Travis Wood Rumors
Baseball is seeing the emergence of numerous quality young shortstops at the same time, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Brandon Crawford, and Starlin Castro are among the young shortstops already making an impact in the big leagues. All play on National League clubs. One of these players (Castro) has already been locked up long-term, while another (Segura) is an early extension target for his club. It will be interesting to see whether and when the rest of this deep group of middle infielders are approached about extensions. Elsewhere in the National League ...
- The Cardinals, one of baseball's most storied franchises, are perhaps its best-run present organization, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Prioritizing continuity and foregoing excuses, the Cards are respected in the front office, field staff, and active roster. Sherman explains that the Cardinals' success in acquiring and developing players has been accompanied by a consistent philosophy of professionalism. This has allowed the team to weather significant injuries without missing a beat. As former manager Tony LaRussa describes it: "The Cardinals are winning because they have done things right for years to be in a position to be successful. Don't get me wrong, the Cardinals' talent level is really good, but their team chemistry is off the charts."
- Former Phillies' prospect Michael Bourn fully bloomed after leaving the club, but thought he might return as a free agent this past offseason. As MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes, when Bourn's asking price looked too steep, the Phils went after another center fielder in Ben Revere. By the time Bourn's price had dropped, then, the position was filled, and Bourn signed with the Indians. From his perspective, Bourn says: "I think I might have been on their hit list. I don't know how high or what their target was, or if they were worried about what Scott [Boras] was going to do. There are a lot of teams that say they want you to be part of their organization, but you don't know if they really do. ... Yeah, I guess the Phillies were interested a little bit. But that's not how it went down."
- With long-term deals locking up cornerstone infielders Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs could turn their attention to spending on pitching, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Of course, the club intends to fill two rotation spots with Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson for the foreseeable future. While Wittenmyer says that extension talks have not been planned with starter Matt Garza, the soon-to-be free agent says he would be amenable. Garza, of course, has yet to appear this season. Likewise, rotation member Travis Wood says he would love to make his career in Chicago. Though he says "that's out of my hands," Wood has done everything he can this year to lock down a spot going forward. If nothing else, he is setting himself up nicely for his first season of arbitration eligibility. As manager Dale Sveum noted, and Wittenmyer documented, Wood has posted a 3.50 ERA and logged 192 2/3 innings over his last 31 starts (extending into last year).
- The Padres have several players in their minor league system whose contracts contain out clauses that are approaching, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Pitcher Tim Stauffer can elect free agency on June 1, while fellow righty Sean O'Sullivan's date is June 15. It was previously believed that both pitchers had opt-out dates around June 1. Other players with June 15 opt-out dates are catcher Rene Rivera and outfielder Travis Buck. Each has made a reasonable case in Triple-A that they can contribute. Stauffer has pitched to a 3.16 ERA in 42 2/3 innings. O'Sullivan's ERA is 4.19 across 43 innings, but he has put up 8.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. Meanwhile, Rivera has a .375/.430/.477 line in 101 plate appearances, and Buck has hit .275/.321/.480 in 112 appearances.
The Cubs made their seven-year, $41MM extension of Anthony Rizzo official earlier today and will hold a press conference to announce the move at 3pm. Rizzo and the Cubs are the talk of the blogosphere right now, so here are some media reactions from around the web...
- The Cubs are preparing to market Rizzo as the new face of the franchise, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The contract also shows Rizzo's desire to be a Cub for life, as Rizzo would surely have made more going year to year. Sullivan adds that Jeff Samardzija is now likely the next extension target for the Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein, and Travis Wood may not be far behind.
- Both sides have received security in this deal, writes Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, who adds that Rizzo may not have to wait until this deal's completion to sign a new contract. Rogers points to Evan Longoria, who signed a new $100MM extension midway through his last conract and says that Rizzo can likely expect that kind of treatment from Hoyer and Epstein if he remains productive.
- Rizzo's new contract "looks fantastic" for the Cubs in the mind of SB Nation's Rob Neyer. Neyer goes on to point out that the Cubs control Rizzo's age 23-31 seasons for roughly $7.5MM per year, and that those are typically the best seasons of any player's career.
- Part of the reason the Cubs thought it prudent to extend Rizzo was that he stood to make a considerable amount of money as a Super Two player, says Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Sherman points to the case of fellow Super Two player Hunter Pence, whose four arbitration years cost $34.6MM. The Cubs were able to secure control of three free agent years by guaranteeing just $7MM more than that.
- Yet again, it looks like Hoyer will come out as the victor in a deal involving Rizzo, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Hoyer was an Assistant GM with the Red Sox when Rizzo was drafted, the Padres GM when they acquired Rizzo in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, and the GM of the Cubs when they acquired him from the Padres for Andrew Cashner last year.
The Cubs made some cuts today, sending Jason Jaramillo to minor league camp and optioning Alberto Cabrera, Jeff Beliveau, John Gaub, Josh Vitters, Junior Lake and Matt Szczur to the minors. Here are some Cubs-related news items as the countdown to Opening Day continues...
- Right-hander Aaron Kurcz has been told that he is going to the Red Sox as part of the Theo Epstein compensation package, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). Kurcz, an 11th round pick in the 2010 amateur draft, posted a 3.28 ERA and a 9.9 K/9 rate in 32 games for Class A Daytona last season. After months of negotiation, the Cubs and Sox agreed to righty Chris Carpenter and a player to be named later (Kurcz) as the price for the year remaining on Epstein's Boston contract. The Red Sox still need to send a player to the Cubs to complete the deal.
- The Cubs will take the time to get to know Matt Garza before determining whether to sign him long-term or trade him, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweets. The right-hander's on track to hit free agency following the 2013 season.
- There's no everyday job for Cubs outfield prospect Brett Jackson, but he has impressed his new manager nonetheless, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. "It’s been pretty impressive, every part of his game," manager Dale Sveum said. Jackson figures to open the season in the minors and work on his approach at the plate.
- Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune wonders what the Cubs will do with left-hander Travis Wood if he doesn't make the rotation. The Cubs could put Wood in the bullpen or send him to the minor leagues.
- Sveum added that Rule 5 selection Lendy Castillo has been "throwing great," Sullivan writes.
The Reds have already improved their starting rotation with the addition of Mat Latos this offseason, and now they've bolstered the bullpen. In a rare intra-division trade, Cincinnati has acquired lefty reliever Sean Marshall from the Cubs for Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt, and Ronald Torreyes. Both teams have announced the trade.
Marshall, 29, has established himself as one of the game's top left-handed relievers. He posted a 2.26 ERA with 9.4 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 57.5% ground ball rate in 2011. He'll earn $3.1MM during the 2012 season, after which he's eligible for free agency. The Reds have been looking for a closer, but it's not clear how they'll use Marshall and how his presence will affect Cincinnati's interest in relievers such as Francisco Cordero.
Wood is a 24-year-old left-hander who's under team control through 2016. He posted a 4.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 with a 32.1% ground ball rate in 106 innings for the Reds this past season. Though he added value in '11, he didn't match his 2010 numbers: a 3.51 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 102 2/3 innings.
Sappelt, a 24-year-old outfielder, hit .243/.289/.318 in 118 plate appearances for Cincinnati last year, his big league debut. He produced a .313/.377/.458 batting line in 336 plate appearances for their Triple-A affiliate in 2011. Torreyes, a 19-year-old infielder, posted a .356/.398/.457 batting line in 306 plate appearances at the Low Class-A level this past season. Baseball America ranked Sappelt and Torreyes as the Reds'20th and 22nd best prospects in last year's Prospect Handbook, respectively.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
11:52pm: The deal is close, a source tells Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com, and it includes the Cubs receiving two minor leaguers along with Wood. Rosenthal and Morosi say the trade discussions are in the advanced stages.
9:12pm: The Reds and Cubs are discussing a trade that would involve starter Travis Wood going to Chicago in exchange for reliever Sean Marshall, Major League sources tell Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. It's not known whether other players would be included in the potential swap, according to the report.
After acquiring Mat Latos in a trade with the Padres last week, Reds GM Walt Jocketty suggested he'd like to focus on bolstering his bullpen. Cincinnati is without a nominal closer as of now - incumbent Francisco Cordero remains on the free agent market - so perhaps Marshall, who has settled in as an effective late-inning reliever for the Cubs the past couple seasons, could man that role for the Reds.
Wood, meanwhile, is a player Cubs president Theo Epstein liked last season when Epstein was still with the Red Sox, the sources tell FOXSports. In just about one full season of work - 35 starts, 208 innings over two seasons - at the Major League level, Wood has posted 6.99 K/9, 2.85 BB/9 and a tendency to produce fly balls (31.4% GB rate).
Despite being only 24 and under team control for five more years, Wood has perhaps become expendable with the Reds now having six other starters in Latos, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo and Aroldis Chapman.
Marshall will earn $3.1MM in 2012 and is slated to become a free agent at season's end. He'll turn 30 in August.