MLB Trade Rumors » » Chicago Cubs Tue, 16 Jan 2018 14:38:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Ricketts On Slow Offseason, Cubs' Free Agent Pursuits Tue, 16 Jan 2018 04:08:58 +0000
  • Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was dismissive of the notion that collusion has slowed the free-agent market in an interview with Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription required & recommended). Ricketts pointed out that in previous years, some teams have somewhat quietly inked new television deals or had those deals kick in, which has led to unexpected spending. (Ricketts doesn’t mention instances by name, though that was very likely a component in the D-backs’ signing of Zack Greinke, for instance.) Asked about the possibility of further spending for his own team, Ricketts replied: “Theo has the resources to do whatever he needs to do to win on the field. …  I don’t know what’s going to happen with the guys that are out there, whether it’s a good fit for us.” Mooney also chats with newly promoted AGM Scott Harris about the slow offseason.
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    Joe Maddon Not Worried About Contract Sun, 14 Jan 2018 18:04:58 +0000
  • It doesn’t appear as though Joe Maddon and the Cubs have any talks about an extension, though the manager said during this weekend’s Cubs Convention (as reported by The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney) that he doesn’t “ever try to strike up those kind of conversations….I believe if we take care of our own business properly, that’s the kind of stuff that takes care of itself. I’ve always relied on that thought. So I’m not concerned about that. I am a Cub right now. And I want to be a Cub for many years to come.”  Maddon is under contract through the 2019 season, so there isn’t any immediate need for either side to press for extension negotiations already.  Maddon’s comments also make it seem as if he has no plans to retire anytime soon, which is notable given that he turns 64 next month.
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    Kris Bryant "Would Love" For Cubs To Sign Bryce Harper Sat, 13 Jan 2018 19:56:59 +0000
  • The Cubs and third baseman Kris Bryant haven’t engaged in long-term extension talks this winter, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic on Friday (subscription required/highly recommended). The two sides avoided arbitration Friday when Bryant agreed to a $10.85MM salary – a record amount for a first-time arb-eligible player. While Bryant won’t become a free agent for at least four seasons, Nationals superstar right fielder Bryce Harper could hit the market next winter. If Harper does become a free agent, Bryant informed Mooney he “would love” for the Cubs to sign him. The two have been close friends since childhood, which could help the Cubs if they attempt to recruit Harper.
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    Cubs Still Looking To Add Pitching, Have Not Ruled Out Arrieta Sat, 13 Jan 2018 06:19:47 +0000
  • The Cubs are “not done” and are focused especially on the pitching staff, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said today (via’s Jesse Rogers). He said it’s still possible the organization will pursue “depth moves” or that it will add “another real quality pitcher.” Is free agent Jake Arrieta still a possibility? “We’ve never ruled anything out with him,” says Epstein, as’s Carrie Muskat tweets.
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    Unresolved 2018 Arbitration Cases Sat, 13 Jan 2018 00:02:01 +0000 We’ve covered a whole lot of arbitration deals today, many of them reached before today’s deadline to exchange filing figures. Some other agreements have come together after team and player submitted their numbers. It’s still possible, of course, that these situations will be resolved before an arbitration hearing becomes necessary. (At this point, we seem to lack full clarity on teams’ approaches to negotiations after the filing deadline. And most organizations make exceptions for multi-year deals even if they have a file-and-trial stance.)

    Some situations could even be dealt with in short order. As things stand, though, these unresolved arbitration cases could turn into significant hearings. (As always, MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections can be found here; you will also want to reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration tracker.)

    Cubs Avoid Arbitration With Kyle Hendricks Fri, 12 Jan 2018 21:10:22 +0000
  • The Cubs have struck a deal with lefty Justin Wilson, agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM pact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Wilson, who had been projected at $4.3MM, will be a free agent next winter. The Cubs alsoagreed to a $950K salary with infielder Tommy La Stella, tweets’s Carrie Muskat. La Stella was projected to make $1MM in his first offseason of arbitration eligiblity and can be controlled through 2020. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have agreed to a $4.175MM salary, per Nightengale (on Twitter). That sum comes in a fair bit shy of his projected $4.9MM projection as a first-time eligible player. The Cubs control Hendricks through the 2020 season. Chicago also agreed with Addison Russell, per Wittenmyer (Twitter link). The shortstop will receive $3.2MM for the coming season.
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    Cubs Avoid Arbitration With Kris Bryant Fri, 12 Jan 2018 21:09:04 +0000 The Cubs have reached a record-setting deal with star third baseman Kris Bryant, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter). He will earn $10.85MM, setting a new high-water mark for first-time arb-eligible players.

    Previously, Ryan Howard held the record for the biggest arbitration payout to a player entering the process for the first time. His $10MM mark had held sway since 2010. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz broke down Bryant’s case recently, suggesting he felt it somewhat more likely that Bryant would not quite top Howard.

    Of course, there could be other factors weighing on the situation, including the controversy over Bryant’s initial promotion timeline and the fact that the Cubs would no doubt like to work out an extension if possible. Paying a bit extra and giving Bryant a record-setting deal may end up working to Chicago’s benefit. And it was no doubt preferable for the club to steer clear of a hearing.

    In the spring of 2015, Chicago decided not to take Bryant north with the MLB club when it broke camp, instead waiting a few weeks to bring him up for his first big league action. That delay left the Cubs free to control him through 2021, rather than 2020, but spurred a grievance action and also left Bryant eligible to qualify for arbitration in 2018 — meaning he’ll get four bites at the apple through the arb process.

    The Cubs’ approach still clearly favors the organization in the long run. But Bryant nevertheless now stands to take down some massive earnings throughout the arbitration process. He’ll have three more seasons to tack raises on top of his hefty $10.85MM starting point.

    Latest On Cubs' Potential Targets Fri, 12 Jan 2018 05:02:52 +0000
  • There are still ongoing signals that the Cubs could make a splash. As Paul Sullivan writes for the Chicago Tribune, surprise winter additions are fairly commonplace in Wrigleyville. Manager Joe Maddon suggested yesterday that he believes the front office is still looking to build out the roster, Madeline Kenney of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Maddon spoke highly of both Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, Kenney writes, and the skipper also hinted that president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer may not yet be done in adding pieces to the bullpen mix for the 2018 campaign.
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    Arbitration Breakdown: Kris Bryant Thu, 11 Jan 2018 17:41:04 +0000 Recently, I have been discussing some of the higher-profile upcoming arbitration cases as part of MLBTR’s Arbitration Breakdown series. I rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong. Full arbitration projections for 2018 are also available.

    Star Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant enters arbitration for the first time with a compelling case to compete with historical records. The current record for first time eligible players still goes all the way back to Ryan Howard in 2008, who earned $10MM after a 47 home run season that brought his career total to 129 home runs. While that price point is now ten years old, it is still an unbroken record. Buster Posey got close with $8MM, but that is already five years old.

    Those two players share something in common with Bryant and no one else: they had received both a Rookie of the Year Award and a Most Valuable Player Award prior to entering arbitration. The only other such player would have been Mike Trout, but he signed a multi-year deal the year before reaching arbitration eligibility. Awards can be a huge part of arbitration hearings, especially for first-time eligible players like this, which immediately explains why Bryant is projected to earn $8.9MM, nearly halfway between Posey and Howard. Joey Votto also had an MVP Award (but no ROY) in 2011 when he received an $8MM salary, but he ended up agreeing to a multi-year deal and did not exchange figures before that, so he is not very useful for our purposes.

    When it comes to actual numbers rather than hardware, Bryant has a good case as well. He hit .295/29/73 in his platform year and has amassed .288/94/274 for his career. Howard hit .268/47/136 in his platform, with .291/129/353 in his career. So he would be appear to represent a ceiling if the deal was more recent. That said, Bryant might argue that his case is old enough that it should not act as a ceiling on his earnings.

    Posey hit .336/24/103 in his platform year and had .314/46/191 for his career line entering arbitration. The batting average (and the fact that he is a catcher) makes Posey look more favorable, but the fact that Bryant has twice the career home runs might make his case more impressive in a process that leans heavily on home runs. Votto’s numbers are actually somewhat closer though, with a .324/37/113 platfrom and .314/90/298 career. Of course, his multi-year deal limits his usefulness as a comparable.

    Nolan Arenado and Manny Machado could serve as floors. Neither had the hardware, and both had relatively similar numbers except for far fewer career home runs when they entered the arb process. Machado had a .286/35/86 platform and a .281/68/215 career, while Arenado had a .287/42/130 platform and a .281/70/243 career. So I would guess that their identical $5MM salaries two years ago are a solid floor for Bryant.

    I suspect Posey might actually be the best comparable, despite the fact that he plays a premium defensive position. Adding in salary inflation, his $8MM salary in 2013 puts Bryant around $9.5MM. I suspect he will not break Howard’s record, so this seems pretty believable. The Cubs could easily try to argue for a lower number like Arenado or Machado, but probably will have trouble making that case. However, the team could still try to push Bryant south of Posey’s $8MM. There is a large range of plausible outcomes for a case like this; it would represent a fascinating hearing if it went to a panel.

    Yu Darvish Choosing Among Six Teams Thu, 11 Jan 2018 05:34:03 +0000 Yu Darvish is widely considered to be the top starting pitcher available in free agency, and while his market — like the market of nearly every other top free agent this winter — has been slow to progress, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Darvish has whittled the decision down to a handful of teams: the Rangers, Cubs, Astros, Twins and Yankees. Darvish himself has hardly been shy about stirring the pot on social media this winter, though, and he created an additional layer of intrigue tonight when he responded to the report by tweeting: “I know one more team is in.” The Dodgers may very well be the sixth team to which Darvish alluded, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times tweeted tonight that Los Angeles “remains in the mix” to bring Darvish back to L.A.

    In his column, Wilson once again cautions that the Rangers aren’t a prime suitor for Darvish. The right-hander, according to Wilson, would prefer to return to Arlington were all things equal, but the Rangers aren’t expected to pursue top-tier free agents, as has reportedly been the case for the entire winter. Wilson reported three months ago that Texas was aiming to trim payroll by about $10MM for the coming season, which would leave them around $155MM overall. A backloaded contract for Darvish could technically still make that goal possible, but Wilson strongly suggests that the Rangers won’t be making any moves of the “all-in” variety this winter. The Rangers’ payroll projects to check in around $144MM as things presently stand.

    Both the Yankees and Astros have been prominently linked to another high-end rotation candidate recently, as both have been said in recent weeks to be in talks for Pittsburgh righty Gerrit Cole. Astros GM Jeff Luhnow earlier today shot down a report that his team had struck an agreement to acquire Cole, but both New York and Houston appear to have some level of interest more cost-effective trade candidates.

    The Yankees, of course, have been hard at work trying to bolster their 2018 roster while simultaneously remaining south of the luxury tax barrier (to great success thus far), while Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported just yesterday (subscription required and recommended) that Houston prefers to trade for a pitcher like Cole rather than shell out a massive contract to Darvish or another free-agent starter. If the Yankees can find a way to shed a significant portion of Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract (which seems unlikely) or if the Astros ultimately deem all of their trade targets too expensive in terms of prospects, then perhaps on of those clubs will take a more serious look at Darvish.

    Minnesota, meanwhile, has long been reported to be one of the more aggressive teams on Darvish, who knows Twins GM Thad Levine quite well from the pair’s time with the Rangers. Of all the teams in the mix, the Twins’ payroll outlook is by far the most open (zero dollars on the books beyond the 2019 season). As for the Cubs, they’ve been tied to Darvish, Jake Arrieta and fellow righty Alex Cobb as they seek to round out their rotation and remain atop a competitive NL Central division.

    The Dodgers, like the Yankees, are facing some self-imposed financial restrictions. Both clubs are trying to reset their luxury tax penalty level, and the Dodgers look to have done so in the Adrian Gonzalez/Scott Kazmir/Brandon McCarthy/Matt Kemp trade. Bringing Darvish back into the fold would once again push them north of the tax line, L.A. is also looking for ways in which to shed Kemp’s contract. As is the case with the Yankees and Ellsbury, finding a taker for a notable portion of that deal could create additional flexibility.

    Cubs Notes: Wilson, Rotation Wed, 10 Jan 2018 00:56:52 +0000 The struggles of left-hander Justin Wilson following a trade to the Cubs perplexed not only Chicago evaluators but execs throughout the league, writes Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic (subscription required and highly recommended). Sharma spoke to both Cubs manager Joe Maddon and GM Jed Hoyer about Wilson’s troubles, and Maddon made it clear that he views Wilson as an important part of the ’pen for the upcoming 2018 season. Hoyer, meanwhile, acknowledged that some of the blame likely falls on the organization, especially considering that these sort of struggles have happened in the past. (Sharma points to Adam Warren as one prominent example.) “…[W]e’ve had a number of guys who have come in and struggled beyond what they’ve done in the past,” Hoyer tells Sharma. “That’s something we have looked at and will continue to look at and talk about how we ’onboard’ guys, so to speak. … We’ve been, candidly, somewhat frustrated by it and we’ll keep working on it.”

    • Patrick Mooney of The Athletic argues that the time is right for the Cubs to make a big splash on the free-agent market. Big spenders like the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers are striving to dip below the luxury tax, while several other clubs throughout the league are also operating under financial constraint. Within their division, the Pirates could be on the verge of a rebuild, as trade rumors swirl around Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison. Meanwhile, the Reds don’t yet look to be ready to push back into contention. Mooney notes that the Cubs are remaining in touch with agents for Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, though the Chicago brass doesn’t seem to have Lance Lynn as high on its list of priorities, he adds.
    Latest On Cubs' Interest In Cobb, Darvish Sun, 07 Jan 2018 19:08:20 +0000
  • Alex Cobb isn’t looking for a $20MM average annual value in his next contract, according to “officials on both sides of the Cubs’ negotiations with” the free agent right-hander.  Reports that this inflated asking price spurred the Cubs’ interest in Yu Darvish as an alternative to Cobb are also not accurate, as per these same officials.

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    Cubs Discussed Javier Baez With Padres Fri, 05 Jan 2018 05:46:35 +0000
  • Winter Meetings chatter between the Padres and Cubs involving infielder Javier Baez failed to develop, per another Rosenthal report. It’s “likely” that Chicago was looking to pick up “a controllable starter” in any such deal, says Rosenthal, and the San Diego organization was just not interested in dangling Dinelson Lamet or Luis Perdomo. The sides also held some discussions involving Baez and Friars lefty Brad Hand, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Precise formulations of potential trade packages are not really clear, but it probably shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that those particular names came up. It seems that ship has sailed at this point, though in theory the sides could always strike up talks again if one or the other has a change of heart. Lin also addresses a few other topics of note; in particular, he says the Pads are likely just about done adding rotation options, so fans looking for a Jake Peavy reunion shouldn’t hold their breath.
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    Cubs Rumblings: Arrieta, Darvish, Cobb, Cole, Yelich Wed, 03 Jan 2018 03:07:21 +0000 The latest on the North Siders comes from Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago

    • To this point, the Cubs and Cardinals have shown the most interest in free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta, according to Levine. The Cubs reportedly may be willing to offer a four-year, $110MM contract to the soon-to-be 32-year-old Arrieta, who mostly thrived with the team from 2013-17.
    • Elsewhere on the pitching market, the Cubs remain in contact with Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb, per Levine, though he casts doubt on them being the favorites to sign the latter. They’re wary of Cobb’s asking price, which appears to be in the $17MM to $19MM range per annum, Levine relays.
    • Along with the previously reported Chris Archer, the Cubs are interested in swinging a trade for Pirates righty Gerrit Cole, Levine writes. This is the first reported connection of the offseason between the Cubs and Cole, who has mostly been linked to the Yankees. Talks between the Yankees and Pirates simmered last month, though, which could pave the way for another team to swoop in and land the 27-year-old. Given that Chicago and Pittsburgh are in the same division, the Cubs are obviously quite familiar with Cole. The Scott Boras client is under control for the next two seasons, and he’ll earn a projected $7.5MM in 2018.
    • Looking beyond starting pitching possibilities, Levine doesn’t rule out more additions to the Cubs’ bullpen or position player group. With Wade Davis having signed with the Rockies, the Cubs could be in the market for a closer if they don’t want to turn the ninth-inning reins to either of the just-signed Brandon MorrowSteve Cishek tandem or another in-house option. But whether the team bids on a top free agent like Greg Holland or Addison Reed could depend on how much spending room it has left after it picks up another starter, per Levine. Further, it’s possible the Cubs could try to trade for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, who would likely cost them fellow center fielder Albert Almora Jr. in a deal, Levine contends. He also lists free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain as a name to watch for the Cubs.
    Latest On Cubs, Jake Arrieta Tue, 02 Jan 2018 19:29:31 +0000 In his column today on the molasses-slow free agent market, Bob Nightengale of USA Today drops a few nuggets of information. The Padres’ offer to free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer would promise him seven years, says Nightengale. Meanwhile, top open-market slugger J.D. Martinez is sitting on a five-year offer from the Red Sox. In other chatter, Nightengale suggests the Cubs could be willing to go as high as $110MM over four years to bring back Jake Arrieta. Of course, the teams and players just cited have likely known one another’s positions for some time now, and these stalemates have yet to be resolved. These details also fall in line with what has been reported previously about the respective situations, though they are surely interesting data points as we seek to divine when and how the free agent dam will finally break.

    Cubs Have Reportedly Made Offer To Ji-Man Choi Mon, 01 Jan 2018 15:31:02 +0000
  • First baseman Ji-Man Choi’s agency in Korea recently spoke to the media about their client’s current foray into free agency and revealed that he’s received offers (presumably of the minor league variety) from the Yankees, Angels, Rays, A’s, Brewers, Marlins, Cubs, Reds, Orioles, Twins, Braves, Blue Jays and White Sox (English link via Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency). The 26-year-old Choi slugged a pair of homers in 18 plate appearances with the Yankees last year and posted a strong year with their Triple-A affiliate, slashing .288/.373/.538 in 87 games. In parts of five Triple-A campaigns, Choi has posted a robust .298/.390/.479 batting line.
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    Cubs Look To Develop More Homegrown Pitching Sun, 31 Dec 2017 04:11:02 +0000
  • Since Theo Epstein took over the Cubs front office, pitchers drafted by the team have delivered just 30 innings in a Cubs uniform, The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma reports (subscription required and recommended).  While Chicago has obviously excelled at acquiring undervalued starting pitching assets in trades, that hasn’t stopped the club from looking to improve on its development of young pitchers, which was one reason Jim Benedict was recently hired as a special assistant within the baseball ops department.
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    Levine On Asking Prices For Arrieta, Cobb Thu, 28 Dec 2017 16:45:05 +0000 Yesterday morning, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score published a report with a few interesting notes on free agent pitchers.  So far, the biggest free agent pitching signing has been the Cubs’ surprising $38MM deal for Tyler Chatwood, while Mike Minor, Jhoulys Chacin, Miles Mikolas, C.C. Sabathia, Mike Fiers, Doug Fister, and Yovani Gallardo are also off the board.

    • Six years and $160MM was said to be the starting point for Jake Arrieta in November, sources tell Levine.  Even in making these predictions in late October, we went with four years and $100MM for Arrieta.  Levine says Arrieta and fellow free agent Yu Darvish are currently looking for at least five-year deals.  The pair of righties were born 163 days apart back in 1986, and the case can be made that Darvish doesn’t deserve more years than Arrieta based on age.  Including Japan and the MLB postseason, Darvish has tallied 2,337 innings in his career, and he had Tommy John surgery in March 2015.  Including college and the MLB postseason, Arrieta is at 1,910 2/3.  Does this difference of 426 1/3 innings, thrown under many different stress levels, actually matter in terms of injury risk?  I have no idea, but the respective agents will make a few claims.  In the end, though, it’s just a bidding war.  Teams bid on both pitchers until the agents decide they’re unlikely to do better, and then a deal is made.
    • “It appears a four or five-year deal is expected” for free agent righty Alex Cobb, writes Levine.  Cobb had Tommy John surgery in May of 2015, and has just over 700 innings in his pro career.  A week ago, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports wrote that Cobb “likely sees Mike Leake ($80 million, five years) as a comp and is thought to have been asking for about $20 million a year.”  However, Levine wrote yesterday that “Dan Horwits, Cobb’s agent, has denied a report that the Cobb camp was asking for $20 million annually.”  Though we went with four years and $48MM in our early November predictions, I’d certainly take the over on the average annual value in light of the Chatwood contract.  At the time, I was looking at Brandon McCarthy’s four-year, $48MM deal with the Dodgers from three years ago, but it’s fair to say the market has moved since then on this type of pitcher.
    • Here on December 28th, the top four starting pitchers remain unsigned: Darvish (Wasserman), Arrieta (Boras), Cobb (Beverly Hills Sports Council), and Lance Lynn (Excel Sports Management).  As the process drags into January, it will be interesting to see if any of the four have to settle for a bargain deal.  The current free agency game of chicken between teams and agents has no recent precedent.
    Cubs Don't Appear Likey To Enter "Steep Bidding War" For Yu Darvish Or Jake Arrieta Sun, 24 Dec 2017 04:31:48 +0000
  • As far as free agent right-handers go, the Cubs have shown more interest this offseason in adding Yu Darvish than re-signing Jake Arrieta. Regardless, the club doesn’t appear likely to engage in “a steep bidding war” for either, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. And while the 31-year-old Darvish may land the bigger contract this winter, Wittenmyer argues that the decorated Arrieta – who’s five months older – could end up as the better bet.
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    Anthony Bass Agrees To Contract With Cubs Sat, 23 Dec 2017 04:09:21 +0000
  • Right-hander Anthony Bass announced (on Twitter) that he’s latched on with the Cubs. Assuming it’s a minor league pact — the Cubs themselves have yet to announce the signing — he’ll head to Spring Training and vie for a job in the ’pen. Bass was hit hard in 5 2/3 frames with the Rangers last year — his first MLB action since 2015 after spending the 2016 campaign pitching in Japan. Bass had a 4.14 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 75 1/3 Triple-A innings with Texas last year and has experience both as a starter and a reliever.
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    Orioles Do Not Expect To Trade Manny Machado Thu, 21 Dec 2017 18:24:30 +0000 With no sufficient bid emerging, the Orioles are now indicating to interested organizations that star third baseman Manny Machado “is staying put,” according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter links). That could yet change if a big new offer comes in the door, but it seems that Baltimore will no longer actively shop the pending free agent.

    On the one hand, then, this news isn’t that impactful. The club had indicated it was nearing the quitting point on active trade talks after prior reports made clear that the team would move on to other plans if its needs weren’t met. Teams that want to land the youthful star know they need to come with a significant package of talent to get something done. Baltimore has expressed a need to get back two quality, controllable starters to make a deal, and Roch Kubatko of’s report from this morning suggests the asking price remains the same.

    On the other, it’s an important moment for the O’s offseason strategy. With Zach Britton’s Achilles injury also seemingly taking the club’s best relievers (Britton and Brad Brach) out of trade consideration, it seems the organization will largely maintain its existing core and go out looking to add starters in other ways. With at least two rotation pieces still on the wish list, and no interest in chasing the market for the best-available arms, the Orioles front office will need to work hard to find value.

    That said, the rotation market has not moved much at all to this point, so there are plenty of options still out there. Whether or not the slow free agent action will lead to any particular number of bargains remains to be seen, but executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette is certainly no stranger to waiting out late opportunities.

    Barring a big change in the interest levels from other teams, Machado will evidently play out his original control rights in Baltimore before reaching free agency after the 2018 season. The sides will still need to work out a final-season salary — MLBTR projects a hefty $17.3MM arbitration pay-out — but there’s little reason to think at this point that an extension will realistically be considered.

    Still, it’s wise not to rule things out so long as there’s still work to be done in the winter. An extension or trade would surprise at this point, but both are hypothetically just as plausible as ever.

    Interestingly, should trade talks get moving again, Kubatko notes that the Cubs and Orioles discussed a variety of notable names. While there’s no reason to think all three Chicago players would have been included in the same deal, Addison Russell, Albert Almora, and Mike Montgomery all came up in chatter.

    Minor MLB Transactions: 12/21/17 Thu, 21 Dec 2017 17:50:40 +0000 We’ll cover the day’s minor moves in this post:

    • The Cubs have re-signed catcher Taylor Davis, MLBTR has learned. The 28-year-old was non-tendered after a season in which he received his first MLB call-up, staying long enough to pick up his first few base knocks but not to put down a meaningful track record. Davis strode to the Triple-A plate 406 times in 2017, producing a .297/.357/.429 batting line with six home runs. Notably, he continued to exhibit strong plate discipline and contact ability, striking out just 45 times while drawing 37 walks.

    Earlier Updates

    • Indians have agreed to a deal with right-hander Lisalverto Bonilla, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). The 27-year-old struggled badly in his ten MLB appearances last year with the Reds, working to a 8.10 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 while serving up eight long balls in 36 2/3 innings. He did generate a useful 11.8% swinging-strike rate, though, and has typically drawn a fair number of grounders in the minors.
    • The Nationals reached a minor-league pact with righty Chris Smith, MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweets. He gets an invitation to participate on the majors side of camp next spring. Smith, 29, got a brief taste of the majors last year with the Blue Jays, showing a 93.9 mph average four-seamer. He spent most of the year at Triple-A, where he worked to a 5.40 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9, but Smith has recorded much higher strikeout rates in the upper minors in the past.
    • Lefty Hunter Cervenka was outrighted to Triple-A by the Marlins after clearing waivers. He had been removed from the 40-man roster recently as the organization continues to tweak its mix of MLB assets. Cervenka spent most of 2017 at the Triple-A level, where he pitched to a 4.58 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9. That hefty walk rate has long been a problem for Cervenka, who’ll soon turn 28.
    • The Tigers announced a series of minors signings today. Lefty Will Lamb, infielder Ronny Rodriguez, and outfielders Jason Krizan and Kenny Wilson are all joining the Detroit organization, with Krizan and Rodriguez also taking spring invites. Lamb, 27, has struggled to a 6.06 ERA in 120 1/3 career Triple-A frames, but owns a 2.28 ERA in 90 2/3 innings at the penultimate level of the minors. The 25-year-old Rodriguez brings some infield versatility and pop to the table; he hit .291/.324/.454 with 17 home runs in 483 plate appearances last year at the Indians’ top affiliate. Krizan, 28, will return for his eighth year in the Detroit system; in 2017, he hit .281/.351/.417 in 480 upper-minors plate appearances. Wilson, who’ll soon turn 28 as well, is a speed-and-defense type who has not yet hit enough to earn his way into the big leagues.
    Cubs Reportedly Still Involved In Talks For Machado Wed, 20 Dec 2017 14:43:23 +0000
  • Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago tweets that both the Cubs and the White Sox are still involved in conversations with the Orioles regarding Machado. The Cubs are stacked with infield options, though none of their shortstop options come with a track record as impressive as that of Machado. The White Sox, meanwhile, reportedly declined to include their top-ranked prospects in their initial offer to the Orioles. It doesn’t seem prudent for the rebuilding South Siders to mortgage much of their future to acquire one year of Machado when they’re not expected to contend for the division in 2018.
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    Poll: Should The Cubs Sign Yu Darvish? Tue, 19 Dec 2017 06:13:05 +0000 It’s obvious now that the Cubs have more than a passing interest in free agent righty Yu Darvish, who the team’s top brass met with today in Texas. As Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic writes, it seems the growing likelihood of a match is the result more of market development than the pre-winter intentions of the Chicago organization.

    The connection is real, then, but its consummation is hardly a fait accompli. It’s a good time to stop and take the temperature of the MLBTR readership on the subject with a poll.

    It doesn’t take much explanation to establish the fit. Darvish is the top free agent starter, in MLBTR’s collective estimation. While the Cubs have added Tyler Chatwood to a staff that’s fronted by Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana, the club would like to add another high-quality arm to push Mike Montgomery into the bullpen (or out via trade). The club seems to have payroll space left to work with.

    In one view, then, it’s simple: of course the Cubs should pursue Darvish. That said, if it’s circumstances driving the interest — say, Darvish’s interest levels and the still-lofty asking price of other top free agents like Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb — then we have to bear in mind all the more that price will matter. It’s not as if the rest of the market will sit back and allow the Cubs to swoop in and make a deal; a few other teams, at least, have been cited as having ongoing interest.

    So, rather than a simple yes/no question, I thought it’d be more interesting to see the circumstances under which folks believe a match would be sensible here for the Cubs. Darvish makes any team better, but perhaps you think he’s not as good as other options or that the team should prioritize other areas altogether. Or, maybe you think the expected contract price (something approaching or even exceeding Lester’s contract) is just too steep, but that Darvish would be a great add if he can be acquired for something below that rate. (Poll link for app users.)

    Cubs To Meet With Yu Darvish Mon, 18 Dec 2017 22:28:33 +0000 MONDAY: While the Cubs are evidently still looking at a number of rotation options, the interest in Darvish appears to be serious. Top Chicago execs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are meeting with Darvish and his reps in Texas, according to Bruce Levine of (Twitter link) and Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter).

    An in-person chat hardly suggests a deal is inevitable or even likely. But it’s a definite step beyond internal discussions or swapping texts with an agent. At the same time, to this point all indications have been that the Cubs are looking for the right price among a field of possibilities, with trade options and other free agents also in play.

    SATURDAY: The Cubs have been very active on the pitching market this winter, and now they’re looking at the top free agent arm available. The club has interest in right-hander Yu Darvish, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. He’d be the fifth pitcher the Cubs have signed this offseason, joining two starters (Tyler Chatwood and Drew Smyly) and a pair of relievers (Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek).

    As MLBTR’s No. 1-ranked free agent (notably, Tim Dierkes & Co. forecast Darvish to the Cubs entering the offseason), the 31-year-old would require a far bigger commitment than anyone else Chicago has added in recent weeks. For a lofty price, Darvish would provide the back-to-back National League Central champions with a replacement for fellow free agent Jake Arrieta at the front of their rotation, filling out a starting quintet that would also include Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester and Chatwood. It’s worth noting that Smyly might not pitch at all in 2018, having undergone Tommy John surgery last year, while Mike Montgomery would likely slot in as a reliever (to his chagrin, it seems).

    Darvish, who debuted with the Rangers in 2012 and underwent a Tommy John procedure two years later, has pitched to a 3.42 ERA/3.30 FIP combination and logged 11.04 K/9 against 3.32 BB/9 across 832 1/3 major league innings. He ended last year with the Dodgers, who acquired him at the trade deadline, and mostly performed well. Darvish even earned one of the Dodgers’ four wins over the Cubs in a five-game National League Championship Series, tossing 6 1/3 frames of one-run, six-hit ball and notching seven strikeouts against one walk in Game 3. While Darvish struggled mightily in two World Series losses to Houston, including in Game 7, it’s up in the air whether that will tamp down his earning power to any noticeable extent (if at all).

    Because Darvish was part of a midseason trade, he was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer after the conclusion of the campaign. Consequently, the team that signs him won’t have to surrender draft-pick compensation in the process. That’s not the case with fellow free agent righty Alex Cobb, who rejected a QO from the Rays and whom the Cubs were aggressively courting last weekend. But it seems the Cubs cooled on Cobb during this week’s Winter Meetings, where they found his asking price “prohibitive,” Levine reports.

    Cubs Notes: SP Search, Ohtani Sun, 17 Dec 2017 22:51:56 +0000
  • While the Cubs “are kicking the tires of every free-agent starter” as they look for a top-of-the-rotation arm, they’re unwilling to meet any of their asking prices as of now, Bob Nightengale of USA Today relays (Twitter link). Of the best starters available – Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn – the latter is the only one who hasn’t drawn reported interest from the Cubs this offseason. Although, one could infer from Nightengale’s tweet that the Cubs have at least given the longtime Cardinal some consideration.
  • Speaking of the Cubs’ pitching search, they were in the thick of the Shohei Ohtani derby earlier this month before he signed with the Angels. Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks told Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago that he was involved in the team’s recruiting pitch to Ohtani. The Cubs had Hendricks join them in their Los Angeles meeting with Ohtani because his low-key demeanor is similar to the Japanese superstar’s, per Levine. “It was very humbling and pretty cool to be invited,” Hendricks said. “It was great to be in the room and see the process. He is such a great talent, and it was enjoyable to see what type of guy he is — very down to earth and a humble guy. Even with the language barrier, Theo let me know what his personality was like. He was all baseball all of the time. We have some similarities, so it was fun to go there and talk baseball with him.”
  • ]]>
    Cubs Sign Steve Cishek Sat, 16 Dec 2017 18:46:42 +0000 Dec. 16: The Cubs have announced the signing. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports that the two-year deal is worth $13MM. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish adds that the deal includes up to $1MM in performance escalators based on appearances.

    Dec. 14: The Cubs have agreed to terms with righty Steve Cishek, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Once he passes a physical, the Jet Sports Management client is expected to receive a two-year deal worth somewhere in the range of $12MM to $14MM, per’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter).

    Aug 19, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Steve Cishek (33) throws a pitch during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

    Cishek, 31, has had a few ups and downs at times in recent years and has played with four organizations in the past three seasons. For the most part, though, he has continued to function as a quality setup option.

    In the 2017 campaign, Cishek opened with the Mariners and ended up moving to the Rays via mid-season trade. With an excellent push down the stretch in Tampa Bay, he ended the season with 44 2/3 innings of 2.01 ERA ball and 8.3 K/9 with 2.8 BB/9. As usual, Cishek was tough to square up; he permitted just 26 base hits and three total home runs on the season.

    Those results came despite a notable velocity drop from Cishek, who delivered his two-seam fastball at less than 91 mph for the first time in his career. His slider came in eight ticks slower than it did in his debut season, continuing a trend, though it also gained horizontal movement.

    The sidearming Cishek will offer a different look out of a re-worked Cubs pen. He joins Brandon Morrow as multi-year free agent additions for Chicago thus far. It still seems likely the organization will look for additional pieces over the coming weeks.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Cubs, Indians Have Discussed Potential Danny Salazar Trade Wed, 13 Dec 2017 13:16:47 +0000 According to Bruce Levine of CBS Sports Chicago, the Cubs and Indians have “had trade talk conversations,” and right-hander Danny Salazar’s name has come up. The Indians are reportedly asking for left-handed hitting in exchange. Levine adds that there is “nothing close at this time.”

    That the Indians are willing to entertain trade scenarios involving Salazar is a bit unexpected, but makes some sense considering the depth of the team’s rotation and the 2017 emergence of Mike Clevinger as a solid starter. With Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer also in the fold, the Indians are one of very few MLB teams who have an abundance of viable major league starters.

    Perhaps the bigger surprise is that the Indians are asking for lefty hitters in exchange. Based on a quick glance at the Tribe’s roster, one might guess that the Tribe would want players who hit from the right side of the plate. Their projected Opening Day lineup for 2018 (via Roster Resource) includes six players capable of hitting left-handed (switch-hitters Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez among them), while their righty options beyond Edwin Encarnacion haven’t proven themselves to be above-average hitters. If the Indians are indeed looking for a left-handed hitter, perhaps it’s an indication that trade talks for Jason Kipnis are in the more advanced stages, though that’s purely my own speculation.

    It’s unclear whether the talks for Salazar came before or after the recent signing of Drew Smyly, who carries both similar upside and similar injury risk. If they came (or continued) after the Smyly signing, one might wonder whether the Cubs intend to use one of Salazar or Smyly as a bullpen arm; four rotation spots would already seem to be filled by Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana and the newly-signed Tyler Chatwood. Of course, Chicago might simply be taking a page out of the 2017 Dodgers’ book; L.A. patched together a rotation of oft-injured, high-upside starters who bounced between the rotation and the DL over the course of the season.

    As for Salazar, he carries tremendous upside. The right-handed fireballer has been known to hit the high nineties on the radar gun, even touching 100 on some occasions throughout his career. He mixes in a split change which ESPN’s Mark Simon once rated as the best pitch in MLB. Salazar also routinely carries one of the best strikeout rates in baseball, and though his career 3.82 ERA doesn’t jump off the page, his 3.42 career xFIP suggests he’s been quite a bit better than that number would indicate.

    Consistency and health are what hold Salazar back the most. Although he’s shown flashes of utter dominance (his first five starts back from the DL this past season come to mind), he’s never proven he can sustain his success over extended stretched of the season. As for his health, the righty has only topped 140 innings once during his major league career. He’s been through Tommy John surgery in the past, and has experienced a variety of elbow and shoulder issues in recent years.

    That being said, his upside is tremendous, and if Salazar is truly available, I’d expect the Indians will field a lot of calls on him. In particular, it seems likely that the clubs interested in Matt Harvey would want to reach out to Cleveland’s front office.

    Mike Montgomery May Prefer Starting Opportunity With Other Team Wed, 13 Dec 2017 05:47:42 +0000 Left-hander Mike Montgomery wants to be a starting pitcher, and would like that opportunity with another team if there isn’t a spot for him in the Cubs’ rotation, sources close to Montgomery tell The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal.  Montgomery hasn’t told the Cubs about any desire to be traded, though he has told the team about his preference to start.  The 28-year-old has been a valuable swingman for Chicago since he was acquired in a trade from the Mariners in July 2016, and the team has been so actively looking for starting pitching that it seems Montgomery’s role won’t change in 2018.  Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times and other media that Rosenthal’s report “kind of caught me by surprise….There hasn’t been any dialogue that should have spurred a report like that.  You just don’t know where it comes from.  But sometimes that happens.  Mike’s a great teammate.”  Montgomery is a valuable asset with four remaining years of team control, though he could also become a big trade chip for the Cubs if they did consider moving him.

    Cubs Sign Drew Smyly Wed, 13 Dec 2017 02:46:49 +0000 8:46pm: The contract breaks down as a $3MM salary for Smyly in 2018, then $7MM in 2019, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter).  The latter season contains $6MM in incentives based on Smyly being a starter, with the other bonuses coming if he works as a reliever.

    8:01pm: The Cubs have signed left-hander Drew Smyly to a two-year deal, the team announced.  Financial terms weren’t released, though The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that Smyly will earn $10MM in guaranteed money, with more than $7MM also available in incentives.  Smyly is represented by Frontline.

    Smyly underwent Tommy John surgery last June, and is probably unlikely to pitch in 2018 given the procedure’s usual 12-15 month recovery timeframe.  This led the Mariners to non-tender Smyly rather than pay the southpaw a projected $6.85MM arbitration salary in 2018.  Smyly was entering his final year of arb-eligibility, so this deal with the Cubs will also cover his first free agent season.

    The two-year commitment represents a lottery ticket for Chicago, who have the resources to take a flier on a still-promising 28-year-old in the hopes that Smyly can be healthy and ready to contribute in 2019.  Cubs manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey are familiar faces for Smyly from his time with the Rays from 2014-16.

    Smyly has a 3.74 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 3.43 K/BB rate over 570 1/3 career innings with the Tigers and Rays.  He came to Tampa as part of the blockbuster deal that sent David Price to Detroit at the 2014 trade deadline, and Smyly was also involved in a notable trade last January, going to Seattle for a three-player package that included Mallex Smith.  Unfortunately for the M’s, Smyly ended up never throwing a pitch in their uniform, as he battled elbow problems all season long before finally succumbing to the TJ surgery.

    Cubs Sign Brandon Morrow Wed, 13 Dec 2017 01:59:07 +0000 TODAY: The Cubs have officially announced the signing.

    SUNDAY: The Cubs have reportedly agreed to a contract with free agent reliever Brandon Morrow, pending physical. Morrow, a Wasserman client, will be guaranteed two years and $21MM if the contract is finalized. He’ll earn $9MM apiece in each season along with a $3MM buyout or a $12MM vesting option for the 2020 season.

    Chicago had a clear need in the late-inning mix, as the team has cut ties with Hector Rondon and has not (at least to this point) re-signed any of Wade Davis, Brian Duensing or Koji Uehara. Those four were among the relievers Chicago relied on the most last season, leaving the club in clear need of bullpen help to complement top holdovers Carl Edwards Jr., Pedro Strop, Mike Montgomery and Justin Wilson. Consequently, in addition to Morrow, the Cubs are likely to acquire one other late-inning reliever, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (Twitter link).

    Brandon Morrow [RELATED: Updated Cubs Depth Chart]

    The 33-year-old Morrow will provide a significant boost to the Cubs’ relief corps if last season is any indication. In his first full campaign as a reliever, the former Mariners, Blue Jays and Padres starter put past shoulder issues behind him to toss 43 2/3 innings with the National League-winning Dodgers and pitch to a 2.06 ERA, also notching 10.31 K/9 against 1.85 BB/9 and a 45 percent groundball rate. Moreover, the right-hander finished third among relievers with 40-plus innings in infield fly rate (20.6 percent) and 18th in swinging-strike percentage (16.0).

    Statistically, the hard-throwing Morrow wasn’t quite as successful during the Dodgers’ run to the World Series as he was in the regular season, yielding six earned runs in 13 2/3 innings, but four of those came in one disastrous appearance in Game 5 of the Fall Classic. He was highly effective otherwise – including when he held the Cubs scoreless over 4 2/3, one-hit, seven-strikeout innings in the National League Championship Series – and became the second hurler in major league history to pitch all seven games of the World Series.

    Morrow’s workload in last season’s playoffs, in which the Dodgers deployed him in an eye-popping 14 of 15 games, and injury history stand out as obvious concerns, but his 2017 dominance nonetheless has him in position to secure a lucrative contract. That’s quite a change from a year ago when Morrow had to settle for a minor league pact in late January.

    Bruce Levine of first reported the sides were headed toward agreement (Twitter link). Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweeted details on the deal structure, with Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeting financial parameters. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the full deal structure.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Cubs Notes: Machado, Pitching, Chatwood Tue, 12 Dec 2017 23:45:09 +0000 Some items from Wrigleyville…

    • The Cubs aren’t one of the teams that have shown early interest in trading for Manny Machado,’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).  Kris Bryant is obviously locked in at third base, though with Machado reportedly looking to return to shortstop, there’s at least some room to imagine Machado playing at the Friendly Confines if the Cubs were willing to move Addison Russell.  Trading significant assets for just one year of Machado (who is a free agent after 2018) doesn’t seem to fit the Cubs’ long-term plans, however, especially since the team has already moved several other young prospects in other trades over the last two years.
    • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer believes his team will add at least one more pitcher before the Winter Meetings are over,’s Jesse Rogers reports.  Chicago has been linked to a wide array of starters and relievers this offseason, with Tyler Chatwood and Brandon Morrow already joining the roster.
    • Speaking of Chatwood, the Baseball Writers Association Of America is considering making him ineligible for NL Cy Young Award voting due to a clause in his contract, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.  If Chatwood receive even one vote for the Cy Young Award in either 2018 or 2019, his 2020 salary will rise from $13MM to $15MM; a single Cy Young vote in both seasons will boost Chatwood’s 2020 figure to $17MM.  This creates a conflict of interest for writers covering Chatwood, and the BBWAA, the league and the players’ union had an unspoken agreement that such clauses would no longer be used in player contracts.  The last such contract to include such a clause was Curt Schilling’s deal with the Red Sox in 2007, which was overseen by then-Red Sox GM and now Cubs president of baseball ops Theo Epstein.
    Position Player Rumblings: Padres, Moose, Walker, Napoli, Cards, D-Backs Tue, 12 Dec 2017 18:49:37 +0000 The Padres could play a major role in the market over the next few days, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes on Twitter. Indeed, the organization has already made one interesting move today. San Diego is looking around for a controllable shortstop and could conceivably match up with the Cubs, Passan suggests. (From an outside perspective, it seems ace reliever Brad Hand would be the most likely Padres piece to pique Chicago’s interest, but that’s just speculation.) Also, the team’s interest in free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer is seemingly increasingly serious. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets that the Friars are “strongly in [the] mix” for Hosmer, while Passan says the sides have gained “traction” in discussions.

    Here’s more from the position-player side of the market:

    • At this point, at least, the Braves are not engaged on the market for third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (via Twitter). Atlanta does have interest in improving at the hot corner, but it seems that new GM Alex Anthopoulos is not all that intrigued by the powerful but OBP-challenged Moustakas. Of course, there’s still time for the market to develop.
    • Free agent second baseman Neil Walker is still looking for a four-year deal, according to Heyman (via Twitter). That seems like a lofty ask, though, for a 32-year-old player on a market full of possibilities at second. Walker has been a steady producer, to be sure, and finished with a strong .267/.409/.433 run with the Brewers, but with so many other options out there it seems more likely he’ll end up settling for a two or three-year guarantee.
    • The Mets have some interest in free agent Mike Napoli, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Indeed, the club’s new skipper, Mickey Callaway, has reached out to Napoli to discuss the possibility. (The two share a connection from the Indians.) Presumably, Napoli would share time with Dominic Smith at first base, with the organization arranging a natural platoon pairing and then allowing things to play out based upon performance.
    • As the Cardinals continue to seek ways to upgrade after missing on Giancarlo Stanton, they have been scanning the market for alternatives. The team’s preference, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, is to “turn two of their excess outfielders into one newcomer.” That would seemingly represent a fairly clean way to improve the roster, though of course it will likely also require a rather particular trade partner. It is not difficult to imagine such a team also wishing to receive a sweetener in exchange for giving up a premium asset for volume. There are plenty more details and quotes from the Cards front office in the post.
    • The Diamondbacks have been contacted by other organizations about the availability of their middle infielders, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Arizona certainly has quite some volume of MLB-level options up the middle, though it’s also not entirely clear at this point just which players (if any) have firmly secured places in the club’s long-term plans. It’s possible that market demand could help dictate the decisonmaking process, too, as the organization seeks ways to navigate a tricky payroll situation. Though none of the team’s top middle infielders are very costly, that very feature might allow the D-Backs to bring back equally affordable pieces that meet needs or perhaps structure a package deal to shed other salary. Chris Owings ($3.8MM arb projection) has only two years of control left, while Nick Ahmed ($1.1MM) has three and Daniel Descalso will hit the open market after earning $2MM in 2018. Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury are still shy of arbitration.
    Pitching Market Rumblings: Brewers, Rays, Duffy, Nicasio, Arrieta Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:28:06 +0000 Starting pitching is in the news this morning, with several notable names being discussed. But there are a whole lot of other moving pieces out there. Let’s run down the latest chatter on the pitching market:

    • The Brewers have chatted with the Rays about their potential rotation trade pieces, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter), who cautions that there’s no indication to this point that “any traction was made.” It’s not immediately clear which Tampa Bay hurlers have piqued the interest of the Milwaukee front office, though surely they’d have the trade pieces necessary to swing a deal for just about anyone. Chris Archer remains the big name to watch, though we don’t yet know whether he’s truly available. The Brewers could conceivably have interest in other pitchers, too, including veteran Jake Odorizzi, but it’s all speculation at this stage.
    • Meanwhile, the Brewers are said to have interest in righty Jesse Chavez, Haudricourt also tweets. We heard yesterday the veteran swingman was likely to find a new home this week.
    • Veteran closer Fernando Rodney has met with the Rangers and Twins, per’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter) and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). It’s not clear at this point how serious the interest is, though Rodney might conceivably be an option for either club, both of which have largely unsettled ninth-inning plans.
    • Another interesting possibility on the rotation market is Royals lefty Danny Duffy. He has drawn interest from the Cubs, per Robert Murray of Fan Rag. Indeed, K.C. has been contacted by rivals on Duffy and a few other notably interesting assets,’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. It’s entirely unclear at this point what kinds of scenarios might be pondered on Duffy, but the Royals will surely want a significant return for a player they only recently extended. His contract runs through 2021 and promises him $60MM. While a DUI arrest and elbow surgery introduce some uncertainty into the situation, from a pure on-field perspective Duffy remains a valuable asset as he nears his 29th birthday.
    • The Mets are among the organizations with interest in free agent righty Juan Nicasio, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (via Twitter). The 31-year-old pitched quite well throughout 2017, both before and after an odd series of August transactions. He ended the year with a 2.61 ERA over 72 1/3 innings, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
    • We’ve heard some possibility that the Nationals could have interest in free agent righty Jake Arrieta, and’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that agent Scott Boras is working to sell that potential fit to the team’s ownership. Then again, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post characterizes the Nationals’ interest as “tepid” in a tweet. The division-rival Phillies are reportedly also a possibility, along with several other teams, as we covered this morning. Given that the Nats have an opening in their rotation, it isn’t at all surprising to hear that Boras is pushing for it to be filled by Arrieta; after all, his connection to the organization’s ownership is quite well-established by this point. Of course, adding yet another high-priced starter would carry some pretty notable risk for the organization, so it stands to reason that the club will explore other possibilities before deciding whether to join the pursuit of the 31-year-old Arrieta. Crasnick also takes a broader look at Arrieta’s still-developing market, including an extensive examination of Boras’s marketing strategy.
    • While there is action at the top of the pitching market, the Blue Jays seem to be taking a patient approach, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes. While GM Ross Atkins says there’s a lack of depth in the rotation market, he also has indicated no interest in pushing hard to strike a deal. It seems the organization’s inclination remains to seek value in bolstering the rotation depth.
    • For the Diamondbacks, meanwhile, the team may at least be preparing to consider deals involving some fairly surprising players. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic runs down the team’s options for trade candidates who might free up some payroll space and enable the team to achieve future value. At the top of the list are center fielder A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin. Meanwhile, the D-Backs are certainly still looking to field a competitor in the near term as well. They are one team with some level of interest in reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, according to Murray. Oh was not able to match his compelling MLB debut season in 2017, but still posted 8.2 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 while carrying a 4.10 ERA over 59 1/3 innings.
    Cubs Notes: Epstein, Davis, Bullpen, Schwarber, Arrieta, Ohtani, Stanton Tue, 12 Dec 2017 08:37:47 +0000 Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein met with reporters (including The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma) on Monday to discuss a number of hot stove-related subjects.  The highlights…

    • Epstein alluded to the team’s agreement with Brandon Morrow without officially making a confirmation, saying the Cubs were “pretty close” to the signing.  The pitcher in question was described as someone the Cubs would be “comfortable” using as a closer, though “he’s the type of team player that would be willing to take any role depending on what the rest of the team looks like.”
    • In that vein, the Cubs could acquire a more established closer, and a reunion with Wade Davis is still a possibility.  Epstein said he planned to meet with Davis’ agent either during the Winter Meetings or just after.  Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweeted earlier today that the Cubs were open to bringing Davis back if an “affordable” deal could be worked out.  MLBTR predicted Davis for a four-year, $60MM free agent contract this winter, which might fall outside of the Cubs’ comfort zone if they can land a less-pricey arm to further reinforce their bullpen.
    • Sharma reports that free agents Bryan Shaw, Anthony Swarzak, and Jake McGee are also on the Cubs’ radar as they continue their wide-ranging search for bullpen help.
    • Epstein downplayed any Kyle Schwarber trade rumors, saying that “he’s always been someone that teams have had an interest in, I guess.  But we have probably the most interest.”  Reports from earlier this week identified the Red Sox as a team interested in the young slugger.
    • The Cubs will stay in touch with Scott Boras about Jake Arrieta in case there’s any path to the free agent righty returning to Wrigley Field.  It has been widely assumed that Arrieta would be signing elsewhere this winter, as the Cubs have already signed Tyler Chatwood to join Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, and Jose Quintana in the rotation, and have been heavily linked to Alex Cobb.  Still, given the number of other teams pursuing Cobb, it makes sense that Chicago would remain open to Arrieta, even if his price tag would be significantly higher.
    • Of course, the Cubs almost made another big rotation splash as they were one of the seven finalists for Shohei Ohtani’s services.  Epstein was proud of his team’s presentation to Ohtani and came away impressed by how the Japanese star handled himself in meetings with Cubs officials.  Even getting into the final seven was an accomplishment in Epstein’s eyes, as the Cubs were neither a West Coast team or an AL team that could offer Ohtani DH at-bats.
    • Chicago was also one of the four teams Giancarlo Stanton would’ve waived his no-trade clause to join, though it doesn’t seem talks got very far between the Cubs and Marlins before Stanton was dealt to the Yankees.  “There wasn’t much interaction given the makeup of our roster, our future payroll commitments and some plans that we have,” Epstein said.  “Great player and great opportunity, but not necessarily the right one for us at the time.”
    Cubs Made Offer To Luke Gregerson Tue, 12 Dec 2017 08:03:51 +0000 Before agreeing to a deal with the Cardinals, Luke Gregerson also received an offer from the Cubs, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Chicago has already landed Brandon Morrow and has been aggressively looking at several other relief options this winter, so it isn’t surprising that Gregerson was yet another name on their list of targets.  The Cardinals are also continuing to scour the reliever market, though Goold reports that they didn’t have interest in veteran Pat Neshek, who has agreed to a new deal with the Phillies.

    Chris Archer Drawing Plenty Of Interest Tue, 12 Dec 2017 05:17:24 +0000 Rays right-hander Chris Archer is drawing widespread interest early in the Winter Meetings, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Braves, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals and Cubs are some of the teams eyeing Archer, according to Topkin.

    Given that Archer’s one of the most valuable trade chips in the game, his popularity around the majors isn’t a surprise. He’d surely bring back a significant haul in a deal, thereby helping the Rays improve an already strong farm system, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be among the veterans the payroll-cutting club parts with this offseason. If the long-struggling Rays opt for a rebuild, which they may have to strongly consider in the wake of the division-rival Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, it could indeed bring about the end of the 29-year-old Archer’s tenure in Tampa Bay.

    Archer has been with the Rays since they acquired him from the Cubs – who, as mentioned, seem to want him back – in a 2011 trade centering on righty Matt Garza. He turned into a front-line starter in 2013, his first full major league season, and has pitched to a 3.63 ERA/3.46 FIP combination with 9.72 K/9 against 2.94 BB/9 in 967 career innings. Archer’s a workhorse, too, having made no fewer than 32 starts four years in a row.

    Archer’s now fresh off his third straight 200-inning season, in which he racked up 201 frames with an ERA (4.07) that doesn’t do justice to his performance. After all, the flamethrowing Archer finished behind only Chris Sale, Robbie Ray and the reigning Cy Young winners – Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber – in K/9 (11.15). He also walked a respectable 2.69 batters per nine and placed seventh among starters in swinging-strike rate (13.4 percent).

    Archer’s track record on the mound is clearly enticing, and the fact that his contract is among the league’s most team-friendly pacts significantly adds to his value. He’s controllable for the next four years for $34MM, including club options for 2020 and ’21. If the Rays do make an earnest bid to move him, then, it’s likely to spark a bidding war.

    Cardinals, Rockies “Aggressively Pursuing” Alex Colome; Mets Also Have Interest Mon, 11 Dec 2017 15:49:38 +0000 9:49am: The Mets and possibly also the Cubs are engaged on Colome, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. Unsurprisingly, it seems most teams with clear late-inning needs appear to have shown at least some level of interest in the youthful, controllable hurler.

    6:56am: The Cardinals and Rockies have their sights firmly set on Alex Colome. Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports that both teams are “aggressively pursuing” the Rays closer.

    Though the Cardinals signed Luke Gregerson to a one-year pact only yesterday, it seems they’re not done adding to a bullpen that saw former closer Trevor Rosenthal tear the UCL in his throwing elbow this past season and then watched Zach Duke, Juan Nicasio and Seung-Hwan Oh depart in free agency. Earlier this offseason, Jeff Todd mentioned Alex Colome as a potential trade target when he examined the Cardinals’ search for a closer. Notably, the Rays have room for improvement in left field, whereas the Cardinals have an abundance of young outfield talent.

    The Rockies have plenty of young players to offer as well, though their strength comes mostly in the form of starters. They are, of course, looking to replace closer Greg Holland. Holland signed a one-year pact with Colorado last offseason and had a strong bounce back season, saving 41 games for the Rockies. Ultimately, he rejected both his player option and a qualifying offer, leaving Colorado with a hole to fill in the back end of their bullpen.

    Colome will enter the 2018 season at the age of 29. He’s spent his entire career with the Rays, and though he came up as a starter, he transitioned to a relief role during the 2015 season. Early in the 2016 season, Colome took over as Tampa Bay’s closer and has been solid for them ever since. The right-hander led all of baseball with 47 saves last season, and sports a 2.64 ERA to go with a 48.4% ground ball rate and 9.43 K/9 since taking over the closer role. Colome projects to earn $5.5MM in arbitration this year, and comes with two more years of team control beyond that.

    Cubs Among Teams Pursuing Alex Cobb Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:17:42 +0000 SUNDAY: Along with the Cubs, count the Rangers, Yankees, Blue Jays and Orioles among teams interested in Cobb, according to FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link).

    SATURDAY: The Cubs added right-hander Tyler Chatwood on a three-year, $38MM guarantee this week, but another sizable investment for their rotation could be on the way. With the Winter Meetings nearing, they’re making a “strong push” to sign free agent righty Alex Cobb, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. Their hope is to reach a deal with Cobb prior to Monday, which would enable them to turn their focus elsewhere during the meetings and prevent other suitors from aggressively pursuing the 30-year-old.

    Cobb going to the North Side of Chicago has frequently come up as a possibility since last season ended, in part because of his connection to multiple members of the Cubs’ coaching staff. He played under manager Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay from 2011-14 and was under the tutelage of pitching coach Jim Hickey with the Rays through last season. Hickey, whom the Cubs hired in October, has been Cobb’s sole pitching coach since he debuted in 2011. Cobb spoke glowingly of those two last month and said he’d be “very honored” to sign with the Cubs.

    While Cobb would be a risky signing, having undergone two serious procedures (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in 2011 and Tommy John surgery in 2015) during his career, he’s still poised to land one of the richest contracts on the open market this winter. Across 700 major league innings, including a career-high 179 1/3 last season, Cobb has pitched to a 3.50 ERA with 7.33 K/9, 2.62 BB/9 and a 54 percent groundball rate. Some of his numbers took a dip in 2017 (6.42 K/9, 47.8 percent grounder rate) – his first full year back from Tommy John surgery – though his velocity looked normal and he managed a quality 3.66 ERA/4.16 FIP, also recording a career-best walk rate (2.21 per nine).

    Along with guaranteeing a notable sum to Cobb, who rejected the Rays’ $17.4MM qualifying offer, the Cubs would have to surrender their second-highest draft pick in 2018 (No. 63 overall) and $500K in international bonus pool space to sign him. But that prospect clearly isn’t scaring off the Cubs, who will collect compensation if their own qualified free agents (starter Jake Arrieta and closer Wade Davis) depart. The Cubs are still interested in retaining those two, per Levine, but picking up Cobb would give them five capable starters (Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Chatwood are the others) and seemingly lessen the chances for an Arrieta re-up.

    Red Sox Interested In Kyle Schwarber Sun, 10 Dec 2017 14:23:55 +0000
  • The power-needy Red Sox have interest in Cubs left fielder Kyle Schwarber, according to Scott Lauber of, though he casts doubt on the idea of Chicago moving the 24-year-old. The Cubs’ front office has long been bullish on Schwarber, who’s coming off a disappointing season (granted, he did hit 30 home runs) but still under control for five more years. In the seemingly unlikely event the Cubs deal Schwarber to Boston, he’d be a candidate to slot in at first base/designated hitter.
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    NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers Sat, 09 Dec 2017 21:10:26 +0000 Though the Cardinals weren’t able to convince Giancarlo Stanton to waive his no-trade clause, they may yet be able to work out a trade with the Marlins. Specifically, rival execs say they expect the Redbirds to make a “legit pitch” for fellow outfielders Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweets. Crasnick describes a deal for Ozuna or Yelich as more of a “pure baseball trade” than a deal for Stanton, adding that he believes that’s more in the confines of St. Louis GM John Mozeliak’s comfort zone. While it would require a lot more in terms of prospects to land one of the Marlins’ remaining outfielders, previous negotiations for Stanton could potentially expedite trade talks. It stands to reason that the two teams should already be quite familiar with each others’ valuations on several Cardinals prospects. Furthermore, the Cardinals may have already evaluated avenues for what to do with Randal Grichuk or Stephen Piscotty in the event they are able to acquire a new outfielder. It will be interesting to see if anything unfolds between these two teams during the winter meetings.

    • The Cubs have their sights set on Rays pitchers Alex Colome and Chris Archer, Phil Rogers of reports with a tweet, though he acknowledges that getting both in one swoop would require a “monster return.” From my point of view, it seems difficult to imagine that the Cubs could put together a package worthy of Archer alone; their farm system is devoid of top 100 prospects following several promotions over the past few seasons, coupled with trades for players such as Wade Davis, Aroldis Chapman and Jose Quintana. Archer alone would require at least some players from the major league club. It’s tough to know whether giving up one or more of Ian Happ, Javier Baez or Kyle Schwarber (to name just a few examples) in exchange for pitching would significantly improve the major league team. The top three names in the Cubs’ farm system (according to MLB Pipeline) are right-handed pitchers Oscar de la Cruz, Jose Albertos and Adbert Alzolay.
    • Tom Haudricort of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel details some of Brewers GM David Stearns’ comments about the upcoming winter meetings. Last year, Stearns had no idea he’d gain enough traction in talks for Travis Shaw to actually complete a trade during the meetings. “You’re never really sure which one will be the one you get a foothold on,” Stearns said. “Last year, we were able to get that foothold in the Shaw talks and get a deal done.” Haudricort describes adding to a thin starting rotation as a “major priority” for Stearns this winter, noting that Jimmy Nelson might not be healthy in time for Opening Day. Beyond Chase Anderson, Junior Guerra and Zach Davies, there aren’t any definite fixtures in the rotation. Josh Hader performed well in the bullpen last year, but the notion of transitioning him back to a starting role remains simply a “topic of discussion.” Stearns notes that Hader’s role with the team will depend on how the offseason shakes out, as well as continued internal dialogue about how he fits best on the team. The only thing Stearns would commit to is that Hader will be in a “position to accumulate innings.” On the notion of that the Brewers could pursue big-ticket names like Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish, Stearns had the following comment: “Our market and our history here probably is a better indicator of the types of moves we’re seeking than some of the external speculation.”
    Cubs Sign Tyler Chatwood Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:35:42 +0000 6:35pm: Jon Heyman of FanRag passes along further details on Chatwood’s deal (Twitter links). He’ll earn $12.5MM apiece in each of the first two years and $13MM in the third.

    By operation of an escalator provision, that $13MM salary for 2020 will climb to $15MM if he earns an All-Star nod in each of the next two seasons or receives one Cy Young vote in either of those years. A single Cy Young vote in each of those two seasons would mean a $17MM salary for 2020. And Chatwood will also receive a $500K bonus if he’s traded.

    12:29pm: The exact number on the deal is a $38MM guarantee, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports (Twitter link).

    12:20pm: The Cubs announced on Thursday that they’ve agreed to a three-year contract with free agent right-hander Tyler Chatwood. The 27-year-old Chatwood, a client of Excel Sports Management, will receive “around $40MM” on the contract, according to’s Jon Morosi (Twitter link).

    Tyler Chatwood | Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

    Chatwood, who’ll turn 28 in a couple of weeks, was one of the youngest free agents on the market. It’s a significant payday for a player that has yet to experience sustained success at the big league level, but the right-hander was a popular free agent target due to a number of appealing secondary metrics including his velocity, ground-ball rate and spin rate. Chatwood posted a 4.69 ERA with 7.3 K/9 against 4.7 BB/9 in 147 2/3 innings with the Rockies this past season, though in addition to his age and promising peripherals, he’s long performed considerably better away from the hitters’ haven of Coors Field.

    In the past two years since returning from a second career Tommy John surgery, Chatwood has started 52 games (in addition to eight relief appearances) and totaled 305 2/3 innings with a 4.27 ERA. Those numbers don’t exactly leap out, but they also feature a dramatic home/road split: a 6.07 ERA and 21 homers allowed at Coors Field and a 2.57 ERA with 14 homers allowed on the road.

    As I noted when sorting through some free-agent starters by individual skill set, Chatwood represents the hardest-throwing starter on the market and also boasts the best ground-ball rate and one of the lowest hard-contact rates in free agency. He also posted the 29th-highest spin rate on his four-seam fastball and the fifth-best spin rate on his curveball, per Statcast (min. 100 of each pitch type).

    That said, the near-$13MM average annual value of the deal comes in well north of the three-year deal projected by MLBTR when ranking Chatwood 29th on our Top 50 list of the available free agents. The contract serves as a reminder that now, more than ever, teams are willing to look beyond traditional metrics like earned run average and beyond a player’s past performance and instead pay for projected output in the coming years.

    The Cubs have a clear need in the rotation with both Jake Arrieta and John Lackey departing via free agency. He’ll slot into the fourth spot in the rotation behind Jon Lester, Kyle Hendricks and Jose Quintana at present, though it still seems likely that Chicago will add another arm to help round out the starting five. As a finalist for Nippon Professional Baseball star Shohei Ohtani, the Cubs could find out in the very near future if he’ll be the final piece to that puzzle. If not, they’ll presumably hit the trade market and explore further free agent additions at next week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Market Chatter: Rays, Angels, Kintzler, Feliz Wed, 06 Dec 2017 15:51:05 +0000 In a series of analytical pieces, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times checks in on the Rays’ offseason in advance of the Winter Meetings. He explains that the club seems to have been slowed, in particular, by the as-yet-unresolved Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani situations. Topkin also analyzes the team’s options for dealing a starter, explaining that the team’s history suggests it’s quite likely that at least one arm will be on the move. He pegs Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi as the likeliest candidates to be dealt. He goes on to discuss the potential for a deal involving third baseman Evan Longoria, who’ll attain full no-trade rights early in the 2018 season, though it’s important to note that there is no clear indication as of yet that he’s on the block.

    Here are a few more notes on a slow-moving market for players that has only just begun to show signs of thawing:

    • The Angels are still keeping an eye on the market for corner infielders, Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweets, even as they continue to direct their immediate attention to Otani. Landing the Japanese star would presumably impact the organization’s plans regarding adding hitters, since he’d occupy some at-bats and perhaps force Albert Pujols to spend more time at first base — thus reducing the need for another corner option, particularly with C.J. Cron having been tendered a contract. Still, Carlos Santana remains an option, per the report. It’s worth noting, too, that Pujols is said to be trimming up and leaving the team with some optimism of a bounceback, Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group tweets.
    • As the Cubs look to bolster their late-inning mix after non-tendering Hector Rondon, they have made contact with Brandon Kintzler’s representatives, according to Morosi (via Twitter). The veteran groundball specialist might conceivably add a new element to the Chicago pen, though Morosi cautions talks have not advanced very far at this point. Kintzler has drawn fairly wide interest after a strong campaign with the Twins and Nationals, over which he turned in 71 1/3 innings of 3.03 ERA pitching.
    • Right-hander Neftali Feliz is hoping to show he’s healthy and throwing well in a bid to earn a bounceback opportunity, per a report from Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (Twitter link). The 29-year-old, who caught on with the Royals after being cut loose by the Brewers in the middle of the 2017 season, went in for a checkup from Dr. James Andrews but was reportedly cleared of any arm issues. He’s also set to hold an audition for an unnamed team today. Despite his rough results in his 46 innings in the most recent campaign — a 5.48 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 — Feliz showed a typically strong 96.5 mph fastball and 11.6% swinging-strike rate that matches his career average.
    Cubs Interested In Mike Minor Mon, 04 Dec 2017 20:28:26 +0000
  • Mike Minor is one of the most popular free agents of the offseason, and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription required/recommended) that the Cubs are eyeing him as a potential option for the ninth inning. Chicago has been tied to a number of relievers already this offseason, including Brandon Morrow and Addison Reed, and it seems likely that they’ll pursue multiple ’pen arms after non-tendering Hector Rondon and seeing Wade Davis, Brian Dunesing and Koji Uehara hit free agency.
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    Shohei Ohtani Plans To Meet With Seven Teams Mon, 04 Dec 2017 13:34:05 +0000 Shohei Ohtani has already narrowed his list of potential landing spots to seven team, according to multiple reporters (with Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM the first to tweet the final seven). Only the Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Padres, Mariners, Rangers and Cubs will receive meetings with Ohtani. While Ohtani has three weeks to negotiate with teams, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Ohtani could make a decision well before that point, noting that he could be introduced by his new club at next week’s Winter Meetings.

    Of the remaining teams in the fold, the Rangers still have the most money to offer Ohtani, at $3.535MM, though his signing bonus seems increasingly to be a secondary consideration in where he ultimately signs, especially after last week’s reports that Ohtani could top $20MM in annual earnings in marketing endorsements. Certainly, his list of finalists reflects a preference for West Coast teams and a proximity to Japan, though the presence of the Rangers and Cubs indicates that he’s not quite locked into that mindset just yet.