Tigers have released right-hander Luis Marte, tweets Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. The 27-year-old posted a 2.77 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 32.9 percent ground-ball rate in 26 innings for Detroit from 2011-12. However, a great deal of that success was tied to an unsustainable 92.1 percent strand rate. Though Marte has a solid minor league track record -- a 3.23 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 454 innings -- he has just 56 career innings above Double-A and missed nearly all of 2013 due to shoulder surgery. Manager Brad Ausmus told Fenech that the team knew Marte wouldn't make the club and didn't have room for him in the minors.
In an interesting piece for Sports Illustrated, Richard Deitsch posed a range questions to a group of five outstanding baseball writers -- Jay Jaffe of SI.com, La Velle Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Joel Sherman of the New York Post, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle -- who represent different aspects of the baseball media sphere. Here are some more links from the day:
- Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz could be had via trade, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The "progress" of Ryan Kalish makes that a possibility, says Morosi. Schierholtz is owed $5MM this year before qualifying for free agency. As Moroso mentions, the Tigers are a club that could hypothetically be interested in Schierholtz given the injury to Andy Dirks.
- The Cardinals introduced new infielder Aledmys Diaz today, as the Associated Press reports (via the Boston Herald). Though the Cuban was brought in for a relatively meager $8MM guarantee over four years, Cards GM John Mozeliak says that the team is "very confident that [Diaz] can be an offensive middle infielder, especially a shortstop." Mozeliak said the club would exercise patience with its new addition, who has not played competitively for some time.
- Though the Mariners' additions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison over the offseason raised some questions about incumbent first baseman Justin Smoak, manager Lloyd McClendon says that Smoak will remain the starter, MLB.com's John Schlegel reports. It seemed more recently that things were headed in that direction, but McClendon's statements today would make a trade of Smoak a surprise at this point. "Will other guys play first? Yeah," McClendon said, "But Smoak is my first baseman."
- The independent Suger Land Skeeters have invited former NBA star Tracy McGrady to their spring camp, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. At 34, McGrady is working to build up arm strength and develop an off-speed offering.
The Braves suffered a scare this afternoon when Kris Medlen, likely the team's Opening Day starter, left his start against the Mets (video link) with what is being diagnosed as a forearm strain. He will be evaluated further tomorrow morning. Manager Fredi Gonzalez told reporters, including David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (video link), he's hopeful. "Keep our fingers crossed. But I feel a lot better after talking to our medical people. We might be OK." Medlen, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010, has been dominant for the Braves. O'Brien notes the right-hander's ERA since the 2012 All-Star break is second only to Clayton Kershaw among pitchers with at least 250 innings pitched in that period and he's won three of the past eight NL Pitcher of the Month awards while no other pitcher in baseball has won more than one over the same span. O'Brien opines losing Medlen for any significant amount of time could be a blow to the Braves' chances of defending their division title, unless they make a move to acquire another proven top-of-the-rotation type of starter mentioning Ervin Santana. If Medlen is sidelined, the Braves could stay in-house and insert both veteran Freddy Garcia and left-hander Alex Wood into the rotation with Gavin Floyd, who has received good reports on his rehab from his own Tommy John surgery, expected to be ready in May.
Elsewhere in the National League on the first day of Daylight Savings Time (except in Arizona):
- New Cubs manager Rick Renteria does not see competing in the NL Central "as a daunting task" despite being the only division to send three teams to the playoffs and his own club coming off four consecutive losing seasons, writes the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer. Renteria also sees similarities between the NL Central and the much-praised AL East. "So my thing is, quite frankly, we have a body of players that we’re trying to help form into a team, and that if we can do certain things and take certain actions that we have just as good a chance of competing in our division as some of those teams in the [AL] East have done in the past."
- Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Times examines the players on the bubble of making the Padres' 25-man roster, including recent waiver claim Alex Castellanos.
- The Rockies have renewed the contracts of all their pre-arbitration eligible players, according to the Denver Post's Troy E. Renck (via Sulia). Last month, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported agents were unhappy with the Rockies' salary formula for these pre-arb players, which spawned a feature article by Zach Links detailing how teams determine salaries for such players.