Cubs Could Be Busy at the Winter Meetings

2013 Winter Meetings – Day One

Will the Cubs be active at the Winter Meetings? Major League Baseball’s annual gathering officially begins on Monday morning. The Cubs are believed to be looking for a starting pitcher, help in the pen, an outfielder and players that can help round out the bench.

The Cubs are expected to shop Jeff Samardzija over the next four days. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will weigh the offers they receive for Samardzija against keeping him until later in the winter, or until July. The front office is on record saying they would prefer to sign Samardzija to a long-term extension but if the two sides are unable to agree to a new deal, the Cubs will look to turn a medium-term asset into several long-term, controllable impact assets.

There is a feeling the meetings will be very active throughout the game, but not in terms of free agent signings. With a lot of the big names coming off the free agent board last week, most think the Winter Meetings will be filled with trades this year.

The baseball world has setup shop at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando for the 112th Winter Meetings. There is a large amount of trade texting going on, so will the Cubs make any moves this week or continue setting the stage for future deals?

The Cubs are not looking to make any big splashes this week but they were working “on something” prior to leaving for the meetings. As for the Winter Meetings and the four-day process, Theo Epstein said, “Sometimes it can be that way, where it’s just another four days and then deals get consummated afterwards. Sometimes there’s a feeding frenzy. Deadlines are put in place at the winter meetings. You have to be prepared both ways. That said, I think it is important to have people around you reminding you that it’s important to do the right deal, not just a deal because there’s deal momentum at the winter meetings unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. So it’s important to keep your perspective.”

Masahiro Tanaka and the Posting System

Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are expected to announce the new positing system at some point in the coming week. The two sides have agreed to several points that include capping the posting fee at $20 million.

From what has been agreed upon, all teams that meet the posting fee will be able to negotiate with the player. The 30-day window to agree to terms and sign the player will still be part of the posting system.

Joel Sherman reported Sunday night the posting system document is still not finalized and once it is approved by the NPB, the MLB executive council will have to approve.

Many think Masahiro Tanaka will be posted. There is support for Tanaka to be posted in Japan but the Rakuten Golden Eagles president still believes the $20 million posting cap is too low, especially for Tanaka.

The Golden Eagles have control over Tanaka for two more seasons after he signed a three-year contract extension last year. When Tanaka inked the new deal he indicated he was looking forward to pitching in the majors at some point. The thought was at the time he signed the contract that Tanaka expected, and wanted, to be posted this winter.

As of Sunday night, the decision to post Masahiro Tanaka appears to be up to Rakuten’s president. And according to Joel Sherman, he will make the decision on posting Tanaka based on what he feels is in the best interest of the team.


Shin-Soo Choo

Shin-Soo Choo is drawing a lot of attention and could be signed this week. The Cubs are reportedly interested in signing Choo and have talked to his representatives (Scott Boras). The Cubs are just one of many teams believed to be interested in Choo. The Tigers, Astros, Orioles, Rangers, Mariners and possibly the Red Sox are in the mix as well. But Boston’s interest could be dependent upon their ability to trade for Matt Kemp.

Joel Sherman reported Scott Boras is using seven years and $153 million as a “guidepost” in negotiations for Shin-Soo Choo and one club he spoke with thinks Choo will end up with a contract between the ones Jacoby Ellsbury and Jayson Werth signed (seven years, $153 million and seven years, $126 million).

Relievers

The Tribune and Jon Heyman confirmed the Cubs interest in RHP John Axford. Axford is reportedly interested in signing with the Cubs as well but at least 14 teams have checked in with Axford since he was non-tendered by the Cardinals. Two of the other teams are believed to be the Mariners and Orioles.

The Orioles are one of the teams interested in John Axford. Dan Duquette mentioned that Rick Peterson, the Orioles’ minor league pitching coordinator is familiar with Axford from their days together in Milwaukee.

The Cubs are also thought to be interested in Joba Chamberlain.

News, Notes and Rumors

Baltimore is going to be active at the Winter Meetings … and the Orioles are one of the teams thought to have the most interest in Jeff Samardzija. Dan Duquette indicated on MLB Network Radio that the Orioles do not believe in paying posting fees and the Orioles would not be involved in bidding for Masahiro Tanaka, if he is posted. Duquette said he would be adding “experienced pitchers” before he leaves the Winter Meetings. Dan Duquette pointed out that he “has a couple of trade partners to follow up on” this week about deals they’ve discussed.

The Nationals are one of the teams reportedly interested in Jeff Samardzija. The Nationals are also looking for a lefty reliever and have checked in on Boone Logan, Oliver Perez, Eric O’Flaherty and J.P. Howell … and as of late Sunday the Nationals were making a strong push for O’Flaherty. The Cubs have four southpaw relievers on their 40-man roster right now, and three that can be traded (Wesley Wright signed as a free agent and cannot be traded).

Arizona is one of the teams interested in acquiring David Price and their ability to land Price will obviously have an impact on where Jeff Samardzija could be traded. Jim Bowden reported on Sunday that Andrew Friedman told Kevin Towers when he is ready to include Archie Bradley in a trade for Price to give him a call. Towers is not willing to deal Bradley but could be interested in sending Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley to Tampa in a deal for Price.

CCO Reminder

To keep up with the latest from the Winter Meetings, check ChicagoCubsOnline often and follow the CCO on Twitter. We will only post news and rumors from reliable sources … and a reminder to beware of all of the fake Twitter accounts and inaccurate rumors that surface during the meetings.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

  • Vivid_Reality

    I’ll give the Nationals Shark, Russell, and Barney for Giolito and Rendon in a heartbeat.

    • mutantbeast

      Get real Vivid. Nats arent giving you both Giolito and Rendon for Spellcheck and some trash,.

  • Tony_Hall

    I am sure someone will figure out the way around the posting system and I am sure there are safeguards in the system to prevent abuse, but if Tanaka’s team posted another player, who was a utility guy, or bullpen arm with a posting fee of $20M for that player, right after that MLB team agrees to Tanaka, would anyone find it strange if the same MLB team won the rights to that player as well.

  • Tony_Hall

    As an MLB fan, is there any way this week can be better than last week? Tuesday and Friday were unbelievable days.

    • Ripsnorter1

      It sure has been a nice hot stove league.

      Sure it can get better: if the Cubs picked up a decent player or two, it
      would be exciting.

      • Tony_Hall

        That would be as a Cubs fan. I am hoping for a trade or 2 this week, and add in a few short term roster filler FA signings.

  • Dave_in_STL

    Why would the Cubs be interested in signing Choo to a 5 or 7 yr deal? W/ all the OF’s (Lake, Almora, Soler, Jackson, Vitters) & IF’s who will end up OF’s (Bryant, etc) signing Choo only blocks some of the talent that the FO believes is in the “impact” category they keep seeking. I’m not a big Choo fan, especially at the #’s & term Boras keeps throwing around. Anything related to pitching, I’d be fine w/ 3 or 5 yr deals, we just don’t have the depth in our own system to clog the ML roster @ the pitching spots.

    • cubtex

      Who are the long term outfielders they have right now on the roster? Junior Lake? He is the only one. Not all the prospects will make it. Even if Soler and Almora both make it…there is a huge need for an “established” mlb outfielder. You cannot expect Almora and Soler to come up and be impact players immediately. I like Choo. I doubt the Cubs will sign him because there are winning teams looking for a player like him…..but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if the Cubs got a .400 OBP leadoff guy like Choo for the next 5 or 6 years.

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

        Before I even got two sentences into the original post I started to think of you Ray :). I’m not crazy about the numbers out there for Choo, but if he was signed I would be happy with it. You know I’m down with the plan and support the long-haul approach, but I’d love to win a few more games and have a legit leadoff hitter now. Choo would be around long enough to have an impact once the youth movement begins. Gotta have a few vets to pave the way and all I hear about Choo is that he’s a pro…and he stays healthy.

        • cubtex

          Like I said…it is a longshot that he signs with the Cubs, but he would fill a huge hole. Leadoff hitter with a tremendous OBP.

      • cc002600

        Besides the high price tag, I don’t see the cubs giving up the draft pick to sign Choo. I would be very surprised.

        Maybe the evil empire will sign him too ? LOL

      • mutantbeast

        Choo is a platoon player. His OBP and Avg suffer immensely against lefties. Yes, he kills righties, but if we sign him at some ridicoulous $ figure BoreUs wants, wed be a very lefty heavy team in 2014, with no RH power period. In wrigley, thats bad news.,

        • cubtex

          If Choo is a platoon player….Rizzo is a platoon player as well. Choo has a .347 OBP against lefties. Not many lefties can put up those numbers

        • cubtex

          to compare that to Rizzo vs LHP.

          .189 avg and a .282 OBP.

          Choo is not a platoon player.

    • John_CC

      They aren’t. 7 years for a 32 year old corner outfielder with middling speed and middling power is insane. I like Choo as ballplayer, a lot. He is a great On Base guy, but come on. His 20 HR power isn’t special, his 20 SB isn’t great, and both are doing to start deteriorating fast. I don’t think he even has 20 HR power outside of Great American. He is a rock solid ball player, but not worth a 7 year contract.

      Ellsbury is two years his younger, a superior defensive player at a premium position, and has elite speed. So why would Choo get a similar contract? This is once again Boras being Boras.

      4 years would my max. on Choo, but I bet someone gives him 5, most likely the Yankees.

      • cubtex

        You think Ellsbury is a better player than Choo? It isn’t close in my mind. Ellsbury is brittle. No power, overrated defensively and once his speed is gone will be a #9 hitter. How about when they have to move Ellsbury to a corner in 4 years? Talk about an unproductive corner? Choo plays everyday, has a .400 OBP and will be productive a lot longer than Ellsbury.

        • John_CC

          First, I am not defending the Ellsbury contract so don’t bring up to me what he’ll look like in four years. You are the one that has gone on record thinking this is good for the Yankees, not I.

          But if you want to talk about in 4 years, Ellsbury will 33-34 and hardly in a wheelchair. Guys “lose their legs” but Ellsbury averages 55 SB per season with a career success rate of 83%! That is amazing. I think it is safe to say that when Ellsbury is 34 he will be stealing more bases than Choo does now.

          Ellsbury is 29-30 years old this year. Choo is 32-33.

          I already claimed to like Choo a lot, a lot more than Ellsbury. But Choo’s 20/20 game isn’t going to last, so in 4 years what is he going to look like as 15/8 guy?

          Bottom line is 7 years was dumb on Ellsbury and would be freaking stoopid on Choo.

          • cubtex

            I said that Ellsbury will help the Yankees for a couple of years and if I was a Yankee fan…the team got better with him on it. Secondly, Did you not see the ages I posted for Ellsbury and Choo. Ellsbury is 30 and Choo is 31. How does that turn into 29-30 for Ellsbury and 32-33 for Choo. I hope my birthdays don’t age like you are doing for Choo. Lol.
            It isn’t about comparing stolen bases. You are a saber guy anyways….aren’t you? Stolen bases are not worth the risk for saber guys and are overrated. I am not saying I want Choo on a 7 year deal but he will be a better player than Ellsbury long term.

          • John_CC

            I was mistaken on their ages. For some reason I thought Choo was 32 already…whatever. I was wrong on their ages.

            I like to think of myself as a baseball fan, I am not a “saber-guy” by any means, simply because I do not discount the new stats wholesale that I don’t quite understand.

            They are both going to be very expensive platoon/replacement players making $20M in 5 years. I don’t care if one has a little better OBP or the other can steal 10 more bases.

            And for the record, Ellsbury’s 83% SB rate is elite. When a guy can swipe 55 bags while only getting thrown out 3 times, he is the exception to the rule that attempting to steal bases is a statistical bad choice.

          • cubtex

            I love speed and the threat of a stolen base. I agree with Ellsbury being much better than Choo in that area. I have been an advocate for the Cubs adding a stolen base guy and more team speed for years.

      • cubtex

        BTW. Ellsbury is 30 and Choo is 31. Choo turns 32 in July and Ellsbury turns 31 in September. 1 year

    • 07GreyDigger

      I like Choo, but I don’t free agent like him. I don’t like paying a guy boku bucks when the team isn’t close to being a contender yet. It’s too much like Soriano.

  • raymondrobertkoenig

    I’m fully prepared to be underwhelmed by any moves the Cubs might make before Opening Day.

    • J Daniel

      Absolutely no question … unless they are able to get a good haul for Smarj. Nothing else on the roster worth to much.

      • cubtex

        I have a feeling they will make a surprise splash. They need to do something to excite the fan base. A Matt Kemp trade? Something like that….that noone expects.

        • J Daniel

          Possible … at this point they may as well tank it one more, get another top pick, and go from there. What is the difference if they win 10-15 more games? Still not a good team so may as well not be in the middle.

          • cubtex

            agreed but drop in attendance will hurt Ricketts where it counts.

  • 07GreyDigger

    If there truly is a bidding war for David Price, it might behoove the Cubs to wait in the weeds until the smoke clears. Whatever teams lose out might be more inclined to give up more for him.

    • J Daniel

      There is no hurry to deal Smarj

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Let Price, Sale & Tanaka go first….and when July comes around, Theo will go in with the “kill” on getting even more with Shark from playoff contending clubs.

  • Tony_Hall

    Congrats to 3 great managers on their Hall of Fame.

    Cox, Larussa, Torre

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Buster Olney – Diamondbacks are among the teams with the most serious trade interest in Chris Sale — IF they would agree to part with him. A big if.

    • cubtex

      Sox will get a TON for him if they trade him. He is worth more than David Price because Sale is controlled for 6 more years.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Agreed

    • mutantbeast

      Again, im betting the first words out an any GMS mouth in regards to the Snakes are “Archie Bradley”. Sale is good, but hes also an arm injury waiting to happen

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Bruce Levine – Atlanta and Yankees join the group of teams interested in Jeff Samardzija.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      I linked an article last week about how Atlanta was connected to Samardzija.

    • J Daniel

      I can’t imagine the Yankees have what it would take. Maybe they can be used as someone to help drive the price up?

      • cubtex

        3 team deal is a possibility

  • cubtex

    Non baseball rumor. Nick Saban supposedly just bought a house about a mile from me and will be UT’s new football coach replacing Mack Brown. Hook Em!

    • 07GreyDigger

      College Football? Who cares.

      • paulcatanese

        A lot more people than is given credit for. College sports are still the closest to pure athletics. (at least for the present).

        • 07GreyDigger

          I know and have heard all that a million times. But it’s not for me. Too much to keep track of.

        • Tony_Hall

          Except for their is no defense in almost every college game. It is all about elite players (pros) dominating student athletes.

          • paulcatanese

            I must be dense Tony, cannot grasp you’re point.

          • Tony_Hall

            Sorry, not worded all that well. I am just not a fan of college football or basketball. The elite college players, that everyone knows will be going to the pro’s dominate weaker competition. Defense is just non-existant most of the time.

          • paulcatanese

            Got it, thanks for the response.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    No way Cubs give Choo a $150 million contract.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Roy Halladay retiring…….good pitcher, but not a HOF.

  • mutantbeast

    Mr Towers, my guess is Friedman hangs up the phone unless Archie Bradley is in the mix for Price. Same with us. If we want Price, my guess is the conversation starts with Baez. No way.

    • cubtex

      It is not the right time for the Cubs to get a Price. There was a slight drop in his velocity this year and by the time the Cubs are competitive he will probably resemble how CC was this past season.

      • J Daniel

        100% absolutely agree, sort of like acquiring Garza when they did.

        • cubtex

          I am concerned about Price’s stuff holding up long term

          • J Daniel

            Can say that with most pitchers that have been around a bit. But you are correct in that when you see the velocity drop it is usually not a good indicator.

            Also, they do not need him yet. They need guys like him for sure but not at this stage in the rebuild.

  • cubtex

    How does that 4 year 48 mil deal that Michael Bourn signed at age 29 look now? Yes, he didn’t have a great year but the Cubs could have a leadoff hitter for the next 3 years until Almora is ready to replace him at a mere 12 mil per year.

    • J Daniel

      No question!

      • cubtex

        That was my point last year. For the money, and lack of outfielders on the market over the next couple of years…Bourn would have been a great addition. Leadoff hitter? Check. Center Fielder? Check. 4 year deal at 48 mil? Check. Too late now but look at what Ellsbury and Choo are getting. Not saying Bourn is as good as those guys but for the money and years it was a no brainer.

        • Tony_Hall

          Let it go, he had a bad season and Ellsbury’s contract does make Bourn have a better season.

          • cubtex

            He would have been a steal(no pun intended) :)