This is a continuously updated thread. We'll update on the hour -- unless, of course, major news breaks. None of that has happened yet, but there has been a lot of interesting talk today...
- Bruce Levine lends some clarity to the Javier Baez situation: "Cubs believe in Javier Baez as a shortstop but will let him move around in spring training. Second base could be his by the end of June." We heard earlier today that the Cubs had no intention of moving Baez off of SS. As worded it seemed like a strong statement against Starlin Castro, but upon looking at the quotes in context, it became apparent that the statement was more about taking some pressure off of Baez. It's their way of saying, just play -- don't worry about when you are moving up or where you are going to play in the big leagues.
UPDATES: 9:00 PM
- Ken Rosenthal reports that the Marlins have agreed on a one year deal with Rafael Furcal. He will be the everyday second baseman for them.
UPDATES 6:30 PM:
- One of the first players Rick Renteria called after he got the job was to Starlin Castro, according to Carrie Muskat,
“People ask me about Starlin, and I watched him from the other side and I think, what a tremendously gifted athlete,” Renteria said. “I have to get to know him as a person. I have to figure out what moves him.”
“He’s willing to do anything we ask him to do,” Renteria said. “I know people talk about him losing focus and having bad at-bats, and I think we have to address those things. Sometimes you don’t have conversations thinking we don’t want to have confrontations or maybe we don’t like the answer we’re going to get, but the reality is you have to have dialogue.”
Yeah, I think I'm going to like this guy. He gets it.
UPDATES 4:00 PM
- We've been internally debating Jeff Samardzija's value for a while now. Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com has written an argument where he claims that Jeff Samardzija is a better acquisition than David Price because they have similar upsides but Samardzija comes cheaper. I'm hoping GMs around the league are reading MLB.com today.
- Speaking of Samardzija, Bruce Levine tweets, "Theo Epstein on Samardzija contract talks . " nothing has changed " team has offered deal in the 5 year $55 million area " If we go very high and expect Jeff to earn $15 million in arbitration the next two years, that's just over $13 million a season for 2016, 2017, 2018. To me, that seems like a pretty fair offer. I wonder what Samardzija's people are floating that is so far away from the Cubs offer.
UPDATES 3:00 PM
- As the buzz dies down about the Yankees' new outfielder, it's starting to heat up regarding their old outfielder. Marc Carig of Newsday reports that Curtis Granderson is seeking a 4-year, $64 million contract. This comes a day after reporting that the Mets were optimistic a deal can get done. Gordon Edes of ESPN suggests that the Red Sox may get involved in Granderson -- which would create a fun story to follow next year. Given the numbers being thrown around, it seems extremely unlikely that the Cubs will enter the Granderson market, especially as it would cost them a draft pick on top of the dollars.
- This is becoming a Yankee blog this afternoon. A story on ESPN Deportes -- translated using Google translate -- claims that the Mariners have told Robinson Cano that they are willing to offer him a 10-year contract for between $230 and $240 million. There is no evidence the Cubs ever were in on Cano and it is hard to see them getting in at that salary.
UPDATES 2:00 PM
- (Mike) Theo held a press conference today. Tweets give some of the highlights Baez moving to another position "easy transition" if it comes, Theo says. Closer may not be decided till end of winter. (Mark Gonzales) Theo says Hendricks won't break camp with the team. Says he still has some development to complete at Triple-A. (Sahadev Sharma) Theo says #Cubs plan is to keep Kris Bryant in the minors all season, but that is obviously subject to change based on development.
- (John): The Cubs have no intention of moving Javier Baez off of shortstop. Oh boy...that could mean a lot of things, couldn't it? But it really just looks like it means that the Cubs aren't going to move Baez until they absolutely need to do so. After all, he did say "they have no plans to move Baez, as of now." and he did say it would be an easy transition for Baez, so they don't need to start it early. My (John's) opinion? I think they honestly aren't worried about a potential Baez transition, and reader David L. wisely points out that his means that Baez will spend most of the season in AAA, but part of me thinks (whether intentional or unintentional) it can also lighting a fire under Starlin Castro -- but that is just pure speculation on my part. I think it's mostly about keeping the pressure off of Baez.
- Per Bruce Miles, the Cubs have lost their Rule 5 Pick to the Philadelphia Phillies after they filed a grievance against the Cubs for putting Lendy Castillo on the DL for what they felt was an inordinate length of time. The Rule 5 will not be something to look forward to as the Cubs will lose more than they gain this year. It comes with the territory when you are an up and coming organization.
- This isn't Hot Stove related, but it sure is nice to hear. Mark Gonzales tweets: Vizcaino throwing 98 mph, stuff "electric", Theo epstein says. Sahadev Sharma adds: Theo says Hendricks won't break camp with the team. Says he still has some development to complete at Triple-A.
- Housekeeping: the Dodgers have officially re-signed Brian Wilson and the Mariners have added Willie Bloomquist.
Cubs Den Winter Meeting
For those of you interested, the Cubs Den writing crew will be at Piggyback Tavern in Forest Park tomorrow night. I'm setting the time at 9 p.m, though some of us may get there early to watch the team we all want the Cubs to emulate -- the Chicago Blackhawks. If you have the time, stop by and say hello, maybe have a drink, and talk some baseball.
Some news Jeff Samardzija this morning. As we reported yesterday, Theo Epstein was quoted as saying he the team and Jeff Samardzija both want Jeff to be a Cub. That hasn't slowed down the trade rumors, however. Yesterday afternoon, a rumor that the Yankees were talking about a deal revolving around center fielder Brett Gardner. We don't have any more information on this. However, on the face of it, the Yankees seem a very tough match for the Cubs. While their minor league system is led by C Gary Sanchez and OF Mason Williams, a left hander, which are both areas of need for the Cubs, they lack top level pitching prospects.
In an interesting sign, Twitter is starting to pick up again this morning. Among the tweets, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Courier suggests that the Braves like Samardzija and might be in on him at the right price.
Meanwhile, Jon Morosi reported last night that the Orioles are in talks with Shin Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, and Ubaldo Jimenez. Acquiring Jimenez would seemingly take them out of the Jeff Samardzija sweepstakes. The Orioles do have the $10 million they freed up by trading Jim Johnson to the Athletics so these rumors hold some water. However, it could also be an attempt by Orioles GM Dan Duquette to gain leverage with Theo and other trading partners.
In other notes:
- The Royals acquired OF Norichika Aoki from the Brewers for LHP Will Smith. Aoki is an on-base specialist who fills a position of need for the Royals, whose lead off hitters put up only a .309 OBP last season. Smith is a young lefty who struggled as a starter in 2012 before becoming a solid part of the Royals outstanding relief staff in 2013. Ken Rosenthal speculates that this means Billy Butler is on his way out in KC.
- Baseball Prospectus threw out some trade suggestions for the Winter Meetings, including two involving the Cubs. First, they suggest sending 1B Dan Vogelbach and two other prospects to the A's for LHP Brett Anderson, an idea that has been toyed with here. The biggie is a 3-way deal involving the Orioles and the Nationals which would cost the Cubs Samardzija and Vogelbach and net them A.J. Cole and Eduardo Rodriguez. It's an interesting trade for the Cubs in that it doesn't get them the big pitching prospect they wanted, but nets 2 top 100 prospects.
- Theo Epstein commented on Jacoby Ellsbury's 7-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees on Sportstalk Live last night, and the comments give some insight into his philosophy as we go forward:“When I see a deal like that, I say: ‘Look, (who) wouldn’t rather have the first seven years of a star player’s career for $30 million versus the second seven years for $130 million or $150 million?’ You want the first seven years for $30 million and hopefully you work out a deal and you can keep him. But if we have drafts like that in Boston – that same draft (produced) Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury and Jed Lowrie – those are the type of drafts that make an organization more healthy."Jacoby Ellsbury debuted with the Red Sox in 2007, they won a World Series. His career with the Red Sox ended in 2013, they won a World Series. Seven years of club control were marked by World Series at either end. That’s the type of impact that good drafts and a good young player can make."More of Theo's comments can be found here.
- Yankees signed utility man Kelly Johnson for 1 year and roughly $3 million this morning, according to John Heyman. Johnson spent 2013 with the Tampa Bay Rays and is a career .253/.335/.427 hitter in eight major league seasons.
- Jerry Crasnick reports that our old friend Scott Feldman is looking for a deal in the 3-year, $30 million range. Yes, the price of starting pitching is high this offseason.
- Jeff Passan reports that the Red Sox bullpen just got stronger, as they add Edward Mujica to the mix at 2 years, $9.5 million. Mujica was reportedly on the Cubs radar.
- It isn't a complete day here at Cubs Den without some Masahiro Tanaka news. Some had speculated that the new posting rules may lead his club to retain him next season. The president of the Rakuten Golden Eagles has said that he may, in fact, do just that.“We have an obligation to explain to our stakeholders whether it’s fair,” Golden Eagles President Yozo Tachibana said. “There’s a possibility we won’t take the next step." Ben Badler's sources, however give some hope: Japanese media reports say Rakuten is mulling over the new rules and discussing whether to post Tanaka. My sources think they'll post him. A decision to hold Tanaka back would have two implications for the Cubs. First, obviously, he would be off their radar. But, counter to that, competition for Jeff Samardzija would go up as teams that were in on Tanaka might look to the Cubs instead.
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