The Cubs’ front office spent a majority of the week in Orlando laying groundwork on possible trades and free agent signings. With the GM Meetings in the rearview mirror, the front office has roster decisions to make in the very near future.
Wednesday (Nov. 20) is the deadline for teams to file their reserve lists for all Major and Minor League levels. Players not on the 40-man big league roster after Wednesday are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 12. The Cubs currently have 37 players on their 40-man roster.
While Rick Renteria and the front office work on hiring a coaching staff, rumors continue to surface. Additional teams are popping up as possible destinations for Jeff Samardzija and the front office appears to be listening to packages that it would take to acquire their Opening Day starter.
The Cubs appear to be listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija while talking to his agent about an extension. The front office is not expected to fully shop Samardzija until the Winter Meetings but as every day passes it seems more teams are inquiring about him.
Jed Hoyer addressed the Samardzija question on Friday night during his segment on the David Kaplan Show (720 WGN). Hoyer told Kaplan that they’ve had discussions with Samardzija about a long-term extension and would like to keep him in a Cubs’ uniform. Hoyer was glad to hear Samardzija would like to stay with the Cubs. Hoyer indicated the conversations with Samardzija will continue. They see him as a player they would like to keep in the fold.
The Diamondbacks and Nationals are believed to be very interested in acquiring Samardzija, but the front office plans on maximizing his value and will not give him away.
According to a report from SportsNet Canada, the Blue Jays are interested in Samardzija. Alex Anthopoulos pursued Samardzija last winter and could get in the mix again the off-season. Shi David questioned if the Blue Jays would have enough in their system to acquire Samardzija.
The Pirates are also thought to have interest in Samardzija, but what it would cost one of the Cubs’ division rivals is unknown at this point.
The Cubs are listening to offers for Samardzija. But the general consensus is, if the front office starts shopping Samardzija, teams will lineup to try to acquire him.
The Cubs are thought to be looking at players such as Scott Baker, Kurt Suzuki, Josh Johnson, Phil Hughes, John Buck and Nate McLouth to improve their big league roster. Jed Hoyer addressed the Cubs’ plans on Friday night and indicated the team would likely continue building the roster the way they have been.
The front office has been transparent about their plan for building the organization. Hoyer feels the team has a bright future ahead of it and they will not short circuit their plan. Hoyer would not rule out signing a big free agent. Hoyer mentioned if something were to lineup, they would make the deal but it would have to make sense for the team’s future. Hoyer said, “We will not hit the fast forward button on our plan simply because people are impatient. It will be worth it in the end.”
Castro, Rizzo and Barney
Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Darwin Barney are coming off down years but the Cubs’ front office is expecting all three players to bounce back in 2014.
Jed Hoyer expects Darwin Barney to be at second base for the Cubs next season. Barney is very valuable to the team according to Hoyer. And the Cubs’ GM feels he is the best defensive second baseman in the game. Hoyer thinks Barney will have a better year in 2014 and they have no doubt that both Castro and Rizzo will bounce back from their struggles last season.
Arizona Fall League
The Mesa Solar Sox won East division crown on Thursday and will face the Surprise Scorpions on Saturday afternoon (2:00pm CST) in the AFL Championship game. The MLB Network will televise the game that should feature Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler. Cubs’ prospect Dallas Beeler will make the start for Mesa against lefty Eduardo Rodriguez.
Check back to the CCO for a special ‘Talkin’‘ to discuss the game and a full recap will be posted on Saturday night.
Spring Training Opening Day and Las Vegas
The Cubs are expected to release their 2014 Cactus League schedule in the coming week. But it appears the Cubs first game at their new facility in Mesa will be on Feb. 27 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Cubs yet to be named Spring Training home is scheduled to open on Dec. 1.
A split squad of the 2014 Chicago Cubs will leave Arizona and spend a weekend at Cashman Field in Las Vegas to play the New York Mets. The Cubs and Mets will square off at the annual Big League Weekend on March 15 and 16. The Cubs have participated in the Big League Weekend every spring since 2005.
The Cubs will face a team outside of the Cactus League for the first time in their last 10 trips to Vegas. Cashman Field is the home of the Las Vegas 51s, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Mets.
News, Notes and Rumors
J.C. Boscan signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers that include a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Boscan spent a majority of his 2013 season with Triple-A Iowa before being added to the 40-man roster late in the year. Boscan played in only six games for the Cubs (2-for-9 with a double).
The Cubs have been connected to Bronson Arroyo, but he is interested in the Giants and several other teams have checked in on Arroyo this winter according to Buster Olney.
The Cardinals are looking for a shortstop. But those internet rumors about the Redbirds talking to the Cubs about Starlin Castro were inaccurate. According to Jon Heyman, St. Louis could explore 10 different ways to find an answer for their shortstop question … and not one includes trading for Starlin Castro.
Carrie Muskat provided an update on Arodys Vizcaino. The Cubs plan to see how Vizcaino is in Spring Training then decide the best course for the right-hander. Vizcaino pitched in two instructional league games this fall after the front office scraped plans to send him to the Arizona Fall League.
Patrick Mooney questioned if Edwin Jackson’s frontloaded contract “could look reasonable and even get moved in an overheated market.” The Cubs owe Edwin Jackson $33 million over the next three years ($11 million per season) after signing him to a four-year, $52 million contract last winter. Jackson received an $8 million signing bonus that reduced his per season payout to $11 million per year.