The biggest Cubs’ rumor to come out of Orlando on the final day of the GM Meetings on Wednesday was courtesy of Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Feinsand reported the market on Jacoby Ellsbury looks thin and his source indicated “the Cubs are stealthily waiting in the wings.” While Feinsand is hearing there is a thin market for Ellsbury, Scott Boras told Jon Paul Morosi that the interest in Ellsbury is far more than normal for elite players
The Cubs front office is obviously familiar with the 30-year old free agent outfielder, but would they dip into the free agent market and pay the big bucks to sign the player they selected in the first round of the 2005 draft? Scott Boras is thought to be looking for a similar contract Carl Crawford signed in December of 2010 (seven years, $142 million) for Jacoby Ellsbury this winter.
The Cubs are not expected to sign any of the high dollar free agents this winter, and that would include Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo. Scott Boras, the agent for Ellsbury and Choo, ripped the Cubs on Wednesday for not spending like a major-market team. Boras thinks the Cubs have done a great job in the draft and player development, and he feels they have good young players coming through the system. “But fans don’t come to see seats, grass and cement. They come to see players.”
The Cubs not being in the mix for Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo hurts the market for his two biggest free agent clients.
The front office appears to be looking into signing second and third tier free agents this winter while listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija and going through the posting process for Masahiro Tanaka.
Rumors, Rumors and More Rumors
The front office is thought to be checking in with multiple free agents to fill a few of their needs this winter. The Cubs would like to add a catcher, an outfield, a starting pitcher and a late-inning reliever that could close games.
Several names have surfaced that could possibly fit into the Cubs short-term plans.
According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Phil Hughes and Josh Johnson could be two of the free agent pitchers the Cubs could be looking at signing this off-season.
Most think that Phil Hughes will be a much better pitcher once he is out of a Yankees’ uniform. Hughes has not lived up to expectations in the Bronx and he could revive his career with a different team, the same way A.J. Burnett did after being traded to Pittsburgh.
Josh Johnson is drawing serious interest from several teams. Johnson had elbow surgery in October and even after a miserable season in Toronto, he figures to be able to pick which team he signs with this winter. When Johnson has been healthy, he has been mentioned among the best pitchers in the game.
The Cubs are checking in with veteran catchers that would backup Welington Castillo next season. Kurt Suzuki is on their radar and according to a radio report from Jesse Rogers apparently John Buck is as well.
The 33-year old veteran catcher split time between the Mets and Pirates last season. John Buck was included in the deal that sent Marlon Byrd to the Pirates. Buck hit .219/.285/.362 with 11 doubles and 15 home runs in 110 games last season.
And the Red Sox are believed to have offered Jarrod Saltalamacchia a two-year contract and continue to discuss Carlos Ruiz, Brian McCann and A.J. Pierzynski as options.
The Cubs would like to add a veteran outfielder to the mix this winter. According to a report from Jesse Rogers, Nate McLouth is on the Cubs’ list. McLouth is “drawing interest from several clubs and there is speculation he would like to play for a winner.” McLouth hit .258/.329/.399 with 31 doubles, four triples and 12 home runs in 146 games for the Orioles last season. McLouth signed a one-year, $2 million contract with Baltimore last winter.
The CCO reported incorrect information about Rick Porcello’s contract status earlier in the week. Rick Porcello, like Jeff Samardzija, is under team control for two more seasons and is not eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season. The Tigers are reportedly willing to listen on Porcello. Will the Cubs and Tigers be able to work out a trade for Porcello this winter? Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been trying to acquire the 24-year old right hander for two years. Porcello earned $5.1 million last season and posted a 13-8 record in 32 appearances, 29 starts, with a 4.32 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP.
Rick Porcello has not been connected to the Cubs yet this off-season.
As expected, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer won the NL and AL Cy Young awards on Wednesday. Awards week concludes on Thursday with the NL and AL MVP Awards. Andrew McCutchen is thought to be the frontrunner for the NL honor while Miguel Cabrera is expected to take home his second straight AL MVP award.
News and Notes
Jed Hoyer likes the Cubs’ options at third base for next season. Hoyer said the Cubs are excited to see what Mike Olt can do and both Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy give them depth at the position. Valbuena and Murphy are arbitration eligible and if Hoyer’s comments are any indication, both players will be tendered contracts for the 2014 season.
Mark DeRosa is no longer in the mix for the Cubs’ radio gig. A day after retiring from baseball, MLB Network announced on Wednesday that they hired Mark DeRosa. The former Cubs’ utility man was thought to be the top choice of the Cubs’ business department.
Cubs’ minor leaguer, Brad Zapenas, is looking forward to a healthy 2014 season.
The ice rink at Wrigley Field will not be open this winter. The Cubs decided not to build the rink this winter with the restoration project expected to begin in October. But even with the delays, the Cubs decided to allocate the resources in other areas.
Scott Boras updated the Boston media on Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew.