Cubs Listening on Samardzija? Looking to Extend Wood? And Other News and Notes

Two more of the Cubs’ off-season storylines have surfaced, even without a manager or a coaching staff in place. And both involve pitchers that were in the Cubs’ rotation a year ago.

According to a report from Buster Olney, the Cubs and Diamondbacks will continue talking about a trade that would send Jeff Samardzija to Arizona. Rumors last July indicated the D-Backs called the Cubs about the availability of Jeff Samardzija and once Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer asked for Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs the conversation quickly ended. While Skaggs had another disappointing stint in the majors, Bradley is considered one of the top pitching prospects in the game.

There is a good possibility the Cubs will try to move Samardzija this off-season in order to maximize his value if they are not able to sign him to a contract extension. Samardzija is under team control for two more seasons. Samardzija figures to at least double his pay from last season ($2.64 million plus $125,000 bonus for reaching 200 innings pitched) in his second year of arbitration eligibility.

The front office tried to sign Samardzija to an extension last winter but Samardzija reportedly turned down an extension worth more than $30 million. Samardzija said he wanted to prove he could pitch an entire season in a rotation before inking a long term deal. Plus, as previously reported, Samardzija could be looking for a no-trade clause in any deal he signs.

If the Cubs cannot work out a long term, team friendly deal, the front office will shop their Opening Day starter. Samardzija is coming off an inconsistent season in which he set career highs in innings pitched (213 1/3), starts (33) and strikeouts (214).

Jeff Samardzija turns 29 in January, and if the Cubs decide they must move him, he should net a good return to help with the pitching staff moving forward.

While the Cubs could be listening to deals for Jeff Samardzija, the front office could be talking to Travis Wood about a long-term contract according to Comcast SportsNet. Travis Wood was one of the bright spots, at the big league level, last season and is coming off a career year. Wood is arbitration eligible for the first time after making $527,000 in 2013.

Travis Wood was the Cubs’ lone representative in the All-Star game, and while that may not mean what it used to, the honor will be brought up by Wood’s agent, Frontline, this off-season. Wood is coming off a 9-12 season with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP. Wood could have finished the year with a sub-3.00 ERA if not for a bad inning against the Cardinals in his final start of the season. Wood set career highs in starts (32), innings pitched (200) and strikeouts (144).

Travis Wood was the Cubs’ most consistent starter last year and has been mentioned as part of the core that the front office plans to build the big league team around. Wood turns 27 before pitchers and catchers report to Mesa in February.

If the Cubs viewed Samardzija as a $30-plus million pitcher last winter, what would it cost the Cubs to buy out all three of Wood’s arbitration years and at least one of his free agent years? Would a four-year, $32 million contract wrap up Wood and give the Cubs cost certainty for the young southpaw?

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka’s unbeaten streak came to an end in Game 6 of the Japan Series on Saturday night. Tanaka took the loss, his first in 30 starts dating back to last August, after allowing four runs on 12 hits and one walk in nine innings. Tanaka threw 160 pitches over the nine innings. But Tanaka was not done for the series.

Tanaka followed up his nine-inning, 160-pitch outing on Saturday by picking up the save in Game 7 on Sunday. Tanaka threw 15 pitches in the ninth to lock down the first Japan Series title for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

David Waldstein, the Yankees’ beat reporter for the New York Times, reported on Sunday there is “now some concern about Tanaka’s arm, not because scouts have seen anything wrong, but because of the sheer workload.”

Masahiro Tanaka should be posted as soon as the new posting rules are worked out between the two leagues.

Roster Moves

The Cubs activated Arodys Vizcaino, Kyuji Fujikawa and Mat Gamel from the 60-day DL on Monday. All three players were on the 60-day DL and did not count against the 40-man roster. With all three players being activated, the Cubs 40-man roster stands at 37 players.

The Cubs did not extend qualifying offers to their four free agents. Scott Baker, Dioner Navarro, Matt Guerrier and Kevin Gregg became eligible to sign with any of the 30 big league teams at 11:01pm CDT on Monday night.

Reports have indicated the Cubs would like to re-sign Scott Baker. As for Dioner Navarro, his career year appears to have priced him out of Chicago. Kevin Gregg and Matt Guerrier could return on minor league deals but the Cubs do not appear to be interested in bringing either relief pitcher back on a Major League contract this winter. Guerrier has interest in re-signing with the Cubs on a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training so he can compete for a job.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Monday was the deadline for teams to offer their free agents qualifying offers. Players have one week to decide or accept the $14.1 million qualifying offer. If the player chooses to reject the offer, the player can sign with any team but the player’s new team will forfeit a top draft pick. The Cubs select fourth in next June’s draft so signing a free agent that turned down a qualifying offer would cost them their second round pick, along with the slot money for the pick.

Three players of the 13 players that received qualifying offers have been tied to the Cubs by the mainstream media … Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Shin-Soo Choo. All three players are expected to reject the offers.

The one player that did not receive the qualifying offer that could have interest to the Cubs is Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Cubs have been connected to Saltalamacchia for multiple reasons. Not only is the front office looking for catching help but there is familiarity with Saltalamacchia. Theo Epstein acquired Saltalamacchia from the Rangers in July of 2010.

The 28-year old switch-hitting catcher is coming off his best year in Boston. Saltalamacchia hit .273/.338/.466 with 40 doubles and 14 home runs in 121 games.

The front office is expected to address the lack of catching in the system this winter. But if Dioner Navarro is too expensive, would Jarrod  Saltalamacchia fit in their budget?

Carlos Beltran, Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew, Curtis Granderson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Hiroki Kuroda, Ervin Santana, Mike Napoli and Kendrys Morales were the other 10 players that received qualifying offers on Monday.

News, Notes and Rumors

Ken Rosenthal took a look at what it might cost for a team to acquire David Price this off-season. The Cubs were mentioned as a possibility but the Cubs’ system lacks pitching prospects that would have to be included in a deal for David Price.

The Cubs’ new facility in Mesa will see its first workouts by Cubs players this week. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, several minor league players have been invited to take part in sessions with strength and conditioning coach Doug Jarrow. The facility is scheduled to open on Dec. 1.

Free agents, free agents and more free agents … here is the latest list of big league players on the market from Baseball America.

Baseball’s Hall of Fame announced its Veterans Committee nominees on Monday. Bobby Cox, Billy Martin, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa are on the list for induction this year along with Marvin Miller and George Steinbrenner.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • Dorasaga

    Neil, excuse me to get this typo outta your way first: “Players have one week to decide or accept the $14.1 qualifying offer.” — there should be a “million” after “$14.1.”

    Now, here’s a quick tool for tracking free agent status, in order of position:

    For a stopgap, a rebuilding team should eye on David Murphy, who had a bad down year. He’s a career 330/430 player (760 ops), a serviceable LF with some speed (can execute the bunt). Inconsistently streaky, Dav.M. can play magic in good weeks, when hot, and that shall help a contending team in need of linedrive power.

    Sign him for 2 years, then ship him to the O’s the next, when his power on the high end comes to compensate other flaws he got.

    I’m expecting the owner, Rickex et al., to drive for a better team, at least temporarily, this coming season. How would they find sponsors and move in money for whatever new ballpark if otherwise, right?

    • Neil

      Thank you for catching, corrected.

    • Josh Man

      Murphy can’t play full time. This season was the first that he was a full time player, and he was atrocious. He’s strictly a bench player, so I don’t think he’s worth it for the a Cubs unless he comes really cheap and can provide a bat off the bench and a few spot starts.

      • Dorasaga

        Which means he fits the profile I described above. :-))

  • Tony_Hall

    Neil – small but large typo in the Cubs free agent section under roster moves. “The Cubs did NOT extend qualifying offers to their four free agents.” If they did extend QO to those 4, I would switch sides and join Ray ranting against Theo.

    • Neil

      Thanks for catching, corrected.

  • 07GreyDigger

    I agree on Neil’s story here and will point out again lazy journalism. Cubs are connected to Saltalamacchia because he played in Boston and Theo worked there. Why aren’t the Cubs connected to Mike Napoli? He fits the criteria.

    If the Cubs make any big move, it’ll be for a pitcher.

    • bpot92

      Probably because Mike Napoli Profiles more as a DH than Catcher at this point with his hip that could deteriorate any season. Just my speculation though

      • 07GreyDigger

        I was being sarcastic. I figured Napoli could be a target because he played in Boston and Theo may have sneezed near him. :)

        • Theboardrider

          If he could play catcher Napoli would make a lot of sense to me. Salty makes more sense but Napoli as a backup for the Cubs would be a great pickup. I don’t think that he can squat much anymore.

          I don’t understand why people make such a negative of signing former Boston players. They are a team with 3 WS in 10 years that Theo is intimately familiar with. If there is any former Red Sox player available that Theo thinks can help the Cubs then by all means go get him. Those guys are winners. We could use some of that around here.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Day 36……
    Shark won’t get traded this winter…..unless the Cubs get blown away…..more like next July when playoff teams get more desperate and willing to give up more ……A Shark mid-season trade will bring in more then the Garza trade…….if there is pitcher who Theo might sign as a F/A… will be Josh Johnson………….this entire off season will be focus on pitching…………look for Brayan Pena as the Cubs back-up catcher………….
    Both the Dodgers & Angels have the edge on Price.

    • bpot92

      I wouldnt mind a Josh Johnson signing for one year. I actually mentioned him as a guy I want the cubs to look at.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Brayan Pena is another good rumor. That’s a guy they might target.

    • Theboardrider

      Actually there is probably a good chance Shark will get traded. Especially now that you’ve said that it won’t happen. You seem to always throw out these absolutes like you have inside information but they turn out wrong half the time.

      How about saying the Cubs will sign Clayton Kershaw? If nothing else you’d be giving us a chance…

  • John_CC

    I read the story last week about Tanaka breaking that winning streak, and that he threw 160 pitches in the game, and then closed the next day! What kind of crazy is this? His manager knew it was his last game before his payday, why in hell would they do that? Or is that normal, has the kid regularly thrown 120+ pitches every start? Yikes.

    On the FA signings, I just can’t see the Cubs giving up a 2nd round pick and the $$ for any of these guys listed. It wouldn’t make sense, at least to me. Salty could make a lot of sense on the other hand.

    • K_Gripp

      On Tanaka throwing 160 pitches its pretty common for Japanese pitchers to throw that number of pitches and also to pitch on short rest. I remember the SI article several years ago when the Red Sox signed Dice-K that talked about him throwing 90 pitch bull pen sessions on his days off and once throwing over 200 pitches in a game. His success in Japan didn’t translate to the MLB. I hadnt heard if Darvish was a high pitch count/high innings guy. The reason I heard Darvish would be so successful in the MLB is that he is one of the few Japanese pitchers who works off of a fastball as his primary pitch. Apparently most Japanese pitchers work off of their off speed and throw multiple types of breaking balls.

  • jtrain23

    Maybe it’s the junior high kid in me, but I have to giggle a bit when i read “Extend Wood”..heheh. Sorry, I’ll be a grown up now.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Be a grownup? Why would you do that? Being a grownup is for girls. :)

    • Neil

      Thank you for the laugh, not my intent. Good stuff …

  • Dave_in_STL

    I too don’t mind Josh Johnson on a 1 yr deal @ $7MM plus incentives. What about Scott Kazmir? He’d be a decent option as a poor #2 or decent #3. You’ve got The Shark (pending), Wood, Kazmir, Jackson slides to #4, and round it out w/ Vizcaino (pending health) I think we could play .500 ball w/ that rotation…. No?

    • 07GreyDigger

      Scott Kazmir hasn’t been consistent enough for my tastes. He was a dominant pitcher not too long ago, but he hasn’t been consistently good for the past five years. That’s too much of a risk for me.

    • bpot92

      Kazmir is more of a 4-5 now a days

      • Theboardrider

        He’s still pretty young and never had to rely on overpowering hitters. I’d take a chance on Kazmir if the price was right.

        • bpot92

          I agree but he cant be counted on as a number 2/3 as stated above. He has had durability issues and has not been consistent throughout his career.

    • Ripsnorter1

      If we had the Tigers rotation, we could not play .500 ball with the lack of

      offense and the leaky bullpen that we have.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    If we do not hear for a press conference set for 11 am on Thursday, then Renteria is not our manager.
    The new manager will then be introduce at the GM meetings.
    It will be our “Mystery Candidate”

  • Neil

    A report from Seattle … Mariners will name Detroit Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon as their new manager, a source close to team says. Announcement soon.

  • Tony_Hall

    Ken Rosenthal ‏@Ken_Rosenthal3m
    DeJesus’ two-year deal with #Rays is worth $10.5 million. Includes club option for third year. Represented by ACES.

    • Ripsnorter1


      The Rays are suckers.
      They just paid $10.5 million for a .247 hitter, with a below league
      average .327 OBP, with no speed, no power (.397 slug), can’t hit
      left handed pitching, reserve OF.

      I PREDICT:
      They ain’t goin’ no where in 2014.

      • Tony_Hall

        Yes they have been known to be not very good at allocating their budget in the past.

        2013 – 92-71
        2012 – 90-72
        2011 – 91-71
        2010 – 96-66
        2009 – 84-78
        2008 – 97-65

        Obviously by their 1 sub 90 win season in the AL East in the last 6 years, they are terrible judge of players,

        • Ripsnorter1

          Are you saying that the Rays built that record by signing FAs that hit .247 and
          slug .397?

          It says right here that they miss the 2014 playoffs. Book mark the post and we’ll
          see who eats the crow. : )

          • Tony_Hall

            I am saying the Rays, of all teams, knows that it is the sum of all parts that leads to team victories. DeJesus is being brought in to be a platoon player (they play their entire roster) and will start when he is their best option (my best guess about 100 starts, but will play in most games as he can play all 3 OF spots, something good teams covet). Crazy man Maddon uses almost a new lineup everyday (something else that I believe you dislike about a manager/team) and puts his players in the best position to succeed.

            Whether they make or miss the playoffs again, in the AL East isn’t all that matters, they could win 90 games and not make it. They will be a competitive team all year and most likely make the playoffs again.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I never have said that multiple lineups is something I dislike or disapprove of. : )

          • Ripsnorter1

            (DRS didn’t like his work in center, pegging him at -6 runs).

          • Ripsnorter1

            Rays manager Joe Maddon is no stranger to using platoons to his advantage, and he’ll have to do that to maximize DeJesus’ value. Though he could once handle his own against left-handed pitching, DeJesus is batting a ghastly .162/.248/.207 against southpaws dating back to 2011, signaling that he’s a clear platoon bat at this stage of his career.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Here’s the guy the Rays are cutting to keep DeJesus:

            Matt Joyce.
            2013..18 HR….235 BA….328 OPB…and the guy makes $2 million LESS than DeJesus.
            Extending DeJesus calls into question Matt Joyce’s future with the Rays, in my mind. The two are very similar players in the sense that each hits right-handed pitching well but must be platooned against left-handers. Joyce appears to be a trade candidate or non-tender candidate now (he’s projected to earn $3.7MM).


  • Ripsnorter1


    We lost Geovanny Soto to a Rangers bidding war.
    They laid down $3.05 million for him, and named him
    their everyday catcher.

    Did you notice this:
    “Soto, who was acquired by the Rangers at the trade deadline in 2012, hit .245 in 54 games this season with nine home runs and 22 RBIs. He hit .324 after the All-Star break.”

    .324? He must have stopped smoking.

    • Theboardrider

      He always had potential. If he could just show up to a camp in decent shape who knows?

      I’m still holding out hope that Loux can get healthy and live up to half his potential. He pitched in front of Wacha in college. The guy has tons of talent. As long as he’s under 27 and rehabbing I’ll still pull for the guy. He would sure make the Soto deal look sweet if he did anything.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Yes, Soto COULD have been a good Cubs player.
        He loved Mary Jane more than baseball.

      • SuzyS

        Barret Loux would be an Ace if he didn’t have an arm crying out for surgery….He’s Angel Guzman redux.
        That being said…I’d love for him to have a good career…with us.

    • SuzyS

      Over 3 mil. for a guy that played in just 54 games last year. Good luck to the Rangers
      using Soto as their everyday player….Hopefully, he’s learned something.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Will he hit .200 in 2014?

  • Theboardrider

    Saltamacchia makes a lot of sense as Navarro’s replacement.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Mr. Boardrider, GM, ChiCubs extraordinaire: : )

      How much money do you think he’ll cost?

      Do you want him as a platoon with Castillo at C, or
      do you want him as your everyday player, or as your once a week catcher?
      In other words, what’s your plan?

      If he is not going to be the regular, will you be able to induce him to sign?

      What do you think of his defense? I mean, his arm is not anything in comparion
      to Mr. Castillo’s cannon. People run all over him.

      He fanned 139 times in 425 AB. That’s a higher rate than Alfonso Soriano.
      He does walk more than Alfonso: 43 in 425 AB, or 10%. OBP? Slightly better at .338 vs.
      Soriano’s Yankee OBP of .325.

      So…what’s your call? : )