Are the Cubs Interested in Jacoby Ellsbury? And Other News and Rumors

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.

Pitchers

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.

Catchers

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.

Outfielders

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.

Rick Porcello

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.

BBWAA Awards

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.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

  • J Daniel

    Mark DeRosa no longer in the mix … was thought to be their top choice … has a very familiar ring to it.

    • cubtex

      lol

      • J Daniel

        Tananka was their top pitching priority but their bid fell short … we will see that headline as well.

        I can live with how they have done business the last two years … I get it and am ok with it. They have done a great job of building a DISMAL system in a short time.

        Now it is time to start adding some quality players on the MLB team that can help the young guys as the start to be promoted.

        • cubtex

          agreed. 2 years is enough of losing on purpose to stockpile top draft picks.

          • J Daniel

            Like I said, I have no problem with it and in the long run it needed to be done. In the long run you need PLAYERS coming up that are cheap to balance the payroll. Now is the time to start building a winning team and that does take a good core of veterans. There are guys out there that they can add that won’t break the bank but will help start a winning process.

  • Sonate

    Scott Boras, “the agent for Ellsbury and Choo, ripped the Cubs on Wednesday for not spending like a major-market team.”

    Boras has a right to his opinions. However, his views on how the Cubs are running their business are no more worthy of press coverage than my views! Boras’ job (which he excels at) is to get the most $$$ for his clients. That should not entitle him to a press microphone to stir up trouble (which he also excels at!).

    • J Daniel

      He should be able to have a conference but it would not be worth covering. If nobody covered it or paid attention to it, well, he wouldn’t do it.

      Boras is a slime ball.

      • mutantbeast

        Are you correct there. BoreUs makes Johnny Cockroach look honest, which is saying a lot. Reminds me of the sleaziest of sleazy attorneys.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Boras is just pissed that he sees the Cubs with all that $$$$$ and not spending it on his clients………In the years to come, fans can point to Boras for ruining baseball.

      • J Daniel

        He is a huge part of the demise but he is just doing his business well. The owners are ultimately the blame.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          When the owners don’t spend the money, Union & Players sue calling it “Collusion”.

          • J Daniel

            Exactly

      • Tony_Hall

        Revenue keeps going up, not sure how he is ruining baseball. I am all for the players getting their cut from the revenues that are generated, just think they need to revamp FA, arbitration and controlled years system for giving so much of the money to 30 something FA’s.

        • Dorasaga

          I’m glad an avid observer expressed de facto. BTW, I was wondering if Boras meant the whole Cubs organization. But after read the full article, it’s clear that Boras bashed Hoyer & Co., but didn’t have a clue of what the Ricketts want. It’ll be a very interesting Meeting for the son and the Parents this Winter.

    • BosephHeyden

      Had this been anyone other than Scott Boras, I’d agree with them. But it is Scott Boras, so I don’t. Not that it isn’t a valid point…it’s just a valid point made by a guy who would be ripping the Cubs for the exact same thing if they chose someone other than his clients to sign.

      • cubtex

        agreed on Boras but like you said….what he is saying is true and valid.

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

          The money is being spent on infrastructure, facilities and debt. Rickett’s wallet is wide open just not on players at the moment.

          • cubtex

            yes Rider. We all see that loud and clear.

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

            Alright, it’s just everyone acts like Rickett’s is some spendthrift unwilling to spend money. He is spending a fortune, just less visablly.

          • J Daniel

            Agree but it is time to start spending some at the MLB level or it will be 2020 before the young core is really ready to win at a championship level.

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

      He is just trying to shame them in to helping drive up the price for his client. He must realize the Cubs are spending a fortune on infrastructure, facilities and debt.

  • 07GreyDigger

    If Phil Hughes can’t keep the ball in the park at Yankee Stadium, how is he going to fare when the wind is blowing out at Wrigley?

    • BosephHeyden

      I still have no idea why any of the pitchers that transition from the AL to the NL seem to improve (maybe the lack of facing a guy on the team specifically for hitting three or four times a game is part of it), but the majority of the time it works. If he can be had at a reasonable price (doubtful), he’s worth giving a shot.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Don’t be surprise if the Cubs sign OF Grady Sizemore.

    • cubtex

      Is he still trying to play? Don’t see this happening.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    HEADLINES we might see with the Cubs in 2014…..
    - Cubs Arrive In Mesa, Future Is Bright
    - Cubs Pitching Looks Deep Even Without Tanaka
    - Cubs Outfield Has No Big Name Players.
    - Ricketts Piling Up His Revenue For The Future
    - Theo & Jed Settles For Third Rate Free Agents
    - Shark Opening Day Starter.
    - Renteria Brakes Hip On Dugout Steps While Removing Shark The Mound
    - Coach Henry Blanco Takes Over For DL Renteria
    - Cubs In 1st Place On June 1st.
    - Olt Early MVP Candidate
    - Renteria Returns To Dugout After All Star Break
    - Cubs Decline Fast In The Standings
    - Schierholtz Traded
    - Sweeney Traded
    - Murphy Traded
    - No Takers For Edwin Jackson
    - Shark Trade Nets Five Top Pitching Prospects From Texas
    - Barney Questions Management Over Shark Trade
    - Barney Waived
    -Theo Announce His Rebuilding Stage Is At Next Level, Look For 2017 Playoffs
    - Alcantara Swipes A Record Nine Bases In First Game
    - Cubs Pick Up Koyie Hill On Waivers
    - Cubs New Billboard Collapse Into Bleachers From High Winds, No Fans In The Bleachers During The Game.
    - Roof Top Owner Sue Cubs For Being Forced To Watch Bad Baseball. Want Billboard Sign Back Up.
    - Cubs Losing Streak Hits 20 Games, WGN Radio Man Kerry Woods Throws His Radio Microphone Into The Stands Below, Calls It Quits.
    - Fans Spot Logan Watkins Playing Catch
    - Baez Called Up, Hits Two Homers, Commits Four Errors.
    - Soler Called Up, Questions Umps Strike Calls At First At Bat.
    - Josh Vittes K’s To End The Season.
    - Cubs Name Fujikawa & Vizcaino DL Players Of The Year

    • J Daniel

      Call Me Crazy, Maybe, but I believe EJax will bounce back to his very intriguing self to other teams and be dealt at the deadline.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        FanGraphs had Jackson getting shafted the most times on Umpire strike calls in 2013……….Jackson will hit a hot streak…..just matter if anyone would take him…….and there will be some GM who will take Theo’s bait.

      • Sonate

        Agree with your first forecast (E-Jax bounces back). Not sure about the second (dealt at deadline). The Cubs appear to have “invested” in E-Jax. I believe that they’ll give it more than 1.5 years to evaluate their “investment.”

    • mutantbeast

      You forgot one-E jax demoted out of the starting rotation.

  • mutantbeast

    Porcello might be a decent pickup-wont cost a ton, GB pitcher whod likely do well with a good defense. Josh Johnson is good when healthy- a big if with him. Id stay away from Hughes-gives up too many HRs.

  • 07GreyDigger

    Check this out everyone, no one might be signing Tanaka this offseason.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2013/11/mlb-amending-posting-system-proposal-agreement-may-not-be-reached.html