The Cubs are looking to sign....a catcher?

Tim Dierkes of MLB TradeRumors writes that many agents expect the Cubs to spend money in free agency, but it’s not what you might think.  According to Dierkes…

(I) have talked to multiple agents who think Cubs will spend good money on FA catcher this winter.

Wait a minute.

Isn’t Welington Castillo among the best defensive catchers in baseball?  The Fielding Bible, which rated Darwin Barney the highest last year and helped build momentum for his eventual Gold Glove award, has Castillo rated as the best defensive catcher in baseball. And it’s not like Castillo is some defensive minded backup.  He hit pretty well, especially in the second half when he batted .288/.388/475.  That is a well above average .375 wOBA and RC+ of 137.  His numbers were solid overall as well despite the slow start at .274/.349/.396 with a .331 wOBA and an RC+ of 106, but those metrics rate as a tick above average.  He was the Cubs most valuable position player per WAR at 3.2.

So why trade him?

Well, if you look at the last line of Tim Dierkes tweet you may have the simple answer,

“They are underestimating Welington Castilo”

By “they”, I presume he is referring to the agents who think the Cubs need an upgrade.  It seems unlikely the Cubs are unaware of what they have in their 26 year old catcher.  Agents, however, know that the Cubs have been uncertain at catcher since the sudden decline of Geovany Soto and perhaps were not aware of how strongly Castillo came on, particularly in the second half.

Nevertheless, the tweet started the speculation game on Twitter.

We do know the Cubs want to get more left-handed and we also know they want to increase their OBP, but Castillo’s above average walk rate and OBP would seem like an odd place to want to upgrade, especially since it’s trending toward well above average and he’s just entering his prime years. The most obvious candidate if this rumor is indeed true is Boston switch-hitting catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a player with whom this front office is obviously familiar.  He hit .273/.338/.466 with 14 HRs (.349 wOBA, 117 RC+), so he’s a slight upgrade on offense while rating as a solid to above average defensive catcher, so there’s a downgrade there too, but it is not a crippling one.  Overall it seems to even out, so why bother?

The answer likely would like in Salty’s ability to hit from the left side where he hit .294/.350/.523 with 12 of his 14 HRs, giving the Cubs a legitimate power threat to add to Anthony Rizzo, Nate Schierholtz, Ryan Sweeney, and perhaps Brian Bogusevic.  At 28, he is still in his prime so we can expect him to continue to produce.  He’s a patient hitter, walking in 9.1% of his plate appearances, about a point higher than Castillo, so it’s a small upgrade there as well. Of course, the flip side is that he’s a 6’4″ version of Darwin Barney when batting from the right side last year, posting a .628 OPS and a well below averages RC+ of 71.  What’s even more scary is that is better than last season and better than his career OPS of .599.  There’s no way around it, we’re talking about a platoon player here.

Brian McCann would be another option but not sure that makes sense because he’s older, would be more expensive, and really  wasn’t any more productive vs. LHP than Salty.  All of his damage came vs. RHP as well — and it wasn’t quite as productive as Saltalamacchia.  At his expected cost and age, and two consecutive years with a sub .700 OPS vs. LHP, he just doesn’t seem to provide much value — unless you think McCann can rebound and hit lefties the way he did early in his career, which essentially makes him a full-time player.

Welington Castillo is too good to be the short side of a platoon and what’s worse, he was far better against RHP than LHP.  There is no reason to believe that the front office would be considering a platoon in this situation. However, current backup catcher Dioner Navarro absolutely destroyed lefties to the tune of .361/.451/.672 with a ridiculous .311 ISO, .478 wOBA, and .208 RC+.  A platoon of the two switch-hitters would create a potential offensive monster at catcher if they could sign both. That, of course, would mean trading Welington Castillo, essentially the team’s most valuable position player in 2013 considering the value of getting production from the catching position.

That in turn, started even more speculation.

Welly could be part of a trade package….to Colorado for Carlos Gonzalez…to Tampa for David Price…to Tampa as compensation for Joe Maddon.  None of this is confirmed, just speculation.

In the Colorado scenario, the series of maneuvers would give the Cubs 3 strong LH hitters in CarGo, Rizzo, and Salty or McCann.  Those are 3 players in prime or, in the case of Rizzo, pre-prime years, though admittedly we’re likely talking late prime with McCann.

Tampa, meanwhile, has been looking for a young, talented, inexpensive defensively oriented catcher for what seems like forever.  Surely Castillo would get their attention.  I think to give him up for a manager, however, is a gross overpay, even one as good as Maddon.  He does become interesting, however, as the centerpiece of a David Price deal, though, for what it’s worth, I have heard through sources that the Cubs are unlikely to pursue Price.

Or maybe the simplest answer is the best one. As Dierkes says, it’s quite possible that they are just underestimating Welington Castillo. And let’s not forget, they are agents after all, and they know the Cubs are a big market team without a proven catcher.  Even if the Cubs have no interest in signing a catcher, it certainly doesn’t hurt to create the perception that they are.

What do you think?


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  • fb_avatar

    If we're bringing in Joe Girardi to get fans in the gates, I can see us bringing in Brian McCann to get fans in the gates.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Tom says it's Saltalamacchia.

    All of this feels wrong. I think the Ricketts are interfering. Not a pleasant thought.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Oh please.....

    If Rickets was interfering, then Theo would get up and walk out. He is in control of what is going on regarding players.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    It's been a month. We don't know he isn't going to do just that.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Mike, I believe that if Ricketts was interfering and Theo was even thinking that he was going to walk, Theo would not have fired Sveum. What would be the point?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I talked to the same person Tom did, so I know there is some talk about it but obviously just talk right now.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I think we should make the distinction between "Ricketts interfering" and "making decisions based on the new financial paradigm".

    I can guarantee you that nobody's model had the Cubs season ticket dollars tanking as fast and as hard as they have. It's panic time - if the top line isn't there, there isn't money to field a decent team.

    They have to give STH a reason to renew this year, and thousands are walking. Both Ricketts and Theo will see this as a problem, and recognize that a 5 year rebuilding plan is having some unanticipated consequences. Most took for granted that Wrigley would always sell out...

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Not to mention the fact that there is a once-in-a-lifetime (okay, twice-in-a-lifetime) opportunity with the TV contracts coming up. Can't go into those negotiations with a perennial 90 loss team.

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    In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    The losses and recent ratings will have minimal impact on those negotiations. It will be done based on their ratings for the last twenty or so years, and recent rating trends in all of baseball.

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    In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    I think they may be panicking over this, but that is a fantastic mistake. The financial paradigm is that the real money is not from STHs, but from the scoreboard and the TV deal. Without those, they can't field a competitive team regardless of how many STHs renew. If Ricketts is panicking and forcing the moves, it's going to hurt long term.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    I don't know enough about those assumptions. Going from $200mm to $100mm per year in ticket sales (this is purely an example, the numbers aren't likely THAT bad), is a $100mm/year delta. This number is probably closer to $50mm-$75mm.

    How much can the Cubs hope to gain from the TV deal delta and the incremental scoreboard revenue?

  • In reply to Cubswin4harry:

    Tanking? A little perspective as stats are so easily manipulated. Yes, ticket sales were at their lowest in the last 15 years, but the last 15 years have been off the charts. But prior to these years, the Cubs 2.6 million tickets sold in 2013 (as compared to 1.77 million on the South Side) would have ranked as the 2nd highest in Cubs history . I see it as a concern on the business side, but they have also dropped payroll the last couple seasons too that offsets things. So while they want to maximize profit in a long-term sustainable way, they know the best way to do that is a combination of Epstein's rebuild at his recommended pace, and the revenue enhancements to the ballpark. I don't see them being penny wise. But if they could get Girardi, you know the business side would be thrilled. On the field, it would be nice to take the "face of the franchise" mantel off Castro and Rizzo.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    Can Joe be a player/coach? We could get him and, say, Rick Wilkins.

    Obviously kidding....though I like your option. "The Cubs McCann be a playoff team!"

  • I saw that earlier this morning and have been looking forward to all the Denizens getting a hold of this. Welly's my guy and he's gotta be the FO's guy too. Not crazy about the knee injury but he's young and should be fine. If Welly were part of a package that brought back Price or whomever it wouldn't break my heart but I would be really sad to see him go so early. I like Navarro a lot too but I think there's a really good chance that 2013 will end up being his career year. Hoping both guys are back!

  • In reply to Ben20:

    I saw it early as well but I've been out all day. Try to respond to comments, but couldn't write an article until now. Not sure there's much to this, but it does make for interesting conversation.

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    I bet Scott Boras would tell the world the Cubs need every one of his clients if it would really convince the Cubs to sign them. One would think that the Cubs would be looking for a 2B, a stopgap 3B (though I am rooting for Olt, whom I love), a SP and a productive non-platoon OF before setting their sights on a catcher

  • Mike, I agree with the priority of your shopping list. A solid non-platoon OF seems like biggest need to be addressed. I think we can hope they'll be after Tanaka.

    Corey Hart & Granderson both seem like interesting guys who could be had on short-term deals. What types of deals will they command?

    I think Welly is their guy, not buying this speculation.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    Tanaka seems to be #1 on their list. I think they'll make a serious push there.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    I am sure they will be after Tanaka but they may be outbid. Seems to have been the case in past opportunities for hugh profile signings other than Soler, and I am not so sure Soler was really a high profile guy, maybe had not Cespedes been available at the same time.

    Corey Hart if he wasn't always injured would be a great pick up and I think his day/night splits are off the charts, but I may have read that in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, I am not 100% sure on that one, have to research it. Though the Cubs play more day games than anyone they still play a majority of night games anyway.

    An offseason that brings in Tanaka and Hart and [possibly] Saltalamacchia would be great but I don't know, I just don't see the Cubs spending money. They have it to spend. We'll find out I guess depending upon whom they hire to manage and how much they bid on Tanaka.

  • It seems to me that if the big name FA's all sign elsewhere and they are unable to land Tanaka, they may find themselves sifting through the leftovers and signing an offensive catcher on a short-term deal, the way they signed Edwin Jackson after they couldn't get Sanchez. It could also be as a stopgap and/or hopeful upgrade over Navarro if he were to sign elsewhere. I seriously doubt any of the FA catchers available would be viewed as an everyday replacement for Castillo.

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    I don't buy it. Good two-way catchers are hard to find. Especially one trending up and just entering his prime years.

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    If this development has any traction, it's definitely interesting to say the least. This is going to be a very dynamic offseason.

  • In reply to Andrue Weber:

    Don't know if dynamic is the word I would choose.How about dynamite too blow up our putrid offense. Basically no where for Rizzo and Castro too go but up,no pun there BTW.

    This team needs an infusion of at least two more hitters too grab the ticket holders attention and insure their fannies are firmly in their seats.The masses are getting restless and will not put up with a repeat of the last two seasons,I'm being kind, I easily could have said the last four.

  • John..... I mentioned the possibility of getting mccan awhile back. I think with line up we have a some point you have to give up a little defense to gain some offense in this terrible line up. I wonder if this is related to the knee surgery that Wellington had?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Maybe. I brought up McCann more because I know some are interested, but to be perfecetly honest, I have only heard Salty is a possibility.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    What is advantage of salty over mccan?

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Younger and he was actually more productive based on ABs. Was better defensively this year too.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I don't see age being a big factor about 9 months a part. It would be a guessing game to who has more left in the tank. Let's face it if cubs part with Wellington defense isn't a big factor for them.

  • If the Cubs are in fact interested in Salty, I think that means they may be constructing a potential trade around Castillo. Theo mentioned in the Sveum presser that the team was "set up for some good trades this offseason". Maybe Castillo for CarGo?

    Also sounds like Loxas and Julie are still confident Girardi will talk to the Cubs and that the Cubs can afford him. Could be a different team next year...I know they want to add some LH hitters because Baez, Bryant, Almora, Soler, and Castro all hit RH.

  • In reply to Nateisnotnice:

    I think that has to be the situation. there is no other reason. They can dramatically change their lineup with a pair of moves.

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    If they were going to acquire a catcher, I think it would be Salty, but given that he isn't much of an upgrade over Welly, it doesn't make sense unless you're planning on trading Welly to upgrade elsewhere.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    It would absolutely have to entail a Welly trade in my opinon. Makes no sense otherwise.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Including Welly in a package to get CARGO would minimize the damage to the farm system. So it might be a net gain both short and long term.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    Yes, that would be an advantage, especially if they can replace Welly with Salty and perhaps Navarro.

  • What about some of the catchers available in 2014. I'm thinking a second round choice, if there's a talented one and then another catcher in the 4th round. I would assume the first round choice may be a pitcher.

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    In reply to pricewriter:

    But this isn't the NFL and even good prospects often take 3+ years to arrive, let alone contribute. That would hardly fill a need in 2014 and any draft pick is at best a 50/50 shot to fill a hole ever.

  • With the Cubs have the 4th pick in the draft lets hope there is a
    top college catcher to draft for the future

  • Catcher seems like one of the last things this team needs (outside of a backup). When I read this on MLB trade rumors I just shook my head.

  • If you can get Salty, CarGo, and Tanaka to go with a real manager like Girardi and all it costs you is Castillo, say Schierholtz, and a few non-elite prospects them you absolutely do that. With that mix and any semblance of a bounce back year from Castro and Rizzo and you are looking at a near 80 win team

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    In reply to Ike03:

    I worry about Cargo. His career splits, last year not withstanding, are quite pedestrian away from Coors field. He has also yet to play 150 games in a season and seems to get hurt every year. Not so sure I put my eggs in his basket.

  • Sooner or later I had to make a first post here, I guess. This is my go-to site for information about the Cubs. John and company, excellent job!

    It seems to me that catcher is likely the only position on the team that doesn't need to be addressed. After years of Soto, Hill and other poor hitters, I can't imagine why Theo/Jed would be looking to replace Welly. Is it possible they want a better game-caller for the young pitchers they currently have and the ones they'll be bringing up? I haven't heard of issues with Castillo, but it's all I can think of.

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    In reply to Cliff1969:

    Soto was here for 4 1/2 years and hit quite well in 2 of them. I think his last two years are the ones people seem to remember. But he hit .283 w/23 HR in his ROY season of 2008 and .280 w/17 HR and an OBP near .400 in 2010. Personally, I can't explain the drop off. I thought perhaps he had Steve Traschel-itis, where one alternates between good and bad years, but now he's just bad all the time.

  • Just heard word that Samardzija may be looking for 8 figures and an NTC. Will write up on this tomorrow. Theo doesn't give away NTCs so that could be a problem. Trade becomes a greater possibility if that's the case.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    If true I hope they deal him.

  • In reply to Hubbs16:

    It is true and I think it may come to that.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Any word on a possible landing spot?

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    No, but we know AZ likes him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Hopefully we can pry Skaggs away. Skaggs and maybe our old buddy Randall Delgado.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I really think that the Edwin Jackson contact may bite us in the butt. Players are gonna measure them selves to what he got and with 18 loses.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    If we give Jeff S. his contract demand, he might be the one players measure against. Rarely have I had such passionate disbelief in the future of a Cub, but I am convinced he will never be more than he is inconsistent pitcher with great stuff who is a #2/#3 borderline pitcher at best. My mind may be clouded by my concurrent love of Michigan (and dislike of ND) but I just cannot invest in a player like him.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    Hmmm, so my gut instincts on Shark were right after all. As Thin Lizzy says, "If the chick don't wanna know, forget her." Trade him!

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well really what would you expect he ask for? I mean eight figures is about right and the ntc is a starting point in negotiations to get the aav up. If he were asking for nine figures then that's a problem.

  • In reply to Nick Nesler:

    Never said I didn't expect it or that it's wrong. That's your assumption. In fact, i said quite the opposite on Twitter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I have no problem paying Samardzija 10-12 M. If the 8 figures creep into the 14M+ range then it is ridiculous. The NTC is the biggest issue to me. If he insists on one, he is basically asking for a trade. Maybe that is even his intention. Maybe he doesn't want to look like he is asking for a trade and so he asks for what he knows the team won't do.

  • Getting sick of speculation and just conversation pieces just for the sake of conversation. Just saying, I like more fact base written articles sorry but just saying.

  • In reply to sringh5:

    That's cool. I can understand that.

    Any subject in particular you've been interested in?

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    In reply to sringh5:

    This isn't really a speculative article. In fact it is the opposite. Tim Dierkes of MLBTR raised the speculation and John isn't buying it.

    Here are the facts: Cubs fired Sveum, they need a manager and they finished tied with Minnesota for the 4th worst record in baseball. I think we are all kind of sick about discussing those items actually.

    Still you have a point. But there is just nothing to talk about right now that is in fact, well, fact, and John does a great service putting out quite a bit of content on a daily basis. This probably doesn't pay very well, if at all, and he doesn't charge us to read it.

    Fangraphs is a great site for factual analytic content. But come here because you love to discuss the Cubs! Orange Whips for everyone!

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Thanks. I was trying to be balanced. I'm skeptical, but not ruling it out either. Have heard they do like Salty, but no moves would be made with Castillo unless they knew they could get him or someone similar.

  • If there was no speculation and rumors to talk about, there would be no sport talk period. Most sport talk IS speculation and rumor, that is what makes it fun. That being said, I think the Cubs going after Salt makes sense, maybe they think Castillo will never rise to become a better than average starter.

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    I just have 3 things on my wish list

    1. Tanaka !!!!
    2. Tanaka !!!!!
    3. Tanaka !!!!!
    I believe Barney , Spellcheck , will be traded Girardi will be named manager by Halloween

  • In reply to Sportsgod:

    Agree, though our offense was hard to watch after Sori was dealt.
    The Cubs must get Tanaka to take the step forward they need,(or Price).

  • I think Nateisnotnice has it correct. The Cubs cannot send up seven right handers and Rizzo to the plate against right hand starters. Obviously, they believe in Bryant, Baez, Castro, Soler, and Almora. The rest of the line up must hit and hit well from the left side. This agenda will also speed up the rebuild. It's not about if they like Castillo because I'm sure that they do.

  • If Shark is moved , you'd have to think that'd bring added intensity to Tanaka pursuit.

    As far as ARI, I watched Skaggs a couple times & doesn't do a whole heck of a lot for me. They do have other interesting pieces.

    Whoever said it earlier is dead on: it's going to be a dynamic offseason. I think we have a tendency to look at these moves linearly but there are lots of moving parts, particularly when trades start becoming part of the picture.

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    In reply to Carl9730:

    I agree with you on Skaggs ( not impressed !!) would love to get LP Holmberg and CF Eaton for Spellcheck or Ventura from KC ( I don't think we could steal Zimmer )

  • So would Welle and Solar be a good place to start for Price?

  • I really hope they don't trade for Price. I don't think he'll continue to be the pitcher he has been. Plus it seems like Tampa Bay rips off a lot of teams in trades.

  • Way light! He's going to command a massive package of talent.

    I agree with John , if they're going to package some of the impact talent in their system for a young star, it likely isn't going to be for a P, given the inherent injury risk. I

  • Meh I'll believe this when I see them sign a catcher. Theo/Jed seem to like to operate pretty closed, I wouldn't be surprised if this was a designed leak to either muddy the waters for agents trying to get a read on what the Cubs are trying to do or to stir up some excitement among fans. Perhaps both.

  • In reply to StatHead:

    That part is true. Nothing will happen with Castillo before they sign or think they will sign a catcher.

  • In reply to StatHead:

    Theo is the master of misinformation and misdirection, you never know know what he's really up to. I for one like that, keep em' guessing.

  • re: trading Shark. An obvious landing spot for him is here in KC. Royals will need to replace Santana and Samardzija is exactly the kind of guy they will be looking for. They could also use someone like Schierholz (RF) or Valbuena (2B). If we could get Kyle Zimmer and Luke Hochevar in return, I'd be interested.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I feel like if I were the Royals I'd either give Zimmer a shot and/or make a push and maybe overpay a little for a FA. I wouldn't trade one of the best pitching prospects in baseball for young pitching. There's at least a fair chance that Zimmer will have out-pitched Samardzija by the end of 2014. Hochevar had an excellent year for them too. I'd be stoked if we got both of those guys too though!

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Actually looked at it a little more and I think if I were Dayton Moore I'd bite the bullet and make a run at Garza as well as trying to re-sign Chen. Shields, Garza, Chen, Guthrie with Ventura and Zimmer on the horizon...that's a really competitive rotation to roll the dice with for the next 2 or 3 years. If they decided to trade for a pitcher like Samardzija they should dangle Starling & Moustakis in addition to Hochevar, IMO. They've got a really nice team. With appropriate progression they should flirt with 90 wins in 2014!

  • In reply to Ben20:

    Having watched Moustakas for several years now, I'm convinced he'll never hit enough to be a decent MLB 3B. Shame, because he has an awesome glove. But the bat just isn't coming around. I'll take our chances with Olt or even Villanueva over Moustakas.

    Bubba Starling, I don't see them dealing him, and really, we don't need another OF prospect for the Cubs, we have plenty. Cubs want SP, that's why Zimmer would be so appealing.

    As for Garza with KC, no way. If they were inclined to spend that kind of money on a SP, I am sure they would extend Shields before they would take on a Garza. As they should, Shields is a better pitcher.

  • In reply to notcarlosdanger:

    I was saying that if I were KC I'd hold onto Zimmer and dangle those other guys, not that I want the Cubs to get Starling or Mous. I agree, those guys are wack. I think after winning 86 games they'll be inclined to spend more than you think. Zimmer's a stud. I don't think they'd trade him for another young pitcher. I think they'd maybe trade him to Colorado for CarGo. The Royals have a little window opening up, man. This would be the time for a GM to spend.

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    I'm not buy'n.....

    Beef was their best player this year. Unless they feel he played over his head this season and want to sell high. Catcher is one position you really don't want to play with. I feel they do need another big time bat on the left side but there are other ways to fill that need, imo.

  • I don't see Salty wanting to leave Boston unless...
    a) They win the whole thing this year (and even then, who ever wants to leave a championship team?)
    b) The Cubs or another team blow Boston's offer out of the water (assuming they try and keep him).

    My money is on Boston being Salty's first choice when Free Agency hits. He's a nice enough player but not a guy to get into any kind of bidding war over. I'd rather have McCann if they decide they have to sign a FA Catcher. He'll be a good catcher for three more years. Beyond that I don't really care what he does. If we can't get into the mix by then, God help as all.

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    What are the chances Welly is dealt in a package for Price and Samardizja for Cargo? Who would you rather give a huge contract to, Jeff or David? I would vote Price. If those two trades are made, and we were able to get Salty and Tanaka we suddenly have a pretty good team for one Mr. Girardi to manage.

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    In reply to Nick Johnson:

    ...and I've been accused of being a dreamer.

  • In reply to Nick Johnson:

    You would have to throw in quite a bit more with Welly in order to get Price it may not be feasible.

    Price's price (thanks) went up with his last CG outing to beat the Rabngers. A true #1 who can pitch in the big game.

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    In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    My question though is would you rather pay ace money for an ace (Price) or pay ace money for a #3.

  • In reply to Nick Johnson:

    If you think Samardzija is going to get the same money as Price then you are delirious. Not even in Samardzija's wildest dreams would he even think to ask for the same money that Price will get.

  • I still haven't figured out why Castillo is so highly valued. I trust you guys on this site, so I accept that I'm missing something, but I am still missing it.

  • In reply to Oneear:

    He plays good defense. And he hits more than most catchers. And he is young. No one is saying the guy is a star. But of all the positions on the team, it is hardly the one that requires immediate upgrade.

  • Hey John you've trying to find as I have a stat about pitches blocked in the dirt.... I still can't find a website with the ratio but fangraphs has an rpp (runs saved by blocking pitches) and cpp (runs saved by throwing base runners out) and Welly ranked among the top 5 in baseball in both, I think he also lead all catchers in defensive runs saved... I think the 3 best defensive catchers in baseball are Yadier Molina, Russell Martim and Welly Castillo.

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    I call BS on this rumor.

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    If Castillo OR Samardzjia are the potential big piece in a CarGo trade, I'm okay with that.
    Undervaluing Wellington would be bad. Selling high on Wellington's strong second half, and newfound defensive prowess would be wise. Especially if it can bring back a pitching prospect or an established bat like Carlos Gonzales.
    Although, I really don't like dealing from our thinnest position.

    McCann is a bad idea. Saltalamacchia is a little better of an idea. It's starting to look like we're going to have a busy offseason going after a catcher, Tanaka AND Girardi.
    ...Does the front office actually think we can contend, next year?!

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    I see Casey McGehee is interested in returning to MLB from Japan. That's the kind of short term player I would think they might bring into spring training at 3B. If he plays well enough to make the team, great, if he plays very well he could be traded mid-season if Olt or someone else looks ready. Doesn't have to be McGehee, just using him as an example of a buy low guy with potential upside.

  • Now that it's out that Shark wants eight figures and a NTC, his trade value is greatly diminished. No small or mid-market team like CO, KC or AZ will ever sign him for that kind of money, so for teams like that it's basically a two-year rental for a starter who is still finding his way and learning to pitch. Shark's camp is very shrewd if they put this out, because it takes a lot of leverage away from the Cubs in negotiations.

  • Screw the rumor mill. I'm just grinning like a jackass eating briars seeing that Soler and Almora played in Az today.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    Anyone have a report on how they looked , both coming off injury i hope they get back into the form they were in ARI this fall

  • well since we are talking Yankees so much lately, and the Yankees need pitching , how bout we send them Shark for Sanchez and DePaula . Yankees wont have a problem paying Shark. Lots of big market teams would love a guy with 2 years control and his stuff .

  • You've got a catching shortage so you trade a fine young catcher? Stay the course, lads.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    Good point.

  • In reply to wastrel:

    I think the Cubs catching shortage is overblown. They have a young starting C at the major league level. Do they really need to have another at AA right now? If we did, people would just be trying to include that guy in every trade that goes through their head just like they do with Vogelbach.

    I think people see guys getting moved to catcher in the minors and freak out becuase they think that means the Cubs don't have a future catcher. But moving guys to catcher in the minors is generally how you find catchers. You certainly don't draft them out of HS. I wouldn't be shocked if the Cubs have a decent catcher in the minors right now (maybe Amaya) and this "shortage" is really just a mirage.

  • Playing devil's advocate here. Does this make any sense?

    1. The Cubs need (of course) to upgrade the MLB talent.
    2. The FO sees no real cost effective FAs on the market except at catcher.
    3. Ergo, regardless of how much the FO likes Beef and what his future projections are, he is a piece that will bring back MLB-ready talent at position(s) currently needing an upgrade, and the position can be readily filled by one (or, based on the splits John mentions above, two) catching FAs.

    My uncertainty lies with all the moving parts - do you sign a catching FA first and hope the trade market for Beef is still there, do you trade Beef and hope that the catching FA is still there (and signable), or is it a concerted mechanism? But that's why Jed and Theo are in charge and not me.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    This. I think this is the only thing that makes sense, and it is not a bad strategy.

    They aren't going to pay Choo or Ellsbury 100M. I think they would rather take on Cargo and his more reasonable contract and in order to do that they probably need to include a young MLB player in the deal (Castillo), meanwhile they think they can get more bang for their buck in FA by spending it on a catcher (Salty).

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    Oy. We are back on the trade Samardzija kick? Hells Bells don't get me started. Two months ago you all told me he was an ace and shouldn't be traded unless teams would give up two top 50 prospects minimum. So now trade him? You knew this type of contract was what he would be looking for. Or maybe you thought he would give the Cubs a discount because, gee, there is no better career defining moment than leading the Cubs to the World Series. How about a World Series with any team AND a maximized contract?

    I think his return value is lower now than it was at the deadline though the field of suitors is probably bigger. Now I know you ask high because nobody negotiates upward but if those are truly his demands it drives the return value down. I suppose you could wait until the deadline again.

    Jeez. Why do so many want to deviate from some semblance of a plan? Keep him. Trade him. Spend money. Don't spend money. The Cubs have never had a plan, or model that they've stuck to.

    Who said stay the course? Most brilliant comment of 2013. Hats off and cheers.

  • In reply to Michael Canter:

    Samardijza is not an true #1 he is a #3 on a championship caliber team. He has great stuff but I put him in the same category as Garza, who also isn't a true #1. That being said you can still get a good value for him. I honesty think you can get 3 top 100 prospects for him with at least one of them being a top 50.

  • In reply to KGallo:

    We may be closer to finding out.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    Mr. Gallo I agree with your assessment of Samardijzia 100% but I do not think 3 Top 100 prospects would be the return. I would think it would be two Top 100 guys and someone with the potential to make that list sometime, a low floor/high ceiling guy. I looked at John Sickels Adjusted Top 75 yesterday before posting this and I tried to find two guys in the same organization who could be packaged for Samardijzia and it is tough to come up with a fit, though I do not pretend to know minor league players like you guys do, in fact, I have never seen one single minor league game in my life (okay, Brewers v. Cubs late season was mostly call ups). I just do a lot of research on that subject, hours every day in fact, and that is how I formulate my opinions.

    My point is that I believe he had more value in July than he does now, specifically after indicating his contract demands, and I was a big proponent in the "Trade the Shark" contingency as you probably know. But, I also think the Cubs have known his demands all along and were not satisfied with any of the offers, so I may just be full of hot air. I am sure there is nothing new and no surprise here with his demands, or his "throw" for lack of a better word. Samardijzia did nothing to improve his trade value since the deadline.

  • This could be a whole lot of speculation, but as with Sveum (and not Ausmus) sometimes where there is smoke there's fire. As many know, I'm not as infatuated with Castillo's defense. There seem to be many areas for improvement that his seeming HOF level defensive stats don't belie. This organization is all about development, so a 26-year-old catcher doesn't help as much with a pitching staff and in the clubhouse as a McCann and maybe a Salty. But I agree, you don't just give up on a young player for a one-for-one upgrade, especially when he's not at the top of his trade value. But this FO is all about parlaying its assets to get back multiple assets. So a trade package that includes Castillo that nets a Price (preferably) or (maybe) a Gonzalez, and then fills the catching slot with a McCann (preferably) would do just that. You love McCann's toughness, game smarts and leadership. Reminds one what Pierzynski added to the White Sox on and off the field in 2005.

  • I have hard time believing that a rebuilding team, would trade one of the best young catchers in the game, who hasn't yet reached his full potential, and happens to be their thinnest position. We do need a platoon partner for him. It will add to his game vs wearing him down. Navarro was amazing offensively. But he slipped on the Defensive side and I think 2013 will be his career year so I'm okay with letting him if he wants to cash in. Salty would be awesome, not sure we can swing that with him and Beef.

    I think the agents and media are making something out of nothing. Of course we're contacting FA's. That's what we are supposed to do... the whole "leave no stone un-turned" sort of thing. Same with Shark, He wants 8 figures (duh - that's market rate) and a NTC... Doesn't mean he gets it and doesn't mean he'll be traded.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    If we trade Castillo for another young MLB player (like Cargo or a pitcher) then I find it beievable. Any other scenario seems far fetched.

    Agree on Shark. Nothing wrong with 8 figures. I think everyone sees that and thinks he is asking for 20M instead of closer to 10M. The NTC will get negotiated out.

  • In reply to HoosierDaddy:

    So you are OK with Samardijza getting a 7 mil raise when he is only estimated a 2 mil raise through Arb? To me he hasn't prove he has that he deserves market value.

  • There is my take on everything going on. The Cubs major prospect look to be ready in 2015 but before that happens they need to up the pieces on place to be ready for them when they get there. If they go with adding by the top FA then a lot of the players would be past their and no real help. But if the had a select few FA like Salty and Tanaka that given them the ability to trade players and gain others that could be core pieces for the push for when Baez and Bryant come up to keep the pressure off them.

    The way Theo stated that the Cubs will build through the Farm system. Well there are a few ways to do this: they can just do it through trading older players and the Draft. Trade the prospects for proven player. Or the can do a combination of the two and sign a few FAs along the way.

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    In reply to KGallo:

    I could read your posts all day. Thank you. I do want to point out that I think everybody is vastly overrating Wellington Castillo. He is a serviceable player with above average defense. I read one article that had him ranked as the 38th best catcher in MLB offensively (Matthew Pouliot) but that is off by a long shot, though his overriding value is on the defensive side. If the Cubs want to buy or trade for an elite catcher I am all for it, especially if there is a catcher out there who can produce offensively and defensively. I don't know enough about Saltalamacchia or McCann to determine if they are elite, But I do know that McCann made $12m last year and I don't think the difference in pay warrants getting him. Salty made $4.5m, and when you couple that with Castillo's trade value I think that would be an insanely smart move.

  • Wellington is a hard worker, only 26 years old, cost controlled, decent offensively and getting better, and according to the new baseball statistics, the best defensive catcher in the major league. We would be out of our mind to trade him. I can't believe this FO would trade him since they really like good defensive players up the middle.

  • If the catcher rumor is true then maybe the FO wants two quality catchers and is not planning on trading Beef. The platoon with Beef and Navarro worked out spectacularly this season. Maybe a new model for handling catchers is developing where they try to avoid grinding down a star catcher by sharply curtailing his innings. This happened with starting pitching, with increased bullpen use, and could also be happening with catchers. I think it's a smart move. Metrics have been showing that catcher defense (including pitching framing) is more important than was previously thought (per this week's Hang Up and Listen podcast). Keeping your catchers fresh might be a new efficiency that has not caught on yet.

  • In reply to baseballet:

    I can't see either a McCann or Salta... Signing a deal to platoon. They'd only come if they were the #1 unless the understanding concerned games played in which case they might spell Rizzo on a somewhat regular basis. Who knows, maybe they view Rizzo playing to many games this year as a contributor to his woes. For the record, other than a handful or two more games off, I don't think that was the problem.

  • I remember reading that Navarro wants a full time gig now. Is it possible that the FO is not looking big like McCann or Salt and are just looking for a new backup?

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    Possible. The agents sourced in that story implied the Cubs would spend "good" money.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    That's what I thought they'd be exploring but the MLBTR article implied more significantly expensive than what a back up would typically cost.

  • In reply to Holy Cattle:

    I don't think Dioner helped his cause after Beef went down. He made better argument for being backup pitch hitter type. He looked a little rough around the edges defensively. Also, struggled a bit at the end offensively. It's looks to me like Theo and Jed have surmised that it is in the best interest of the rebuild to be putting together the pieces to compete.

  • I love Joe Maddon about as much as anyone. But if the cost is a young-ish catcher coming off a good season, making nearly league minimum with occasional all-star upside I would freak out if the Cubs considered that.

  • In reply to SenatorMendoza:

    Agreed, no way for Maddon.

  • This idea is total crap and unworthy of discussion, It is blather from bored media types with nothing between, their ears or a Sox fan., It is, counter to everything the FO has stated as its course..Arguably, Wellie was the club, MVP for the second half.

  • In reply to BLOOMIE1937:

    It originated from Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, who happens to be a Cubs fan. I'm not sure he completely buys it either (neither does this article, though)

  • Little mention of Castillo's knee scoop. I wonder what the stats on catchers returning from this procedure are? Maybe this is driving the FO inquiries.

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