MLB Trade Rumors » » Chicago Cubs 2018-02-25T05:04:18Z Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Made Addison Russell Available In Trade Talks]]> 2018-02-17T23:00:38Z 2018-02-17T23:00:38Z Addison Russell was made available in various Cubs trade talks over the offseason. a rival official told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.  It should be noted that “made available” is quite different than openly shopping a player, as it isn’t any surprise that the Cubs at least explored the possibility of moving Russell or other notable names over the course of the winter.  Theo Epstein even said during his end-of-season chat with reporters that his team would consider trading from areas of depth to address other needs, though it’s interesting to note that the Cubs have yet to make any trades this offseason, instead turning to free agency to add starting and relief pitching.  Russell, for his part, considers Chicago’s position player depth to be “a beautiful thing,” and is pleased to still be in a Cubs uniform.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Sign Shae Simmons]]> 2018-02-16T18:04:44Z 2018-02-16T18:00:43Z Feb. 16: The Cubs have formally announced the signing of Simmons to a one-year, split Major League contract. He’s been placed on the 40-man roster, with left-hander Drew Smyly (recovering from Tommy John surgery) moving to the 60-day DL to create a roster spot.

Feb. 14: The Cubs have signed righty Shae Simmons to a split contract, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter links).  The deal will pay Simmons $750K if he cracks Chicago’s Major League roster, and $120K if he remains in the minors.  The contract will be official once Simmons passes a physical, according to’s Carrie Muskat.

That last detail is an important one given how Simmons has been plagued by injuries for the better part of three years.  Simmons looked good as a hard-throwing rookie with the Braves in 2014 but then underwent Tommy John surgery in February 2015.  Beyond just the usual 12-15 month recovery timeline for that procedure, Simmons’ return by halted by a variety of injury setbacks, and then further halted by a forearm strain that kept him out of action for a large chunk of the 2017 season.  Over the last two seasons, Simmons has tossed only 14 1/3 total innings.

The Mariners acquired Simmons and Mallex Smith for Luiz Gohara and lefty prospect Thomas Burrows in January 2017, though Simmons’ forearm problems kept him from developing into any sort of a real weapon out of Seattle’s bullpen.  The M’s non-tendered Simmons last December, ending his tenure with the team after just 7 2/3 innings and a 7.04 ERA.

Despite the injuries and the control problems that have plagued Simmons throughout his career, the Cubs have little to lose in taking a flier on the 27-year-old.  Simmons has shown flashes of dominance when healthy, including some dominant numbers (2.06 ERA, 12.6 K/9) over 131 1/3 career minor league frames.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mike Montgomery Wants To Remain With The Cubs]]> 2018-02-15T03:01:07Z 2018-02-15T03:01:07Z
  • Reports back in December indicated that Cubs swingman Mike Montgomery wanted to be a full-time starting pitcher, though the southpaw told reporters (including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times) that he was just indicating his preference rather than demanding a role change.  “It wasn’t like, ’Hey, make me a starter or I get traded,’ ” Montgomery said.  “It wasn’t that black and white.  It was just, ’Hey, I want to be a starter.’….I think it’s obvious I want to do that, and I think it’s just a matter of time and place and situation.”  Chicago’s addition of Yu Darvish would seem to bump Montgomery back into his swingman spot, yet that hasn’t changed his feelings about remaining a Cub.  I definitely want to be here.  I know I want to be a starter, but, look, being a part of this team the last couple years, it’s a special group, and we not only have a good team, but I’ve never had more fun playing baseball,” Montgomery said. 
  • Also from Wittenmyer’s piece, he notes that the Cubs have been getting trade interest in Montgomery since the Darvish signing, with the Phillies and possibly other teams calling about Montgomery’s availability even long before Darvish came to Wrigleyville.  Philadelphia’s interest isn’t a surprise, as the Phils have seemingly checked in on just about every controllable young starter that could conceivably be a trade candidate.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Epstein On Signing Of Yu Darvish]]> 2018-02-14T15:51:22Z 2018-02-14T14:45:35Z With the Cubs introducing righty Yu Darvish yesterday, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times covers the key takeaways. Other teams dangled six-year offers of similar value, per Wittenmyer, though it seems that interest at a higher price point simply did not develop. Whether that means the Cubs secured a relative bargain or simply reflects the league’s valuation of an excellent but hardly flawless pitcher, the bottom line is that Darvish represents a major addition to one of the game’s best rosters. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says the team was pleasantly surprised to be able to land Darvish at a rate that still kept the overall payroll under the luxury tax line. He also noted that the team will now have limited capacity for taking on salary during the course of the season. While Epstein framed the matter as one of managing the team’s short and long-term spending ability, those comments seemingly indicate that the luxury line is functioning as a soft ceiling this year for yet another top MLB organization.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Cubs Sign Yu Darvish]]> 2018-02-13T18:20:02Z 2018-02-13T17:45:59Z TUESDAY: The Cubs have announced the deal.

    It breaks down as follows, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter): $25MM in 2018, $20MM in 2019, $22MM apiece in 2020 and 2021, $19MM in 2022, and $18MM in 2023. That allocation means that Darvish will face at least a four-year, $81MM decision (depending upon escalators) when his opt-out opportunity arises.

    Per Nightengale, also, the full no-trade protection extends through the first four years of the contract.

    SUNDAY, 4:05pm: Darvish has a full no-trade clause for part of the deal, then it switches to a 12-team list, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link).

    1:50pm: Darvish has the ability to block a trade to nearly every team, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. Additionally, in any year of the contract, he could earn $2MM extra with a Cy Young Award or $1MM if he finishes second to fifth in the voting.

    SATURDAY, 6:02pm: Darvish’s opt-out comes after the 2019 season, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.

    5:17pm: The Cubs and Yu Darvish have agreed to terms on a contract that will bring the righty to Chicago, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports on Twitter. The deal guarantees the Wasserman client $126MM over six years (though the total value can reportedly reach $150MM via escalators), and is pending a physical. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the contract also includes both an opt-out clause “earlier than three years into his contract” and no-trade protection (Twitter link).


    With Darvish in the fold alongside Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks and Tyler Chatwood, the reigning NL Central champs will have one of the more complete (and formidable) rotations in all of baseball. Thanks in part to that group, they should enter the upcoming season as the favorites to win the division again, despite the aggressive moves the rival Brewers have made this winter.

    In Darvish, who divided last year between the Rangers and Dodgers, the Cubs are getting a hurler who in 2017 ranked as the majors’ 16th-best pitcher by fWAR (3.5) and 12th-best in terms of strikeouts per nine innings (10.08). He also racked up 186 2/3 innings, his most since 2013, and pitched to a 3.86 ERA/3.83 FIP. He figures to replace Jake Arrieta near the front of the Cubs’ rotation. Because Darvish was part of a midseason trade, the Dodgers could not issue him a qualifying offer to begin the winter. Consequently, reeling him in won’t cost Chicago any draft-pick compensation or international bonus pool money.

    Of course, the impact of this signing sends ripples far beyond the NL Central alone. MLBTR had ranked Darvish as the best available free agent among our top 50 (Tim Dierkes & Co. actually predicted he’d end up with the Cubs). This deal could well mean that many other free agent dominoes will begin to fall soon. In particular, many have theorized that teams may have been waiting for Darvish to sign before moving onto lesser free agents such as Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. The Dodgers, Twins, and Brewers had all reportedly made serious offers for Darvish; they’ll now have to set their sights on other options.

    The contract itself is by far the largest ever given to a free agent in February. Although the total guarantee is significantly south of the $160MM we predicted he’d receive back in November, the deal itself could perhaps ease some of the ongoing tension between the players union and MLB, which has escalated to a boiling point in recent weeks due to teams’ unwillingness to meet the asking prices of many top free agents. There has perhaps been as much focus on the glacial pace of the offseason as there has been on the free agents themselves, and the Darvish signing is certainly a step in the right direction.

    On the other hand, the top four remaining free agents are now J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Jake Arrieta and Mike Moustakas – all of whom are clients of Scott Boras. With the super-agent firmly in control of the top of the market, there’s no guarantee that other pieces will fall into place any time soon.

    [RELATED: Updated Cubs Depth Chart/Team Payroll]

    Darvish’s major league career started out in spectacular fashion. After the Rangers spent over $100MM between salary guarantees and posting fees in order to sign him out of Japan prior to 2012, he rewarded them by delivering two consecutive seasons of at least 4.5 fWAR. The talented righty was on his way to another fantastic campaign in 2014, but had to be shut down in August due to elbow issues. Those issues ultimately led to a Tommy John surgery in March of the following year, meaning the ace didn’t take the mound for the Rangers for nearly two years.

    When Darvish made his return on May 28, 2016, he picked up right where he left off. In 287 innings since that date, all Darvish has done is strike out 341 hitters while walking just 89. His 3.70 ERA and 3.49 xFIP during that span are among the best marks in the major leagues, and he’s posted the 14th-best soft contact rate in the major leagues during that span.

    Of course, Darvish’s solid 2017 season was unfortunately covered in shadow by his dreadful World Series performance with the Dodgers. He faced 22 Astros hitters across his two starts while recording just 10 outs and allowing eight earned runs. Darvish was saddled with the loss for both of those games, one of which was the seventh and final game of the series.

    However, while his bellyflop is perhaps the most prominent impression left in the minds of Dodgers fans, there are a number of important factors to consider. The first and perhaps most obvious is that 3 1/3 innings is an incredibly small sample size, particularly against a juggernaut Astros offense that also tore through pitchers like Chris Sale in the same postseason. Another is that many Astros hitters went on record saying that Darvish was tipping his pitches in Game Seven; they could tell whether he was going to throw a cutter or a breaking ball by watching whether he adjusted his grip on the ball before bringing it to his glove. Finally, the two World Series starts were Darvish’s 36th and 37th of the season, which is especially notable because he hadn’t pitched a more than 150 innings in a season since 2013.

    Darvish’s pitch arsenal is one of his most unique assets. According to Brooks Baseball, he threw a four-seamer, slider, sinker, curve, cutter, change-up and splitter during the 2017 season. While the sinker and change-up were each utilized less than 2% of the time, such an expansive repertoire sets Darvish apart from other MLB aces. Fortunately for him, he’ll once again be reunited with catcher Chris Gimenez. The two played together during their years with the Rangers, where Gimenez had great success working with Darvish and his arsenal. The Cubs signed Gimenez to a minor-league deal about three weeks ago, though whether that factor had any impact at all on Davish’s decision is a guessing game at this point.

    While there’s a chance Darvish will pitch to Gimenez in 2018, it seems likely most of his work will come with starting catcher Willson Contreras. The 25-year-old expressed excitement about the Darvish deal on Twitter, noting that he “can’t wait to catch” the four-time All-Star.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Reportedly Made Late Call To Arrieta Before Signing Darvish]]> 2018-02-12T06:01:06Z 2018-02-12T04:25:21Z The Cubs “put in one last call” to Jake Arrieta before completing their six-year, $126MM deal with Yu Darvish, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.  Heyman says Epstein respectfully inquired as to whether Arrieta would have been willing to accept “a deal believed to be similar to the one offered to Darvish should Darvish turn them down.”  According to Heyman, “while Arrieta surely appreciated the gesture, he wasn’t immediately prepared to accept a six-year deal for what was believed to be for a similar annual salary.” 

    A careful reading of Heyman’s phrasing is advised, as he at no point states that the Cubs actually made a six-year offer to Arrieta.  Nor could one accurately say Arrieta turned down a six-year offer from the Cubs, as we erroneously did in an earlier version of this post.  Last Wednesday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that “the Cubs and Arrieta barely even engaged in contract talks this winter.”  If that’s correct, it would be odd for Epstein to even have made an intimation of a six-year offer around that same time.

    It isn’t uncommon for teams or their free agents to touch base with each other one final time before either side is on the verge of a move, either out of mutual respect and/or genuine interest to see if a deal could be reached.  (For one example from this winter, Carlos Santana’s representatives kept the Indians up to date on his market just to leave open the possibility that the Tribe could’ve found the payroll space to keep Santana in Cleveland.)  It also isn’t an uncommon tactic for a team to approach several similarly-valued free agents with similar contact offers to see which, if any, accepts first.

    Certainly, it doesn’t seem that Arrieta or his agent Scott Boras felt the need to jump at the Cubs’ offer, as Boras is still confident his client will land a deal closer to the much higher price tag Boras was reportedly seeking earlier this offseason.  While the lack of free agent activity around the sport is “not traditional,” Boras said, “it seems normal (now). The free agent market is now under way. For me, it’s December 10th, not February 10th.”  Heyman gives an idea of Arrieta’s possible current asking price, writing, “Some might have seen the Cubs’ last-minute inquiry as a chance to end a difficult free-agent season happily, but others understood that Arrieta probably wasn’t going to take a much lower deal than Jon Lester’s in light of the fact that a strong case could be made he’s outperformed Lester over the last few years.”  Heyman’s “case” for Arrieta as compared to Lester is certainly worth debating.  Lester signed a six-year, $155MM deal with the Cubs on the eve of his 31st birthday, on the back of a huge walk year that resulted in a fourth-place Cy Young finish and a big market bidding war.  Arrieta turns 32 soon and is coming off a good, but not great, year.  He’s also battling a historically slow free agent market that is likely to leave at least a few big names disappointed.

    Heyman lists the Brewers, Nationals, Phillies, Twins, and Cardinals as “the most logical teams” that could still make a play for Arrieta, though he notes that the latter two clubs seem like longer shots.  Milwaukee, Washington, and Philadelphia have all been linked to Arrieta at various points this winter and, now that Darvish is off the board, Arrieta might be the top target for a Brewers team that has money to spend and a need for front-of-the-rotation pitching.  The Phillies also have a glaring rotation need but may still be a year away from serious spending (their deal with Santana notwithstanding), while the Nats would have to carve out payroll space or simply accept a big luxury tax overage in order to sign Arrieta.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Poll: Grading The Yu Darvish Deal]]> 2018-02-11T17:07:59Z 2018-02-11T16:27:42Z Unfortunately for those who follow baseball, the most popular topic in the sport this offseason has been the historically slow free-agent market. Upward of 100 players remain without contracts as spring training nears, but the good news is that the top available veteran finally came off the board Saturday.

    The six-year, $126MM agreement the Cubs reached with right-hander Yu Darvish will hopefully lead to a flurry of signings in the near future. Regardless of how the majors’ other 29 teams react, it likely concludes the offseason heavy lifting for Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, who have added Darvish, two other starters (Tyler Chatwood and the injured Drew Smyly) and a pair of established relievers (Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek) to a club that ruled the National League Central in each of the previous two years.

    Even without Darvish, the Cubs probably would have entered 2018 as the popular pick to win the division, though arguments could have been made for either the rival Brewers or Cardinals to seriously challenge for the crown. Both Milwaukee and St. Louis have been active this offseason after nearly making the playoffs last year. As things stand, though, they’re clearly looking up at a Cubs team with a set rotation (Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester and Chatwood) and an enviable group of position players. There was speculation earlier in the offseason that Chicago would deal from its lineup and/or farm system to boost the front of its rotation, but bringing in Darvish officially took that possibility out of play.

    Along with retaining their position players and prospects, there are other other obvious benefits to picking up Darvish, including that he’s a tremendous starter who should boost the Cubs’ World Series chances in the coming years. The towering flamethrower, who emigrated from Japan in 2012, generally thrived with the Rangers and Dodgers, and there’s little reason to expect he’ll fail in Chicago in the near term. Speaking of the Dodgers, they rank as arguably the prominent concern in the NL for the Cubs (with Darvish’s help, they upended Chicago in the NLCS last season), so pilfering the 31-year-old from LA makes the signing all the more satisfying for Chicago. Plus, because Darvish was part of a midseason trade and wasn’t eligible for an offseason qualifying offer, reeling him in won’t cost the Cubs anything in draft-pick compensation or international bonus pool money.

    With Darvish now in the mix, the Cubs will say goodbye to free agent Jake Arrieta, who did receive a QO after the season. When he heads elsewhere, Chicago will nab a pick after the second round of this year’s draft in return. Of course, even though Darvish is more hyped than Arrieta and will likely end up with the bigger guarantee of the two this winter, some may prefer the latter. The soon-to-be 32-year-old Arrieta wasn’t great last season, when he alarmingly lost some velocity, but he has been the more successful of the two in recent years. During his run as a Cub from 2014-17, Arrieta ranked third among starters in ERA (2.67), fifth in fWAR (18.5) and collected a Cy Young Award (2015).

    Even if you’d rather have Darvish than Arrieta, the contract comes with some risk for the Cubs (which you’d expect with all big-money accords). Specifically, it’s in the form of an opt-out clause after the 2019 season. If Darvish pitches well enough over the next two years to vacate the deal in favor of another trip to the market, his departure would create a sizable hole for a Chicago team that hasn’t had great success at developing starters during the Epstein era, as Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic recently detailed (subscription required).

    On the other hand, should he go downhill during the next two years and stick with his current contract, it could leave the Cubs with another expensive, declining veteran to join Lester (guaranteed $25MM after 2019, including a $10MM buyout for 2021) and outfielder Jason Heyward (guaranteed $86MM from 2020-23). The Cubs took the opt-out risk on Heyward when they signed him to an $184MM contract prior to 2016, when he was one of the sport’s foremost all-around players. Since then, his offensive game has gone in the tank, making it unlikely he’ll leave when he’s allowed to after next season or potentially at the end of the 2019 campaign.

    To the Cubs’ credit, the $126MM guarantee looks quite reasonable for Darvish, and at $21MM per year, it’s palatable from a luxury tax standpoint. During a normal winter, Darvish may have ended up with a much wealthier contract. In fact, at the start of what has since turned into a bizarre offseason, MLBTR predicted a six-year, $160MM payday for Darvish, while former FanGraphs writer Dave Cameron forecast an even richer figure ($168MM) over the same term. All things considered, then, it seems the Cubs made out rather well with this move – one they hope will help guide them back to World Series glory in 2018. What are your thoughts?

    (Poll link for App users)

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reactions To And Effects Of The Yu Darvish Deal]]> 2018-02-11T01:24:20Z 2018-02-11T01:21:19Z It took over three months, but the premier free agent in this year’s class finally came off the board Saturday. Right-hander Yu Darvish agreed to join the Cubs on a six-year, $126MM guarantee that includes an opt-out clause after 2019. As you’d expect, a bevy of media reactions to the agreement have come in over the course of the day. Here’s a look at several…

    • When the offseason began in November, Darvish “wasn’t really” on Chicago’s radar, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reports on Twitter. However, it seems the Cubs benefited from this winter’s slow-moving free-agent market in this case, as it helped lead to a lower-than-expected price tag for Darvish and a major splash for the North Siders. Darvish went into the winter seeking an accord along the lines of Stephen Strasburg’s (seven years, $175MM) or new teammate Jon Lester’s (six years, $155MM), Patrick Mooney of The Athletic details (subscription required).
    • While there’s a well-known fondness between Darvish and the Rangers, with whom he has spent the majority of his career, Texas was “not even close” to landing him, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hears. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News adds that Texas didn’t make an offer to Darvish, and the club wouldn’t even have been willing to guarantee him $75MM in total if it did. The Rangers have a glaring need for a front-end starter, but they’re not close enough to contention to splurge on one, Grant writes. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, who has a good relationship with Darvish, spoke highly of the 31-year-old on Saturday. “I am very happy for Yu and hope he gets everything he wants,” Daniels said (via Wilson). “He will go down as one of the best pitchers in Rangers history. I expect he’s going to be very good wherever he goes.”
    • The Dodgers, Darvish’s other ex-team, made him an offer, but it fell short of the Cubs’, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) and Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times report. Contrarily, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets that LA was “said to have offered in the same ballpark” as Chicago. Although, signing Darvish would have made it difficult for the Dodgers to achieve their goal of staying under the $197MM luxury tax threshold in 2018.
    • Likewise, tax concerns stood in the way of a Yankees-Darvish union. New York never even made Darvish an offer, Rosenthal tweets.
    • The small-market Twins aggressively went after Darvish this winter, even meeting with him in Texas at some point, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Their offer to Darvish was for at least five years and $100MM, according to Heyman (Twitter link). The Twins’ courtship of Darvish went for naught, though, perhaps thanks to their dislike for opt-out clauses and a wariness toward giving him a sixth year, writes Berardino, who adds that they could now look to top available starter Jake Arrieta. On the trade front, Rays righties Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi remain on Minnesota’s radar, relays Berardino, though he suggests the Twins would have to give up too much for the former. Meanwhile, Rosenthal reports that there’s a belief among rival executives the Twins could still add a starter via both free agency and the trade market. Along with Odorizzi, he lists free agent Alex Cobb and Astros righty Collin McHugh as hurlers who have drawn Minnesota’s interest.
    • The upstart Brewers were part of the Darvish derby, too, and the belief is that they also submitted a proposal of at least five years and $100MM, Heyman tweets. However, Rosenthal hears that Milwaukee’s offer “was not as competitive as reports indicated.” Further, Rosenthal suggests that the Brewers may have primarily been in the running just to drive up the price for the NL Central rival Cubs. Regardless, with Darvish now out of the mix, Odorizzi and the Athletics’ Jharel Cotton are trade possibilities for the Brew Crew, according to Rosenthal.
    • In addition to the previously listed Twins and Brewers, the Dodgers and the Phillies are still targeting starters in the wake of the Darvish deal, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. Philadelphia is aggressively pursuing a short-term addition, per Mark Feinsand of Andrew Cashner, Chris Tillman, Jaime Garcia and Jason Vargas are all possibilities, Feinsand adds.
    • Keith Law of ESPN (subscription required) has mixed feelings on the Darvish pact. While it “appears to be a bargain salary,” Law has reservations about the length, contending that it’s one or two years too long, and he doesn’t regard Darvish “a pure ace.” Darvish has become too reliant on his cutter and not reliant enough on his slider, which has led to vulnerability against left-handed hitters, Law observes. However, Darvish may have “some untapped potential right now” if he leans more on his slider, per Law, who at least sees him as a significant near-term upgrade for the Cubs.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Defeat Justin Grimm In Arbitration]]> 2018-02-08T21:55:31Z 2018-02-08T20:45:57Z The Cubs have won their arbitration hearing against righty Justin Grimm, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). Grimm will play for $2.2MM in the coming season after filing for a $2.475MM salary.

    Grimm, who earned $1.825MM in 2017, struggled to a 5.53 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 1.93 HR/9 and a 43.1 percent ground-ball rate in 55 1/3 innings for the Cubs last year. The 2017-18 offseason marks his third winter of arbitration eligibility, though due to his status as a Super Two player, he’ll be eligible once more next offseason before reaching free agency upon the completion of the 2019 campaign.

    Grimm represented the last unresolved arbitration case for the Cubs, who had previously cut deals to avoid a hearing with Kris Bryant, Tommy La Stella, Kyle Hendricks, Addison Russell and Justin Wilson.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Market For Lance Lynn]]> 2018-02-08T18:58:36Z 2018-02-08T18:58:36Z Free agent hurler Lance Lynn has received interest from “seven or eight teams,” according to a report from Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His former team, the Cardinals, is not one of them.

    Lynn, of course, declined a qualifying offer from St. Louis at the start the offseason. It seems the club is now content to allow him to leave, knowing that it’ll receive a draft choice after the Competitive Balance Round B selections so long as Lynn signs before this year’s draft.

    Clearly, Lynn is worthy of punting some draft compensation. But while the CBA’s new qualifying offer rules have generally put that matter on the back burner, parting with draft value is still a factor in any free agent case. (MLBTR has run down what draft picks each team would need to sacrifice to sign a qualified free agent such as Lynn.)

    As we’ve noted of late, Lynn has had a quiet offseason but remains an easy-to-visualize fit with quite a few organizations. Among the teams showing some level of interest, per Goold, are the Brewers and Cubs — two teams that are plenty familiar with Lynn from his lengthy stint with the Cardinals. The article also rounds up reported interest from other quarters, mentioning the Orioles, Twins, Nationals, and Mets as plausible suitors. Indeed, a run through MLBTR’s log of posts involving Lynn shows no shortage of possibilities.

    Lynn himself discussed the situation with Goold, though he declined to get into specifics on teams. You’ll want to read the entire piece, as it’s loaded with interesting information and discussion, but generally Lynn suggests he feels comfortable preparing as normal despite his lack of a contract. “I haven’t missed anything,” he said. “There’s nothing really to worry about — at this moment.”

    Goold also examines Lynn’s value against prior open-market players, suggesting the Tigers’ signing of Jordan Zimmermann — five years and $110MM, with strong no-trade protection — as a comp. While there’s certainly an argument to be made for that kind of analogy given Lynn’s bottom-line results, the view of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes — as explained first in the MLBTR Top 50 Free Agents list and expanded upon in his free agent profile of Lynn — is that the veteran righty isn’t quite in that stratosphere, due in large part to concerns with the peripherals. MLBTR has pegged Lynn for a four-year deal in the $14MM or $15MM annual range, citing a variety of teams as plausible fits on paper.

    In large part, the overall market picture remains much the same as it was when Dierkes set out to evaluate things before the action got underway. Just how Lynn’s situation will shake out, though, is even more difficult to predict now than it was then. The overall tenor of Lynn’s comments, and Goold’s reporting, suggests that this free agent case is not particularly close to resolution.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Have Had Little Contact With Jake Arrieta]]> 2018-02-07T21:18:19Z 2018-02-07T19:08:32Z
  • As for Jake Arrieta, we have not heard a ton of public chatter. There isn’t much new, it seems, but Nightengale does suggest that one hypothetical possibility isn’t likely: the incumbent Cubs have “barely even engaged in contract talks” with their former staff ace, per the report. That is not very surprising, of course. The sides already know one another (and their respective bargaining positions) quite well. And it’s clear that, while a reunion has always remained hypothetically possible, both team and player intended to explore alternatives during the winter. Still, it’s notable that they have evidently not circled back around to one another to this point.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[NL Central Notes: Grimm, Brewers, Reds]]> 2018-02-06T16:41:23Z 2018-02-05T20:08:18Z The Cubs and Justin Grimm will have an arbitration hearing this week, reports ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers (Twitter link). The right-hander filed for a $2.475MM salary for the 2018 campaign, while the Cubs filed at $2.2MM (as seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker). The two sides haven’t been able to make any progress in their talks, per Rogers, so they’ll head to what will be the Cubs’ first arbitration hearing in the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer era. Grimm, who earned $1.825MM in 2017, struggled to a 5.53 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 4.4 BB/9, 1.93 HR/9 and a 43.1 percent ground-ball rate in 55 1/3 innings for the Cubs last year. The 2017-18 offseason marks his second winter of arbitration eligibility as he heads into his age-29 season.

    Elsewhere in the division…

    • The Brewers have the capacity to add to their payroll even after acquiring Christian Yelich and signing Lorenzo Cain, Jhoulys Chacin, Boone Logan and Matt Albers this offseason, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel“Mark wants to do what’s in the best interests of the organization,” GM David Stearns tells Haudricourt. “He has made that very clear throughout my time here and even before I got here. He’s going to be supportive of the baseball process. He’s going to be supportive of investing when it’s warranted.” That said, Haudricourt notes that a top-of-the-market offer for a free agent like Yu Darvish still doesn’t seem likely, per Haudricourt, and the Brewers do want to leave some room for in-season moves, should the need arise.
    • Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, Brandon Finnegan and Luis Castillo will head into Reds camp as the top four rotation options, writes’s Mark Sheldon, but the competition for the fifth spot is “wide open.” Tyler Mahle, Sal Romano, Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Jackson Stephens and 2017 setup man Michael Lorenzen will all vie for that job. (Presumably, a return to the bullpen would be in order for Lorenzen should he not win the final spot, whereas the others would likely head to Triple-A Louisville.) “We want to make sure we have depth in our starting rotation, and we’ve got a lot of good, young guys with options that we still believe in as starters,” said GM Dick Williams. “…I would also leave the door open that out of [the fifth starter’s mix], there is a possibility, like last year, that you could see someone appear in the Major League bullpen just to get exposure and to help the team.”
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Seeking Pitching Depth]]> 2018-02-04T03:42:33Z 2018-02-04T03:42:33Z
  • The Cubs are “still looking to add depth” to their pitching staff, general manager Jed Hoyer tells Jesse Rogers of “That’s an annual thing you think about. You prepare for injuries even if some years you go unscathed,” he continued. Starting depth does appear to be an issue at the moment for the Cubs, who lack battle-tested options beyond their current projected rotation of Kyle Hendricks, Jose Quintana, Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood and Mike Montgomery. Of the other healthy starting possibilities on their 40-man roster, only Eddie Butler brings significant experience in the majors, though he hasn’t been particularly successful. Of course, the Cubs would help their cause quite a bit by signing Yu Darvish (who remains on their radar) or bringing in another high-profile starter via free agency or trade.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Latest Reactions to Slow-Moving Offseason]]> 2018-02-03T20:01:03Z 2018-02-03T16:28:12Z The offseason continues to move painfully slowly. With spring training on the horizon, there’s not much time left for the staring contest between teams and players to break. Indeed, the past week has yielded more news by way of shouting from players, agents and union reps than by way of actual major league signings. We’ve collected some of the reactions from around the baseball community…

    • As one might expect, the colorfully hyperbolic Scott Boras has offered his input on the subject (via Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports), comparing the market phenomenon to the act of murder. “The difference between an accident and murder is intent,” Boras says. “Teams are intentionally murdering seasons and fans are dying with it.” Boras also says that the biggest issue is competition, adding that losing is only acceptable if there is an actual effort to win.
    • “The list of available free agents could fill out a 25-man roster and contend for a playoff spot,” writes Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star. Dodd also includes quotes from Peter Moylan, which provide some interesting insight into the point of view of a lower-tier MLB free agent. Moylan describes his situation in terms of the uncertainty, telling Dodd that the only thing that is a “little frustrating” is the unknown. Moylan’s examples of the unknown include not knowing where he’ll be in two weeks, not knowing where he’ll be playing during the regular season, and the resulting inability to line up housing for either. The 39-year-old righty pitched to a 3.49 ERA across 59 1/3 innings last year for the Royals, and has publicly stated his desire to remain with the team.
    • The MLBPA is “laying the dynamite around itself” with its threats of spring training boycotts and accusations of collusion, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Davidoff describes Brodie Van Wagenen’s recent statement as a “boiling point of sorts,” and wonders what can possibly be accomplished by all this “saber-rattling.” Davidoff seems to downplay the anger and threats from the union and player representatives, pointing out (by way of recent words from Brandon Moss) that they chose to sign a collective bargaining agreement that rewards tanking and penalizes clubs for spending too much.
    • Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated opines that the players “bargained for luxury, not labor” in his take on the subject. Verducci also highlights Moss’ words, describing the current CBA as “the deal that stiffened the soft cap created by a luxury tax threshold that hasn’t come close to keeping up with growth in revenues and payrolls.” He adds that the union celebrated something of a “Pyrrhic win” in its prevention of an international draft, which Verducci calls a bluff.
    • The mystery of the bizarre offseason before us can’t be solved by simply crying “collusion,” Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes, drawing attention to multiple factors in this offseason’s pace in a piece that’s definitely worth a full read. Some of those factors include a logjam at the top of the market (perhaps caused by CBA incentives for teams to tighten their purse strings), and the perceived value of youth in baseball.
    • For his part, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is surprised that he’s headed to Arizona with so much offseason left to go. In an interview with Jesse Rogers of ESPN, Hoyer chalks the hot stove freeze up to something that seems quite simple on the surface: both players and teams feel justified in their positions. “Every team has their internal rankings,” he tells Rogers. “Every team has their evaluations which they will never reveal. Those rankings guide them through the market. Both sides of the market can always move or activate and free things up. To this point, we haven’t gotten there.”
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Cubs' Pursuit Of Yu Darvish]]> 2018-02-01T23:02:56Z 2018-02-01T23:02:56Z
  • Yu Darvish is still on the radar for both the Cubs and Dodgers, though with some caveats.  Chicago “seem to be hoping that Darvish will choose them for reasons that are not economic,” which implies that Darvish would drop his asking price to play for a World Series contender.  In the Dodgers’ case, there is “some ambivalence by at least some” at the ownership level about bringing Darvish back in the wake of his well-publicized struggles during the World Series.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs, Peter Bourjos Agree To Minor League Deal]]> 2018-02-01T18:05:04Z 2018-02-01T18:04:44Z 12:04pm: Bourjos will earn a $1.45MM base salary if he makes the big league roster with the Cubs, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link).

    11:57am: The Cubs have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Peter Bourjos, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). The Dishman Sports Group client will be invited to Major League Spring Training and vie for a reserve job with the reigning NL Central champs.

    Bourjos, 30, spent the 2017 season with the Rays and appeared in 100 games, hitting .223/.272/.383 with five homers and five steals in 203 plate appearances. A fleet-footed veteran known for his outfield range, he drew positive marks for his glovework both in center field and in right field last season with Tampa Bay.

    Overall, Bourjos hasn’t matched the .271/.327/.438 slash he posted in a promising 2011 season with the Angels, but he’s a career .241/.298/.382 hitter that brings a glowing +37 Defensive Runs Saved and +48.3 Ultimate Zone Rating to the table in 4007 1/3 innings of center field work in the Majors (albeit with much of that positive working coming prior to 2014 hip surgery).

    He’ll head to Spring Training and hope to land a backup job in an outfield mix that includes Albert Almora Jr., Jason Heyward and Kyle Schwarber. Both Ben Zobrist and Ian Happ figure to be in the outfield mix for the Cubs as well, giving Bourjos a pair of switch-hitters with whom to compete. Bourjos has more experience in center field than anyone else on the Cubs’ roster, though, and he’d make for a useful right-handed pairing with Schwarber or Heyward should the Cubs see fit. He struggled against lefties earlier in his career but has hit them at a .278/.320/.406 pace over the past couple of seasons.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/28/18]]> 2018-01-29T02:42:29Z 2018-01-29T02:42:29Z We’ll use this post to keep track of today’s smaller-scale MiLB transactions…

    • The Cubs have signed first base/outfield type Efren Navarro to a minors deal, Anthony Fenech of Baseball America tweets. He’ll also receive a spring training invite. The Angels originally drafted Navarro in the 50th round of the 2007 draft, but his most recent MLB action came with the Tigers last season. During that campaign, he hit .230/.319/.377 while striking out a whopping 30.4% of the time across 69 plate appearances. If there’s any reason for optimism regarding Navarro, it stems from his 11.6% walk rate last season, which is a considerable improvement upon that during his time with the Angels (around 8%). The 31-year-old has also spent time in the upper minors of the Cardinals’ and Mariners’ farm systems.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/26/18]]> 2018-01-27T03:48:29Z 2018-01-27T03:45:15Z Here are Friday’s minor moves from around the league…

    • Chris Cotillo of SB Nation has the news of yet another minors deal, this time a pact between the Twins and Andy Wilkins. The lefty-hitting first baseman has 72 plate appearances and one homer to his name at the big league level (with the White Sox and Brewers), though his career .124/.194/.224 slash line perhaps paints a better picture of his MLB performance thus far. And yet, taking into consideration the 29-year-old’s .254/.358/.474 performance with the Twin’s Double-A affiliate last year, there might still be cause for optimism surrounding his potential to provide value for Minnesota.


    • The Cubs have elected to bring left-hander Michael Roth to the organization on a minor-league deal, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports (Twitter link). Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets that Roth will be paid a $560K salary if he’s able to crack their big-league roster. The former ninth-round pick is entering his age-28 season; he’s made 22 total MLB appearances out of the bullpen for the Rangers and Angels, along with a single start for the latter. He owns a career ERA of 8.50, though run-prevention estimators such as xFIP (4.46) and SIERA (4.04) suggest his actual skill set isn’t quite in line with those disastrous results. Roth has also spent time at the Triple-A affiliates of the Rays, Giants and Indians.
    • The Indians announced that they’ve signed right-hander Preston Claiborne to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training. The 30-year-old Claiborne tossed two innings for the Rangers in 2017 and has a total of 73 1/3 innings of Major League work under his belt — all but last year’s two innings coming with the Yankees in 2013-14. The former 17th-round pick has a career 4.05 ERA with 7.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.7 percent ground-ball rate. Claiborne owns a lifetime 3.09 ERA in 102 Triple-A innings, including a stellar 1.89 mark in 38 innings ith the Rangers’ affiliate last season.
    • The Rays have agreed to minor league deals with catcher Johnny Monell and righty Forrest Snow, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links). Monell, 32 in March, has 61 MLB plate appearances on his resume, most of which came with the 2015 Mets when he hit .167/.231/.208. He’s a career .278/.350/.460 hitter in part of five Triple-A seasons. Snow, 29, has never appeared in the Majors and carries a lackluster 4.84 ERA in parts of seven Triple-A campaigns. However, he’s posted sub-4.00 overall ERAs in each of the past two seasons and thrived in the Venezuelan Winter League last offseason. Snow has significantly bolstered his strikeout rate and lowered his walk rate as well over the past two seasons. Both Monell and Snow will be in Major League camp with the Rays this spring.
    • Tampa Bay also picked up right-hander Ryan Weber on a minor league pact, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 27-year-old has big league time with the Braves and Mariners. Weber logged a scintillating 0.85 ERA, 1.1 BB/9 and 72.5 percent ground-ball rate in 31 2/3 innings with Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate last year, though his 5.4 K/9 mark wasn’t nearly as impressive. Weber appeared in just six games (five starts) all season in 2017 thanks to a biceps strain that kept him on the disabled list for most of the year.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Epstein On Free Agency, Morrow, Core]]> 2018-01-26T03:46:28Z 2018-01-26T03:46:28Z Though it has undeniably been a slow winter, the Cubs have been among the more active organizations in baseball, signing Tyler Chatwood, Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek and Brian Duensing all to multi-year deals. Still, as fans and pundits alike muse on the pace of free agency, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein revealed this week that the Cubs’ front office is in a similar boat.

    In a must-read interview with The Athletic’s Jon Greenberg (subscription link), Epstein says that the glacial offseason and various theories to explain it are a frequent topic of conversation — within the front office and also with players and agents. “We’re all saying to each other, ‘I can’t believe nothing has happened’ and we’re discussing reasons why,” Epstein tells Greenberg.

    It seems that those inside the game are chewing on theories much like the rest of us. We’ve addressed the slow-moving market several times throughout the winter — see, e.g., here and here — while emphasizing that it’s difficult to pinpoint causes or effects at this point. It’s somewhat interesting and notable to hear Epstein himself express similar uncertainty; what’s occurred (or not) to date has certainly set the stage for an unprecedented period of activity before the start of Spring Training and, ultimately, the 2018 season.

    As noted, the Cubs have signed four players to multi-year deals already and may yet add a fifth — they’re reportedly pursuing Yu Darvish, among other free-agent pitchers — and Epstein offered some interesting insight into several of his signings to date. Though he dishes on several moves, his comments on the Morrow signing seem particularly worthy of further exploration.

    Morrow, he states, was told at the time he signed that “he was our closer unless somehow, we were able to bring back Wade Davis.” (That didn’t happen, as Davis inked a three-year, $52MM contract with the Rockies.) The statement not only lends clarity to Morrow’s role but also seemingly casts doubt on the possibility of the Cubs acquiring another high-end reliever, be it free agent Greg Holland or a trade candidate such as Tampa Bay’s Alex Colome.

    Morrow’s two-year, $22MM deal with the Cubs would’ve been little more than fantasy this time last year, as the 33-year-old was coming off a string of up-and-down seasons that were proliferated by injuries. He ultimately settled for a minor league deal with the Dodgers and proved to be one of the best such signees all winter, parlaying a dominant bullpen run into a two-year deal and a ninth-inning gig.

    It’s worth noting that Epstein stressed the Cubs see it as a true ninth-inning role for Morrow. Much in the way the team limited Davis to one-inning stints in the ninth inning (or later in extra innings), Morrow will be deployed primarily for clean innings in save situations. Epstein’s comments on Morrow’s usage are perhaps his most interesting of all, as he outwardly expressed that the team will take suboptimal usage on a nightly basis for a better chance [for Morrow] to stay healthy over the course of seven months.”

    Of course, beyond free agency, the Cubs were expected to be players on the trade market this offseason, as Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer acknowledged early in the offseason that they’d have to be open-minded when it came to potentially trading some young position players (e.g. Albert Almora, Addison Russell, Kyle Schwarber, Javier Baez, Ian Happ) if presented with the opportunity to add a controllable young arm for the rotation. Such opportunities never presented themselves, at least not to the extent that the Cubs saw fit to surrender any of those young hitters in trade talks with a rival club. While some would argue that the Cubs are left with a surplus, Epstein & Co. see things differently.

    “It’s not a coincidence the Royals, us and the Astros all developed a position player core that came up together, went through adversity together, learned to win at the big league level, lost in the postseason and then came back in the postseason to win a championship,” Epstein explains. “…We’re sticking with our identity rather than do deals we didn’t like.”

    While it seems reasonable to presume that the organization has not fully ruled out trades involving these players — indeed, the Cubs were reportedly a finalist for Lorenzo Cain, which might’ve been the prelude to a deal — it certainly sounds as if Epstein expects to keep the position-player unit intact into camp. But that doesn’t mean things won’t get interesting. With plenty of payroll space left to work with, the Cubs remain a looming presence on the free agent market — both this year and next. (After all, as Epstein notes, this offseason presented a “puzzle” in part because it comes “before a really deep, impactful free agent market next year.”)

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Sign Mike Freeman, Kyle Ryan To Minor League Deals]]> 2018-01-25T17:38:44Z 2018-01-25T17:38:44Z The Cubs announced 19 non-roster invitations to Major League Spring Training today (Twitter link), with infielder/outfielder Mike Freeman and left-hander Kyle Ryan standing out as new additions on minor league contracts. Freeman is repped by BASH Baseball, and Ryan is a client of Frontline.

    [Related: Updated Chicago Cubs depth chart]

    The 30-year-old Freeman saw time with the Cubs, Mariners and Dodgers in 2017, appearing at all four infield positions but mustering just a .100/.182/.183 slash in 66 trips to the plate. Freeman’s jack-of-all-trades status on the defensive end of the spectrum and quality on-base numbers in Triple-A have made him a desirable commodity to round out 40-man rosters over the past couple of seasons, though. He played every position other than catcher at the Major League level in 2016-17 and has a career .312/.377/.420 batting line in parts of four Triple-A seasons.

    As for Ryan, the 26-year-old southpaw has appeared in the big leagues in each of the past four seasons with the Tigers, totaling 128 innings of 3.87 ERA ball. Ryan, though, has averaged just 4.9 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 in that time, and his average fastball checks in just south of 89 mph. To his credit, he’s logged a 54 percent ground-ball rate in the Majors and averaged just 0.77 HR/9 in the Majors. Ryan doesn’t come with a discernible platoon split, as lefties have hit him at a .272/.322/.406 clip while righties have batted .256/.335/.390. He’s worked as both a starter and reliever in the past, so he could provide some depth in either category for the Cubs.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Cubs' Pursuit Of Starters]]> 2018-01-24T16:18:32Z 2018-01-24T14:22:14Z
  • Over at The Athletic, Patrick Mooney has a pair of articles (subscription links) regarding the market’s two top pitchers. The Cubs have plenty of money left to work with, he notes, and have seemingly remained engaged with Yu Darvish for much of the winter. That said, there are still alternatives for both team and player; Mooney says the Cubs have other scenarios in mind and notes the possibility of mystery teams in Darvish’s market. It’s less clear, Mooney suggests, that there’s a realistic path back to Chicago for Jake Arrieta. As MLBTR’s 2018 Free Agent Tracker shows, Darvish and Arrieta are just a few of the many starters still available; remarkably, the Cubs’ early agreement with Tyler Chatwood still paces this winter’s market for rotation contracts.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Pursuit Of Yu Darvish]]> 2018-01-25T03:15:37Z 2018-01-24T03:01:28Z Jan. 23: The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney writes that there’s “a sense” that Darvish’s talks with interested parties have gained momentum recently. Moreover, Mooney writes that Darvish’s options are “not limited to the teams identified publicly” — meaning the Cubs, Twins, Rangers, Brewers, Dodgers and Yankees. Darvish remains a focus for the Cubs, according to Mooney, who adds that a reunion with Arrieta “appears to be a long shot.”

    Meanwhile, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that a rival exec who has recently been in contact with the Twins expressed some doubt about Minnesota’s willingness to sign Darvish if it means pushing  into the $150MM territory.

    Jan. 22, 10:45pm: The Cubs are “having active talks” with Darvish, according to a report from the Associated Press. That said, it’s also clear from the report that there is no agreement in place.

    Speculation surrounding the connection between Darvish and the Cubs already increased earlier tonight, as it emerged that the club has a deal in place with catcher Chris Gimenez — who once forged a strong bond with Darvish when the two played with the Rangers.

    2:01pm: Free agent righty Yu Darvish has received “at least” one five-year offer, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Crasnick does not specify if the five-year offer is the one which he’s reportedly received from the Brewers, though Milwaukee is indeed one of the teams in the mix for Darvish, per the report. The Twins, Rangers, Cubs and Dodgers are also in play at the moment, he adds.

    Earlier this month, Darvish was reportedly choosing among six teams — the Twins, Rangers, Cubs, Yankees and Astros, with one mystery team added to the bunch by Darvish himself (on Twitter). The Dodgers were later reported to remain in the mix for Darvish, and it now appears that the Brewers have joined the pursuit while the Astros are out of the picture after their acquisition of Gerrit Cole.

    There’s no mention of the dollars in Crasnick’s report, and the lack of context makes it difficult to assess the situation. Much has been made this offseason of teams preferring to sign free agents to shorter-term deals at a higher annual value, and if that’s the case with Darvish’s five-year offer, then perhaps the overall value of the deal isn’t that far from early offseason expectations. (Many pundits, MLBTR included, projected six years for Darvish at the beginning of the offseason.) If the AAV is on the low end of the spectrum, however, then it perhaps isn’t difficult to see why Darvish and his reps at Wasserman have yet to jump on the contract.

    With just about three weeks until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, there are still well over 100 free agents that need to find homes, so at some point one would have to imagine that either agents or clubs will begin to blink, setting the stage for a flurry of activity. There’s no evidence that Darvish and his agents are close to doing so at this juncture, though it stands to reason that his signing could have a trickle-down effect of sorts. Many of the same teams vying for his services have been linked to Alex Cobb and Jake Arrieta, and once those pieces fall into place, the remaining free-agent starters on the market could conceivably begin to come off the board.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Agree To Sign Chris Gimenez]]> 2018-01-23T01:11:55Z 2018-01-23T01:11:55Z The Cubs appear to have a minor-league deal in place with catcher Chris Gimenez, which the University of Nevada baseball club (his collegiate team) tweeted recently and SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo confirms on Twitter. Other terms of the agreement are not yet known.

    While minors pacts with veteran catchers typically aren’t very exciting, this one comes with some added interest. For one thing, Gimenez currently projects as the Cubs’ top reserve option behind regular Willson Contreras, with Jason Martinez of Roster Resource projecting that Victor Caratini will open the year at Triple-A.

    Of much more speculative (but also more intriguing) note is the fact that Gimenez has an excellent relationship with reputed Chicago pitching target Yu Darvish from their joint time with the Rangers. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press has covered this topic from the Twins’ point of view, but it’s an interesting read for any fan — particularly those interested in possibly seeing Darvish at Wrigley.

    Gimenez, clearly, is a target in his own right. The personable 35-year-old is fresh off of a quality season in which he ran a .220/.350/.382 batting line in a career-high 225 plate appearances. He has typically not hit at quite that level, but comes witha  solid defensive reputation, too. Though his framing metrics slipped in ’17 in the eyes of Stat Corner, Gimenez drew good marks from Baseball Prospectus and has typically graded around league-average in that area.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Do Cubs Need To Bolster Rotation?]]> 2018-01-23T06:23:15Z 2018-01-22T23:54:26Z
  • While the Cubs have given every indication that they are still looking at starters, current righty Kyle Hendricks says the rotation doesn’t need to be improved, as Steve Greenberg of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The Cubs, after all, have four established starters along with the capable Mike Montgomery. Of course, the depth chart behind that group is questionable, and the team would no doubt prefer to upgrade over Montgomery — turning him into a useful reliever who’d be the first man up in the event of injury — rather than settling for a pure depth option.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Re-Sign Brian Duensing]]> 2018-01-22T22:43:03Z 2018-01-22T22:40:23Z JANUARY 22, 4:40pm: Duensing’s salary is split into two equal installments, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Incentives based upon appearances can boost the annual rate by as much as $1.75MM, maxing out if and when Duensing takes the ball for the 65th time.

    11:05am: Duensing has passed his physical, as the team has now formally announced his two-year contract. Chicago’s 40-man roster now sits at 39 players.

    JANUARY 17: The Cubs have agreed to a two-year deal to bring back lefty Brian Duensing, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). If finalized, it’ll guarantee the southpaw $7MM, per the report. Duensing is a client of the Legacy Agency.

    Aug 9, 2017; San Francisco, CA, USA; Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Brian Duensing (32) in a game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

    Duensing, who’ll turn 35 years of age before the start of the 2018 season, was targeted by the Cubs last winter. He justified the team’s faith, turning in a quality season on a $2MM salary. Evidently, Duensing also enjoyed his time at Wrigley; per Heyman (via Twitter), Duensing had the chance to earn “significantly more” with other organizations this winter but chose instead to return.

    Despite his encroaching age, the results certainly justify the contract. Duensing is fresh off of a 62 1/3-inning campaign in which he carried a 2.74 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9. He also allowed just one earned run on one hit in his five postseason appearances.

    In many ways, Duensing’s 2017 work represented a continuation of his typical efforts, as he sat in his usual range of fastball velocity (92 to 93 mph) and continued to bring a starter’s arsenal to bear in the bullpen. He continued a trend in pitch usage, utilizing his offspeed mix (slider/curve/change) more than half the time for the first time in his career, but generally continued down a path he had already embarked upon.

    Duensing has generally been tough to square up as a reliever, holding opposing hitters to a .254/.322/.372 slash when he enters from the pen. He was reliable against both lefties and righties in 2017, but he has done that at times previously. Duensing’s 10.3% swinging-strike rate last year was the second highest mark in his career, though that fell mostly in line with prior output. And he carried a solid 48.6% groundball rate in 2017 that doesn’t stand out from his career average, either.

    In large part, then, credit is due to the Cubs for recognizing Duensing as an under-appreciated hurler, rather than tweaking his approach. The team will hope that the success can continue even as he continues to age. While the expectation will presumably remain that Duensing will work in a relief role, perhaps it doesn’t hurt that he has a background as (and, as noted, continues to use the pitch mix of) a starter.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Still Weighing Addition Of Reliever]]> 2018-01-16T18:04:53Z 2018-01-16T17:12:36Z
  • Though the focus still seems to be on the rotation, the Cubs arguably also need another significant reliever, Patrick Mooney argues in The Athletic (subscription link). Chicago might conceivably go bigger with a bullpen addition if it settles for more of a depth starter, says Mooney, who notes that GM Jed Hoyer acknowledged recently that the club could still add to the relief corps.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Ricketts On Slow Offseason, Cubs' Free Agent Pursuits]]> 2018-01-16T06:00:14Z 2018-01-16T04:08:58Z
  • Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was dismissive of the notion that collusion has slowed the free-agent market in an interview with Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription required & recommended). Ricketts pointed out that in previous years, some teams have somewhat quietly inked new television deals or had those deals kick in, which has led to unexpected spending. (Ricketts doesn’t mention instances by name, though that was very likely a component in the D-backs’ signing of Zack Greinke, for instance.) Asked about the possibility of further spending for his own team, Ricketts replied: “Theo has the resources to do whatever he needs to do to win on the field. …  I don’t know what’s going to happen with the guys that are out there, whether it’s a good fit for us.” Mooney also chats with newly promoted AGM Scott Harris about the slow offseason.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Joe Maddon Not Worried About Contract]]> 2018-01-14T18:06:15Z 2018-01-14T18:04:58Z
  • It doesn’t appear as though Joe Maddon and the Cubs have any talks about an extension, though the manager said during this weekend’s Cubs Convention (as reported by The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney) that he doesn’t “ever try to strike up those kind of conversations….I believe if we take care of our own business properly, that’s the kind of stuff that takes care of itself. I’ve always relied on that thought. So I’m not concerned about that. I am a Cub right now. And I want to be a Cub for many years to come.”  Maddon is under contract through the 2019 season, so there isn’t any immediate need for either side to press for extension negotiations already.  Maddon’s comments also make it seem as if he has no plans to retire anytime soon, which is notable given that he turns 64 next month.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Kris Bryant "Would Love" For Cubs To Sign Bryce Harper]]> 2018-01-13T19:56:59Z 2018-01-13T19:56:59Z
  • The Cubs and third baseman Kris Bryant haven’t engaged in long-term extension talks this winter, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic on Friday (subscription required/highly recommended). The two sides avoided arbitration Friday when Bryant agreed to a $10.85MM salary – a record amount for a first-time arb-eligible player. While Bryant won’t become a free agent for at least four seasons, Nationals superstar right fielder Bryce Harper could hit the market next winter. If Harper does become a free agent, Bryant informed Mooney he “would love” for the Cubs to sign him. The two have been close friends since childhood, which could help the Cubs if they attempt to recruit Harper.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Still Looking To Add Pitching, Have Not Ruled Out Arrieta]]> 2018-01-13T19:31:42Z 2018-01-13T06:19:47Z
  • The Cubs are “not done” and are focused especially on the pitching staff, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said today (via’s Jesse Rogers). He said it’s still possible the organization will pursue “depth moves” or that it will add “another real quality pitcher.” Is free agent Jake Arrieta still a possibility? “We’ve never ruled anything out with him,” says Epstein, as’s Carrie Muskat tweets.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Unresolved 2018 Arbitration Cases]]> 2018-01-13T03:05:53Z 2018-01-13T00:02:01Z We’ve covered a whole lot of arbitration deals today, many of them reached before today’s deadline to exchange filing figures. Some other agreements have come together after team and player submitted their numbers. It’s still possible, of course, that these situations will be resolved before an arbitration hearing becomes necessary. (At this point, we seem to lack full clarity on teams’ approaches to negotiations after the filing deadline. And most organizations make exceptions for multi-year deals even if they have a file-and-trial stance.)

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

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Avoid Arbitration With Kyle Hendricks]]> 2018-01-13T06:28:47Z 2018-01-12T21:10:22Z
  • The Cubs have struck a deal with lefty Justin Wilson, agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM pact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Wilson, who had been projected at $4.3MM, will be a free agent next winter. The Cubs alsoagreed to a $950K salary with infielder Tommy La Stella, tweets’s Carrie Muskat. La Stella was projected to make $1MM in his first offseason of arbitration eligiblity and can be controlled through 2020. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have agreed to a $4.175MM salary, per Nightengale (on Twitter). That sum comes in a fair bit shy of his projected $4.9MM projection as a first-time eligible player. The Cubs control Hendricks through the 2020 season. Chicago also agreed with Addison Russell, per Wittenmyer (Twitter link). The shortstop will receive $3.2MM for the coming season.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Avoid Arbitration With Kris Bryant]]> 2018-01-12T22:00:27Z 2018-01-12T21:09:04Z The Cubs have reached a record-setting deal with star third baseman Kris Bryant, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (via Twitter). He will earn $10.85MM, setting a new high-water mark for first-time arb-eligible players.

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

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

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

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

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Cubs' Potential Targets]]> 2018-01-12T05:17:47Z 2018-01-12T05:02:52Z
  • There are still ongoing signals that the Cubs could make a splash. As Paul Sullivan writes for the Chicago Tribune, surprise winter additions are fairly commonplace in Wrigleyville. Manager Joe Maddon suggested yesterday that he believes the front office is still looking to build out the roster, Madeline Kenney of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Maddon spoke highly of both Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, Kenney writes, and the skipper also hinted that president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer may not yet be done in adding pieces to the bullpen mix for the 2018 campaign.
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    Matt Swartz <![CDATA[Arbitration Breakdown: Kris Bryant]]> 2018-01-11T17:41:04Z 2018-01-11T17:41:04Z Recently, I have been discussing some of the higher-profile upcoming arbitration cases as part of MLBTR’s Arbitration Breakdown series. I rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong. Full arbitration projections for 2018 are also available.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Yu Darvish Choosing Among Six Teams]]> 2018-01-11T06:12:59Z 2018-01-11T05:34:03Z Yu Darvish is widely considered to be the top starting pitcher available in free agency, and while his market — like the market of nearly every other top free agent this winter — has been slow to progress, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Darvish has whittled the decision down to a handful of teams: the Rangers, Cubs, Astros, Twins and Yankees. Darvish himself has hardly been shy about stirring the pot on social media this winter, though, and he created an additional layer of intrigue tonight when he responded to the report by tweeting: “I know one more team is in.” The Dodgers may very well be the sixth team to which Darvish alluded, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times tweeted tonight that Los Angeles “remains in the mix” to bring Darvish back to L.A.

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

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

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

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

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

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Notes: Wilson, Rotation]]> 2018-01-10T00:56:52Z 2018-01-10T00:56:52Z The struggles of left-hander Justin Wilson following a trade to the Cubs perplexed not only Chicago evaluators but execs throughout the league, writes Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic (subscription required and highly recommended). Sharma spoke to both Cubs manager Joe Maddon and GM Jed Hoyer about Wilson’s troubles, and Maddon made it clear that he views Wilson as an important part of the ’pen for the upcoming 2018 season. Hoyer, meanwhile, acknowledged that some of the blame likely falls on the organization, especially considering that these sort of struggles have happened in the past. (Sharma points to Adam Warren as one prominent example.) “…[W]e’ve had a number of guys who have come in and struggled beyond what they’ve done in the past,” Hoyer tells Sharma. “That’s something we have looked at and will continue to look at and talk about how we ’onboard’ guys, so to speak. … We’ve been, candidly, somewhat frustrated by it and we’ll keep working on it.”

    • Patrick Mooney of The Athletic argues that the time is right for the Cubs to make a big splash on the free-agent market. Big spenders like the Yankees, Giants and Dodgers are striving to dip below the luxury tax, while several other clubs throughout the league are also operating under financial constraint. Within their division, the Pirates could be on the verge of a rebuild, as trade rumors swirl around Gerrit Cole, Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison. Meanwhile, the Reds don’t yet look to be ready to push back into contention. Mooney notes that the Cubs are remaining in touch with agents for Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, though the Chicago brass doesn’t seem to have Lance Lynn as high on its list of priorities, he adds.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Cubs' Interest In Cobb, Darvish]]> 2018-01-07T19:08:20Z 2018-01-07T19:08:20Z
  • Alex Cobb isn’t looking for a $20MM average annual value in his next contract, according to “officials on both sides of the Cubs’ negotiations with” the free agent right-hander.  Reports that this inflated asking price spurred the Cubs’ interest in Yu Darvish as an alternative to Cobb are also not accurate, as per these same officials.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Discussed Javier Baez With Padres]]> 2018-01-05T05:46:35Z 2018-01-05T05:46:35Z
  • Winter Meetings chatter between the Padres and Cubs involving infielder Javier Baez failed to develop, per another Rosenthal report. It’s “likely” that Chicago was looking to pick up “a controllable starter” in any such deal, says Rosenthal, and the San Diego organization was just not interested in dangling Dinelson Lamet or Luis Perdomo. The sides also held some discussions involving Baez and Friars lefty Brad Hand, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Precise formulations of potential trade packages are not really clear, but it probably shouldn’t be too surprising to hear that those particular names came up. It seems that ship has sailed at this point, though in theory the sides could always strike up talks again if one or the other has a change of heart. Lin also addresses a few other topics of note; in particular, he says the Pads are likely just about done adding rotation options, so fans looking for a Jake Peavy reunion shouldn’t hold their breath.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Rumblings: Arrieta, Darvish, Cobb, Cole, Yelich]]> 2018-01-03T03:07:21Z 2018-01-03T03:07:21Z The latest on the North Siders comes from Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago

    • To this point, the Cubs and Cardinals have shown the most interest in free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta, according to Levine. The Cubs reportedly may be willing to offer a four-year, $110MM contract to the soon-to-be 32-year-old Arrieta, who mostly thrived with the team from 2013-17.
    • Elsewhere on the pitching market, the Cubs remain in contact with Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb, per Levine, though he casts doubt on them being the favorites to sign the latter. They’re wary of Cobb’s asking price, which appears to be in the $17MM to $19MM range per annum, Levine relays.
    • Along with the previously reported Chris Archer, the Cubs are interested in swinging a trade for Pirates righty Gerrit Cole, Levine writes. This is the first reported connection of the offseason between the Cubs and Cole, who has mostly been linked to the Yankees. Talks between the Yankees and Pirates simmered last month, though, which could pave the way for another team to swoop in and land the 27-year-old. Given that Chicago and Pittsburgh are in the same division, the Cubs are obviously quite familiar with Cole. The Scott Boras client is under control for the next two seasons, and he’ll earn a projected $7.5MM in 2018.
    • Looking beyond starting pitching possibilities, Levine doesn’t rule out more additions to the Cubs’ bullpen or position player group. With Wade Davis having signed with the Rockies, the Cubs could be in the market for a closer if they don’t want to turn the ninth-inning reins to either of the just-signed Brandon MorrowSteve Cishek tandem or another in-house option. But whether the team bids on a top free agent like Greg Holland or Addison Reed could depend on how much spending room it has left after it picks up another starter, per Levine. Further, it’s possible the Cubs could try to trade for Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, who would likely cost them fellow center fielder Albert Almora Jr. in a deal, Levine contends. He also lists free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain as a name to watch for the Cubs.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Cubs, Jake Arrieta]]> 2018-01-03T13:24:34Z 2018-01-02T19:29:31Z In his column today on the molasses-slow free agent market, Bob Nightengale of USA Today drops a few nuggets of information. The Padres’ offer to free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer would promise him seven years, says Nightengale. Meanwhile, top open-market slugger J.D. Martinez is sitting on a five-year offer from the Red Sox. In other chatter, Nightengale suggests the Cubs could be willing to go as high as $110MM over four years to bring back Jake Arrieta. Of course, the teams and players just cited have likely known one another’s positions for some time now, and these stalemates have yet to be resolved. These details also fall in line with what has been reported previously about the respective situations, though they are surely interesting data points as we seek to divine when and how the free agent dam will finally break.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Have Reportedly Made Offer To Ji-Man Choi]]> 2018-01-01T15:37:16Z 2018-01-01T15:31:02Z
  • First baseman Ji-Man Choi’s agency in Korea recently spoke to the media about their client’s current foray into free agency and revealed that he’s received offers (presumably of the minor league variety) from the Yankees, Angels, Rays, A’s, Brewers, Marlins, Cubs, Reds, Orioles, Twins, Braves, Blue Jays and White Sox (English link via Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency). The 26-year-old Choi slugged a pair of homers in 18 plate appearances with the Yankees last year and posted a strong year with their Triple-A affiliate, slashing .288/.373/.538 in 87 games. In parts of five Triple-A campaigns, Choi has posted a robust .298/.390/.479 batting line.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Look To Develop More Homegrown Pitching]]> 2017-12-31T16:54:28Z 2017-12-31T04:11:02Z
  • Since Theo Epstein took over the Cubs front office, pitchers drafted by the team have delivered just 30 innings in a Cubs uniform, The Athletic’s Sahadev Sharma reports (subscription required and recommended).  While Chicago has obviously excelled at acquiring undervalued starting pitching assets in trades, that hasn’t stopped the club from looking to improve on its development of young pitchers, which was one reason Jim Benedict was recently hired as a special assistant within the baseball ops department.
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    Tim Dierkes <![CDATA[Levine On Asking Prices For Arrieta, Cobb]]> 2017-12-28T16:45:05Z 2017-12-28T16:45:05Z Yesterday morning, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score published a report with a few interesting notes on free agent pitchers.  So far, the biggest free agent pitching signing has been the Cubs’ surprising $38MM deal for Tyler Chatwood, while Mike Minor, Jhoulys Chacin, Miles Mikolas, C.C. Sabathia, Mike Fiers, Doug Fister, and Yovani Gallardo are also off the board.

    • Six years and $160MM was said to be the starting point for Jake Arrieta in November, sources tell Levine.  Even in making these predictions in late October, we went with four years and $100MM for Arrieta.  Levine says Arrieta and fellow free agent Yu Darvish are currently looking for at least five-year deals.  The pair of righties were born 163 days apart back in 1986, and the case can be made that Darvish doesn’t deserve more years than Arrieta based on age.  Including Japan and the MLB postseason, Darvish has tallied 2,337 innings in his career, and he had Tommy John surgery in March 2015.  Including college and the MLB postseason, Arrieta is at 1,910 2/3.  Does this difference of 426 1/3 innings, thrown under many different stress levels, actually matter in terms of injury risk?  I have no idea, but the respective agents will make a few claims.  In the end, though, it’s just a bidding war.  Teams bid on both pitchers until the agents decide they’re unlikely to do better, and then a deal is made.
    • “It appears a four or five-year deal is expected” for free agent righty Alex Cobb, writes Levine.  Cobb had Tommy John surgery in May of 2015, and has just over 700 innings in his pro career.  A week ago, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports wrote that Cobb “likely sees Mike Leake ($80 million, five years) as a comp and is thought to have been asking for about $20 million a year.”  However, Levine wrote yesterday that “Dan Horwits, Cobb’s agent, has denied a report that the Cobb camp was asking for $20 million annually.”  Though we went with four years and $48MM in our early November predictions, I’d certainly take the over on the average annual value in light of the Chatwood contract.  At the time, I was looking at Brandon McCarthy’s four-year, $48MM deal with the Dodgers from three years ago, but it’s fair to say the market has moved since then on this type of pitcher.
    • Here on December 28th, the top four starting pitchers remain unsigned: Darvish (Wasserman), Arrieta (Boras), Cobb (Beverly Hills Sports Council), and Lance Lynn (Excel Sports Management).  As the process drags into January, it will be interesting to see if any of the four have to settle for a bargain deal.  The current free agency game of chicken between teams and agents has no recent precedent.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Don't Appear Likey To Enter "Steep Bidding War" For Yu Darvish Or Jake Arrieta]]> 2017-12-24T04:32:11Z 2017-12-24T04:31:48Z
  • As far as free agent right-handers go, the Cubs have shown more interest this offseason in adding Yu Darvish than re-signing Jake Arrieta. Regardless, the club doesn’t appear likely to engage in “a steep bidding war” for either, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. And while the 31-year-old Darvish may land the bigger contract this winter, Wittenmyer argues that the decorated Arrieta – who’s five months older – could end up as the better bet.
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