According to CBS Sports and others, the current proposal from MLB to NBP regarding the posting system calls for a maximum bid. If multiple teams make the maximum bid, then the outcome is unclear. One report suggests that the player would then get to choose which team to negotiate with while another claims that the team with the worst record the preceding season would get the pick. Unsurprisingly, Yankee fans are unhappy with this change. Also unclear is where the limit would be set. There are some indications that figure is a major sticking point for Japanese teams, understandably. Since MLB wants lower revenue clubs to have a chance at the Japanese imports, the limit would likely be set at a level that mid market teams could compete with the aforementioned Yankees and the other major market teams.
The changes are most important because they will determine the posting process for RHP Masahiro Tanaka, who the Cubs would like to add to their rotation. The changes would be a bit of a mixed bag for the Cubs. If you thought that the Yankees and Rangers were likely to outbid the Cubs in the pursuit of Tanaka, then this is a good thing because it means the Cubs can do no worse than tie, if they choose to. However, there is no guarantee that Tanaka would choose to negotiate with the Cubs if he is allowed to pick.
The Cubs are clearly in better shape if it is based on team record but, given that the Astros made a trade for Dexter Fowler yesterday, if the limit is low enough they may decide to Add Tanaka to a rotation that already bosts Mark Appel and will likely add Carlos Rodon in July. The White Sox may also choose to make a splash in the free agent market once again. Personally, I hope that the player's destination is not based on prior season record because it would give one more major inducement to tanking seasons.
UPDATE: If the tweet MLBTR is linking can be believed, NPB is prepared to accept a proposal with a $20 million minimum bid. This will open up the bidding process on Tanaka and you can pretty much be assured that the Cubs will match that number and will be among the teams vying for Tanaka's services, but it is difficult to see many teams staying out at that price.
UPDATE #2: I just heard from more than one source who say that team with the worst record will not get exclusive rights. That benefits the Cubs as the Astros, Marlins, or Sox surely would have paid $20M. All teams that tie for the bid get the right to negotiate with Tanaka. Not officially confirmed...so stay tuned.
UPDATE #3: Jeff Passan confirms what I reported in Update #2.
In other news:
- Patrick Mooney has a story on Samardzija in which he emphasizes that Theo's first choice is to extend the right hander. "I’m still of the belief that he can be a guy here. He’s got the exact makeup we’re looking for. So if there’s a way to get it done where he can be a Cub for longer than the next two years, we’re going to pursue that. He wants it. We want it." The truth is, you can see what you want to see in these statements. If you think Theo wants to resign him, you take this at face value. If you think Theo is thinking only about the trade market, this looks like attempts to gain leverage. My guess is that he's sincere, but he's fully aware that publicly saying this increases his leverage.
- Stop the presses! We have a Cubs transaction to report. According to Bob Nightengale, the Cubs have signed LHP Wesley Wright to a 1 year, $1.425 million contract. Wright, who turns 29 in January, has played six seasons in the majors, mostly with the Astros. He strikes out about a batter per inning, but has struggled with walks. The walk rate has improved in recent years. He was very effective for the Rays in 16 games last season. Looks like a good bargain signing and an effective lefty to pair with James Russell in the bullpen.
A new potential suitor has emerged for David Price and it's the Seattle Mariners. Here's the thing: They may be willing to give up Taijuan Walker to get him. That is huge. If Walker goes in a Price deal, that certainly gives the Cubs some precedent to obtain a higher level, more MLB ready pitcher than previously thought. If the Mariners pull off the deal, then it gives the Cubs a better comp than the Fister deal. If they don't land Price, who is to say they won't turn to the Cubs next? Yes, Samardzija isn't the pitcher that Price is, but if Walker isn't enough to land Price...that would be a good thing for the Cubs, wouldn't it?
- (John): Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Cubs will be doing some "serious listening" on Jeff Samardzija during the winter meetings. It's a curious choice of words. It makes it sound more like an invitation than anything. I'm sure that is by design as "aggressively shopping" makes you sound like you are desperate to make a deal. And as I mentioned earlier, that is not how the Cubs want to position themselves.
- More draft stuff. MLB.com's Mayo and Callis held a chat session today, and I got some stuff on the draft. Callis sees the Cubs taking the best pitcher available. Right now, as I mentioned earlier, he suspects that will be Beede, but subject to change as the season goes on. More interestingly, I asked Jonathan Mayo who he could see making a Jonathan Gray-like charge up draft boards this year. He replied with San Diego State right-hander Michael Cederoth.
- An account that seems to belong to former third baseman Fernando Tatis (he plays for the Cardinals and the Mets, among others) claims that Curtis Granderson has signed with the Mets. The account is not verified, but he does have 9,000 followers, so it looks legit. As of this morning, ESPN had the sides looking at a 3 year deal.
- Ken Rosenthal reports, that the A's and D'Backs discussed a trade that would have sent OF Cespedes to AZ for SP Skaggs and OF Pollock but that the deal is off. Neither side comfortable with it. It makes me wonder if that's the bait D'Backs using to try and get Samardzija, I don't see it happening. Pollock is a nice player, especially on defense but there are questions with Skaggs. I don't blame the A's for backing off on that one.
UPDATES: 2:30 PM
- A longish article by Jerry Crasnick on the DBacks desire to trade for an Ace. Short version: they need an ace and are willing to trade good players for it, but not Archie Bradley.
- Tim Brown at Yahoo tweets: With Ellsbury off board, Choo getting lots of attention. My guess, Rangers the favorites there.
- Gordon Wittenmeyer jumps in on Tanaka and also sees the Cubs as major players. He reiterates that the posting process isn't counted in player spending for the purposes of the debt agreements.
- Baseball America named the Daytona Cubs their minor league team of the year. Among the highlights for the D-Cubs were Javier Baez's 4 home run game in June, Matt Loosen's no-hitter in July, and winning the FSL Championship in September. Manager Dave Keller was quoted as saying, “I’ve been in professional baseball for 31 years, and there was stuff I hadn’t seen in either forever or a long time."
- I'd noticed that Jeff Samardzija chat on Twitter ticked up among Toronto fans and bloggers prior to Thanksgiving and among Orioles fans and bloggers immediately after. This week, however, there has been surprisingly little chatter outside of Cubs fans. It's unclear how to interpret that.
- Former Cubs Manager Mike Quade accepted a job with the Yankees as a roving outfield coordinator, reuniting him with former boss Jim Hendry.
- Right city, wrong team, Paul Konerko has decided to put off retirement at least a year and accepted a one year deal with the White Sox.
- Yesterday was pretty crazy with five trades and agreements by free agents Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox to Yankees), Justin Morneau (Pirates to Rockies), and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Red Sox to Marlins). I'm going to try to have some analysis of the trades up later today. For John and my sanity, I'm hoping for a quieter afternoon.
- It's never too early: Jim Callis did a mock of the first 10 picks in the 2014 MLB Draft. He has the Cubs selecting Vanderbilt (yay!) righty Tyler Beede. His partner Jonathan Mayo has also started mlb.com's 2014 prospect lists with the Draft Top 50.
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