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Though Byron Buxton has only played in six games this season due to a wrist injury, the Twins outfielder still sits atop Baseball America’s midseason ranking of the top 50 prospects in the sport. Twenty-two of the 30 Major League teams have at least one player on the list, and the Cubs stand out with three players in the top seven — Kris Bryant at #2, the newly-acquired Addison Russell at #5 and Javier Baez at #7.
Here’s some news as we kick off the final week before the All-Star break…
- Jed Hoyer discussed several Cubs topics with David Kaplan and David Haugh on their podcast this morning, including how the general manager believes the offseason will be a busy one for his team. “I expect us to be far more active this winter than last winter,” Hoyer said. “We have money to spend and I expect teams looking for offense to call us.” (Hat tip to Kaplan’s Twitter page.)
- C.C. Sabathia‘s career is at a crossroads with the news that the veteran lefty might require microfracture surgery on his right knee. Given Sabathia’s declining numbers and 2017 vesting option, ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription needed) wonders if the Yankees would be better off if Sabathia retired.
- The week’s minor league transactions are recapped by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
- While the A’s are seemingly going all-in with the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade, Giants GM Brian Sabean could see upgrades as a lost cause given how his team has struggled recently, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Shea opines that Sabean isn’t keen on trading prospects for 2014 given that he’ll have a number of roster holes to fill next season thanks to possibly departing free agents.
Thirty-one years ago today, the Cubs and Phillies swapped shortstops with Ivan DeJesus heading to Philadelphia and Larry Bowa going to Chicago. The Cubs also acquired a 22-year-old prospect by the name of Ryne Sandberg. This prospect managed to be named the 1984 National League MVP, played 16 years, finished with a career slash line of .285/.344/.452, and was enshrined into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2005. Let's take a look at the news and notes involving the Cubs and the rest of the Senior Circuit:
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette on SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio "never say never…but likely this is the team we go to Spring Training with," Bowden tweeted.
- Regarding Matt Garza, Hoyer told Bowden and Duquette the focus is to get him healthy and into the Cubs' rotation; but, that could change since Garza will become a free agent after the 2013 season and the team needs to collect talent (Twitter link).
- Homer Bailey says "nothing has been mentioned at all" about a long-term contract with the Reds, but "it would be something to consider," reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. The arbitration eligible right-hander says the arb process has been slower this year because of the Reds' large arbitration class, but "it will all work itself out." You can follow all arbitration cases by using the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has reached out to Scott Rolen to express the team's interest in him, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Mattingly said he spoke to Rolen about what the Dodgers envision his role would be, but did not ask Rolen specifically about his decision making or timing. The Dodgers see the 37-year-old as insurance if Luis Cruz fails at third base, as well as a potential right-handed-hitting backup to Adrian Gonzalez at first base.
- Braves GM Frank Wren sat down for an interview with Bill Shanks of the Macon Telegraph and spoke in great detail about the Justin Upton trade, the financial flexibility the deal gives the Braves, and whether future payrolls will be increased from the current $98MM.
- Nationals relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard were both surprised by the signing of Rafael Soriano, but believe he makes the team better, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. GM Mike Rizzo met with Storen and Clippard this weekend to reassure them that acquiring Soriano was not a reflection on their abilities, Comak added.
Ten years and one day ago today, the Marlins traded Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca to the Cubs for Julian Tavarez, Ryan Jorgensen, Jose Cueto, and Dontrelle Willis. Willis alone made the deal worthwhile for the Fish. Here's the latest from around the league…
- When Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein first called former Padres CEO Jeff Moorad for permission to speak to a member of his front office, he asked about assistant GM Josh Byrnes according to Dan Hayes of The North County Times. Epstein was instead allowed to speak to GM Jed Hoyer because "he was the GM of a last-place team," said Moorad.
- There has been some recent "back and forth" between the Giants and Matt Cain about a contract extension, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Cain did say that his upcoming free agency is "an exciting part of your career."
- Outfielder Mike Baxter, catcher Mike Nickeas, and lefty Danny Herrera are front-runners for roster spots with the Mets, writes ESPN New York's Adam Rubin. Baxter and Herrera are not on the team's 40-man roster.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman declined to comment when asked about Joba Chamberlain's contract situation according to Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger (on Twitter). The right-hander suffered an open dislocation of his right ankle playing with his son last week and could miss the season.
- When the Blue Jays and Athletics discussed Gio Gonzalez this offseason, Oakland asked for 19-year-old right-hander Noah Syndergaard according to Jeff Blair of The Globe and Mail. Baseball America ranked Snydergaard as Toronto's seventh best prospect in December.
As long-time Cubs shortstop Shawon Dunston celebrates his 49th birthday today, here's the latest out of Wrigley Field…
- Rumors that the Cubs have a $27MM agreement in place with Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler "are completely bogus," GM Jed Hoyer told reporters (including Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune). Soler is still waiting to be officially declared a free agent by Major League Baseball.
- Hoyer also says (via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times) that he "wouldn’t be surprised" if the Cubs made a trade before the season begins, though the team is happy with its current roster. The Cubs theoretically have an excess of pitching but Hoyer likes having that extra depth in the staff.
- Anthony Rizzo has hit well this spring while Bryan LaHair has struggled, but Hoyer tells reporters (including ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla) that the Cubs still intend to start LaHair at first base on Opening Day and have Rizzo begin the year in the minors.
- Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago says the Cubs aren't keen on starting the Major League service time clocks of their top prospects, so Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters look to remain in the minors for at least a few months, if not all, of the 2012 campaign. Also from Levine's chat, he discusses the lack of news about possible trades of Matt Garza or Marlon Byrd and now Alfonso Soriano is virtually untradeable even if he enjoys a good first half of the season.
The Theo Epstein compensation case drew most of the attention this offseason, but the Padres and Cubs still have to work something out for Jed Hoyer. Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) that San Diego will received a low-level minor leaguer from Chicago for their former GM, probably late in Spring Training but before Opening Day.
The clubs have agreed to select the PTBNL from a pre-determined list of 12 or so players, according to Miller (on Twitter). The Red Sox received 26-year-old righty reliever Chris Carpenter and a player to be named later from the Cubs as compensation for Epstein and a player to be named two days ago. There's not much precedent for compensation involving front office employees, but the cases of Epstein and Andy MacPhail provide the Cubs and Padres with two such examples.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told reporters (including Bill Center of The San Diego Union-Tribune) that he wasn't looking to leave the Padres, instead calling it the “perfect storm of opportunities.”
- Tracy Ringolsby of Inside The Rockies speculates (on Twitter) that the Rockies could kick the tires on free agent reliever Brad Lidge. Lidge is from Colorado and lives in Denver during the offseason.
- Larry Altman of The Daily Breeze reports that Dennis Gilbert has assembled an ownership group and will attempt to purchase the Dodgers. The former White Sox executive made a push to buy the Rangers two years ago.
- Baseball America's Ben Balder reports that Padres prospect Yoan Alcantara has been caught in an identify fraud investigation. The purported 18-year-old outfielder's real name and age is unknown. Badler says the investigator, who was an outside contractor and not an MLB employee, has been charged with taking a $25K bribe in exchange for helping the player pass the background check.
- The Cubs aren't focused on former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona and aren't likely to pursue a current manager, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein reached out to Sandberg to explain why he's not being considered for the managerial job, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
- GM Jed Hoyer suggested the Cubs will spend some time rebuilding their pitching staff, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
- Long before he was a Major League GM, Hoyer was a skilled fantasy baseball player, according to the Sun-Times. Hoyer excelled in fantasy leagues as a youngster, even against adult professionals. For fantasy news on relief pitchers, check out CloserNews.com.
- On a related note, Hoyer says he expects Carlos Marmol to close next year, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
- Epstein, Hoyer and the rest of the front office are a team, but the GM remains impressed by Epstein's ability. "When he turns it on, it's pretty clear he has a gear the rest of us don't have," Hoyer said, according to Sullivan.
- Former Cubs GM Jim Hendry graciously said the team hit a "home run" by hiring Epstein, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. "Tom Ricketts did the city of Chicago and the Cubs organization a great service by hiring Theo," Hendry said. The former GM hasn't ruled out returning to the game, but he's enjoying some time off for now. Hoyer said he's looking forward to reaching out to Hendry, according to Sullivan.
- The Cubs don't have to pay Aramis Ramirez's $2MM buyout, since he declined his side of his contract option for 2012, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat.
The Padres officially named Josh Byrnes their general manager today, so the two-year-long Jed Hoyer era is over in San Diego. Here's the latest on the Padres as they prepare for their first offseason under Byrnes…
- Byrnes says San Diego will likely offer Heath Bell arbitration, according to Dan Hayes of the North County Times (on Twitter). Bell is a Type A free agent, as MLBTR learned earlier today. If he declines arbitration to sign elsewhere, the Padres will obtain two draft picks in 2012. However, Bell has indicated that he will accept.
- Padres CEO Jeff Moorad explained in a statement that he holds Byrnes' predecessor in high esteem. “Thanks to Jed Hoyer’s leadership, we are in a far better position to win consistently in the future than we were two years ago." The Padres played to a 161-163 record in two seasons under Hoyer, though that's just one imperfect measurement of his contribution to the team.
- Jason McLeod, who left the Padres for the Cubs along with Hoyer, told Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres that leaving San Diego is bittersweet in a Q&A about his time with the team.
- The Cubs offered Hoyer a five-year contract, which the Padres declined to match, according to Krasovic.
Theo Epstein's first deal as the Cubs' president of baseball operations may be one of the most significant moves of his tenure in Chicago. The Cubs and Padres have confirmed that San Diego GM Jed Hoyer and assistant GM Jason McLeod will leave the Padres to accept positions with Epstein.
Once the World Series ends, the Cubs will introduce Hoyer as their executive VP and general manager and McLeod as their senior VP of scouting and player development. The Cubs will send the Padres a player to be named later as compensation for the two executives.
Meanwhile, Josh Byrnes will be introduced as San Diego's executive vice president and general manager next Monday, according to the Padres. Byrnes, formerly the Padres' senior VP of baseball operations, worked under current Padres CEO Jeff Moorad in Arizona, so he already knows his boss well. Byrnes was Arizona's GM from 2005-10, leading the Diamondbacks to a division title in 2007 before losing his job last July. MLBTR's Transaction Tracker offers a look back at his moves as the club's GM.
The NL West has featured some noteworthy personnel changes in the past year and a half. A.J. Hinch, the former D'Backs manager who was fired along with Byrnes last July, is now San Diego's assistant GM, so Hinch and Byrnes, two former D'Backs, now run the Padres while a longtime Padres executive, Kevin Towers, runs the D'Backs.
Byrnes worked with Epstein and Hoyer in Boston before leaving for Arizona. Before Hoyer obtained the San Diego job, he worked for Epstein as Boston's assistant GM from 2006-09. McLeod was Boston's scouting director from 2005-09.
Theo Epstein is officially the Cubs' president of baseball operations and the Red Sox have announced that Ben Cherington will be Boston's next GM, but there's still lots of front office turnover on the horizon. Here are the latest details from around MLB:
- De Jon Watson's interview for the Orioles' GM job will take place on Wednesday, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). I spoke to Watson, the Dodgers' assistant GM, last month. He's up against Jerry Dipoto of the Diamondbacks and Tony LaCava of the Blue Jays.
- Chase Headley and Heath Bell told Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune that they expect a smooth transition from Jed Hoyer to Josh Byrnes when Hoyer leaves the Padres to become the Cubs' new GM.
- Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune explains that Cubs president Crane Kenney will move exclusively to the business side now that Epstein is the club's president of baseball operations. Kenney is a polarizing figure in Chicago and the role he played in obtaining Epstein is unclear, according to Sullivan.
- Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times says letting assistant GM Randy Bush go would be a mistake for the Cubs.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman met with Hal Steinbrenner in New York today and Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the sides expect to be able to complete a new deal for Cashman with relative ease (Twitter link).