Today seems as good as any day to start our Winter Meetings thread, which are actually about a week away. That doesn't mean things can't happen until then. It's safe to assume the Cubs have laid down some groundwork during the GM meetings and it's possible teams may want to strike before the meetings start, so we'll start this daily thread.
Today is also the non-tender deadline so we'll keep an eye on that as well. We had a preview earlier today here.
- Cubs tender contracts to Darwin Barney, Jeff Samardzija, Nate Schierholtz, Travis Wood, Pedro Strop, James Russell, and LuisValbuena, according to Patrick Mooney. No surprises there, though some had doubts about Barney. RHP Chang-Yon Lim was not tendered, according to Carrie Muskat.
- Another interesting non-tender: RHP Daniel Hudson. May make an interesting flyer for the Cubs if they think he can be healthy.
- The Cubs sign Donnie Murphy (!) to a one year, $825K contract, avoiding arbitration.
9:17 PM: SOURCE: It was my turn to take the dog out (the source was my wife). As such, I missed a couple of important non-tenders. Former closers Andrew Bailey (Red Sox) and John Axford (Cardinals) have been non-tendered. Of the two, I prefer Bailey. When he's healthy, he throws more strikes while missing just as many bats. The fact that he played for the Red Sox is a factor even though he wasn't picked up by the Cubs current front office. Philosophies are still similar. Bailey (or Axford) could serve as a closer or as closer insurance while allowing the Cubs to ease Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon, Justin Grimm, or eventually, Arodys Vizcaino into that role long term.
- Julie DiCaro tweets that a source tells here that the Cubs are more optimistic about signing Samardzija than they were a week ago.
- Cubs non-tender Matt Gamel. Not a surprise. It remains to be seen whether the Cubs try to re-sign him. Once again it is Chris Cotillo with the scoop. The kid is doing some hard work.
- The Nationals have acquired Doug Fister from the Tigers per Chris Cotillo. While that doesn't necessarily take the Nationals out of the running for Jeff Samardzija's services, it certainly seems to indicate that they are no longer in a position where they may be forced to overpay on a deal. And frankly, if the Nats can't overpay on a deal, I'm not so sure I want what's left in that system. Jeff Samardzija has the same amount of cost control and is a year younger, but doesn't have the same track record of success. Whatever the Nats gave up for Fister, we probably shouldn't expect much different for Samardzija.
- UPDATE: The trade is for LHP Robbie Ray, 2B Steve Lombardozzi, and LHP Ian Krol. The Tigers got less for two years of Fister than the Cubs got for 2 months of Garza. Incredible. Still think Theo isn't magic? And if this is the market for good under 30 pitchers with 2 years of cost control, then the Cubs are better off keeping Samardzija.
- The Cubs have officially signed George Kottaras to a one year, $1.075M contract with incentives, per a tweet from the Tribune's Mark Gonzales. That's almost $3M less than what Navarro will get and thus, $3M more the Cubs can spend somewhere other than backup catcher.
Not much news on the non-tender market today. To give us more coverage, I will be getting some help from long time reader/contributor Mike Moody during the winter meetings. Mike has done an excellent job keeping us up to date through the comments section and Twitter.
- Ex-Cub fan favorite Sam Fuld has been non-tendered, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. Fuld had a nice year for the Rays two years ago, especially on defense, but he has been replacement level or below since then.
- Another guy from our preview list, hard-throwing RP Kevin Jepsen of the Angels, has been tendered a contract. MLB TradeRumors had him on a list of possible non-tenders but GM Jerry DiPoto said it was always assumed he'd be tendered.
- The Cubs will non-tender Daniel Bard after all, according to Jesse Rogers. My guess is the Cubs have a deal worked out to bring him back on a minor league deal and ST invite. The Cubs are probably still committed to him but it would be easier to do that without him holding a 40 man roster spot at this point. If the Cubs keep him and he rebounds, he'll probably be given every opportunity to regain that spot.
- The Cubs have re-signed OF Darnell McDonald to a minor league deal with a spring training invite. The deal also contains an out clause should McDonald receive a more lucrative offer from the NPB, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. McDonald is well respected by this front office and the Cubs would certainly like to have him around their young players as a leader/mentor. He also has a shot of retaining his 5th outfielder role he held late in the season.
- Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro signed a 2 year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays. Navarro is one of those guys the Cubs would have liked to have had back in an ideal world, but in reality, Navarro performed like a starting catcher and had become too expensive to retain in the backup catcher role. And it's not just about dollars in sense. In a vacuum, the Cubs could have easily paid the $4m AAV to retain him, but diverting that much of your available budget to a backup is an inefficient allocation of resources. There is also the issue that Navarro himself wants to start and he's not going to get that opportunity now in Chicago after the emergence of Welington Castillo as a starter and potential core piece.
- The Athletics are close to signing Scott Kazmir according to multiple reports. It will be a two year deal. The signing has ramifications for the Cubs as the A's now have a surplus of pitching with Brett Anderson being the most intriguing of the possibilities because he's just 27 and throws left-handed, both of which make him an ideal flyer candidate for the Cubs. The A's have also expressed interest in retaining Bartolo Colon, so the A's may have more than one pitcher to deal this offseason. The total amount for the two years on Kazmir is not yet known but Jeff Passan of Yahoo says it is more than $16M. UPDATE: The deal is for 2 years and $22M, according to Jim Bowden.
- Scott Atchison, who has a history with this front office as a member of the Red Sox, has been non-tendered. I don't know that the Cubs are interested in the 38 year old Atchison but familiarity, the ability to throw strikes, and the bonus of providing veteran leadership may make him a candidate for a Shawn Camp type role.
- An interesting study by The Hardball Times shows just how good this front office is at finding value and role players. The Cubs got more wins (WAR) from their non-regular players than any team except the Tampa Bay Rays. The Cubs were especially proficient in finding value from marginal starters (both positional and in the rotation), but they did not do as well in finding pieces for the bullpen. This skill may not seem like a huge deal right now, but it will come in handy when the Cubs have a strong core of players in place and will be able to fill the roles around them efficiently and productively.
Filed under: Winter Meetings