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

"The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind." - William James
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  • Ripsnorter1

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

    Hector Rondon?

    • Tom U

      Line for Rondon, so far, in the VWL:

      11 games 2-0 1.74 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, 8 K, 10.1 IP

      • Eugene Debs

        Looks like he found a home in the VWL.

      • GaryLeeT

        That 1.55 WHIP suggests others came in behind him, and bailed him out.

        • Ripsnorter1

          What was Marmol’s career WHIP?
          1.331…

      • Roe Skidmore

        Isn’t Hatley throwing the heck out of the ball in Mexico, or has he cooled down. I would never give up on Cabrera as starter or reliever. Like the guy.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      If Rondon is in…Cabrera is out.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I think that’s more of a “I think he’s going to be a competent bullpen arm you should get excited about,” more than a closer.

  • Sonate

    Maddux SHOULD be chosen on 100% of the ballots, but he probably won’t be.

    • Roe Skidmore

      I agree on Maddux 100%.

    • Tom U

      There always some stick-in-the-mud that thinks that no one should be elected on the first ballot.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        That is so ridiculous but you are correct. “Stick in the mud,” is a great way to describe them. Along with “wet blanket,” or “fuddy-duddy.”

        • 07GreyDigger

          Or loser.

        • John_CC

          You guys are both way too nice. I can think of some other descriptors…

      • J Daniel

        He was probably a PED guy … JUST KIDDING!

    • John G

      What’s the over/under on how many votes Jacques Jones gets?

      • 07GreyDigger

        More than JT Snow. Why either on the ballot is ridiculous. I’d like to be the guy that picks who goes on the ballot.

        • oldanddisgusted

          Imagine how these guys feel when they find out that their name is on the ballot. Then imagine how they feel when they get 0 votes. I think I’d rather not be on the ballot than get 0 votes.

          • 07GreyDigger

            If it were me, I’d laugh either way.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      New York members will see to that.

  • Roe Skidmore

    Personally, if the Cubs could resign Feldman and Baker and add some more starting pitching through Shark trade and other FA’s, put Rusin and Hendricks in the mix…then I would be for moving Edwin Jackson to the stopper roll, where he could actually thrive. I know he would be an expensive stopper, but you would have an inexpensive rotation that can get you through 5, 6 innings or so to a bullpen with Strop and Russell, then EJ, who has a resilient arm and could be a two inning guy.
    The big key offensively is another right handed bat for the outfield(is Vitters ready or an FA?), 3rd base solved from our list of candidates(there has to be one ready to play), then all we need is to figure out 2B and get a rebound season at SS and 1B from Castro and Rizzo.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      I like that idea…

      • CubbyDenCritic

        But would Feldman & Baker like to return?……to a last place team !

        • Roe Skidmore

          I believe if Olt can take over 3B and Castro/Rizzo bounce back…we could have winning season.

      • Roe Skidmore

        Agree. Worked out pretty good for Dennis Eckersly. If Jackson was throwing daily, he can bring his best for one, two innings…maybe he’s just not a starter? Just an idea, better than eating salary and giving him away if he falters again as a starter.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I think Edwin Jackson would demand a trade if that happened.

      • J Daniel

        He could but who cares what he demands.

      • paulcatanese

        One can only hope!

    • GaryLeeT

      Could Jackson do that? I am not going to look it up, but I remember him giving up a ton of 1st inning runs.

      • Roe Skidmore

        Good question, but some guys struggle throwing every 5th day…and do better in bullpen throwing every day. Who knows, he hasn’t thrived as a starter, maybe this is his calling?

        • 07GreyDigger

          He hasn’t thrived after one down year? He’s made a career at being an average major league starter.

          • Roe Skidmore

            I wasn’t talking about one year.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I know that’s why I said average major league starter.

    • daverj

      Interesting idea with Jackson, but I don’t see him being successful in that role. I think we need to keep rolling him out as a starter and hope he eventually finds consistent success. He been very up and down over the years. Sometimes those type of guys eventually figure it out … though sometimes they never do.

      • Roe Skidmore

        My only thought is what if he struggles again? What if Strop doesn’t emerge as we all hope he does? We had 4 guys for less money get us deep into games last year, only to have the bullpen blow up. Then somehow Gregg rediscovered himself for a season, but is he going to return and repeat what he did last season. Evidently the Cubs management doesn’t think so and all bets are on unproven Strop. Just a thought, we can fill out the rotation again…

  • raymondrobertkoenig

    Have to think Samardzija’s gone soon.

    • cc002600

      agree.
      he says he wants to be here no matter what and isn’t that interested in the big money. But if that is really the case, then why is he playing hardball on a contract extension, when he knows that would be his ticket out of town if he keeps that up ?
      he will be traded. totally agree.

  • Eugene Debs

    Yeah, exploring a “long term contract.” Just like Garza, I’m sure.

  • NCCubfan

    Hendricks is a PITCHER!!!! Very similar to Wood in his approach. I am glad to see Bosio is in his corner.

    • Roe Skidmore

      Agree. Look at leap Ricky Nolasco made when Hendry gave him away in a trade to Miami.

  • Eugene Debs

    Kyle Hendricks in the rotation = yes. Do that.

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      My reply = agree. With that. ;)

      • Roe Skidmore

        Also agree. Rusin pitched great last season as well, another pitcher from the system.

  • David L Rohrer

    The shark rumors are just leading to a big letdown. Either they sign him for way to much moneyor they don’t get what they think they should get for him. I hope I’m wrong but we Cubs fans need another letdown like we need another 90 loss season

    • CubbyDenCritic

      another 90 loss season is coming in 2014.

      • davesworld

        Yeah I know

  • J Daniel

    IMO, the haul for Shark will be very good. There are not many options out there and teams will still need a guy. I think Shark is still coming into his own and is going to get better. But a good 3 for 1 is exactly what this team needs to move this rebuild along quicker.

    • GaryLeeT

      He’ll be 29 next season. That’s past “coming into his own” , and he should be peaking right now. We all saw him pitch, and watched him melt down when things didn’t quite go his way. In my opinion, he just doesn’t have the mental toughness to be a consistent winner. Just too “Z” like for my taste.

      • J Daniel

        although he will be 29 his arm is young … does not have the wear and tear on it due to football.

  • 07GreyDigger

    Everyone was freaking out yesterday about the George Kottoras deal. Who cares? He’s a backup catcher with some pop. Everyone freaked about Navarro. That worked out. Do I think Kottoras is going to be a solid backup? No. Not a chance. But he cost nothing. That’s the bonus.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      can you imagine the hysterical in the streets when the Cubs win a World Series?……Kottoras would be elected the new alderman for Wrigleyville.

      • 07GreyDigger

        He’d do a better job than Tom Tunney. My cat Cleo could do a better job than Tom Tunney.

        • mutantbeast

          Tom Tunney, just another version of Blago. He deserves the same fate as Blago got.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Sad to say, Maddux will not be wearing a Cubs cap in HOF…..(see Sutter & Dawson)

    • J Daniel

      you are correct … and why would he? Most of his work was done in Atlanta and that should be the hat he wears.

      • Tony_Hall

        The HOF chooses the cap, not the player.

        • John_CC

          I’m sure they can lobby though.

          • Tony_Hall

            Ask Dawson how that worked for him. It was well known that he preferred a Cubs cap.

          • John_CC

            I guess I forgot that. I don’t think that’s right.

    • daverj

      There good arguments for Dawson and Sutter to wear Cubs caps, but not Maddux.

      • John_CC

        Sad but true. Letting Maddux walk in FA the year after his Cy Young was unconscionable.

        Top 3 worst moves by a Cubs FO ever, I think it is #1 on my list. Way worse than the Brock – Brogglio.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    If Hendricks makes this club out of Spring Training….then Shark is gone, and his replacements are not ready……or one of starters is on the DL……or Hendricks had 0.00 ERA during ST…..or Edwin Jackson got traded.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Interesting stuff on Greg Maddux…..had only two 20 game seasons….but five 19 victory seasons……Maddux lost 227 games……49% of those loses (112) were with the Cubs……in 23 seasons, Greg had 18 seasons of 200 plus innings pitched….and missed 3 seasons by a couple of innings or less…….Maddux was 11-14 in Post Season with a 3.27 ERA……Maddux ERA was over 4.00 in his last five years of his career.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Fun fact. Greg Maddux is ranked as the #5 best pitcher of all time on Baseball Reference. The 4 in front of him? Walter Johnson, Lefty Grove, Cy Young and Pete Alexander.

    • daverj

      And he pitched a lot of innings during the “steroids era” … in another era, his numbers would likely have been even better.

    • John_CC

      Just goes to show that the 20 Win season has as much or more to do with the team one is on. Didn’t he have something like 10 seasons in row with at least 15 W?

      His numbers are flat out awesome across the board. If not for those last five years with a bloated ERA his career number would probably been just below 3.00

      • John_CC

        Zoinks. Make that 17 seasons in a row with at least 15 W and 18 out of 19.

  • John_CC

    It’s going to be big bummer when Greg Maddux wears the A on his cap into The Hall and not the C. In the live ball steroid era of .330 hitters having 35 HR power everywhere, Maddux just shines so far above and beyond the competition. I’m really happy and proud to have watched him pitch many games. He was the best pitcher of his (our) generation, hands down.

    One of four pitchers in history to win four Cy Young awards. And how many of Clemens’ seven should have an asterisk?

    Big Hurt and his lifetime .300 BA with 550+ HR should be a lock as well. He was outspoken about PED use and I believe his stats are clean. But how knows with these egomaniac Hall voters these days.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Agreed. I’m still miffed that Biggio and Bagwell didn’t get in on the first ballot. Bagwell I get, but Biggio was hands down one of the best players of his era and versatile at it too. Didn’t matter if he was at C, OF or 2B, he always was good.

  • Tony_Hall

    Interesting article explaining why we should sign Ellsbury.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/42592/cubs-should-sign-jacoby-ellsbury

    This is what Chicago Cubs fans can dream on, circa 2016:

    CF Jacoby Ellsbury
    LF Albert Almora
    SS Javier Baez
    3B Kris Bryant
    1B Anthony Rizzo
    RF Jorge Soler
    2B Starlin Castro
    C Welington Castillo

    • cubtex

      If you are going to sign an outfielder to lead off. I will take Choo over Ellsbury any day. That would also improve the defense moving forward by keeping Almora in CF. Almora is projected as a much better CF defensively than Ellsbury. I don’t understand why he put Baez at SS and moved Castro to 2B either.

      • Tony_Hall

        Ellsbury if you are looking for CF and Choo if you need RF defensively, either would look good in a lineup, just not for 7 years.

        If Baez and Castro end up the SS/2B combo, it could go either way. Like I usually say on projections and lineups, don’t put too much into the position, when making lineups up, you have to put the guys you want somewhere.

        But I thought Schoenfield made a good case for why the Cubs should sign Ellsbury.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I’m sure the great Jesse Rogers wrote that gem…

      • Tony_Hall

        David Schoenfield.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Scratch off Ted Lilly as a Pitcher who might return to the Cubs for one more shot at that W.S. Title……….he Retired today.

    • paulcatanese

      Good for him. On the other hand, does that mean that he would rather quit the game than return to the Cubs?

  • cubtex

    Have a Great Thanksgiving Cubs Fans! Enjoy the day with family and be thankful for all that we have!

    • paulcatanese

      And the same to you, and you’re family.