The Rumor Season is Underway and Other Cubs News and Notes

The GM Meetings and Owners Meetings began on Monday in Orlando. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer arrived early in the afternoon and met with the media. Hoyer confirmed the Cubs’ interest in Masahiro Tanaka and indicated the Cubs are looking to hire two hitting coaches with both positions likely to be filled from outside the organization.

As is the case every year, the rumors began to fly out of the GM Meetings before the attention turned to the BBWAA awards. Jose Fernandez of the Marlins and Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays took home Rookie of the Year Awards for their outstanding seasons. AL and NL Manager of the Year will be named on Tuesday with Clint Hurdle and Terry Francona or John Farrell expected to walk away with the honors.

According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are going to “pursue trades” this winter and are “going to look at trades for some of the very best players in the game.” But don’t look for the Cubs to necessarily go after David Price or another player that would deplete the system and get in the way of their development plan.

Jeff Samardzija

The Washington Post reported the Nationals are expected to discuss a deal with the Cubs that would include Jeff Samardzija. The Post reported Samardzija “would be a lesser name but possibly a prudent alternative” to the Nationals trading for David Price or Max Scherzer. Samardzija would cost less, in terms of players, according to the Post and may pose less risk than David Price.

The Post does not feel the Cubs would be asking for as much as the Rays would for Price. The Post said acquiring Samardzija would “only dent” the Nationals’ system while Price would decimate their farm system.

Jed Hoyer downplayed the report and told ESPN Chicago to get used to the rumors. Hoyer said the rumors would continue throughout the winter because teams know they have been unsuccessful at signing Samardzija to a long-term extension.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are also thought to be interested in trading for Samardzija.

The front office is keeping in touch with Samardzija’s agent and will meet with him later in the winter to discuss another long-term contract.

Masahiro Tanaka

The Cubs will place a bid for Masahiro Tanaka once he is posted this winter. The Cubs have done their homework and have scouted him heavily.

Could the Cubs be serious contenders for Tanaka? Theo Epstein said over the weekend he wished there was a free agent market for young players. Epstein told the Sun-Times, “Every now and then a situation pops up and you kind of harbor all of your resources for that one guy and it might make sense.” With that said, the Cubs do not figure to outbid either the Yankees or the Dodgers for Tanaka.

An announcement could be made this week according to Jon Paul Morosi on the new posting system between Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball. Ken Davidoff reported “it sounds like the plan for the Japanese posting is the final bid will be the average of the top two bids. The top bidding team would win exclusive negotiating rights, but would only pay the average of the top two bids” for the final posting fee. There is also a report that under the new posting rules the winning team would be fined if they are unable to sign the player.

Estimates remain that the posting fee could be anywhere from $75-$125 million just to negotiate with Masahiro Tanaka.

Coaching Staff

Jed Hoyer told the Chicago media on Monday that Rick Renteria’s staff would be announced all at one time in the coming days. Chris Bosio reportedly has signed a two-year contract and both Lester Strode and Mike Borzello are expected to return. Reports have suggested Alex Cora, Henry Blanco and Mariano Duncan could be in the mix for coaching positions. A.J. Hinch is thought to be a candidate for Renteria’s bench coach.

Jed Hoyer said the Cubs would hire two hitting coaches with both positions likely being filled from outside the organization.

News, Notes, Rumors and More Rumors

The Cubs are looking to add veteran leadership to the clubhouse. According to a report from Jesse Rogers, the Cubs know they need more player leadership.

Nate Schierholtz might be on Arizona’s list of targets this winter. Kevin Towers is looking for a bat for his outfield and Schierholtz was mentioned as a possibility by Nick Piecoro.

According to Gordon Wittenmyer, Dioner Navarro will not be re-signing with the Cubs this off-season. Wittenmyer confirmed what the CCO learned over the weekend. The Cubs could acquire a backup catcher via the secondary free agent market or a trade.

The Tigers’ Rick Porcello is back on the market … and Theo Epstein has tried to trade for him the past two off-seasons. Porcello is under team control through the 2014 season and hits the free agent market next winter.

The Cardinals are looking for a young, controllable shortstop, and are willing to deal one of their young arms to fill the hole. St. Louis appears to be focused on trading to Troy Tulowitzki or maybe Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar from the Rangers. Rumors suggested Starlin Castro could be on the Cardinals’ list, but to this point that is not the case. The Cardinals might part with Shelby Miller and/or Oscar Taveras and/or Matt Adams for one of Texas’ shortstops. Ken Rosenthal reported Jed Lowrie, Alexei Ramirez and Didi Gregorius are potentially available as well.

All 13 players that were tendered qualifying offers did not accept the offers prior to Monday’s deadline.

MTV will present a new weekly series during the 2014 season focused on baseball, pop culture and MLB stars off the field. The series will be taped at the MLB Fan Cave.

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  • ron

    Enough with the punch& judy act! After 60 yrs. of this crap,I want to see these so-called can’t miss players on the mlb. field.By the tine you geniuses get through developing a quality player they aren’t worth a dime.We take players that are perhaps a year or two away and keep them in the minors til their #ss benefits kick-in. close your eyes and put them on the field and let the chips fall! You don’t have to spend 125 million dollars to just gain talking rights.you have quality pitchers in your own back yard. Give them a shot and move on if they fail. Failure is one short step to success.proof positive is the Boston GM.
    That’s another thorn in my side! players dropped by Boston but grabbed by Theo,or now mgm.t positions filled by Padres.This practice is BS and needs to come to a screeching halt.
    Wrigley field sell it to the city if they want a tourist attraction so we can invest Cub money into quality free agents to blend with the prospects installed on the 25 man roster.
    Enough said! time for my Gerital and call it a night!

    • cubtex

      How do you really feel Ron? lol

    • 07GreyDigger

      Maybe I haven’t been waiting for 60 years for them to win the WS, but you know what? You can’t blame the current GM’s for what happened in the past. It’s not their fault. They shouldn’t have to change their line of thinking because of the past. It’s ignorant.

      Who do you want in terms of championships? The Hawks? Or the White Sox? Hawks drafted their team and added free agents when necessary. They’ve won 2 cups in 4 years and are still a threat to win. The White Sox won the WS and haven’t been close since. Choice is easy for me.

      • cubtex

        This “sustained” talk to me is the biggest bunch of BS that any FO has tried to sell to the fanbase in the history of Chicago baseball. Injuries play such an important part to any baseball team. To use the argument that we only want to compete when this team is ready to compete year in and year out is absolute BS! You can compete each and every year in baseball. Cleveland lost 90 plus games last year and made the playoffs. Boston lost 90 plus games last year and…..what do you know? they won the WS!

        • 07GreyDigger

          Did you read what I said about the Hawks? The Cubs are doing the same thing. I sure am enjoying the “sustained” success of the Blackhawks right now. You can’t plan for injuries so why worry about them in advance? That’s why you have great depth in the farm system…

          • cubtex

            You can’t replace the ace of your staff or key player no matter what the depth is.

          • 07GreyDigger

            So should we divert from the plan in case injuries may or may not fall from the sky?

          • BosephHeyden

            The Blackhawks didn’t plan to do that, though. That’s the problem with the Cubs/Hawks comparison. Also, it took the late owner’s son taking over and making huge, positive, no-brainer decisions to the team to push them into a perennial playoff contender. Cubtex’s point is valid: while building a team with tons of top drafted players is a nice idea on paper, other teams have been able to rebound from losing seasons without having to go that route and without having to wait for pieces to fall in place.

            It comes down to management: when I hear Stan Bowman or Phil Emery talk about their teams, they know and acknowledge their weaknesses, and do what they can to solve it both short term and long term. When I hear Hoyer or Theo talk, it’s all about having low expectations for the present and patience in hoping that all their top guys actually perform well enough to make the big league team.

        • paulcatanese

          Could not agree more, and it’s the biggest reason I post very little.

          • cubtex

            I know. Not much news to talk about. New manger? check. Better players on the team? no and no real hope for that.

          • K_Gripp

            Not surprising but the FO has basically come out this week and said in a more eloquent way that, “We’re going to lose 90 games again next year. Deal with it.”

            It looks like year three of the Wrigley boycott will have to be implemented. There are ways to be competitive at the MLB level and build a long term talent system.

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

            I have heard them say just the opposite. ‘According to the Sun-Times the Cubs are going to pursue trades this winter and are going to look at trades for some of the best players in the game.” That doesn’t sound like phoning it in to me.

            Where did you hear them eloquently say they plan on losing 90 games?

          • K_Gripp

            The phrase they are using is “patience”. Have patience. We’re not ready to nab that big FA because were not ready to compete. We are not going to rush our prospects to the Major Leagues. Be Patient. You will know the FO thinks they have a dog that can hunt when they go out and a land a top FA. Im hoping that the Cubs are active on the trade market and can improve the Major League team but there is a good chance that any trades we make will be a benefit to the system and not the 2014 Cubs roster. Maybe Im wrong but the way I’m reading it is that I shouldnt be too excited for competitive baseball at Wrigley.

    • paulcatanese

      Very well said, and to the point.

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

      I don’t have any problem with the FO signing players they are familiar with and like. It makes a ton of sense. Also Boston has won 3 of the last 10 World Series. I’ll take as many players from that system as we can get.

  • Ripsnorter1

    The Cubs can pick up a lot of pitching for the $125-150 million they would need just
    to talk to Tanaka. Justin Germano and Berken and Scott Baker and Scott Feldman and Paul Maholm and even Jeff Samardzija could all be signed for that amount, with change left over. My point: I don’t think they are seriously going
    to pursue this guy. But the talk might sell one or two season tickets.

    This from MLBTR: “Also from Hoyer, he says the Cubs will be looking to add veterans to replace Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus’ clubhouse leadership.” Hahahahahaha! How about replacing Soriano’s bat in the lineup? I’m much more concerned about that.

    Rick Porcello is just the guy we need: doesn’t walk too many, but gives up line drives all over the place. He always gives up
    more hits than IP, and in 2012, lead MLB in hits allowed. Plus, (and don’t ever forget this), he was a #1 draft pick. You can bet he’ll sign here just as soon as the Tigers give him his outright release….

    • 07GreyDigger

      I know the team missed Soriano’s bat later in the season, but you make it sound like Soriano is a 40 HR 100 RBI guy. He’s not. There’s a lot of cheaper options who can hit 20-25 HR and 70-75 RBI. They can replace that bat, but for a lot less than 18 million a year.

      • cubtex

        Digger, the problem that I had with the trade last year is that you had no viable replacement for Soriano’s bat. There is no one to replace him this year either. What was the urgency to dump him and eat 18 mil of his contract? Was it that important to get Bogusevic in the lineup? Junior Lake could have played CF and you could have kept Soriano in LF. Now going into this year…you are paying 18 mil of Soriano’s contract……and if you look to find a #4 hitter through free agency or trade, it could cost you another 10 mil plus per year for a Corey Hart,Nelson Cruz etc. The alternative is going into next year with a 3,4,5 of Rizzo,Castillo and Schierholtz. Ouch!!!! That will not be pretty and say hello to 90 plus losses again.

        • 07GreyDigger

          The team is actually paying for 13 million of the 18 this season.

          If the team isn’t going to be great, why waste a roster spot and a valuable lineup spot on Soriano this season? Especially when its likely that you try guys like Baez and possibly Bryant this season.

          • cubtex

            maybe you because you would like to be more competitive and possibly try to win games?

          • 07GreyDigger

            You don’t know if the team gets better with Baez or (whoever comes up from AAA midseason) do you? What if they improve that way? I’d rather see that then flushing down the toilet money on an aging free agent.

          • cubtex

            So you put a scrub in LF to keep that position open so “possibly” Baez can be put there by midseason? What would have been wrong with keeping Soriano there and dealing him by the trade deadline next year and then bringing up a Baez or whoever? What would have been wrong with trying to put a decent product on the field?

          • 07GreyDigger

            I don’t mind signing low to mid level free agents, I just don’t want to see them spend 100 million plus on someone. At least not yet. That’s my beef. Spend your money wisely. I really don’t think Ellsbury, Choo or even Nelson Cruz are the answer here.

          • cubtex

            I agree with that. I don’t think it is wise to sign an Ellsbury or Choo now either.

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

            They got a solid pitching prospect for Soriano. Black had some very nice games for us. He’s young and a ways from MLB but that’s what you have to do in the minors, stock up on players and see who works out.

          • kingdomusa

            Can anyone tell me what Cub on the 2013 roster could match the numbers that Baez put up.
            Maybe Rizzo buy on any other team those #’s a rewarded with a guest appearance to the Show in September. Baez, Bryant, & almora don’t need to join the has-beens we saw in AAA as they won in A & AA ball. 4 HR’s in 1 game & 2 games later a grand slam. Why are we waiting. Yes, I think we are all tired dealing with the Bo-Sox & Padres. The Rays kicked our butts in the last trade.

          • cubtex

            One reason is to not start his clock early. Almora is definately not ready yet. Bryant only has played 1 season of minor league ball and Baez needs to work a little more on his D before being brought up. I hear you…but imo…none of these 3 should start the year starting for the Cubs.

          • 07GreyDigger

            WOah. I agree with you. Stop the presses!

          • Tony_Hall

            “One reason is to not start his clock early.”

            Maybe you do read my posts all the way through, didn’t think I would ever hear you say that.

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

            We ended up with Garza then got Ramirez, Olt and Edwards. I absolutely think we have won the trade with the Rays.

          • Tony_Hall

            Only because of the great haul that Theo and Jed brought back for Garza.

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

            Naturally, that is a perfect example of it being years before a trade can really be judged.

            What we got in return for Garza was absolutely better than what we gave up I feel. Just wish we had given McNutt.

          • Tony_Hall

            Agree on McNutt. Archer was 3rd in ROY and Hak Ju Lee is still out there, after a lost season due to injury. Time will still tell if the Rays made out on this deal.

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

          They added depth to the system and gave up a player that wasn’t the difference between a playoff birth. There wasn’t anyone else willing to deal for Soriano that he was willing to go to. I think it was a pretty admirable deal.

          Also, Soriano is aging and a class act. They gave him a chance to go to a place where he had a better chance of getting a ring. I don’t have any problem with them having done that and getting a guy with some real potential in return.

    • paulcatanese

      Right Rip.

  • SuzyS

    This going to be an interesting off season…There’s going to be public pressure for the Cubs to make a big splash….and yet…I don’t see anything out there that says “buy me” in a big way…except Tanaka…and I really think he will be both cost prohibitive and in the end, unattainable with both the Yankees and Dodgers “all in” on him.
    I don’t see any blockbuster trades…if the Cubs had the same farm system with a good mlb team on the field…then I could see it….But that’s not the case.
    Stay the course…with better fill-ins.

    • J Daniel

      There are enough affordable good serviceable players to put a good product on the field and they better start doing so.

      • cubtex

        Absolutely they should put a better product on the field.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          Especially having the third highest ticket prices in MLB.

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

      Agreed. Big trades are what we’ll be doing in a few years to supplement the MLB roster. That’s part of building the depth in the farm. You have those guys to flip for a difference maker without missing a beat in the system depthwise.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Fans here say we cannot blame Theo for the last 60 years……….
    But here is an interesting deep thought…..
    If Javier Baez becomes a MVP, HOF and wins several World Series for the Cubs………Will any of you give Jim Hendry credit for drafting Baez?……
    Lets discuss.

    • K_Gripp

      Absolutely. Jim Hendry gets a bad rap because he didn’t do a great job of building a farm system but he gave us the best 6 year span of baseball in Chicago since before WW2. I thought the Cubs had the best team in baseball in 2004 and missed the playoffs. They also had the best record in baseball in 2008 and got ousted in the 1st round. He put together some very good teams and they were fun to watch. The rules were different 10 years ago and Hendry built good teams according to those rules. If a couple of things would have fallen the Cubs way instead of going against us there might be a statue of Jim Hendry outside of Wrigley Field. While understanding his shortcomings I don’t get all of the undue hating of Hendry. He had a good run.

    • jtrain23

      I believe one of JH’s greatest talents was evaluating talent in the draft. The problem under his regime seemed to be keeping and developing that talent. The great prospects either seemed not to pan out or were traded for the “here and now” pieces.

      We must give him credit for drafting Baez. However, we can all speculate how long he would have been in our system before he was traded for Matt Garza or……Juan Pierre, lol.

      • cubtex

        I maintain that the Garza deal was a very good deal for the Cubs. They were able to have him for 2 and a half years and then trade him for a better haul than what you gave up to aquire him.

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

          I totally agree on the Garza deal. Great trade. But man, he had such a bad run of high draft choices and picks. I don’t see where one of his “greatest talents was evaluating talent in the draft.”

      • Tony_Hall

        If that was one of his greatest talents, it explains a lot. He drafted horribly, never allocated money to the draft to get the tough signs.

        Credit for Baez is more directly linked to Tom Ricketts saying draft the best player available with every pick, regardless of cost or signability. Tom Ricketts had already decided to fire JH and was in the draft room the entire draft, preaching take the best player. something that had never happened under JH.

        • Dorasaga

          And we remember all those Cubbie first-round picks that never past A-ball… Thanks, Hendry, for your disservice in one decade! You’ll be missed for one more year until the farm be rebuilt successfully AND SUSTAINED.

    • Tony_Hall

      Tom Ricketts. He was in the draft room and dictated that they take the best player available, regardless of signability or cost.

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

      Absoutely. Hendry did some great things while here and deserves a ton of credit. But he sold his soul to try and save his job at the end and gave out way too many no-trade clauses. Overall he did more good than bad but in the end it was time for him to go. I will always be grateful for the playoff runs he got us to.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Tigers GM will want several Cubs prospects for Porcello…..Theo is in the position to trade one Cub for two or three prospect players.
    The meeting of the minds is not here.
    A Porcello trade would had happen with Theo if the Tigers wanted Soriano & Marmol & cash.

    • 07GreyDigger

      If the Tigers want several prospects for Porcello then they will keeping him.

  • cubtex

    Neil- Baseballreference.com has Porcello not being a free agent till 2016.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      That’s what I thought, but it is not being reported that way. Thanks for confirming, I will look into it and see why he is being reported as being under team control for only one more year. I wonder if his previous Super Two status has some confused.

  • daverj

    At the some point, the team will need to jump in and overpay in dollars for free agents star players and/or in prospects traded for star players. The big question for Team Theo is when to make that jump. When he does so and who he acquires will be the the factors that really determine whether his regime is a success or not.

    I wonder he’s feeling a little gun shy now that the decision of when to pull the trigger likely needs to be made in the next year or two (years 3 and 4 of the 5 year plan).

    If he passes on Tanaka and Price this year, what will be available for him next offseason? He missed the boat on Darvish, but the made the right decision in passing up the other recent star free agents like Pujols, Fielder and Reyes.

    • cubtex

      And he admittedly made a mistake with EJax. The timing of him admitting that is to let the fanbase know that the timing is not now to buy free agents. It was a calculated admittance.

      • daverj

        I read that about Theo/EJax. That said, EJax has been very inconsistent throughout his career, but he is the type of pitcher who could have things click at any time and start delivering very good numbers. It took Dempster a number of years (and even a few years in the pen) before he was a more consistently good starting pitcher. There are many other examples of this. Now, it may never happen with EJax but it is too early to rule it out.

        • Dorasaga

          His peripherals (K, walk, and longball rates) have been consistent. His workload and injury history have been consistent. Most baseball pitchers were not as consistent. However, when he’s not “in” a game, he’ll give away longballs, and quickly flew they went, in one inning or two of a game.

          For giving up linedrives, he’s been the worst lower-third of all pitchers who logged 50 IP or more since 2009. Never a good thing for pitchers, linedrive-d; i.e. Jason Marquis.

    • 07GreyDigger

      There’s quite a lot of quality pitchers available in 2015. Homer Bailey, Justin Masterson, Clayton Kershaw for example.

      • cubtex

        The chances of all 3 of those making it to free agency is slim and none. Kershaw will be locked up before by the Dodgers for sure.

        • daverj

          I think Bailey will be the only one of the three to make it to free agency. I like Bailey as a #3, but not as an ace or #2.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Cubs are NOT contenders at this point. Still one more round of selling off players before Theo will start looking at what he needs………players like Baez, Almora, Soler, Edwards, Hendricks, Vizcaino will have to show what they have……players like Castro & Rizzo have to get into higher gear also!.

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

        Agreed…

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

      I believe he does it once some of the young guys are here and we are starting to compete. When we finish over .500 and are top 3 in the division it will be time to go all in on some big splashes.

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    I don’t get this…

    What has Purcello ever done that has Theo so smitten?
    What has Shark ever done that has other mlb GM’s seeing value?

    By Theo’s admission to season ticket holders recently, he considers players prime to be 27. Shark is 29. He has not gotten better than a #4 (maybe a #3) starter. Does he pitch like a #1 on certain games? Yes. But true #1′s are consistent…Shark is not.

    Please please please trade this guy while he has perceived value with other teams! One more mediocre year by Shark and other GM’s will start thinking “hey…why do I want this 30 yr old guy that still hasn’t reached his potential…why do I want to trade young stud prospects for, essentially, a proven mediocre prospect”?

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