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Kyle Schwarber Rumors
Two of the NL’s top clubs begin a three-game series today at Wrigley Field when the Cubs host the Nationals. Beyond just sharing impressive records, ESPN.com’s Ken Woolums notes that the Cubs have gone about their rebuilding process in a manner similar to how the Nats have reconstructed their roster prior to their current run of two NL East titles in the last three seasons. Here’s more on the Cubs…
- Javier Baez has a .944 OPS in 99 Triple-A plate appearances this season, yet ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers wonders if the former top prospect can find playing time with the Cubs no matter how well he’s hitting. Baez has been splitting time between second base and shortstop in the minors, though the Cubs are obviously set at both positions with Addison Russell and Starlin Castro. Of course, questions remain about Baez both defensively (he already has 11 errors, nine at short) and offensively (he has 24 strikeouts in his 99 PA, and nine walks) and thus the Cubs could decide he’s expendable; Rogers notes that shifting Baez between two positions could be an audition for other teams just as much as it has to do with his development. That said, Rogers also observes that the Cubs are under no pressure to swing a deal now and have plenty of time to figure out how to best deploy their numerous young talents.
- Rogers hears from league sources that the Cubs have repeatedly turned down offers for Russell and have no interest in trading him. If Chicago does decide to move a notable middle infielder, then, it would have to be Baez or Castro.
- Kyle Schwarber is another prospect who has often been rumored to eventually change positions, though Cubs director of player development Jaron Madison tells Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register that Schwarber will remain a catcher. “With all the work he’s done in the offseason and spring training and big league camp, and going into this year and what he’s done so far this year, we’re more certain than ever that he’s going to stay behind the plate long-term. We’re committed to that right now,” Madison said.
- Madison discusses several Cubs minor leaguers within that same piece, including Baez. The team doesn’t have any plans to use Baez at any positions besides second and shortstop for now, Madison said. There has been some speculation that the Cubs could make room for Baez by moving him to third and shifting Kris Bryant to left field, though Baez has never played the hot corner in his pro career and Bryant has only three innings under his belt in left.
Twins outfielder Byron Buxton is the top prospect in baseball, per MLB.com’s top 100 prospects. The Cubs have two prospects in the top five – Kris Bryant (second) and Addison Russell (fifth). The Dodgers have three in the top 13 – Corey Seager (seventh), Julio Urias (eighth), and Joc Pederson (13th). The Cubs and Twins are the two teams with five prospects in the top 50. Here’s more news from around the league.
- The Red Sox will use Brandon Workman as a reliever this season, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. The move could be a big stabilizing influence for Workman, who dealt with fatigue the last couple seasons. Mastrodonato points to Wade Davis as a best case scenario. Davis was an indifferent starter in previous campaigns, but he dominated out of the pen last year. Some pitchers, like Davis, experience a notable velocity increase in relief work. It will be interesting to see how Workman reacts.
- Boston appears to have a full bullpen without the presence of Workman, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Recent additions Alexi Ogando and Robbie Ross join Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica, Craig Breslow, and Anthony Varvaro. Many clubs were concerned about Ogando’s injury history, but the Red Sox liked what they saw while scouting the righty. He passed his physical and should be prepared for a normal preseason workload.
- The Rockies decided to stand pat rather than rebuild due to the quality of talent on the roster, CEO Dick Monfort tells Thomas Harding of MLB.com. Healthy seasons from Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez plus continued breakouts from Nolan Arenado, Corey Dickerson, and Charlie Blackmon could produce a special offense. While pitching is always a problem, Monfort is pleased with the products of the farm.
- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria is more optimistic about the current club than the pricey 2012 version, he tells Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Loria is pleased with the overhauled infield, Giancarlo Stanton‘s long term extension, and the acquisition of Mat Latos. He doesn’t know what will happen with Dan Haren,
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Addison Russell | Alexi Ogando | Boston Red Sox | Brandon Workman | Byron Buxton | C.J. Edwards | Chicago Cubs | Colorado Rockies | Corey Seager | Dan Haren | Joc Pederson | Jorge Soler | Julio Urias | Kris Bryant | Kyle Schwarber | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | Minnesota Twins | Wade Davis
The Cubs promoted top prospect Kris Bryant from Double-A to Triple-A yesterday, but as MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat writes, president Theo Epstein doesn’t feel the 2013 No. 2 overall pick’s development is complete yet. Muskat spoke with manager Rick Renteria and current Cubs players Jake Arrieta and Anthony Rizzo about Bryant’s future as well. The 22-year-old Bryant, who slashed an unthinkable .355/.458/.702 with 22 homers in 69 Double-A games, didn’t seem to have a hard time adjusting to his new Triple-A surroundings; he went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in last night’s Iowa debut.
More on Bryant and the Cubs…
- Despite Bryant’s tremendous minor league success, Epstein told reporters, including the Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles, that he doesn’t expect Bryant to be promoted to the Major Leagues this season (Twitter link). That may be disappointing for Cubs fans, but from a business standpoint there’s little harm in letting Bryant develop at Triple-A and waiting to start his service clock.
- Via Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago (on Twitter), Epstein also said that if No. 4 overall pick Kyle Schwarber‘s bat warrants fast-tracking him to the Major Leagues, the team won’t slow him down by leaving him behind the plate to develop. A catcher and outfielder at Indiana, Schwarber’s bat is said to be much closer to big-league ready than his glove behind the plate. However, the consensus seems to be that he could reach the Majors quickly as an outfielder.
- As for the team’s more immediate concerns — presumably, dealing away several veterans from the big league roster — Epstein says that trade talks remain sporadic at present, Rogers reports. “The rule of thumb is there is more speculation this time of year than actual trade talk,” said Epstein. “Teams don’t like to rush into those types of things.” While last year’s Scott Feldman deal went down in early July, Epstein said that did not mean anything for this year’s plans. The head baseball man also hinted that he hopes a healthy number of buyers could work to his team’s advantage. “The parity creates more potential buyers,” he said. “A lot of teams are out there that could be one or two players away from getting into the playoffs and doing some damage.”
- The Cubs may come to regret not locking up staff ace Jeff Samardzija when they had the chance to do so at a lower price, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times. Wittenmyer reports that, earlier in the year, Samardzija had proposed a $100MM deal while the Cubs were sitting at $60MM. Samardzija’s representatives signaled that they would split the difference, but Chicago only increased its offer by $500K. Now, with the asking price much higher, it seems as though the 29-year-old will instead be dealt, and Wittenmyer argues that the club will struggle to replace him for anything approaching a reasonable price.
1:38pm: The team has officially announced Schwarer’s signing.
11:20am: The Cubs have agreed to a below-slot bonus with first-round selection Kyle Schwarber, reports MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat (via Twitter). He will sign for $3.125MM, which is nearly $1.5MM shy of the $4.621MM allotment that came with the fourth overall choice.
Arguably the best college bat available, Schwarber was nevertheless something of a surprise choice at fourth overall. While he is said to have good hit and power tools at the plate, the real question is whether or not the Indiana University product can stay behind it defensively. As MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo wrote in rating Schwarber as the 16th-best available prospect, he could ultimately move to the outfield (or, presumably, first base) since his throwing and receiving skills are considered below average.
Baseball America, ranking him 17th overall, noted that Schwarber had improved his work at catcher over time and likely has the athleticism needed to shift to left field if he can’t continue that trajectory. ESPN.com’s Keith Law, meanwhile, placed the 6’0, 240lb left-handed swinger at 26th on his final board.
As Callis notes (Twitter links), the deal with Schwarber works to the advantage of both parties. Schwarber will take down a bigger bonus than he would have if taken in the middle of the draft, while the Cubs can put the slot savings towards other choices. In particular, the club selected a series of high school arms with its fourth through sixth-round choices — Carson Sands, Justin Steele, and Dylan Cease — who could require above-slot bonuses to forego college. Callis opines that the Cubs are likely to land each member of that trio. Chicago entered the draft with $8.35MM and change in available slot space.
The first day of the 2014 draft is complete, and as many expected, the Astros selected high school left-hander Brady Aiken with the No. 1 overall pick. The team is in no hurry to sign Aiken, however, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reports (Twitter links). Still,the Astros are understandably excited about the player they drafted. “This is the most advanced high school pitcher I’ve ever seen in my entire career,” says GM Jeff Luhnow. “He has command like I’ve never seen before.”
Here’s more from the draft’s first day…
- The Cubs turned some heads by selecting Indiana catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber with the fourth overall pick, but scouting director Jason McLeod told reporters that Schwarber was No. 2 on the team’s draft board all along. ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers quotes McLeod (on Twitter) as saying that Schwarber trailed only Aiken on their board, though as the Chicago Sun Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer tweets, McLeod did acknowledge that the pick will save them some money. The Cubs are expecting him to sign quickly.
- Braves top pick Braxton Davidson says he will sign rather than attending UNC, tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Davidson’s slot — No. 32 overall — carries a $1.7054MM value, per Baseball America. I spoke with Davidson as part of MLBTR’s Draft Prospect Q&A series.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish hears that the Dodgers and No. 62 overall pick Alex Verdugo already have an agreement in place, and the ASU commit will not be attending college (Twitter link). VP of amateur scouting Logan White tells MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick that Verdugo, a two-way prospect, will start as a center fielder and convert to pitching if he doesn’t hit well (Twitter link).
- MLB.com’s Corey Brock spoke with Padres scouting director Billy Gasparino and got the impression that the team will shift its focus on jump on some arms tomorrow (Twitter link). San Diego drafted a pair of bats today in UNC shortstop Trea Turner and prep outfielder Michael Gettys.
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.