MLB Trade Rumors » » Chicago Cubs 2017-12-13T21:44:44Z Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Cubs, Indians Have Discussed Potential Danny Salazar Trade]]> 2017-12-13T14:00:18Z 2017-12-13T13:16:47Z 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.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mike Montgomery May Prefer Starting Opportunity With Other Team]]> 2017-12-13T05:47:42Z 2017-12-13T05:47:42Z 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.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Sign Drew Smyly]]> 2017-12-13T02:47:49Z 2017-12-13T02:46:49Z 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.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Sign Brandon Morrow]]> 2017-12-13T02:11:14Z 2017-12-13T01:59:07Z 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.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Notes: Machado, Pitching, Chatwood]]> 2017-12-12T23:45:09Z 2017-12-12T23:45:09Z 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.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Position Player Rumblings: Padres, Moose, Walker, Napoli, Cards, D-Backs]]> 2017-12-12T21:40:03Z 2017-12-12T18:49:37Z 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.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Rumblings: Brewers, Rays, Duffy, Nicasio, Arrieta]]> 2017-12-12T17:59:15Z 2017-12-12T17:28:06Z 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.
Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Notes: Epstein, Davis, Bullpen, Schwarber, Arrieta, Ohtani, Stanton]]> 2017-12-12T08:37:47Z 2017-12-12T08:37:47Z 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.”
Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Made Offer To Luke Gregerson]]> 2017-12-12T08:04:40Z 2017-12-12T08:03:51Z 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.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Chris Archer Drawing Plenty Of Interest]]> 2017-12-12T05:17:24Z 2017-12-12T05:17:24Z 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.

Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Cardinals, Rockies “Aggressively Pursuing” Alex Colome; Mets Also Have Interest]]> 2017-12-11T15:51:02Z 2017-12-11T15:49:38Z 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.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Among Teams Pursuing Alex Cobb]]> 2017-12-10T17:17:29Z 2017-12-10T17:17:42Z 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.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Red Sox Interested In Kyle Schwarber]]> 2017-12-10T14:26:07Z 2017-12-10T14:23:55Z
  • 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.
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Cubs, Brewers]]> 2017-12-09T21:10:26Z 2017-12-09T21:10:26Z 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.”
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Sign Tyler Chatwood]]> 2017-12-08T01:45:40Z 2017-12-08T00:35:42Z 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.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Chatter: Rays, Angels, Kintzler, Feliz]]> 2017-12-06T17:43:19Z 2017-12-06T15:51:05Z 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.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Interested In Mike Minor]]> 2017-12-04T20:29:20Z 2017-12-04T20:28:26Z
  • 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.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Shohei Ohtani Plans To Meet With Seven Teams]]> 2017-12-04T13:34:05Z 2017-12-04T13:34:05Z 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.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners, Giants, Padres, Rangers, Cubs, Angels Among Teams To Meet With Shohei Ohtani]]> 2017-12-04T05:40:13Z 2017-12-04T05:40:33Z 11:40pm: The Angels are indeed one of the finalists, as per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).

    10:39pm: The Angels are thought by “multiple sources” to be one of the finalists, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets.  The Tigers are out of the running, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

    8:59pm: The Rangers and Cubs will both meet with Ohtani, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link), and they’re also the only two non-West Coast teams who appear to still be alive in the candidate process.  The Rangers, Grant notes, have yet to comment on their status one way or the other.

    7:22pm: The Nationals won’t be receiving a meeting, the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes reports (Twitter link).

    6:58pm: The Braves are out,’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).

    6:50pm: The Padres will receive a meeting with Ohtani, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter links).  The Dodgers are also thought to still be active in the Ohtani sweepstakes though Heyman doesn’t have confirmation; regardless, the Dodgers aren’t thought to be favorites to land Ohtani.

    6:38pm: The Rays, Cardinals and White Sox are out, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (all Twitter links).

    6:15pm: The Diamondbacks won’t receive a meeting, Ken Rosenthal tweets.

    6:12pm: The Blue Jays, Pirates, and Brewers are all out, as respectively reported by’s Shi Davidi,’s Adam Berry, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt (all Twitter links).

    5:48pm: The Mets are also out, as per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).

    5:38pm: Ohtani’s list is “heavy” on West Coast teams, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, though the Cubs may still be involved.  Not every west-based team is included, however, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that the A’s aren’t involved.

    5:28pm: The Red Sox are also out of the running, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  The Twins also won’t be getting a meeting with Ohtani, Heyman tweets.

    5:16pm: The Giants and Mariners are among the teams that will receive meetings with Shohei Ohtani and his representatives next week, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  It isn’t known who the other finalists are in the Ohtani sweepstakes, though the Yankees are one of the teams that didn’t make the cut, as Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including’s Brendan Kuty and’s Bryan Hoch).

    According to Cashman, Ohtani seems to be leaning towards West Coast teams in smaller markets.  This ties to a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman saying that Ohtani’s reps are informing teams that the two-way star would prefer to play in a smaller market.

    The news adds another fascinating layer to the Ohtani sweepstakes, which was already one of the more intriguing free agent pursuits in recent memory.  Given the seeming lack of immediate financial motive that inspired Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball, it opened the door for every team in baseball (regardless of market or payroll size) to make a push for the 23-year-old.  There had been speculation that Ohtani might look to avoid playing in a larger market, so this apparent confirmation creates a realistic possibility that he will land with a team that wouldn’t normally be considered a favorite to land such a coveted free agent.

    Of course, San Francisco isn’t exactly a small market, though Ohtani wouldn’t necessarily be the center of attention on a club with such established stars as Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner (and maybe even Giancarlo Stanton in the near future).  Playing for an NL team, however, would force Ohtani into a pinch-hitting or even a part-time outfield role for the at-bats he seeks in his attempt to be a two-way player in the big leagues.  The Mariners do have such a DH spot available (in a timeshare with Nelson Cruz), and were considered to be a contender for Ohtani given their long history of Japanese players.

    The Yankees also have had several significant Japanese players on their past and current rosters, and were widely seen as one of the major favorites for Ohtani’s services from a financial (in terms of available international bonus money) and positional (openings at DH and in the rotation) standpoint, not to mention their international fame and their young core of talent ready to make a World Series push.  With Ohtani now out of the picture, the Yankees could move to signing more pitching depth — a reunion with C.C. Sabathia has been widely speculated as a possibility — or a veteran bat to serve as designated hitter, if the club doesn’t just rotate its DH days to find plate appearances for everyone on the current roster.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2017 Non-Tenders]]> 2017-12-02T07:43:50Z 2017-12-02T01:10:38Z The deadline to tender 2018 contracts to players is tonight at 8pm EST. We’ll keep track of the day’s non-tenders in this post (all referenced arbitration projections courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) …

    • The Giants non-tendered righty Albert Suarez, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Suarez, 28, was not yet eligible for arbitration.
    • Righty Tom Koehler and infielder Ryan Goins are heading to the open market after being non-tendered by the Blue Jays, per a team announcement.
    • The Rays announced that lefty Xavier Cedeno has been non-tendered, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
    • The Cubs non-tendered catcher Taylor Davis, per a team announcement. He was not yet eligible for arbitration.
    • Four Rangers players have not been tendered contracts, per a club announcement. Righties Chi Chi Gonzalez, A.J. Griffin, and Nick Martinez have been cut loose along with infielder Hanser Alberto. Griffin ($3.0MM projection) and Martinez ($2.0MM) were both noted as non-tender candidates by MLBTR. The other two players were not yet eligible for arbitration. Gonzalez was a former first-round pick who had struggled of late and underwent Tommy John surgery in July.
    • The Diamondbacks have also non-tendered lefty T.J. McFarland, who had projected at a $1.0MM salary.
    • The Reds non-tendered lefty Kyle Crockett, a pre-arb lefty who was only recently claimed on waivers, per a club announcement.
    • Per a club announcement, the Brewers have non-tendered veteran righty Jared Hughes. He will end up being the only 40-man player not to receive a contract from Milwaukee. Hughes had projected at a $2.2MM arbitration value. The 32-year-old is a master at inducing grounders and has turned in repeatedly excellent results. He also averaged a career-best 93.9 mph on his sinker in 2017.
    • The Mariners have non-tendered lefty Drew Smyly and righty Shae Simmons, per a club announcement. While the former was expected, due to Smyly’s Tommy John surgery, the latter rates as something of a surprise given his cheap $700K projection. Of course, it’s possible the club is not optimistic of his chances of bouncing back from arm troubles.
    • The White Sox will not tender a contract to reliever Jake Petricka, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). He had projected to take home $1.1MM in his second trip through the arb process. Also non-tendered, per a club announcement, were righties Zach Putnam and Al Alburquerque as well as infielder Alan Hanson.
    • It seems that righty Bruce Rondon will wind up his tenure with the Tigers, as the organization is set to non-tender him, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free-Press (via Twitter). Rondon was long viewed as a potential late-inning arm for the Tigers, but had some notable run-ins with the organization, struggled with control, and never consistently produced at the MLB level. Though he projected to earn just $1.2MM, Rondon will be allowed to find a new organization. He will turn 26 later this month.
    • The Diamondbacks will non-tender righty J.J. Hoover, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). Hoover projected at just $1.6MM, but Arizona is watching every penny as it seeks to return to the postseason with a tight payroll situation. The 30-year-old turned in 41 1/3 innings of 3.92 ERA ball in 2017 with 11.8 K/9 but also 5.7 BB/9 on the year.
    • The Royals announced that they have non-tendered outfielder Terrance Gore. Though Gore was not eligible for arbitration, teams occasionally utilize today’s deadline to prune their 40-man rosters. Gore had quite an interesting run with Kansas City, scarcely playing at all during the regular season and then appearing as a speed-and-defense asset in the team’s two storied postseason runs. Now, though the fleet-footed 26-year-old is out of options. With an upper minors OPS that hovers just over .600, Gore just was not going to break camp with the club. It seems reasonable to think there’s a chance he’ll return to the organization on a minors deal, though Gore will also have a shot at exploring the broader market.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs To Non-Tender Hector Rondon]]> 2017-12-02T00:00:49Z 2017-12-01T23:22:17Z The Cubs will not tender a contract to reliever Hector Rondon, according to’s Jesse Rogers (via Twitter). MLBTR had projected Rondon to earn $6.2MM via arbitration — a price that was too high for Chicago and, evidently, other teams around the league.

    Rondon, 29, made quite an impact as a former Rule 5 pick, turning in a quality three-year run for the organization between 2014 and 2016. Over 184 1/3 innings in that span, he turned in a 2.44 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. Though he ceded his closer role to Aroldis Chapman in the midst of the team’s World Series run, Rondon remained a major piece of the club’s late-inning mix.

    That did not hold up in 2017, however, as Rondon ended the year with a 4.24 ERA in 57 1/3 frames. He struck out 10.8 batters per nine but also issued 3.1 free passes per nine innings and allowed ten long balls. Rondon did still deliver his average fastball in the 96 to 97 mph range, and turned in a personal-best 11.9% swinging-strike rate to go with a 48.3% groundball rate.

    Rondon seemingly lost the confidence of skipper Joe Maddon, to the point that he did not factor in the late-inning mix during the team’s postseason run. While the Cubs’ decision to move on is not terribly surprising at this point, it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that the organization was not able to find a suitable trade partner. The one-year price tag is hardly cheap, but falls in the range of contracts that often go to somewhat less-accomplished pitchers. There’s plenty of reason to think that Rondon will catch on elsewhere, perhaps even earning consideration for high-leverage innings, but it seems he’ll need to settle for less money than the $6.2MM or so he might have expected through arbitration.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Release Matt Carasiti To Sign With Japan’s Yakult Swallows]]> 2017-12-01T20:13:33Z 2017-12-01T20:13:33Z The Cubs have released right-hander Matt Carasiti, according to’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). He’ll be moving to Japan to play for Nippon Professional Baseball’s Yakult Swallows.

    Carasiti, 26, landed in Chicago in a mid-season swap with the Rockies — the team that originally drafted and developed him. He reached the majors with Colorado in 2016, struggling in limited action.

    There was some cause to think that Carasiti could earn a return trip to the majors before long. He worked to a 3.26 ERA with 12.3 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 over 49 2/3 Triple-A frames in 2017. Carasiti showed a mid-nineties heater during his brief MLB stint and has typically generated solid groundball numbers.

    In the NPB, though, Carasiti will likely enjoy solid earnings and a clear path to a significant role. At his age, it’s certainly possible that he could end up moving back to the big leagues if he proves himself at Japan’s highest level.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Sign Dario Alvarez To Major League Deal]]> 2017-12-01T17:55:55Z 2017-12-01T17:36:38Z The Cubs announced that they’ve signed left-handed reliever Dario Alvarez to a Major League contract. Alvarez was designated for assignment and outrighted by the Rangers back in September and hit the open market at season’s end.

    Alvarez, 29 in January, has seen Major League time in each of the past four seasons, tossing a combined 48 innings with the Mets, Braves and Rangers. In that time, he’s logged an unsightly 5.06 ERA with a more-promising 11.4 K/9 mark against 4.1 BB/9. He’s coming off a season in which he posted a sub-3.00 in the Majors (albeit with 14 walks in 16 1/3 innings) as well as in Triple-A and has a lengthy track record of intriguing strikeout rates at the minor league level.

    Alvarez is out of minor league options, so he’ll have to either break camp with the big league roster or be exposed to waivers in order to be sent to Triple-A. Of course, it shouldn’t simply be assumed that he’ll be handed a job in the Chicago bullpen. Left-handed relief is an area of need for the Cubs (particularly after Justin Wilson’s struggles in Chicago), and it seems likely that they’ll pursue higher-profile options than Alvarez over the remainder of the season. Even if they don’t pick up additional lefties, though, Alvarez would likely compete with Rob Zastryzny for a spot as a third lefty in the bullpen next spring.

    Due to his limited big league track record, Alvarez has only amassed one year and 66 days of Major League service time to this point in his career. If he ends up making a strong impression for the Cubs, Alvarez can potentially be controlled all the way through the 2022 season, and he won’t even be eligible for arbitration until the conclusion of the 2019 campaign at the very earliest.

    For the Cubs, the signing of Alvarez isn’t entirely dissimilar to last winter’s acquisition of Brian Duensing. It was somewhat surprising to see Duensing land a 40-man roster spot coming off a down season with the Orioles, but the Cubs locked him up fairly early with a modest big league deal and were handsomely rewarded for their show of faith. While Alvarez comes with a considerably more limited track record than Duensing had, he’s a similarly surprising recipient of a 40-man roster spot.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Weighing Arbitration Decisions On Hector Rondon, Justin Grimm]]> 2017-12-01T07:33:39Z 2017-12-01T07:30:01Z
  • For the Cubs, too, the toughest calls may come in the relief department. As Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Times writes, and as MLBTR’s analysis has suggested, Hector Rondon ($6.2MM projection) and Justin Grimm ($2.4MM) may be entering their final day with the Chicago organization. Rondon, especially, could receive trade consideration from other teams if the Cubs decide it’s time to move on.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Tigers Acquire Cash From Cubs To Complete Wilson/Avila Trade]]> 2017-12-01T06:32:23Z 2017-12-01T04:30:02Z
  • The Tigers announced that they have completed their summer swap with the Cubs by acquiring cash rather than a player to be named. That deal sent Jeimer Candelario and Isaac Paredes to Detroit in exchange for veterans Justin Wilson and Alex Avila. The amount of cash that’s now changing hands isn’t known. Obviously, the key to this deal from the Tigers’ perspective was Candelario. The 24-year-old had an impressive initial showing upon reaching the majors with his new organization, slashing .330/.406/.468 in 106 plate appearances.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Shohei Ohtani Rumors: Thursday]]> 2017-11-30T20:45:29Z 2017-11-30T20:45:16Z The question of whether Shohei Ohtani can successfully lead a big league rotation and serve as a legitimate member of its offense on a semi-regular basis is one of the most fascinating storylines in recent memory, and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports takes an excellent look at the viability of that scenario. Brown spoke to GM, scouts, coaches and players throughout the league, and though the prevailing opinion was that while it would be difficult and unlikely, there’s also a sentiment that those in the industry are nonetheless rooting for Ohtani to succeed at both.

    Rays righty Chris Archer tells Brown that a successful two-way player would “change our perspective” on the game. Archer and free-agent outfielder Jayson Werth both chatted with Brown about their daily schedules and recovery programs, which Brown uses as a means of illustrating the challenges of Ohtani successfully serving as a starter and a DH/outfielder. Brown also talks with former pitcher/outfielder Rick Ankiel about the summer he spent as a starter and a DH in A-ball. Ankiel suggests that the true question isn’t one of whether Ohtani can physically handle a two-way role but rather one of whether Ohtani can thrive in both areas. “Can he be great at both here?” Ankiel asks rhetorically. “That depends on how good he really is.”

    Some other notes on the game’s most intriguing free-agent-to-be, who should be formally posted by Saturday…

    • The Athletics can only offer $300K to Ohtani after exceeding last year’s allotted international pool, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports a detailed account of their pitch to Ohtani. Oakland is will to not only let Ohtani hit but also play the outfield on occasion, she notes, and their sales pitch also centers around an emerging young core of comparably aged players to Ohtani — led by Matt Olson and Matt Chapman. The A’s hope to be in a new ballpark by 2023, if not sooner and are hoping to sell Ohtani on helping them usher in that new facility as one of the faces of the team. They also highlighted manager Bob Melvin’s relationship with Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui as well as Oakland’s relative proximity to Japan, among many other aspects.
    • Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports that the Angels have “earmarked” the $1.315MM they now have in their international pool after today’s trade with the Braves for a pursuit of Ohtani.

    Earlier Updates

    • The Phillies haven’t been mentioned in connection with Ohtani, but’s Todd Zolecki writes that they do plan to take their shot at landing him, even if they’re considered long shots. The Phils have $900K to offer Ohtani in terms of a signing bonus, and new skipper Gabe Kapler spent a season playing in Nippon Professional Baseball, giving him some familiarity with Japanese baseball and culture. Zolecki also notes that former Phillies skipper Charlie Manuel, a senior advisor in the front office, enjoyed an excellent six-year career in NPB and is likely a known name for Ohtani, even if Manuel wrapped up his playing career before Ohtani was born. Nonetheless, the Phils will also need to convince Ohtani that their rebuilding club is near contention, and Zolecki further notes that other markets like New York, Los Angeles and Seattle have considerably larger Japanese populations and communities.
    • Pennsylvania’s other MLB club may also be a long shot, but Pirates GM Neal Huntington still spoke optimistically in his team’s ability to make a competitive pitch for Ohtani in a recent appearance with Chris Mueller and Joe Starkey on 93.7 The Fan“We are going to do everything in our power, and hopefully, have him honor us with the ability to get beyond the written presentation, get beyond the initial 30-club presentation and really dig into why it would be an honor for us to have him become a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates,” said Huntington. In terms of potential bonus offer, the Bucs are one of the better-positioned teams, with a bit more than $2.2MM to offer, but Ohtani is widely expected to make far more through endorsements than his initial signing bonus anyhow, so the bonus itself may not be an enormous separator.
    • David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago writes that the Cubs have sent scouts to Japan to watch Ohtani for weeks at a time in the past, and some rivals believe the Cubs to be a serious threat to land him. One exec remarks to Kaplan that president of baseball ops Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have success in setting up support systems for international stars thanks to their acquisition of Daisuke Matsuzaka with the Red Sox in the 2006-07 offseason. The Cubs are capped at a $300K signing bonus, though again, that doesn’t appear to be as significant a strike against them as it would be in the pursuit of a more traditional free agent.
    • Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals crafted a presentation in English, which international scouting assistant Taisuke Sato then translated to Japanese for Ohtani’s consumption. Janes notes that the Nationals, who are also capped at $300K, cannot compete financially in terms of signing bonus and don’t have previous experience in signing Japanese players under GM Mike Rizzo to demonstrate a proven plan for helping an NPB star transition to the Majors. That said, the team has very recently made a significant investment in its medical staff, boasts a new Spring Training facility and a fairly new ballpark in D.C., and can attempt to sell Ohtani on the allure of joining an immediate contender with an open rotation spot. Janes paints the Nats as long shots but notes that they, like all 30 other clubs, will at least perform their due diligence in attempting to entire Ohtani.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Could Hang Onto Position Player Depth]]> 2017-11-29T01:52:03Z 2017-11-29T01:52:03Z Many expect the Cubs to trade from their position player depth to fill a spot in the rotation, but ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers cautions that such a trade may not be as likely as one would think. President Theo Epstein did acknowledge after the season that the team may have to consider dealing from the big league roster to add a pitcher, and names like Javier Baez, Addison Russell, Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora have all been listed as speculative possibilities. However, Rogers points out how crucial that depth has been in dealing with injuries and suggests that depleting said depth could simply create further troubles. Free agency is a better fit, Rogers opines, suggesting the oft-speculated match between Alex Cobb and the Cubs as a starting point. Also of note, Rogers notes that an informal poll of rival execs at this month’s GM Meetings suggested that Baez and Russell are “neck and neck” in trade value.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Arrieta, Hosmer, Mets]]> 2017-11-25T17:32:39Z 2017-11-25T17:32:39Z Cubs free agent Jake Arrieta figures to offer more “feast-or-famine probability” than any other free agent on the market, Daniel Kramer of posits. Arrieta has exhibited a number of troubling trends since his dominant Cy Young campaign back in 2015. Kramer points out that the right-hander’s rate of hard contact allowed was once among the the lowest in baseball, but has since fallen to the middle of the pack. Arrieta has also lost 3 MPH on his fastball from 2015 to 2017; pitchers in their thirties typically don’t regain that velocity. Kramer digs even deeper, looking at Arrieta’s “topped ball” rate (balls hit directly into the ground), noting that his rate in this category has also dropped. These factors in tandem create a confusing and concerning picture when looking at the value Arrieta could provide over the next couple of years. It’s not all bad; Kramer also notes that the former Cy Young winner hasn’t lost his ability to put batters away on two-strike pitches, and he’s still got an excellent pitch repertoire to go along with a delivery that provides deception. Teams exploring a deal with Arrieta will face an interesting dilemma in trying to project his future performance.

    Other items from around MLB…

    • Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has released his top five free agent bargains, as well as his top five free agent landmines. Royals free agent Eric Hosmer tops the list of players Cameron would avoid at the prices they’re likely to command. He points out that Hosmer’s 2017 was partially driven by his .351 BABIP, which the first baseman is unlikely to repeat, and questions his defensive abilities as well. Interestingly, Cameron points out that Hosmer’s 120 wRC+ over the past three seasons is just two points ahead of Carlos Santana’s mark across that same span, and yet Hosmer is expected to more than double Santana’s earnings in free agency this winter. None of this is to say that Hosmer isn’t a great asset, but many in the industry think he’ll be paid like a potential franchise superstar, and his track record doesn’t necessarily provide a strong case for that level of commitment. Greg Holland, Lance Lynn, Eduardo Nunez and Andrew Cashner round out Cameron’s top five free agent landmines, while Carlos Santana, Lorenzo Cain, Tommy Hunter, Jarrod Dyson and Doug Fister comprise Cameron’s top five bargains. The pieces are full of great analysis and will give readers another interesting set of storylines to track this offseason.
    • Mike Puma of the New York Post wonders whether the Mets would be best served to bring back second baseman Neil Walker, whom the club traded to the Brewers this past August. Though he spent a significant amount of time on the DL for the second straight season, his 2017 home run total (14) homers and OBP (.409) would be a welcome asset to a Mets club with a number of issues to tackle before opening day 2018. Puma also notes that the Mets are exploring some trade options at second base as well. Interestingly, he lists Jason Kipnis as a name he believes to be available, along with more obvious trade candidates in Ian Kinsler and Dee Gordon.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Have Had Past Interest In Justin Wilson]]> 2017-11-23T14:01:41Z 2017-11-22T16:37:32Z
  • The Twins will need to chase down some relief arms, too. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports on his podcast (audio link) that the club has engaged the Padres on Brad Hand and the Rays on Alex Colome. Minnesota was previously reported to have chatted with the Reds about Raisel Iglesias, and these new names fit the same general profile as established late-inning arms with affordable remaining control. All will come with appropriately lofty price tags. Berardino also tweets that Cubs lefty Justin Wilson might represent a target for the Twins. Having struggled last year upon landing in Chicago, Wilson could conceivably become available, though that’s far from certain. Minnesota eyed the power southpaw in the past, says Berardino, though that occurred before the current front office leadership came into office.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Name Will Venable First Base Coach, Add Jim Benedict To Front Office]]> 2017-11-21T23:06:38Z 2017-11-21T23:06:38Z The Cubs announced on Tuesday that they’ve named former big league outfielder Will Venable their new first base coach and hired Jim Benedict as a special assistant to the baseball operations department. The team also confirmed Brandon Hyde’s move to bench coach and the hiring Jim Hickey as its new pitching coach.

    The 35-year-old Venable had recently retired and joined the club’s front office as a special assistant, but he’ll now join the team on the field and replace Hyde, who has moved from first base coach to bench coach. Venable was a strong defensive outfielder capable handling all three outfield spots at his peak, and he stole 135 bases in 166 tries (81.3 percent) in his big league career, so he’ll bring some wisdom in those areas to the Cubs’ young players.

    Benedict spent the past two seasons as the Marlins’ vice president of pitching development and is renowned for the work he did in seven prior seasons with the Pirates. Benedict and Pittsburgh pitching coach Ray Searage are widely praised and credited for the Pirates’ success in reviving the careers of struggling pitchers such as A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli and Edinson Volquez, among others.

    Benedict’s work in Pittsburgh was so highly regarded that in order to hire him away from the Pirates, the Marlins traded right-hander Trevor Williams to the Bucs for a considerably lesser prospect (right-hander Richard Mitchell) as a means of compensation.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Outright Jacob Hannemann]]> 2017-11-21T01:18:41Z 2017-11-21T01:18:41Z The Cubs have outrighted outfielder Jacob Hannemann, per a club announcement. Chicago has made three 40-man additions as well, selecting the contracts of righties Adbert Alzolay and Oscar De La Cruz as well as infielder David Bote.

    Hannemann, 26, had been claimed recently from the Mariners. He briefly debuted with Seattle — after they claimed him from the Cubs — but spent most of the year in the upper minors, batting .265/.324/.404 over 322 plate appearances at Triple-A.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs, Yankees Seen As Favorites For Alex Cobb]]> 2017-11-20T01:38:14Z 2017-11-20T01:38:14Z According to “industry consensus,” Alex Cobb’s free agent market will come down to a battle between the Cubs and Yankees, Peter Gammons writes in his newest entry at  Chicago’s interest in Cobb (which is apparently mutual) is already known, and such other teams as the Phillies, Orioles, and Blue Jays have also been linked to Cobb on the rumor mill, though New York would seem like something of a surprise candidate.  Since Cobb is expected to land a pricey multi-year deal, it would be difficult for the Yankees to sign the right-hander and stay under the luxury tax threshold, unless the team was able to unload another big contract or two off its books.  Starting pitching also doesn’t appear to be a critical need for the Yankees, as while a variety of young arms are battling for the fifth starter’s role, signing a more inexpensive veteran (or bringing back C.C. Sabathia) would seem like a likelier move than making a big splash to sign Cobb.


    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Nationals Name Dave Martinez Manager]]> 2017-11-20T16:28:11Z 2017-11-18T14:35:27Z NOV. 18: Martinez will make $2.8MM over the next three years. His 2021 option is valued at $1.2MM, giving his contract a maximum of $4MM over four years, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports via Twitter.

    OCT. 30: The Nationals have formally announced the signing of Martinez to a three-year deal with a team option for the 2021 season.

    “We are delighted to bring Dave aboard and excited about what he will bring to our clubhouse and our dugout,” said owner Ted Lerner in a statement announcing the hire. “We have been very clear about our goals as an organization and we feel confident we’ve found the right man to help us reach them.”

    GM Mike Rizzo also offered a statement on his new skipper: “I am excited to bring Dave into our family. As we went through this process it became clear the type of manager we were looking for — someone who is progressive, someone who can connect with and communicate well with our players, and someone who embraces the analytical side of the game. We came away from the process feeling like there was absolutely no one better suited — who matched up to what this organization needs right now — than Dave.”

    OCT. 29, 10:16am: A contract is now in place, Janes tweets. It’s a three-year deal with an option for 2021.

    10:14am: Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post confirms that Martinez is the choice, though she reports that he and the team haven’t finished negotiating a deal yet (Twitter link). Notably, the Nationals hired Baker after negotiations with Bud Black fell through. Black looked like a lock to land the job at one point, which is obviously the case with Martinez now.

    9:14am: The Nationals will hire Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez as their manager, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports. The Nats will make an official announcement after the World Series, Heyman adds.

    Dave Martinez

    After the firing of Dusty Baker on Oct. 20, the 53-year-old Martinez quickly emerged as the overwhelming favorite to take over in Washington, which chose him over fellow interviewee John Farrell. The Nationals also showed interest in Alex Cora, whom Boston selected as its manager, and Mets hitting coach Kevin Long. Washington received permission to interview Long, but it’s unclear whether the two actually met.

    Martinez was a major league outfielder from 1986-2001 who also brings plenty of experience in the dugout. He served as manager Joe Maddon’s right-hand man in Tampa Bay (2008-14) and Chicago (2015-17), and drew managerial interest from multiple teams in recent offseasons. In fact, the Nationals nearly hired Martinez in 2013 prior to tabbing Matt Williams, who lasted two years before giving way to Baker.

    Baker’s own two-year era was a resounding success during the regular season, as Washington piled up 192 wins and back-to-back National League East titles, but the club’s playoff struggles led to his ouster. The Baker-led Nationals were unable to get past Martinez’s Cubs in the National League Division Series this year, leading general manager Mike Rizzo to declare that “winning a lot of regular season games and winning divisions is not enough.”

    Given the talent on hand, the Martinez-guided Nationals figure to once again end up as one of the majors’ premier teams in 2018. The Nationals’ collection of quality players surely made their managerial vacancy appealing to Martinez and others, but the job does come with drawbacks. The position doesn’t seem to feature much stability, for one, nor is Washington regarded as a franchise willing to spend much on a manager. Further, the Nationals could lose two of their best players – right fielder Bryce Harper and second baseman Daniel Murphy – to free agency in a year.

    With Harper and Murphy in the fold for at least another season, the Nats will turn to a neophyte manager to win over a clubhouse that’s reportedly “upset” with Baker’s exit. Martinez has long been a well-regarded assistant, though, and both his openness to analytics and Spanish-speaking ability should serve him well in his new role.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[All 9 Recipients Reject Qualifying Offer]]> 2017-11-16T22:16:08Z 2017-11-16T22:16:03Z THURSDAY: Officially, all nine players have rejected their qualifying offers and become free agents, the MLBPA has announced (h/t Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, on Twitter).

    MONDAY: All nine of the free agents that received a one-year, $17.4MM qualifying offer will reject that offer in favor of free agency, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports writes. Each of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Greg Holland and Carlos Santana will turn down that one-year opportunity in search of a multi-year pact in free agency.

    In doing so, that group of nine will also subject themselves to draft-pick compensation and position their former clubs to recoup some value in next year’s amateur draft should they sign elsewhere. Last offseason’s new collective bargaining agreement altered the specifics of that compensation, tying the draft picks received and surrendered largely to the luxury tax threshold, revenue sharing and the size of the contract signed by the free agent in question.

    MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explained which draft picks each of the six teams that issued a qualifying offer would receive, should their free agents sign elsewhere, as well as which picks all 30 teams would be required to surrender if they are to sign a qualified free agent. Prior to that, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk provided a more comprehensive and in-depth overview of the new QO system, for those that are unfamiliar or would like a refresher on the finer details.

    It’s been reported for quite some time that Kansas City will make a strong effort to retain Hosmer. Heyman added over the weekend that the Royals will also push to keep Moustakas but feel that Cain is almost certain to land elsewhere on the open market. The Rockies are known to have interest in re-upping with Holland on a multi-year deal, and Heyman notes within today’s column that the Rays “understand [Cobb] is out of their reach financially” and will sign elsewhere. He also adds that Davis seems to be likelier than Arrieta to return to Chicago.

    It’s unlikely that there will be any formal announcements just yet. Among the changes to the QO system under the 2017-21 CBA was that QO recipients would have 10 days, rather than seven, to determine whether to accept or reject the offer. The deadline to issue QOs was last Monday, so the recipients still technically have until this coming Thursday to formally declare their intention. But, barring a last-minute freak injury it seems that each of the nine will go the widely expected route and enter free agency in search of the most substantial contracts in their respective careers.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Cubs’ Bullpen Targets]]> 2017-11-16T16:49:16Z 2017-11-16T16:49:16Z The Cubs’ bullpen search figures to be expansive this offseason, but Patrick Mooney of NBC Sports Chicago provides some insight into the team’s thinking. Per Mooney, while the Cubs performed their due diligence on Zach Britton at this week’s GM Meetings, they found the asking price to be too high this past summer and aren’t likely to rekindle those talks. Rather, they’ve landed on free-agent righty Brandon Morrow as one potential ninth-inning option and will also monitor the market for former White Sox/D-backs/Mets closer Addison Reed in free agency, according to Mooney.

    Chicago got an up-close look at Morrow in the National League Championship Series as he made four practically unblemished appearances against them (4 2/3 innings, one hit, one walk, no runs, seven strikeouts). The resurgent Morrow, whom the Dodgers signed on a minor league contract last offseason, burst back onto the scene midway through the 2017 campaign and emerged as the Dodgers’ best non-Kenley Jansen reliever late in the year. The 33-year-old Morrow turned in a 2.06 ERA with 10.3 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 45 percent ground-ball rate in 43 2/3 regular-season innings before dominating for much of the postseason.

    The Dodgers rode Morrow incredibly hard in the playoffs, though, and by the end of the World Series some fatigue was clear. Morrow became just the second pitcher in MLB history to pitch in all seven games of the World Series, and he appeared in a staggering 14 of the Dodgers’ 15 postseason contests. Though he was excellent in most of those games, he was shelled for four runs without recording an out in Game 5 of the World Series — the lone game in 2017 in which he was asked to pitch on three consecutive days.

    That extreme postseason workload and Morrow’s greater injury history could give some teams pause in the free-agent market, but interest in Morrow figures to be robust all the same. We pegged him for a three-year deal on our top 50 free agent list, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see half the league express some level of interest.

    As for Reed, he’s been as durable as relievers come. The 28-year-old (29 next month) has never been on the disabled list in the Majors and has averaged 67 appearances and 66 innings per season over the life of his big league career. Reed has plenty of ninth-inning experience, having 15 or more games in four separate seasons.

    Control was an issue for the Chicago bullpen for much of the season — their 4.25 BB/9 rate tied for second-worst among big league bullpens — and it’s one area in which Reed excels. He’s averaged just 2.3 walks per nine innings pitched in his seven-year career, and that includes an even more minuscule 1.6 BB/9 mark over the past two years. (It’s perhaps telling that the Cubs are interested in two free-agent relievers that ranked among the top of the free-agent class in terms of best control.) Reed’s age, durability and track record make him one of the more appealing arms on the market — to the point that we pegged him as one of just four relievers to secure a four-year deal on this year’s free agent market.

    It stands to reason that Morrow and Reed are just two of many names that the Cubs are intrigued by in the early stages of the offseason. In addition to free agency, there will be no shortage of relievers discussed in trades this offseason. President of baseball ops Theo Epstein, however, implied to Mooney that the Cubs may not continue to operate as they have in recent years when it comes to targeting bullpen talent, stating that he has no desire to “make a it a habit” to trade players with five or six years of control (e.g. Jorge Soler, Gleyber Torres) for one-year rentals.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Free Agent Rumblings: Walker, Cobb, Chatwood, Minor, Lucroy, Bautista]]> 2017-11-15T20:19:46Z 2017-11-15T20:19:46Z As major league organizations compete to bring home the shiniest new cars in Playoffville (Copyright Scott Boras), let’s check in on the latest rumored connections:

    • The Pirates have at least “some interest” in old friend Neil Walker, Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweets. Morosi cites uncertainty surrounding Jung Ho Kang as driving the possibility of a reunion, though as’s Adam Berry writes, there’s another perspective on that subject, too. GM Neal Huntington says there’s still some hope that Kang will be able to return and finish his contract. If not, though, he feels the team is in good shape in the infield without him, due in part to the acquisition of Sean Rodriguez over the summer.
    • It seems there’s some mutual interest between the Cubs and righty Alex Cobb, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. That’s not a surprising connection, given the common roots with the Rays of Cobb and several key Cubs figures. The sides have engaged in preliminary discussions, though Wittenmyer’s sources tell him that contract particulars haven’t yet been broached.
    • Another starter getting a bite is Tyler Chatwood, in whom the Orioles have shown interest, per Morosi (via Twitter). That’s a connection that comes as little surprise. Baltimore is going to have to take some chances to fill out its staff, and Chatwood looks to be one of the market’s more interesting possibilities to provide value. He won’t turn 28 until December and has posted solid results outside of Coors Field, prompting MLBTR to predict a three-year deal (albeit at a relatively modest annual value). While Camden Yards and the AL East are an intimidating prospect for many pitchers, Chatwood at least has plenty of experience dealing with similar challenges.
    • The Mets are among the teams with interest in free agent southpaw Mike Minor, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. We’ve heard recently about New York’s desire to pursue impact relief pitching, and Minor certainly fits that mold. Given his past history as a starter and dominance against southpaws last year, the 29-year-old would provide quite a bit of functionality.
    • The Astros are showing some interest in free agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). Lucroy could make for an interesting fit in Houston, though adding a backstop of that quality no doubt would represent a luxury for the team that already has most everything. Presumably, the ’Stros could plan to split time between Lucroy and fellow veteran Brian McCann, with the other spending quite a lot of time at DH (if not also some first base). Signing Lucroy could mean non-tendering Evan Gattis, though he might also be retained and also utilized in the same rotation. There are certainly some intriguing possibilities here, though Lucroy should also be pursued by others that might offer him significant time as a primary catcher.
    • It seems the Rays could again be a suitor for veteran slugger Jose Bautista, per Morosi (Twitter links). Talks haven’t really progressed to this point, but that’s hardly surprising — particularly since Tampa Bay’s entire offseason approach remains largely unclear. For his part, Bautista is said to be willing to spend time at DH or the corner infield, per agent Jay Alou.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Notes: Trades, Davis, Lackey]]> 2017-11-14T21:47:05Z 2017-11-14T21:47:05Z
  • Patrick Mooney of NBC Sports Chicago provides an interesting overview of the dynamics that will shape the Cubs’ efforts this offseason. GM Jed Hoyer tells Mooney that the team is approaching trade talks both with an open mind and with a loyalty to the players they’ve developed into the core of a winning club. That said, Hoyer stressed that the front office’s “No. 1 loyalty” is to Cubs fans and positioning the team to win another World Series. That, Hoyer says, could put the team into an unenviable position of having to consider trades of young players they value highly. “Certainly, I’d love to have an offseason where we didn’t have to do anything like that,” says Hoyer. “But in order to get better and make improvements in certain areas, we might.
  • Meanwhile, Mooney looks at the team’s chances of re-signing closer Wade Davis as a free agent. Chicago viewed Aroldis Chapman purely as a rental when they acquired him in 2016 and let him walk as a free agent accordingly, Mooney writes, but they view Davis in a different light. President of baseball ops Theo Epstein says the Cubs “think the world” of Davis and will make an effort to bring back a player they feel is important both on and off the field. As Mooney points out, a number of big-market clubs already have high-priced closers, which could take some of them out of the running for Davis.
  • Hoyer confirmed to reporters that right-hander John Lackey has indeed signaled that he aims to pitch once again in 2018 (Twitter link via ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers). Re-signing Lackey is “certainly” something the Cubs are going to talk about, per Hoyer. It remains to be seen how aggressively Chicago will pursue Lackey coming off a generally disappointing season in which he yielded an NL-high 36 homers. But, the Cubs stand to potentially lose both Lackey and Jake Arrieta this winter, so they’ll assuredly be in the market for multiple arms.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Willing To Entertain Offers On Zach Britton]]> 2017-11-13T23:56:45Z 2017-11-13T23:56:45Z The Orioles are willing to listen to trade scenarios involving closer Zach Britton, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. While prior signals were that the organization would hold on to the southpaw this winter, it seems there’s now at least some possibility of a swap coming together.

    Baltimore engaged in chatter involving Britton last summer and nearly dealt him to the Astros. But talks sputtered at the last minute and he ended up remaining on hand. MLBTR projects that Britton will earn a hefty $12.2MM in arbitration.

    As Heyman notes, the O’s could find it advantageous to reallocate that payroll space to a rotation that’s badly in need of attention. Plus, with Britton slated for free agency after the season, this would be an opportune time to cash him in for young talent.

    Houston is not presently among the organizations engaged on Britton, per the report. But the Dodgers and Cubs have already engaged in some chatter surrounding the 29-year-old hurler.

    It remains unclear just how strong the market will be for Britton. Prior to the 2017 season, he had established himself as one of the game’s most dominant relievers. But the campaign didn’t quite go as hoped, as he fell short of his own lofty standards while dealing with elbow issues.

    Britton ended the year with 37 1/3 innings of 2.89 ERA ball, posting 7.0 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 while inducing grounders on more than 70% of the balls put in play against him for the fourth-straight season. While his swinging-strike rate dropped off to 11.5% after topping out at 17.2% in 2016, Britton kept his monster sinker at over 96 mph and was obviously still able to use it to draw quite a few worm-burners.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Leonys Martin Elects Free Agency]]> 2017-11-13T05:58:42Z 2017-11-13T05:58:42Z
  • Leonys Martin is now a free agent, as he elected to hit the open market after being outrighted off the Cubs’ roster last week.  The veteran outfielder is looking to rebound from a rough 2017 that saw him post just a .513 OPS over 138 PA with the Cubs and Mariners, though Martin was still an above-average defender in the outfield.
  • The Braves released right-hander Armando Rivero.  Atlanta chose Rivero in last year’s Rule 5 Draft but Rivero missed the entire season due to shoulder problems.  The Braves outrighted Rivero off their 40-man roster last month, so the Cubs officially declined the opportunity to take the righty back.  Rivero has a 2.70 ERA, 12.4 K/9 and 2.83 K/BB rate over 220 career innings in the minors, all as a reliever in Chicago’s system.

  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs, Tigers Still Haven't Finalized July Trade]]> 2017-11-13T00:04:46Z 2017-11-12T22:40:35Z
  • The Cubs and Tigers still haven’t finalized the trade they made in July that saw reliever Justin Wilson and catcher Alex Avila head to Chicago for third baseman Jeimer Candelario, infielder Isaac Paredes and a player to be named later or cash, Mark Anderson of Baseball Prospectus tweets. It turns out the Tigers will receive the PTBNL in lieu of cash, but the teams haven’t decided on which player yet.
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Santana, DeJong, Cubs]]> 2017-11-11T16:35:11Z 2017-11-11T15:10:05Z Although outgoing Royal Eric Hosmer is a clear bet to take home the largest contract among first basemen this winter, Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs suspects that career Indians first baseman Carlos Santana will outperform Hosmer for at least the next three years. While Hosmer is younger than Santana and had a better 2017 season by fWAR, Sawchik notes that Santana’s primary skill (his batting eye) is a better bet to age well than any other skill that either player brings to the table. Hosmer has also posted negative fWAR totals in two of his major league seasons; something Santana has never done. Worth mentioning: Santana was worth a total of 21.2 fWAR from 2011-2017, while Hosmer was worth a mere 9.9.

    Elsewhere across baseball’s central divisions…

    • The offseason for Cardinals’ shortstop Paul DeJong will be an interesting one. As CBS2’s Steve Overmyer reported from New York on Thursday, DeJong has joined renowned scientist Dr. Lawrence Rocks in a lab study about the effects of heat and weather on baseball flight distance. Early returns in the study seem to indicate that while baseballs are likely to travel shorter distances as temperatures get colder, they are also likely to travel shorter distances if temperatures increase past a certain point. “As you decrease temperature, you get less bounce, like an automobile tire on a very cold day – it’s a little more brittle,” Rocks said. “As you increase temperature, the elastomeres get a little mooshy; you get less bounce.”
    • While Cubs GM Jed Hoyer has declined to comment on his team’s pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, Patrick Mooney of NBC Sports Chicago suggests a plan of attack for the team in trying to acquire the Japanese ace. While bringing an end to “The Curse” is no longer a selling point (as it may have been to Jon Lester and some others, according to Mooney), Chicago still has plenty to offer as a city. Hoyer will be working hard to put together a more attractive pitch to Ohtani and his agents than the other 29 MLB teams that will be vying for the two-way star’s services.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Alex Cobb Discusses Cubs, Free Agency]]> 2017-11-11T02:02:45Z 2017-11-11T02:01:17Z In an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Friday, free agent right-hander Alex Cobb spoke highly of Cubs manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey, as Patrick Mooney of NBC Sports Chicago details. Cobb spent the first seven years of his career in Tampa Bay, where he played under Maddon (2011-14) and Hickey (through 2017), which has led to speculation that the Cubs will pursue him in free agency. On the possibility of joining the Cubs and reuniting with Maddon and Hickey, Cobb said, “Obviously, if we move down the line and we’re able to have some discussions with them, I’d be very honored to be able to talk with them and hopefully come to a deal.”

    Before Cobb’s eligible to sign with the Cubs or another team, he’ll have to reject the Rays’ $17.4MM qualifying offer, which he hinted he’ll do when he said, “You’re talking about, hopefully, a decision that’s going to impact the next five years of your life. Based on that comment, it seems Cobb is seeking a five-year deal (MLBTR is projecting he’ll land a four-year arrangement), though he insisted that he’ll prioritize team success over money. “I’ve been through both. I’ve been through losing seasons and I’ve been through winning seasons,” he stated. “And the amount of joy that winning brings to us – it can’t be replaced by a dollar figure.”

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Could Pursue Greg Holland]]> 2017-11-10T01:49:27Z 2017-11-09T22:22:29Z Though Greg Holland turned down his $15MM player option and will also reject his $17.4MM qualifying offer, it’s not yet a foregone conclusion that his Denver days are in the past, writes FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The Rockies “believe that Holland is the right leader” for their young pitching staff and will seek to re-sign him to a more lucrative multi-year offer, per Heyman. They will, of course, face a fair bit of competition in that pursuit. Heyman lists the Cubs and Cardinals as teams that will possibly be in the market for Holland this offseason as well.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs To Hire Brandon Hyde As Bench Coach]]> 2017-11-09T16:07:36Z 2017-11-09T16:07:36Z The Cubs have decided to hire Brandon Hyde as their new bench coach, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Chicago found itself in need when Dave Martinez departed to manage the Nationals.

    Hyde, 44, is certainly a familiar face for the Cubs. He most recently served on skipper Joe Maddon’s staff as first base coach. Before that, Hyde was the bench coach under prior manager Rick Renteria and also coached for the Marlins earlier in his career.

    Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Examining Draft Pick Compensation For The 6 Teams That Could Lose Qualified Free Agents]]> 2017-11-09T00:53:16Z 2017-11-08T22:30:35Z Six different teams made qualifying offers to free agents this winter.  Assuming the nine players turn down the one-year, $17.4MM offer, here’s what each of those teams stands to gain in draft pick compensation.

    [Related: Offseason Primer: The New Qualifying Offer Rules]


    The Cubs made qualifying offers to right-handers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis.  The Cubs were neither a revenue sharing recipient nor a competitive balance tax payor.  Therefore, regardless of the size of the contracts Arrieta and Davis sign, the Cubs will receive draft pick compensation after Competitive Balance Round B, which takes place after the second round.


    The Cardinals made a qualifying offer to starter Lance Lynn.  Like the Cubs, they were neither a revenue sharing recipient nor a competitive balance tax payor.  Regardless of the amount Lynn signs for, the Cardinals will receive draft pick compensation after Competitive Balance Round B.


    The Royals made qualifying offers to center fielder Lorenzo Cain, first baseman Eric Hosmer, and third baseman Mike Moustakas.  The Royals were a revenue sharing recipient.  If any of their three free agents sign for a guarantee of $50MM or more, the Royals get draft pick compensation after the first round.  For any of the three that signs for less than $50MM, the Royals get draft pick compensation after Comp Round B.  MLBTR projects all three players to sign for well over $50MM, so the Royals should have a very favorable draft pool in 2018, potentially adding three picks in the top 35 or so if all three sign elsewhere.


    The Rays made a qualifying offer to right-hander Alex Cobb.  They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rockies, and Indians.  However, Cobb is a borderline free agent when it comes to a $50MM contract, in our estimation.  The team will be rooting for him to reach that threshold, as the Rays would then net a compensatory pick after the first round.  If Cobb falls shy of that total guarantee, the Rays will receive an extra pick after Comp Round B.


    The Rockies made a qualifying offer to closer Greg Holland.  They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rays, and Indians.  Holland, too, is a borderline $50MM free agent, though he certainly figures to aim higher than that in the early stages of free agency.  If he reaches $50MM+, the Rox will get a pick after the first round.  If not, they’ll receive a pick after Comp Round B.


    The Indians made a qualifying offer to first baseman Carlos Santana.  They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rays, and Rockies.  Santana is another borderline $50MM free agent in our estimation, but it’s certainly possible he clears that threshold and nets Cleveland a pick after the first round.

    So, the Cubs and Cardinals already know where their draft-pick compensation will land if their qualified free agents sign elsewhere: after Competitive Balance Round B, which currently starts with pick No. 76.  The Royals, Rays, Rockies, and Indians will all be rooting for their free agents to sign for at least $50MM, granting them compensation after the first round, which begins with pick No. 31.