Chicago Cubs Rumors
Daniel Nava, whose three-run homer helped the Red Sox to a dramatic victory Saturday, has come a long way since repeatedly considering retirement, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. Nava played independent-league baseball in 2007 and considered quitting before catching on with the Red Sox in 2008. Then, after playing with the Red Sox in 2010 and spending 2011 with Triple-A Pawtucket, he didn't get invited to Major League spring training in 2012, and he considered quitting again. He ended up staying, and spent much of the 2012 season with the big-league team, hitting .243/.352/.390. This year, he's an important part of the Red Sox outfield. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- Outfielder Julio Borbon had a "whirlwind day" after being claimed off waivers on Friday, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat writes. After learning he'd been claimed by the Cubs, Borbon got to Milwaukee's Miller Park in the eighth inning Friday night. Manager Dale Sveum, who had been ejected, told Borbon to suit up. Borbon did, and entered the game as a pinch-runner, then ended the game when he got thrown out trying to steal. Borbon expressed excitement at being claimed by the Cubs because he's a fan of President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. "My fiance, she’s from Boston, and she knew him, and she was the first one to tell me he had done great things for the city of Boston," said Borbon. "From his background and his resume, he’s on his way to doing the same thing here."
- Jason Giambi of the Indians looks forward to becoming a coach one day, but for now he's enjoying the end of his big-league career, Gene Duffey of MLB.com writes. Giambi interviewed for the Rockies' manager position last year (the job went to Walt Weiss) and has declined coaching jobs with other teams while he continues to play. "I want to enjoy this while I can," says Giambi. "Unfortunately, this game will let you know when it's time to walk away. Sometimes it's not your choice. I've been lucky enough and blessed enough to be in my 19th Major League season. And I'm going to enjoy every minute."
Here are a few notes from the National League:
- The Diamondbacks raised eyebrows with several of their offseason moves, including the decision to part with young arm Trevor Bauer in the deal that brought shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius to Arizona. While it is still far too early to evaluate this deal, ESPN's Buster Olney writes (on Insider) that the most recent scouting returns on Gregorius are positive. Known as an excellent fielder, the glove-first Gregorius has been flashing improved strength and bat speed that could lead to more power than was previously expected. Off to a hot start to his big league career as he fills in for an injury-plagued Dbacks squad, the 23-year-old Gregorius certainly appears to be living up to Arizona GM Kevin Towers' hopes in the early going. Towers said the club not only felt that Gregorius "can really, really play short," but saw excellent bat speed and pitch recognition and believed he was "a tremendous kid" who has "got no fear."
- Soon-to-be free agent hurler Matt Garza of the Cubs ranks seventh on MLBTR's Tim Dierkes's latest 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings despite his prolonged absence from the majors. Garza appears to be set up for a mid-May return, reports Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Much like Roy Halladay, Garza's expected free agent haul could swing wildly based on 2013 results. While that is, of course, the case for any prospective free agent, it is possible to conceive of a wider band of results for a player like Garza. The 29-year-old features a very solid track record and relative youth, but is coming off of a long lull due to multiple injuries. Of course, Garza's play upon his return will also play a big role in whether the last-place Cubs will look to deal the pitcher to a contender (or, in the alternative, look to extend or re-sign him).
- The Phillies' major offseason trade acquisition and now-former leadoff hitter Ben Revere has continued his inability to draw walks since joining the Phils. In comments on Thursday, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro bemoaned the team's inability to earn free passes, as reported by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. In fact, the club has the third-worst walk rate in baseball (5.9%), well below the league average of 8.1%. The comments have led to some consternation among observers, such as Bill Baer of NBC Sports, who remember Amaro's statement in January: "I don't care about walks. I care about production."
Here are Friday's minor moves from around the league...
- Brent Lillibridge has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Iowa by the Cubs, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat (on Twitter).
- The Cubs have also released right-hander Jensen Lewis, according to Muskat (Twitter link). The 28-year-old Lewis hasn't appeared in the Majors since 2010. He has a 3.68 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 198 Major League innings -- all coming with the Indians.
- The Braves have signed right-hander Erik Hamren and first baseman Nick Weglarz to minor league deals, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Hamren, 26, threw 12 1/3 innings for the Padres in 2011 and posted a 4.38 ERA. Weglarz at one point ranked 58th on Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects list, but his stock has fallen since that 2009 list. He has a career .252/.375/.439 batting line in the minors.
The 30-year-old Gonzalez hit .217/.269/.391 in 11 games for the Cubs this season. The Venezuela native has hit .241/.279/.319 over parts of seven Major League seasons with the Nationals, Yankees, Rangers, Padres and Cubs.
Borbon was designated for assignment by the Rangers last week and placed on waivers Wednesday after the Rangers were unable to work out a trade. The 27-year-old is a career .283/.324/.358 hitter with 40 stolen bases in 53 career attempts.
The outfielder drew interest from a few clubs including the Twins, who were said to be kicking the tires on him. Ultimately, however, the Rangers were unable to find a worthwhile deal for him. Texas ideally wanted a "pitcher with options" in exchange for Borbon.
Because waiver priority is determined by the previous year's standings for the first month of the season, the Cubs had second priority to claim Borbon. He did not pass through the entire American League unclaimed.
We'll track today's minor moves here:
- The Cubs have outrighted reliever Hisanori Takahashi to Triple-A Iowa, the Chicago Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmyer reports (on Twitter). The Cubs designated Takahashi for assignment in a series of moves earlier this week. Takahashi, 38, has a career 3.99 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in parts of four Major League seasons with the Mets, Angels, Pirates and Cubs.
The 2013 Rule 4 draft takes place on June 6th, with the Astros, Cubs, Rockies, Twins, and Indians taking the first five picks. You can check out the full draft order here. The latest draft info:
- 6-foot-4, 240 pound Oklahoma righty Jonathan Gray is shooting up draft boards. ESPN's Keith Law had him eighth on March 14th, but now has him as the clear number two player behind another college righty, Stanford's Mark Appel. Gray, who hit 101 in several recent games according to scouts who talked to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, was drafted by the Royals in the 13th round in 2010 and the Yankees in the 10th round in 2011, and now projects to go very early in the 2013 draft. Oklahoma head baseball coach Sunny Golloway told ESPN's Teddy Mitrosilis, "He's going to Houston or the Cubs, No. 1 or No. 2."
- Appel is "still clearly the best player in this draft," in the eyes of Law. Law wonders if the Astros or Cubs can "try to work out a deal less than the recommended bonus number but more than the figure Appel turned down from the Pirates last year ($3.8 million), with the carrot of a big league callup in September if he throws well after signing." Appel is an advisee of the Boras Corporation.
- Prep outfielder Austin Meadows, college lefty Sean Manaea, and prep righty Kohl Stewart are the next three players on Law's draft board, which is ranks players by talent and upside and is not a mock draft.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin says that Rodriguez represents another option that they can go to if necessary and is a low-risk signing, writes MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Melvin also said that he spoke to a prosecutor before re-signing Rodriguez to ensure that Rodriguez’s legal troubles were closed. The reliever was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery in September, but those charges were dropped.
- In an interview with Mut & Merloni of WEEI, ESPN.com's Buster Olney said that he sees the Cubs as the most likely team to trade for the Rays' David Price with the Cardinals also in the mix. In Olney's estimation, the Cards can blow everyone else out of the water if they decide to dip into their farm system to pull off a trade.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter) credited Melvin for picking up Yuniesky Betancourt late in the spring after he didn't hook on with the Phillies. The signing looks particularly good at the moment after Betancourt's grand slam last night and third inning home run earlier this evening.
A year ago today, the Indians signed Johnny Damon to a one-year contract with the hope that clean-shaven caveman could bolster their lineup. Damon hit just .222/.281/.329 in 224 plate appearances for the Tribe. This offseason, there was no penny-pinching by the Indians, as they signed Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Brett Myers and Mark Reynolds to bolster the club. Here are some links from around the league...
- Carlos Zambrano is at Wrigley Field today, which sparked a great deal of speculation, but Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune tweets that Zambrano is merely visiting. The Cubs aren't interested in a reunion.
- Red Sox minor league left-hander Miguel Pena and right-hander Gerson Bautista have both been suspended 50 games for violation of Major League Baseball's drug policy, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Pena ranked 30th among Red Sox prospects, according to BA, who noted that his clean delivery and plus changeup gave him the ceiling of a No. 4 starter in the big leagues.
- Hanley Ramirez is anticipating a return to the Dodgers "way sooner" than his initially projected return of mid-May, writes Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. The Dodgers have gotten next to no production from Luis Cruz and Justin Sellers in his absence.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post gives the "small sample size" caveat in noting that traded players such as John Buck, Michael Morse and Justin Upton are excelling. Vernon Wells and Michael Young have looked better than salary dumps thus far as well, Sherman continues.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden lists five impulsive moves that the GMs of contenders such as the Rays, Tigers, Angels, Cardinals and Giants should make to immediately improve their clubs' biggest weaknesses (ESPN Insider required).
Here are a few notes from around baseball:
- The Orioles have had ongoing discussions with the Rangers about trading for outfielder Julio Borbon, writes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. Borbon will need to be placed on outright waivers by 2pm ET tomorrow if he is not traded beforehand, but the Rangers appear confident that they will strike a deal. While Texas is interested in a major league capable pitcher with options, the Orioles are reluctant to give up arms and are waiting for the asking price to drop. For the O's, Borbon would bring depth, speed, and another lefty bat in the outfield mix.
- The Mets and Astros have also expressed interest in Borbon, Ghiroli further reports. Both clubs entered the season with among the least-entrenched outfield mixes in baseball.
- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein spoke about what the club's Wrigley Field renovation deal could mean for the quality of the squad that takes the field at the friendly confines, as reported by Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. According to Epstein, the club "need[s] revenues to increase in order for us to execute our baseball plan. We expect them to [increase]." Epstein added: "We are not where we want to be right now from a revenue standpoint and therefore we are not where we want to be from a payroll standpoint." While Epstein said that revenue was not the sole "determining factor in our success," he needs it to allow the front office to supplement homegrown talent with "some aggression in free agency."
- For his part, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts says that, "if [the deal] is approved, we will win the World Series." As Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times explains, however, there is some cause for skepticism. The Cubs' ownership has continued to push out its promised timeline for a championship. And with the Cubs topping Forbes' list of most profitable franchises in 2012, Wittenmyer questions Ricketts' continued unwillingness to be more specific about when and to what extent the budget will expand.
- Most big league second baggers do not start out at the position. It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that several teams are considering moving big-name young players to second base, with major potential hot stove implications. ESPN's Keith Law (on ESPN Insider) broke down the possible in-season transition of the Blue Jays' Brett Lawrie, as well as two prospects who are keystone candidates: Anthony Rendon of the Nationals and Jurickson Profar of the Rangers. A Lawrie move would be motivated by gaps elsewhere in the Jays' lineup, with the primary impact being on Toronto's affirmative trade plans. The two highly-rated prospects, on the other hand, find themselves blocked at their natural positions. For Rendon and Profar, then, a move to second could be the only viable alternative to an eventual trade.
- With Rendon presumably blocked by Ryan Zimmerman at his natural third base, and with a Zimmerman move to first blocked for at least two seasons by Adam LaRoche, a switch to second seems attractive at first blush. Rendon is known as a very good fielder, and may soon be knocking on the door after starting the year destroying Double-A pitching. But even putting aside the presence of young incumbent Danny Espinosa, Law says that Rendon's lack of agility and suspect ankles should preclude such a move. Unless some drastic change intervenes -- Zimmerman's throwing woes worsen; the NL adopts the DH; unforeseen injury -- the Nationals could be forced to consider dealing Rendon after this season.
- On the other hand, Law explains that the shortstop Profar, blocked by Elvis Andrus, can certainly handle second. But he would be less valuable there, and the Rangers would need to convince Ian Kinsler to become a first baseman or outfielder. Law goes so far as to suggest that Profar has the capacity to be shifted to centerfield, despite having never seen time in the outfield as a professional. Of course, Profar has already established his value at a premium defensive position. Such a move would not only be risky, but would keep Profar out of the big league lineup for longer while he adapted to a totally new position. Law says that bringing Profar up to man second would add value to the Rangers right now. Certainly, if the club is unwilling to make such a move this season, it is reasonable to wonder (as many have) whether Texas might instead dangle Profar as the centerpiece of a blockbuster deal to acquire a top-flight starter or outfielder.