Chicago Cubs Rumors
Here's the latest out of Arlington...
- The Rangers officially announced their new stadium naming rights deal with Globe Life And Accident Insurance Company today, as Rangers Ballpark will now be known as Globe Life Park In Arlington. Financial terms of the deal weren't announced, though it is a 10-year agreement the between the club and Globe Life.
- Some fans may balk at the idea of a corporate name on the stadium, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett writes, but the financial benefits of sponsorship can't be ignored. Durrett also notes that the naming rights deal is the latest example of how the Rangers have one of baseball's "most financially stable teams."
- Appearing on a podcast with WEEI's Rob Bradford (partial transcript provided by WEEI.com's Arjuna Ramgopal), Daniel Bard said that the Rangers showed interest in his services after the reliever's thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last month. Before Bard underwent the procedure, he said that he had drawn interest from a few teams, including the Cubs. Texas, however, "came in strong and made me feel really welcome and wanted. It just felt like a good fit," Bard said.
- Fans and pundits have become accustomed to seeing salaries in terms of how they fit a club's payroll, but even modest bonuses by MLB standards are life-changing amounts of money --- especially for young players from tough backgrounds in the Dominican Republic, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes. Wilson looks at how the Rangers' signings of such prospects as Jairo Beras and Michael De Leon helped those players bring their families out of poverty, while other prospects (Ronald Guzman and Nomar Mazara) came from middle-class backgrounds.
TUESDAY, 5:38pm: The Cubs joined the Rangers in watching Yoon throw 30 pitches today, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com (via Twitter). He will hold similar, short bullpen sessions for other clubs in the next few days, tweets Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
Yoon's health remains the major issue for clubs considering Yoon's request for multiple years, Sullivan adds. The South Korean is not close to signing, says Sullivan, contrary to statements made yesterday by agent Scott Boras.
MONDAY, 11:30pm: The Rangers will watch Yoon throw a bullpen session on Tuesday in Arizona, reports Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO, via Twitter).
7:30pm: The Orioles are one of several clubs to have made an offer to Yoon, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
(In case you missed the intervening update, Yoon's agent, Scott Boras, said that six or seven teams were still interested in the South Korean.)
11:41am: As many as five teams are still showing interest in Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon, according to Sang-Soo Kwon of Korean news outlet JoongAng Daily (hat tip: MyKBO.net's Dan Kurtz). According to Kwon, the Orioles are the front-runners to sign Yoon at this point, but the Rangers, Cubs, Twins and Giants have interest as well. The Orioles and Giants reportedly attended a workout held by Yoon at the UC-Irvine campus over the weekend.
The Rangers' interest is a new wrinkle in the Yoon saga, but Kwon cites an official from the Boras Coporation (which represents Yoon) in saying that Texas has scouted Yoon for more than two years. Interest on the Rangers' side picked up after Derek Holland's injury, the official said.
Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports (on Twitter) that Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette wouldn't confirm the team's interest in Yoon when asked on Saturday, but he also didn't deny any of the reports. The Orioles have added a pair of notable Asian players in recent years, inking Tsuyoshi Wada and Wei-Yin Chen to multi-year deals. Kwon also points out Duquette's history of Korean additions from his days as GM of the Red Sox; Boston inked lefty Sang-Hoon Lee, right-hander Sun-woo Kim, right-hander Seung-Joon Song, and infielder Tae-in Chae.
Yoon, 27, was considered Korea's second-best starting pitcher behind Hyun-jin Ryu following the 2012 season. A shoulder injury in 2013 prompted a move the the closer's role with the Kia TIgers last season, but from 2011-12 Yoon posted a 2.77 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 325 1/3 innings as a starter. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted in Yoon's free agent profile, his fastball sits in the 91 to 93 mph range, and he won the KBO's MVP Award in 2011 for his outstanding work in the Kia Tigers' rotation.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs still haven't come to terms on a contract to avoid arbitration for 2014, with the pitcher filing for $6.2MM and the team countering with $4.4MM. That gap is indicative of broader differences between the two parties about how to structure a long-term deal, Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago writes. Rogers notes that it wouldn't be surprising if Samardzija and the Cubs actually did go to arbitration, and suggests that they could be more than $10MM apart on a potential long-term contract. Here are more notes on the Cubs.
- One factor in the market for Jason Hammel was that teams were worried about the possibility that his elbow wouldn't hold up, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets. Hammel recently agreed to a one-year, $6MM deal with the Cubs. He missed time due to elbow issues last season.
- The Cubs' recent pact with Hammel parallels their signing of Scott Feldman last offseason, Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs writes. The best-case scenario for the Cubs is that Hammel pitches well and they trade him to a contender this summer, just as they did last year with Feldman. In order for the Cubs to do so, Hammel will have to stay healthy, but even if he doesn't, the Cubs aren't risking much.
The Cubs have avoided arbitration with outfielder Justin Ruggiano, who will earn $2MM next season, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports via Twitter. Chicago picked up Ruggiano, who turns 32 in April, from the Marlins in mid-December.
As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, Ruggiano settled for just under the midpoint between his $2.45MM filing number and the team's $1.6MM counter. His 2014 salary lands just above the $1.8MM that MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected.
Ruggiano, who swings from the right side of the plate, had a stellar 2012 season in which he posted a .313/.374/.535 line and notch 13 homers and 14 steals over just 91 games. He took a step back last year, however, receiving a career-high 472 plate appearances but registering only a .222/.298/.396 triple-slash. Ruggiano did knock 18 long balls and swipe 15 bags, but Baseball-Reference valued his contributions at replacement level while Fangraphs credited him at about one win.
The Mariners are "back in business, showing strong interest" in Nelson Cruz and Fernando Rodney again, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest column. The Mariners, who are said to have some financial leeway by new team president Kevin Mather, is also looking at the trade market for starting pitchers, though they're not currently focused on David Price or Jeff Samardzija. Rosenthal also notes that the Indians aren't having any conversations on Justin Masterson, nor are the Reds inclined to move any of their starters, further limiting the list of trade targets. More highlights below...
- Cruz could be a fallback option for the Rangers, but probably only if he's willing to sign a one-year deal. Bringing Cruz back would allow the Rangers to deal Mitch Moreland.
- Rosenthal wonders if the Reds should be thinking about dealing a starter. While they're trying to extend Homer Bailey, that seems to be a tall order as he's just one year from free agency. Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto are all only controlled through 2015, and as Rosenthal notes, not all can be long-term pieces.
- The Athletics aren't considering making a run at Stephen Drew and shifting Jed Lowrie from short to second base. The A's are comfortable platooning Eric Sogard and Nick Punto.
- A rival executive wondered to Rosenthal if the Braves would match up with the Mariners on a Dustin Ackley trade, but Rosenthal hears that the Braves aren't looking for a second baseman. They currently have Dan Uggla, who is owed $26MM through 2015, and three fallback options in Ramiro Pena, Tommy La Stella and Tyler Pastornicky.
- Braves GM Frank Wren said he doesn't hold any ill will toward players who go to arbitration hearings -- such as the ones he could face with Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman: "We don’t look at it as an antagonistic process. We look at it as a solution to a disagreement on a player’s salary."
Brian Roberts spoke with Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun yesterday about his decision to join the Yankees and leave an Orioles organization that was the only one he'd ever played for professionally. Roberts explained that he decided to join a new club in part because "the opportunity to be an Oriole wasn't there anymore." The second baseman indicated that Baltimore never approached him about a return. "We really didn't have any conversations about [a return]," said Roberts. "I don't think it's my place as a player to necessarily go to an organization and ask for a job." Roberts had nothing but positive things to say about his time with the Orioles, but said he is excited at the chance to don pinstripes. "[W]e felt like that was the best opportunity when it came to everything we were looking for, when it came to an opportunity to play and an opportunity to win and several other things that our family was looking at."
Here are some more notes from the American League:
- The Mariners are "in on" closer Fernando Rodney, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Seattle was said to have interest in Rodney during the Winter Meetings. As Brown notes, other clubs in pursuit of the former Ray reportedly include the Mets and Orioles.
- While the Yankees may be done adding significant players before the start of the season, ESPN's Buster Olney explains (Insider subscription required and recommended) that New York could potentially add a talented player in a trade-deadline salary dump. Olney lists several players who could conceivably become available for little more than salary relief, depending upon their team's performance.
- Among the players on that list is Blue Jays starter Mark Buehrle, who Olney says was dangled in trade talks within the past year. Olney calls the southpaw a "plow horse ... being paid like a racehorse." The sturdy-but-unspectacular Buehrle is owed $37MM over 2014-15 under his backloaded deal. Moving the 34-year-old's contract could represent an easy way for the team to shed dollars if it is not in contention, says Olney.
- Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are still talking with the Cubs about acquiring pitcher Jeff Samardzija, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Indeed, Toronto has been the "most aggressive team" with regard to Samardzija, according to Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (via Twitter), although Chicago is still working to extend him even as the team explores trade options.
In his latest column over at FOXSports.com, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Diamondbacks' pursuit of top free agents Masahiro Tanaka, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran stemmed from the fact they'll soon be completing a new television deal with FOX Sports that will be worth at least $90MM per season for a span of 15 to 20 years (beginning in 2016). He notes that while comparing TV deals is difficult because of differing equity stakes negotiated by each team, but the contract should still top the Rangers' recent TV deal, which pays them $80MM per season. More highlights from Rosenthal...
- The Cubs' offer to Masahiro Tanaka did not include an opt-out clause, according to Rosenthal. Knowing that they might not compete until 2016, the Cubs were wary of including a clause that would allow him to opt out shortly after their next competitive club hit the field.
- Their recent signing of Matt Garza will allow the Brewers to move trade acquisition Will Smith (received in exchange for Norichika Aoki) to the bullpen. Milwaukee could still add another reliever this offseason, but they also want to take a look at Rule 5 lefty Wei-Chung Wang.
- After missing out on a Major League deal with the Orioles due to concerns over his back, Tyler Colvin is weighing a number of minor league offers.
- The Marlins and Rockies are both interested in former Reds right-hander Nick Masset, who has missed each of the past two seasons due to shoulder injuries.
Even after the addition of Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees' rotation is third-best in the AL East, behind the Rays and Red Sox, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Yankees' rotation lacks depth, Lauber writes, while the Rays have David Price (at least for now) and a strong collection of young pitchers, and the Red Sox have plenty of solid starters to back up Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Eight teams, including the Rockies, Orioles, Mariners, Yankees and Dodgers, have interest in Ervin Santana, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish writes. (Earlier today, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik seemed to imply the Mariners would not be heavily involved on Santana.) Other teams could enter the picture as well. The Cubs also asked about Santana, but draft-pick forfeiture is a problem for them, even though their first pick is protected.
- The White Sox will meet with pitchers Texas high school pitcher Tyler Kolek, Vanderbilt pitcher Tyler Beede, and and California high school shortstop Jacob Gatewood as they prepare to pick third overall in the June draft, MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes. White Sox amateur scouting director Doug Laumann says, unsurprisingly, that he does not expect Carlos Rodon to fall to the White Sox at No. 3. They've already met with Rodon, East Carolina pitcher Jeff Hoffman and NC State shortstop Trea Turner.
- In the abstract, it might seem like the Phillies should rebuild from the ground up, but their situation is actually more complex than that, Brad Johnson of FanGraphs writes. Rebuilding efforts can fail, and memories of a streak of mostly poor play from 1987 through 2000 linger in the minds of Phillies fans, who Johnson says aren't a patient bunch. And even if the Phillies sold some of their big contracts, they would still have plenty of payroll obligations. Given the situation they've gotten themselves into, Johnson argues, simply trying not to lose too much might be the best strategy for them this year.
- Michael Young hasn't decided whether he will play in 2014, but if he does, it will be for the Dodgers, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets. A report earlier this month indicated that Young was thinking about retiring.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe checks in with GMs, players, writers, and scouts to help run down the best coaches in baseball. On his list of bench coaches who are managers in waiting: Brad Mills of the Indians, Torey Luvullo of the Red Sox, Larry Bowa of the Phillies, Tim Flannery of the Giants, and the Brewers' Jerry Narron. More from today's column..
- The Pirates probably won’t go after a pitcher if A.J. Burnett retires. Right now, Pittsburgh is looking for a full-time first baseman and would use the money that would have gone to the veteran toward that end. Cafardo also notes that the Orioles could be a "wild card" in the situation since Burnett lives in Baltimore.
- While the bids of the other teams are still unknown, one GM threw out the following figures in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes: Yankees $155MM, Cubs $120MM, Diamondbacks $120MM, Dodgers $119MM, White Sox $100MM, Astros $100MM.
- The Diamondbacks were head over heels for Tanaka, but the fact they weren’t on one of the coasts and they were in a smaller media market worked against them.
- Scott Boras doesn't represent David Ortiz, but he tells Cafardo that he feels for them. Boras sees some similarities between the Red Sox star and his own client Kendrys Morales. Morales is seen by most clubs as a DH rather than a first baseman which is hurting his value. Boras argues that Ortiz is the featured power hitter in Boston's lineup as a DH and believes that Morales can also provide value in that role.
- There had been some talk that Daisuke Matsuzaka might go back to Japan to pitch, but the possibility of breaking into the Mets’ rotation with Matt Harvey out intrigued Matsuzaka enough to fight for a spot.
- The Giants have been through a lot with Pablo Sandoval and even if he has a good season, this could be Pablo Sandoval's last in San Francisco. Sandoval will be a free agent following the 2014 season.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told fans at TigerFest today to expect a different style of Detroit baseball now that he's completed his offseason retooling of the club's roster, Jason Beck of MLB.com writes. "We'll play better defense. We'll score from first or second on base hits or extra-base hits more than we have in the past," Dombrowski predicted, while noting that the 2014 Tigers won't have as much power as some of his previous teams. "It's a different type of club. … What you try to do is give your club a chance to win a world championship every year," the GM commented. Here's more late-night MLB links:
- Other comments from Dombrowski at TigerFest implied that the Tigers won't pursue Nelson Cruz, Beck reports. While smaller, depth-oriented signings are possible, Dombrowski said he'd be "surprised if we made any major moves."
- Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki says he's ready to step into a leadership role for the club now that Todd Helton has retired, Thomas Harding of MLB.com reports.
- Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune offers an early look at how new Cubs hitting coach Bill Mueller will go about addressing the team's offensive struggles.
- Tom Krasovic of U-T San Diego rounded up scouts' comments on the seven-player trade that saw Padres utilityman Logan Forsythe shipped to the Rays. "I would say San Diego gave up some fringe quantity that Tampa has probably liked a lot in the past for better quality," one scout offered. Another labeled minor-leaguers Matt Andriese and Jesse Hahn as "the two biggest X-factors in the trade."
- U-T San Diego's Bill Center grades the Padres' offseason moves, assigning an "A" to the Joaquin Benoit signing.