While there have been rumors that perhaps the Cubs would get creative and look for a LH hitting catcher, Patrick Mooney says that is not the case. Instead of Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Brian McCann, the Cubs are eyeing Kurt Suzuki.
Such a signing would be a clear indicator that the team sees Castillo as a potential long term piece. Not only is Suzuki a prototypical backup, but he is also known for his knowledge of the game and is well-suited to continue the veteran mentor role they will lose when Dioner Navarro signs elsewhere.
It's not an exciting signing to me except in the sense that it does appear the Cubs are committed to their young catcher Castillo. But, of course, he can't do it on his own.
“We’re really happy with Welington, but we need to find another catcher,” general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. “We’ve cast a pretty wide net and we’ll keep on narrowing that focus down.”
Per Mooney, the Cubs are said to be looking for an outfielder, a starting pitcher, and a closer aside from a backup catcher.
As we mentioned yesterday, the Cubs may look for that through the trade market as well as the FA market. I listed some potential starting pitching targets here, a list that includes Masahiro Tanaka, Josh Johnson, and Scott Kazmir.
Another name that could be interesting is Brett Anderson, LHP of the Oakland A's. Anderson had his option picked up, so he is not a free agent, but the As already have 5 solid starters in Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Dan Straily, Tommy Milone, and Sonny Gray. Its also believed the A's want to re-sign Bartolo Colon. That could leave the A's with a surplus of starting pitching and one of those odd men out could be Anderson.
Anderson has been injury plagued in his career but when healthy, he has shown solid 91-94 mph velocity to go with a good slider and change. Last year he was just 1-4 with a 6.04 ERA, but an xFIP of 3.26 bodes well for some improvement in his performance next year. Perhaps the Cubs can buy low here and add a second, in-prime, lefty to their staff -- and the fact that he was once considered a top of the rotation type prospect doesn't hurt either.
I alluded to the trade market above and it's interesting to note that while the Cubs aren't shopping their young players, teams are calling about them. There is expected to be heavy interest in Jeff Samardzija and even Starlin Castro, but the interest in trades is coming from the outside.
That does give the Cubs an advantage in that teams will have to pry them loose with a significant offer. The Cubs have very little incentive to trade Castro this year, so some team has to create that incentive by offering significant surplus value.
The same holds true to a lesser degree in regards to Jeff Samardzija, who has but two years remaining. The two sides still plan on getting together this offseason to try and hammer things out, but teams are aware the Cubs haven't been able to come to terms with him on an extension thus far, so the Cubs are will get calls. We've mentioned Arizona and the Nationals as having the heaviest interest in the RHP with other teams possibly in the mix as well.
Names here are purely speculation but we do know the Cubs have always been fond of Lucas Giolito (and why wouldn't they be?). He is the big prize in the Nationals system. Other pitching prospects of note include A.J. Cole, arguably the top pitching prospect after Giolito, Taylor Jordan and Nate Karns, both of whom are nearly MLB ready and had cups of coffee with the Nats last season. As he's mentioned before, our man Kevin Gallo is a fan of LHP Sammy Solis. Solis would fill a void in the Cubs system in that the organization lacks power LHP prospects and he is may be close to the majors as well. Kevin believes he has the ceiling of a #3 starter. Matt Purke, once a very highly regarded as an amateur before his injury, is another LHP who may be of interest as he appears to be coming back strong and has pitched well in the AFL. Things really begin to thin out beyond the Nationals top 10 prospects or so, but one scout told me he likes Jake Johansen, a 6'6" RHP with a live fastball and the tools/athleticism to develop more with good instruction. He also mentioned an intriguing young lefty named Brett Mooneyham, who put up some good numbers in A ball last year.
We also know the Nationals have openly made Denard Span available. That's not normally a Cubs type target but Span's contract fits perfectly as a bridge to Albert Almora. He is signed for 2014 with a team option available for 2015. Span isn't a dynamic offensive player but he does bring speed and plus CF defense that would allow the Cubs to push Ryan Sweeney to LF and give them a potential good defensive OF across the board with Nate Schierholtz in RF. Schierholtz himself is considered a potential trade target by other teams, most notable the Diamondbacks, whom we mentioned yesterday.
Getting back to a potential matchup with the Nationals. there isn't a whole lot of depth in their system, so Span would give the Cubs some immediate impact and provide a cheaper transition than some of the expensive OF'ers on the market. It would potentially give them 3 LH hitting OF'ers, but the Cubs have Junior Lake and Josh Vitters as potential RH complements and I've mentioned Franklin Gutierrez, Nate Reimold, Drew Stubbs, and Chris Young as RH options from outside the organization.
As for the closer options, there are some bigger names available such as Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Joe Nathan, and Edward Mujica, but with experienced closers often overvalued in the open market, I think the Cubs are more likely to try and create value with a good reliever or perhaps a closer coming off of injury or a poor season. I mentioned a few of those type of candidates in this article here. Those candidates include Tommy Hunter, Andrew Bailey, Jonny Venters, and Kevin Jepsen.
All in all, expect this to be a busy week for the Cubs. Even if a major signing or trade doesn't take place they'll be fielding tons of calls and looking to at least lay some groundwork for the rest of the offseason.
Filed under: Uncategorized