Cubs Add Catching to Roster, Keep Listening to Offers for Jeff Samardzija

The Cubs added a much-needed catcher to the big league roster on Tuesday when they acquired George Kottaras from the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations. The veteran catcher is penciled in as the backup to Welington Castillo.

One of the many areas that must be addressed by the front office is the lack of catching throughout the system. The Cubs have a couple of intriguing prospects in the lower levels but are very thin in the catching department in the upper levels of the system. George Kottaras is arbitration eligible for next season and is expected to compete for a job on the Opening Day roster. With the addition of Kottaras, the Cubs’ 40-man roster stands at 40 players. The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players is Monday, Dec. 2 and the team now has 11 arbitration eligible players on the 40-man roster.

While the front office traded for a familiar face, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer continued listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija. At least six teams have spoken to the Cubs about Jeff Samardzija. The Rockies, Nationals, Pirates and Orioles are among the teams that have inquired about Samardzija while the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks appear to be the most interested in adding him to their rotation.

The Cubs’ front office is thought to be doing a lot of trade texting, with the focus on dealing Jeff Samardzija. That is, if they cannot work out a long-term deal with him before the Winter Meetings.

Jeff Samardzija

The Cubs are reportedly listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija while trying to gauge his value. Jim Bowden thinks David Price is holding up the Samardzija market right now, but his sources have indicated the Cubs are playing the Samardzija card and talking to everyone that is interested.

Will the front office find a team willing to meet their asking price for Samardzija? The general thought is that Epstein and Hoyer are looking for at least three top, near Major League ready pitchers for Samardzija. For instance, a package from the Blue Jays would likely have to include Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman.

Ken Rosenthal reported the Diamondbacks know what it would take to land Samardzija, but “their fear is that if they jump too soon, they may miss out on an even better opportunity.”

Chris Bosio spoke fondly about his number one starter from a year ago. Bosio said the Cubs “need more guys with his win-first mentality.” Bosio described Samardzija as the “ultimate competitor” and explained “he wants to win and he wants to win badly.” Bosio added the Cubs need Samardzija to be “that guy” and he “wants to be that guy.”

According to Rosenthal, the Cubs are “drawing numerous inquiries on Samardzija” but no deal appeared imminent at the time of his report.

Kyle Hendricks

Paul Sullivan spoke with Chris Bosio about the current status of his pitching staff. Bosio said the Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer need to add more pitching to the team and the organization, and if the pitching cannot be developed, then they need to acquire more pitching.

Bosio said he would talk to Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Rick Renteria about Kyle Hendricks, who is ticketed for Iowa to begin the 2014 season, to possibly begin the year in the Cubs’ rotation if he is ready.

Bosio acknowledged the need for development time in the minors, but does not see anything wrong with a pitcher that is ready for the majors being given a shot … no matter what age he is. Bosio pointed to the fact that Hendricks “just keeps getting guys out” and asked the question, “What’s to say he couldn’t be a fourth or fifth starter?”

It sounds like Kyle Hendricks will be given every opportunity to make the rotation in Spring Training … that is if Chris Bosio has anything to stay about it.

Rumors have suggested Hendricks would receive a non-roster invite to camp, and from what Chris Bosio told the Tribune, he will be in big league camp when pitchers and catchers report in February.

Hall of Fame

The BBWAA released the 2014 Hall of Fame ballot on Tuesday. Greg Maddux highlights the list of the 19 candidates added to the ballot this year. Players must be named on 75 percent of the ballots cast to earn election into Cooperstown.

Greg Maddux is a slam-dunk, first-ballot Hall of Famer and it will be interesting to see if Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas are elected for enshrinement the first time around.

The 2014 Class will be announced on Wednesday, January 8 (1:00pm CST) on MLB Network.

Smokies on TV

The Tennessee Smokies announced a partnership with WKNX (The Knox) on Tuesday that will air a behind the scenes look at the 2014 Smokies every Saturday morning. The yet to be named show will begin on April 5 and run for 22 weeks.

The release does not mention if the all access show will be available online.

News, Notes and More Rumors

Chris Bosio suggested to the Tribune, Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon could compete for the closer’s job in the spring.

According to Joel Sherman, the meeting between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball ended on Tuesday without an agreement on the new posting system. The two leagues could likely meet again on Wednesday prior to the holiday … but a settlement on the new posting system is not seen as imminent at this point.

The Minnesota Twins have touched base with Phil Hughes according to Jon Heyman, along with Bronson Arroyo and Matt Garza … and just about every free agent starter available this off-season. The Cubs have been connected to Phil Hughes this winter as a possibility for their rotation.

Scratch the Los Angeles Angels off the list as possible trade partners for Jeff Samardzija. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Angels and Cubs do not match up on a trade for Samardzija.

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon