Cubs Focused on Pitching … and Other News, Notes and Rumors

The GM Meetings have come and gone and while the Cubs did not make any moves or signings this week, they reportedly had multiple conversations with teams and agents and tried to lay the groundwork for the rest of the off-season. The Cubs are looking to add pitching, pitching and more pitching this winter.

One of the Cubs’ off-season targets appears to be off the table. The Cubs were among several teams to submit a bid for the negotiating rights to Hyun-jin Ryu prior to Thursday’s deadline. The Cubs were reportedly aggressive with their bid but did not win the right to negotiate a contract with the 25-year old Korean southpaw. The Hanwha Eagles accepted the winning bid of $25.7 million ($25,737,737) but the winning team is unknown at this time (reports suggested late Friday night the Dodgers were the winning team). The team that posted the highest bid has 30 days to work out a contract with Ryu and his agent Scott Boras. Updated 10:04am CST MLB confirms that Dodgers have won rights to Hyun-jin Ryu. The Dodgers have 30 days to sign him.

The Cubs are looking to lockup Jeff Samardzija with a long-term deal … and according to a report from ESPN Chicago, the Cubs have made an offer to free agent lefty Francisco Liriano.

Jeff Samardzija
According to multiple reports, the Cubs would like to sign Jeff Samardzija to a long-term deal. The Cubs have discussed the possibility internally and have reached out to Samardzija’s camp.

The talks have been reported as preliminary at this point.

Jeff Samardzija is clearly coming off his best season and could end up being a top of the rotation starter the Cubs are missing. Samardzija is arbitration eligible for the next three seasons and remains under the Cubs control through the 2015 season.

Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
If the first two weeks of baseball’s off-season are any indication every free agent starting pitcher not asking for $80-plus million deals will be linked to the Cubs until they sign a contract … and it is a long list that includes: Ryan Dempster, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Dan Haren, Francisco Liriano, Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Joe Saunders.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, don’t rule out Ryan Dempster returning to the Cubs. Dempster has been linked to several teams already this off-season. The Brewers seem to be a good fit and are reportedly trying to sign Dempster.

As previously reported, Dempster randomly bumped into a top Cubs executive last week. Jed Hoyer confirmed that the Cubs formally contacted Dempster and his agent since then but he would not comment on the extent of the conversation.

One team that does not appear to be interested in Ryan Dempster is the White Sox. The Sox tried to trade for Dempster twice last season according to Levine and Dempster rejected both deals that would have landed him on the South Side of Chicago. The Dodgers may have moved on from Dempster as well. Dempster wanted to be traded to Los Angeles last year and there appeared to be mutual interest. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers are “reluctant to award a multi-year contract” to a pitcher that will turn 36 during the season.

According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs “are mulling over free agent starters, seeking the same types of bargains that they found last off-season with outfielder David DeJesus.” That is where the connection to pitchers like Brandon McCarthy and Shaun Marcum comes from.

As for Dan Haren, many think he will sign with the Padres due to his relationship with Josh Byrnes from the days together in Arizona … and the fact that Byrnes has already traded for him once. Dan Haren says he is healthy and it frustrated Haren when he found out that health concerns was the reason the Cubs backed out of the deal for him last week. Haren has not been told what exactly happened and he is adamant that his arm is in great shape.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs have made an offer to free-agent Francisco Liriano. Levine reported news he obtained from Jim Bowden of ESPN and the MLB Network Radio.

The Cubs reportedly had a lot of conversations with agents and teams but Jed Hoyer told ESPN Chicago that he would not say anything is close.

P.J. Mainville and Mark O’Neal
The Cubs have hired a new head athletic trainer according to a report from ESPN Chicago. P.J. Mainville replaces the Cubs’ longtime head trainer Mark O’Neal. Mainville has been the assistant athletic trainer for the Arizona Diamondbacks since 2010 and worked in the Orioles minor league system for 13 years prior to taking the position with Arizona.

Mark O’Neal has been with the Cubs since 2004 after being in the St. Louis Cardinals organization from 1998 to 2003. O’Neal is now the Cubs Director of Medical Administration, a new position within the organization, and will work with all of the organization’s medical and training staff.

News, Notes and Other Rumors
Justin Germano signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays that includes a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.

According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are making a big push to re-sign Shawn Camp.

The Cubs are interested in signing Kevin Youkilis but so are the White Sox, Phillies, Indians and Dodgers according to a report from Ken Rosenthal.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Pitching is the cornerstone of most championship teams." – Roger Craig

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  • brent carmona

    If only the cubs could crank out RISP like Neil cranks out these reports….

  • J Daniel

    As always Neil, GREAT report!

    • Neil

      Thanks guys

  • Raymond Robert Koenig

    Per SI’s MLB page, the Cubs won the bid for Ryu.

    • J Daniel

      Just saw that as well. Obviously, with the amount of money invested, he will take one of the rotation spots. Will they still be looking to sign 2 other guys or is Ryu one of the 2?

      Have not read much on Ryu. How does he project – a middle rotation guy – 3 or 4?

      • Tony_Hall

        He is said to be at best a #3, most likely #4. Some have said he won’t stay a starter, but no one is paying this much money if they don’t believe he will start.

        “According to Baseball America, Ryu has drawn comparisons to David Wells because he’s a four-pitch lefty. Other reports say he throws in the low-90s, maxing out around 95 mph. Insider Danny Knobler reports some teams weren’t sure if Ryu would be better served to start or relieve in the big leagues.”

    • Tony_Hall

      Here is the link.

      But if you follow the link at the top of the article, it shows Jon Heyman say the Cubs did NOT win the bid, which is the same guy they are quoting as saying DID win the bid.

      • Raymond Robert Koenig

        His Wikipedia page says that the team that won the bid will be announced on the 12th.

      • Tony_Hall

        This link is no longer active….wonder why?

        • Neil

          I wonder …

    • Neil

      SI made a mistake as Tony pointed out. The info they linked to points out the Cubs are not believed to have won the right to negotiate a contract with Ryu.

  • Tony_Hall

    I like the idea of giving Samardzija a contract extension, but not as much as Castro. Samaradzija is controlled for 3 years already, he is about to turn 28 in January, but without much wear and tear on his arm because of not playing baseball full time, while he played football in college.

    He will be a free agent after 2015, which will be going into his age 31 season. But he is still a pitcher and guarantees to pitchers, need to come with something back to the team.

    Any contract I would give Samardzija, today, would have to give club options, that would cover through at least 3 more season, otherwise why guarantee him pay for the next 3 years, or even a 4th year, if the team isn’t going to gain some extra years of control. I am sure his agent will try to get years 4, 5, even 6 to be guaranteed, but I wouldn’t go past guaranteeing 4, unless they want it to be a club option for years 4-6 or years 5/6 all at once. Year by year would not be fair to Samardzija. I would also have no problem throwing in escalators to pay him more in those club option years, if he becomes a front of the rotation pitcher.

    Year 6 would be Samardzija’s age 33 year, he would still be looking at another multi-year deal at that point, I am sure his agent would prefer he become a FA at 30 or 31 versus 33, but if you want guaranteed money, that is the price to pay.

    I think Samardzija wants to stay near home and will accept the big money that he will be offered. He is quoted as saying he has enough money already (kind of refreshing to hear an athlete be so honest!!). This should be a no brainer to get done, and I trust Theo and Jed to structure it properly for the Cubs and to make Samardzija a very good value for the team.

  • Thomas Doughty

    Here is an article on Ryu. I know its a Bleacher Report but it has a video of him striking out 12 and gives some scouting information.

  • Neil

    MLB confirms that Dodgers have won rights to Ryu. Now have 30 days to sign him.

    • Theboardrider

      I don’t think an of the Asians are worth it. 25 million just for the right to negotiate? No thanks. Many are great players but the price is too inflated.

  • SuzyS

    It’s interesting to see the Dodgers flex their Steinbrenner-like financial muscles….There’s definitely a new “Yankee” mentality brewing on the West coast while the actual Yankee’s are trying to reign in their spending.
    25-26 million for the “right” to negotiate a contract with a guy that some project to end up in the bullpen. What’s wrong with this picture?

  • Dorasaga

    Since I watched Ryu the Korean southpaw quite a few games before, I’ll quickly throw in what I know (remember) about him. I watched his games at the Olympics 2008, then WBC 2009, and finally, one KBO (Korea’s pro league) regular season game.

    He’s slider-heavy. That was his out-pitch, his bread-and-butter in 2008. Everybody knew Beijing witnesses the last baseball series in the Olympics, and players were serious. Chris Robinson, represented Canada as a Cubbie catcher back then, played against Ryu, and was no match. I still remember Chris’ hands shook like crazy when made contact with Ryu’s fastball. (I double-checked and the result was a single; not bad for a AA player.)

    He’s good defensively. For his size, he’s quite agile, and a better athlete to his peers. Pitchers weren’t usually known as “athletes.”

    I can understand why Ryu was heavily scouted by MLB and required big post-fee. My biggest concern is that he’s been a star since high school, so he might be overused since then. We all know Asian managers LOOOOOVE to pitch their ace until his arm falls off.

    • Neil

      Thanks for posting … Great post

      • Dorasaga

        Thanks for everything. My disclaimer: that regular season game was in 2010, so it’s been two seasons. He might have learned a few more tricks
        to command the strike zone…

        And oh, I missed that news the Dodgers won the negotiation right. This piece of memory won’t serve Cubs fan any good now. Oh well.

        • SuzyS

          Dorasaga, Thanks for the “inside” info on Ryu…it was interesting whether or not he dons the blue pinstripes at Wrigley.

        • Neil

          I agree with Suzy, thanks again.

  • Tom U

    Logan Watkins goes deep with a solo blast in the top of the fifth. Mesa down 6-2 to Peoria.

    • Tom U

      An Update: Mesa ends up muscling past Peoria 11-8.

      Logan Watkins 3-5/2 R/HR/ 2 RBI

      Matt Szczur 2-5/2B/R

      Dae-Run Rhee 2 IP/4 R/ER/2 BB/2 K/Error

  • Ripsnorter1

    The player in all of MLB history most similar to Mr. Angel Pagan is Mitch Webster.