Catching Up on Cubs Rumors and Other News and Notes

The Cubs off-season is just eight days old and the rumor mill is already heating up. The front office’s focus has reportedly been on Joe Girardi while searching for other qualified managerial candidates if Girardi decides to stay in the Bronx. But once Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer hire a new manager and the coaching staff is in place, the attention will turn to improving the big league roster.

The Cubs are looking to add pitching this off-season and are expected to address bullpen that showed improvement at the end of the season but still has several holes to fill.

Could the Cubs pull off a trade to add a front of the rotation starter? Or will the Cubs go the free agent route to add a starter or two? And, will the Cubs try to add a catcher this off-season through free agency?

Catching and Welington Castillo

One of the weakest areas in the Cubs’ system is behind the plate. The Cubs have very little catching depth in the system behind Welington Castillo and what is there is not really big league ready.

Many think Dioner Navarro played himself out of Chicago with the career year he put together backing up Welington Castillo. Navarro did not play the last game of the season and was held out so he could finish the year with a .300 average. Navarro ended up with a .300/.365/.492 slash line that included seven doubles, 13 home runs and a .856 OPS in 89 games.

According to a report from Patrick Mooney, the Cubs will be exploring upgrades at catcher this winter. The Cubs are trying to “collect more left handed bats, boost their on-base percentage and add lead by example veterans to the clubhouse.”

Some think the Cubs will spend on “one impact free-agent” this winter and they might have room on the payroll for either Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Braves and Red Sox could offer McCann and Saltalamacchia qualifying offers which would cost the Cubs their second round pick, and draft money, if they were to sign either player.

And remember, as Mooney pointed out, Theo Epstein once traded for the Red Sox’s backstop.

The Cubs are thought to be very high on Welington Castillo and he is said to be part of the team’s core moving forward. Castillo was one of the bright spots for the big league team this year and he worked hard all season on his defense with Mike Borzello.

David Price

Joel Sherman reported the Cubs could be one of the possible suitors for David Price this off-season. The Rays will likely try to move Price this winter the same way they did Matt Garza before the 2012 season and James Shields last year.

The Cubs were mentioned several times by nine executives that Sherman questioned as which teams they felt would be suitors for Price. The executives feel the Cubs match up with Tampa due to the fact “they are deep in position prospects.” Plus, Derek Johnson was Price’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt and Sherman alluded to Johnson’s relationship with Price could help the Cubs sign him to a contract extension past the 2015 season.

Bronson Arroyo

According to a report from Nick Cafardo, the Cubs could be one of the teams interested in signing Bronson Arroyo this off-season. Arroyo thinks his time in Cincinnati is over and is looking for a three-year contract. Arroyo told Cafardo he does not feel the Reds are in position to give him what he is looking for, in terms of a contract. Arroyo thinks he will still be effective pitching into his late 30s.

Arroyo turns 37 in February and posted a 14-12 record in 32 starts this past season with a 3.79 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.

Theo Epstein claimed Arroyo off waivers from the Pirates in 2003 then traded him to the Reds in March of 2006 for Wily Mo Pena.

Arizona Fall League

The AFL begins on Tuesday and for those that missed Tom’s preview of the Cubs’ prospects participating in the Arizona Fall League this year can click here. The Mesa Solar Sox open their season in Glendale at the White Sox-Dodgers’ facility against the Desert Dogs.

Carrie Muskat reported Jorge Soler will be in right field for most of the Solar Sox’s games while Matt Loosen and Dallas Beeler are in Mesa’s starting rotation. Lendy Castillo and Armando Rivero will pitch out of the pen.

Kris Bryant is expected to spend time at third base and in the outfield while Albert Almora should see quite a bit of playing time in centerfield. Infielder Wes Darvill is on the taxi squad and will be available on Wednesday and Sunday.

News and Notes

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Daniel Bard and Mat Gamel are working out at the Cubs’ facility at Fitch Park. Bard is expected to throw off a mound on Tuesday.

Tim Buss, the Cubs’ strength and conditioning coach, will spend three weeks in the Dominican Republic in November working with Starlin Castro.

Kyuji Fujikawa threw a baseball for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in June. Fujikawa was limited to throwing a tennis ball prior to Monday. Fujikawa has been at the Cubs’ facility since his surgery rehabbing in hopes of being ready to pitch next season. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Fujikawa has set a goal to be ready to pitch in 2014.

Theo Epstein gave Dale Sveum a good reference when the Royals called prior to hiring him to be part of Ned Yost’s coaching staff. According to Paul Sullivan, Epstein and Sveum shook hands and hugged before Sveum left Wrigley Field last week. Sullivan also reported that Epstein and Sveum have spoken since his firing nine days ago.

Arodys Vizcaino is scheduled to throw batting practice on Tuesday and if everything goes well he will pitch in Instructional League games on October 15 and October 18. Vizcaino could pitch in Winter Ball if everything goes as planned in the Instructional League.

Chang-Yong Lim returned home on Monday and said he was pleased with the way his elbow responded after a second Tommy John surgery. Lim focused more on his recovery than the results. Lim would like to be the Cubs’ closer next season.

Mike Olt has been working out at the Cubs’ facility at Fitch Park.

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Do we want Brian McCann?
    Age 29

    He’s been an All-Star 7 times.

    2013…20 HR…57 RBI….256 BA…336 OBP…461 slug…796 OPS
    That looks alright. Note the limited playing time: 102 games, 356 AB, 402 PA

    Defense?

    He played only 90 starts at C in 2013.
    4 errors….995% fielding is okay…good for #7 in MLB….
    24% CS for 2013
    24% CS for career
    League Average is 28%….

    No doubt he’ll land a big contract. Expect a 25% decline in stats the first year….plus injury/DL time off.

    He could return to his 2012 stat line…
    .230 BA…300 OBP…399 slug….
    Project those stats over a reduced season due to DL time, and you get
    .230 BA or less, .300 OBP or less…14 HR or less….

    • Tony_Hall

      McCann I would take, but someone else will want him more than we do.

    • Sonate

      I like McCann, who bats lefty, as a platoon with Castillo, but the price might be too high for that role. Also, he only started 91 games as a catcher this year. Injuries?

      • Ripsnorter1

        He’s been hurt.

    • 07GreyDigger

      McCann needs a situation like Victor Martinez where he can be a DH part time to use his bat more.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Yessir!

      • TheWrongGuy

        Agree’d. The NL will soon adopt the DH rule. As for when it is an unknown. I would rather see our prospect Voggy in that slot though. Then paying MILLLIONS on the FA market.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Navarro….his stat line fell off somewhat when he played everyday at the end of the season.
    I mean, his slugging dropped from .531 to .492–still excellent.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia: do we want him?

    Age: 29 on May 2, 2014
    2013 stat line….
    .273 BA…..338 OBP…..466 slug…804 OPS. nice enough for sure.
    But that’s Boston’s bandbox….what’s his splits?
    HOME: .282/336/.500 slug….so nice…
    Away: .263/.341/.429 slug…power down, but still okay…

    All-Star? Never.

    Are you ready for this: most similar player, according to Baseball Reference,
    at this age….#1 Rick Wilkens….#2 Geovanny Soto…..

    Defense? Sit down, please.
    Lead the league in passed balls: 2011 with 26…..26!
    Lead MLB in SB allowed: 2013 with 89
    Lead AL in SB allowed: 2012 with 80
    (He’s getting worse, not better).

    Not a great defender by any means:
    #4 AL in errors 2013
    #2 AL in errors 2012

    • Tony_Hall

      No to Saltaac….oh whatever, I will worry about how to spell his name if they sign him. I don’t see it. If he hadn’t been traded for by Theo once before he wouldn’t be mentioned.

  • Tony_Hall

    David Price would be nice, but the cost will be high in both players and $$$$ as if you don’t extend him right away (just like I said about Garza) why trade for him.

    Now comparing him to Garza is just not the same. Price is a legitimate TOR SP. Even if he drops down a notch he is still a solid 1/2. Every team wants a pitcher like Price, but who will be willing to pay the Rays and Price what they both think he is worth.

    • Sonate

      I don’t disagree, but just to get a feel for what a TOR should be, I checked the 81 pitchers who qualified for the ERA crown this year. (Yes, only 81 did.) WHIP was 1.12 for 16th place, 1.18 for 32nd, 1.25 for 48th, 1.35 for 64th, and 1.60 for 81. Price was 14th, T. Wood was 32nd.

      If we look at ERA instead, it’s 3.06 for 16th 3.36 for 32nd, 3.67 for 48th, 4.18 for 64th and 5.36 for 80th. Price was 30th, T. Wood was 19th.

      • Tony_Hall

        I take WHIP above ERA and believe that is the better sign of TOR than ERA. But to me TOR is something you know when you see it. We have seen Garza and Samardzija look like it in short spells, but a true TOR looks like it almost every time out.

    • cubtex

      you do know that he had a drop in velocity this year. He will not be a TOR starter pitching at 92/93. I stay away.

      • Tony_Hall

        You do realize his whip was the best of his career this year and has gone down every year. Most pitchers lose velocity as they age. Depending on the cost he is worth having around for the next 5 years.

    • J Daniel

      They have invested to much in dollars and losses at the mlb level to trade of to many prospects at this point.

      • SuzyS

        IF… the Cubs do invest big bucks in someone this off season…IMO going after Tanaka makes the most sense.
        He’s a straight talent addition…no cost in prospects…projects to be a solid #2,
        (possibly# 1…basement #3). However, He will cost big bucks. That move alone…with a new manager will put fans in the seats for the first half of season…with call-ups solidifying attendence the second half.

        • 07GreyDigger

          But you don’t know if he turns out to be one. Like Kyuji Fujikawa or Kosuke Fukudome. That’s a lot of risk.

          • SuzyS

            Chances are that the Cubs WON’T go full in on Tanaka…due to $$$ needed.
            I’m just saying it makes more sense to go after Tanaka then trade the farm for Price..(for 2 years).

          • Tony_Hall

            How about both!

          • SuzyS

            a little greedy aren’t we??? :-)

      • Tony_Hall

        Not all of the prospects are going to make it and not all will make it on the cubs.

        Depth and redundancy in positions is also to be able to trade some away. The trick is to keep the best of the bunch and get as much value back for as many others as possible.

        • J Daniel

          Agree with the prospect stuff … just not sure if the timing of this is right.

          • Tony_Hall

            I agree somewhat. I would rather see them add a pitcher like Price now when we have cleaned house and should be on the upswing, then adding Garza when we were on the downswing.

            If adding Garza made sense to you then adding Price is a no brainer.

            Of course at what cost is the ultimate question.

          • cubtex

            adding Price now with the current state of the Cubs makes about as little sense as you can get. Let’s add Price with an outfield of Bogie,Lake and Schierholtz. At least when the Cubs traded for Garza…they were trying to win and real major league players on the team.

          • Tony_Hall

            This coming from the guy who has argues (to all ends of the earth) that it is never a bad to add a SP like Garza, yet adding a far superior pitcher like Price is bad timing because of a hypothetical OF. Talk about LOL!

            Everyone knows why they traded for Garza and Theo turned him into a huge haul.

            I don’t want Price at any cost, but no way I wouldn’t look into acquiring him if I was Theo.

          • cubtex

            Do you ever listen to anything I say????

            Quote….It is never a BAD time to aquire YOUNG CONTROLLABE pitching.

            Please try to follow along. Talk about LOL

          • 07GreyDigger

            David Price is 28, Edwin Jackson was 29 when signed. Yet you thought he was a bad idea…

            Let the argument begin…. :)

          • cubtex

            Cost controllable. Edwin Jackson was a huge overpay. Price will be expensive to aquire and you you 2 years of control. Argue away :)

          • Tony_Hall

            Price 28 – 2 years of control
            Garza 27 – 3 years of control

            I would only trade for Price if you can get him to sign an extension to give 4-5 years of control, but even if he wouldn’t how does your Garza argument not work with Price. It’s not like the Cubs couldn’t turn around and trade him at the deadline in 2015 for a huge haul and if we have turned it around by then he would be very nice to have.

            You are not making any sense being against Price when you were so far over the top in favor of Garza.

          • cubtex

            it is perfect sense. Garza was less expensive to aquire. He didn’t have a dip in velocity. you had an extra year of control. The Cubs only gave up Hak Ju Lee,Chris Archer,Guyer,Chirinos and Fuld for Garza and Rosscup.

            Big difference when you have to trade Shark and Baez for Price or something comparable.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Archer and Lee and Guyer were pretty highly regarded at the time. All top ten prospects in their system I believe. Granted they didn’t work out for Tampa, but its pretty comparable to what we’d have to give up now…

          • Tony_Hall

            And as Grey said, they were the x top prospects at the time. I would not trade Shark and Baez for Price. The cost does matter. But if you can do Shark, Vogelbach, Alcantara, and one of our many young arms and get Price to sign an extension to get him for 4-5 years, that might make sense, plus Price would be tradeable and we saw how they maximized the return on Garza, and Price is way better than Garza.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      maybe this is a good way to dump Castro, clearing the way for Baez at SS at mlb level?

      Would have to be more than Castro, of course, but a young, under contract, former all-star, will carry more weight with teams that didn’t have to watch him suck all season like we did.

      Plus they can just blame his bad year on Sveum (which is why he got, fired, right?)

      Would Rays take Shark too? Doubtful…not under contract for much longer, and he kinda sucks. But if I could trade Shark, Castro, and 3 prospects for Price, I would do it.

      As long as those prospects aren’t named Baez or Bryant, I am fine with it.

  • Tony_Hall

    I also don’t see the Arroyo rumors either. 37 years old and wants a 3 year contract….don’t see it.

    • Ripsnorter1

      I agree. Forgetaboutit.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I’d consider him on a one year deal with a team friendly option.

    • TheWrongGuy

      I could ONLY see signing Arroyo to a 1 year contract with 2 option years and a buyout option. This type of contract has much value for him and the CUBS on the trade market.

      This is the only way I see an Arroyo signing with the CUBS.

  • Tony_Hall

    Only 8 days of the off-season, it seems like it has been weeks.

    • Ripsnorter1

      You got that right, Driver!

      I love baseball!

      • Tony_Hall

        Driver?

  • J Daniel

    Still no news wit Joe and Yanks … good news for Cubs if that is who they want … doing their homework in case it falls through … but I think they already have an idea.

  • J Daniel

    According to Wittenmeyer the Cubs expect to learn today about Girardi? http://www.suntimes.com/sports/23019103-419/joe-girardi-staying-with-yankees-or-talking-with-cubs.html

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      That is correct, see previous post. And I just provided an update on an unconfirmed rumor.

      • J Daniel

        Thanks, Neil. And again, thanks for you, your guys, this site, and all of the posters on here! What a great think CCO is for all of us!

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Thanks man.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    There is an unconfirmed report out of New York this morning that Girardi is wanting to “explore” the Cubs job .. stay tuned.

    • J Daniel

      This, IMO, is GREAT news for the Cubs. All Joe has to do is tell the Yankees he wants to speak with the Cubs and will not make any final decision until he does so. That makes the Yankees really make the decision … they could wait it out and lose him, tell him they are taking their offer off the table and lose him, or let him speak with the Cubs immediately so that he can make a choice between the two. Two of the three options favor the Cubs.

      • SuzyS

        Actually, if the Yankees are smart…they should want Girardi to be completely comfortable taking the Yankee’s job…if that means taking time to explore the Cubs job to make the best decision, they shouldn’t be afraid to allow that.

        IMO….The Yankee job could have a very short shelf life for any manager right now…with the transitions that team is obviously about to go through….Girardi will last longer at the helm of the Yanks, due to his record…but if things turn sour there, the fans won’t be patient…they never are in NY.
        If I’m Cashman, the offer would have to include some sort of unwritten agreement to a future FO position in consideration for all the success Joe has brought.
        That’s the main advantage the Yankee’s should be able to offer.

        • SuzyS

          And the Cubs should be attractive to Joe…homeland etc…Plus a stated goal to win the WS…with a plan in place…albeit one that will take a few more seasons to begin seeing the turnaround.

          • J Daniel

            100% agree with both posts!

  • 07GreyDigger

    I appreciate that Theo worked in Boston, but I think it’s hackey journalism to assume that he’s going to sign certain people because he had them in Boston. Why don’t people actually do some digging instead of being lazy?

    • SuzyS

      Who are you referring to??? The folks talking about signing Salty?

      • 07GreyDigger

        Salty, Arroyo and other reports I’ve read lately.

        • SuzyS

          I can appreciate your point…but it is easy to assume that Theo might be quicker to take a second look at someone he has history with.
          However, I do think Theo will ultimately put personal relationships aside in pursuit of the best fit for the Cubs.
          It makes for great conversation either way.

  • SuzyS

    If Navarro doesn’t resign…any thoughts on bringing in AJ Pierzinski to mentor Castillo on a one year deal? I realize he’s AL. He’s old…But I like his toughness and bat.

    • Ripsnorter1

      You want Pierzinski to teach Castillo how to be a jerk?

      Why?

      LOL

      Pierzinski is a hardnosed player. I’ve always liked him. And he get better with age.

      • SuzyS

        Yes, I like him too…reminds me of Carlton Fisk with his mental toughness during his playing days….a hard nosed competitor.

      • cc002600

        I bet he would make a good manager

        • Tony_Hall

          Most catchers do make good managers.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Pierzynski is awful at defense. If you want Castillo to be mentored on the finer points of catching, AJ is not the person you want.

  • STLCubsFan

    What about Mike Napoli as a possible catching candidate?

    He’s 31, was positioned as catcher until last year when he got moved to 1st base/DH, and owns a .259/.357/.502/.859 slash line over his 8 years in the bigs as well as a .990 fielding percentage as a catcher over 7 seasons, as well as can sign a short term contract until we can get some more catching prospects in our system.

    Doesn’t sound too shabby to me!

    • TheWrongGuy

      I like him as well but I believe he will have a large price-tag. Also if Boston offers him a contract and we lose a 2nd round choice in the draft I don’t like that option.. If he could also play left for as well it take some serious thought.

    • 07GreyDigger

      He has a degenerative hip condition. Not sure how I like giving a guy free agent money with that sort of problem, especially a catcher.

      • STLCubsFan

        Very good point, I was unaware of the severity of the hip injuries and just checked out information on the condition he has.

        Although, maybe we could emulate the Red Sox contract of 1 year, 5 million with performance bonuses for him remaining healthy and on the active roster.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Team Theo has proved that you can buy pitching on the FA market,
    but you cannot buy a bat. Sure, the Angels bought Pujols and Hamilton, and
    they couldn’t hit under the pressure of the new contracts.

    You need to trade for a bat. Then you can pay the player when his contract
    comes due if he remains with you, and you can then reasonably expect the same performance.

    THEREFORE, I think the Cubs will buy some retreads like Baker, feldman, Maholm, et al, for 2014.
    Save the dough for 2015 pitching.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Okay, people!

    Who is going to win tonight? A’s or Tigers?
    Let’s hear it from you!

    Doug Fister for Tigers….208 IP…228 H….only 44 BB…159 K…1.31 WHIP…..288 BAA
    Dan Streilly for A’s….152.2 IP….131 H….57 BB…124 K…1.24 WHIP…..232 BAA

    So long, Tigers! Have a nice off season!

    • TheWrongGuy

      I like Straily but I believe the Tigers will not go down with out a fight.
      Fister has done well before in post-season action.
      Tough call.

    • cc002600

      A’s

      miggy can’t hit – still hurt

  • Ripsnorter1

    What’s this stupidity?

    “he Reds haven’t contacted Cubs third base coach David Bell about their managerial vacancy, reports John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Bell has previously managed the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate in Louisville and “would be a lock to be interested” if contacted, writes Fay, but the Reds aren’t able to reach out at this time, as he’s under contract with the Cubs for 2014.”

    I thought the Cubs said they could look for a job elsewhere?

    • TheWrongGuy

      I believe some of the coaching staff was from Sveum and the others were brought in by the front office. So some are still under contract. As was stated.