Samardzija Stays in the Rumor Mill, Teams Contacting Tanaka and Other Cubs Notes

The front office and Jeff Samardzija continue to discuss ways for Samardzija to remain with the Cubs. Both sides have acknowledged the talks on a long term contract have taken place and both the team and Samardzija’s camp has labeled those discussions as amicable. Samardzija understands why the front office is listening to offers and at the same time he would like assurances the team is going to try to build a winner in the near future before he commits to a new contract.

Jeff Samardzija recently said the word ‘rebuilding’ is getting old. Samardzija pointed out the Cubs need to win and win soon, not only for the fans but for the players as well.

The Cubs are believed to be asking a lot in return for Samardzija. Many of the teams that were thought to be interested in acquiring Samardzija have backed down due to the front office’s high asking price. The Braves and Diamondbacks have reportedly cooled on acquiring Samardzija, while the Blue Jays could still be in the mix but Alex Anthropolous is not looking to include Aaron Sanchez and/or Marcus Stroman in a deal for Samardzija.

The Orioles are looking to add a pitcher to their rotation and have checked on free agents Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett. Both starters have question marks surrounding them. Arroyo was effective in the NL Central and with National League lineups, but he would likely struggle back in the AL East. No one knows if Burnett is going to retire or pitch next season. Baltimore is interested in Burnett and is reportedly trying to persuade him to pitch near his home. The Orioles are not looking to spend big on other free agent starters such as Matt Garza, Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez according to Roch Kobatko. Plus it is doubtful Garza would be able to pass the Orioles physical. And the Orioles will not participate in bidding for Masahiro Tanaka because the Orioles’ organization does not believe in paying a fee just to sign a player. The Orioles are looking for a positive this winter, especially in the wake of the Grant Balfour debacle, and are exploring ways to add pitching to their roster. This is where Jeff Samardzija comes in.

Roch Kobatko reported the Orioles are still interested in trading for Jeff Samardzija and he remains a potential target. Kobatko said Kevin Gausman would not be included in any trade for Samardzija, but Double-A lefty Eduardo Rodriguez could be a pitcher that would interest the Cubs and possibly Double-A RHP Mike Wright.

Eduardo Rodriguez turns 21 in April and finished last season at the Double-A level. Rodriguez went 10-7 in 25 starts in High-A and Double-A with a 3.41 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP that included 125 strikeouts and 49 walks in 145 innings. Rodriguez was 4-3 in 11 starts after his promotion with a 4.22 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP (59 strikeouts, 24 walks, 59 2/3 innings). Rodriguez went 0-1 in five starts in the Arizona Fall League with a 5.52 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP (16 strikeouts, six walks and 16 hits allowed in 14 2/3 innings). Rodriguez throws a fastball in the 90-94 mph range and both a slider (80-84 mph) and a changeup (82-84 mph) that have the potential to be plus pitches according to Baseball America. Rodriguez projects as a middle of the rotation starter.

Mike Wright made one start at the Triple-A level last season after posting an 11-3 record in 26 starts at the Double-A level. Wright allowed 65 runs, 52 earned, on 158 hits with 136 strikeouts and 39 walks in 143 2/3 innings for Double-A Bowie. Wright turns 24 in January and throws a fastball in the 89-95 mph range with a slider, a changeup and a curveball. Baseball America thinks he could be a middle of the rotation starter while some in the Orioles’ organization see Wright as a back of the rotation starter or a late-inning reliever.

The Cubs should know the Orioles’ system very well due to last season’s deal that sent Scott Feldman to Baltimore for Pedro Stop and Jake Arrieta. Kubatko is not sure Dan Duquette would trade away any more pitching from the organization to add to the big league roster.

While the Samardzija rumors are still out there, the likelihood of any trade involving him before Masahiro Tanaka signs a contract would be slim at best.

Masahiro Tanaka

According to a report from Newsday, the Yankees reached out Casey Close about Masahiro Tanaka on Thursday. Marc Carig reported the “Yankees’ aggressiveness was expected, given their apparent willingness to enter a bidding war” for Tanaka. Carig also pointed out the Yankees appear willing to sail past their self-imposed $189 million cap for next season to sign Tanaka.

Wallace Matthews reported that “a bunch of teams, including the Yankees, have made their initial inquires to Close.”

Teams that inform MLB and NPB they are willing to pay Rakuten the $20 million release fee have until Jan. 24 to negotiate a deal with and sign Tanaka to a contract. This process should go down to the wire as Casey Close tries to find the best deal, and team, for Masahiro Tanaka. Matthews reported the sources he spoke with do not expect “anything substantial until sometime after New Year’s Day” on the Tanaka talks.

The Yankees, Cubs, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Astros, Mariners, Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels, Phillies and Braves could all be part of the bidding for Tanaka, plus the always-present ‘Mystery’ team.

Bob Nightengale reported team officials he spoke with indicated Tanaka will cost a minimum of $17 million a year and Jim Bowden was told Tanaka is looking for $17-$20 million per season on a five-six year deal. C.J. Nitkowski brought up the AAV’s for Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish with the posting fees added in on Twitter. Matsuzaka’s AAV was $17.1 million and Darvish ended up with a $17.9 million AAV, again with the posting fees added to their contracts. Nitkowski thinks Tanaka’s AAV could be $21-22 million which would put a six year deal at $109 million and a seven-year contract at $130 million, plus the $20 million release fee.

Former big leaguer, C.J. Nitkowski spent time pitching in Japan and fills in from time-to-time on MLB Network Radio. Nitkowski discussed Tanaka on Thursday night and mentioned that he might want to sign with a team in which he is the number one pitcher on the staff. If that is the case, a few of the teams might not be able to offer what Tanaka is looking for.

The Cubs could offer the chance of having a rotation being built around him and Jeff Samardzija. The other teams thought to be in on Tanaka have pitchers that would slot ahead of him in the rotation, with the exceptions of the Yankees if C.C. Sabathia continues his slide and both the Diamondbacks and Braves. The Dodgers’ rotation has Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top of their staff. Jered Weaver (Angels), Yu Darvish (Rangers), Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma (Mariners), Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels (Phillies) and Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz (Red Sox) would be ahead of Tanaka in their respective rotations.

Jon Daniels downplayed the Rangers’ possible interest in Tanaka during an interview with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern during Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio) on Friday afternoon. Daniels said he would not comment about Tanaka when Bowden asked if the Rangers would be involved in the bidding for him. Daniels did say he is “a little more focused on adding depth to the staff than somebody at the top.”

Jose Veras

The Cubs announced the signing of Jose Veras to a one-year contract for $4 million that includes a club option for the 2015 season on Friday. Veras’ deal includes an incentives package worth $750,000 based on games saved and finished. And the club option for 2015 is for $5.5 million with a $150,000 buyout.

With Jose Veras officially with the team, the Cubs’ 40-man roster stands at 40 players.

News and Notes

Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Parks tweeted on Friday that five of the top seven prospects on BP’s top 101 prospects for 2014 will be shortstops … Carlos Correa (Astros), Addison Russell (A’s), Francisco Lindor (Indians), Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox) and Javier Baez (Cubs). Parks considers Javier Baez one of the top five prospects in the game and three of the Cubs’ top prospects will be ranked among the first 25 prospects in BP’s Top 101.

Former Cubs’ farmhand, RHP Guillermo Moscoso signed with the Yokohama BayStars and will pitch in Japan next season. Moscoso was 7-5 in 17 starts for Triple-A Iowa last season with a 3.93 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP after the Cubs claimed him off waivers from the Blue Jays in late March. The Cubs traded Moscoso to the Giants for cash considerations on July 26 and he went 2-2 in 13 games, two starts, for San Francisco with a 5.10 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP.

Jim Bowden listed the Cubs as a possible destination for Matt Garza along with the Angels, Yankees, Orioles, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays. Bowden thinks the Angels would be the best first for Garza.

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  • Theboardrider

    Absolutely not on the Orioles pitchers. If we trade Shark it should be for one if not two projected top of rotation starters IMO.

    I like the resign Garza idea, especially if we sign Tanaka. And why are we not linked to Jimenez? I don’t know if he has any interst in us but he seems like a perfect Theo choice. Coming off a relatively down year, he could become a core piece or a trade chip. I predict he will be next year’s Liriano.

    • calicub

      Jimenez actually reestablished himself last season with the Indians: 3.30 ERA and 182.2 innings, which is why he received a QO. I don’t think the FO would sign him and lose their second pick just to flip him either.

      • mutantbeast

        Jiminez was very good in the 2nd half last year, his ERA after the break was 2nd in the AL .

    • Dorasaga

      I’m using the mlbTR to satisfy our emotional fantasy, so here are the 2015 FA list:

      J. Shields, Haren, and Masterson will be good buy for 2015. Trade for them.

      Gallardo, Anderson, and Morrow are more expensive and risky investment to sign as FA — like they say, no risk no rewards.

      I don’t know what to think of Iwakuma, Kershaw, Scherzer, and Cueto. Clubs would tie them to a long-term deal. Won’t be available going 2015 and beyond. Even do, the bidding war will be ugly.

      J.J., Peavy, Villanueva, Chen, and Volquez had been overworked. I doubt they can stay healthy for a whole season, albeit two. I don’t suppose the Cubs will act like the 2006 Detroit Tigers, signing Kenny Rogers and make it all the way.

      Anyway, have a good Holiday week. Very excited to see the new Cubs Park on TV next year!

      • triple

        I said this a week or two ago…I’d love to see the Cubs make a move for any combination of the following players in free agency next season:

        Max Scherzer
        Homer Bailey
        Justin Masterson
        Pablo Sandoval
        Colby Rasmus

        If we can land Tanaka, then we would only need to add one of those pitchers, I’d hope for Scherzer or Bailey. And if Baez ends up at 2nd or OF, and Bryant proves capable of playing another OF corner spot, then I’d love to see Sandoval get signed. With the short term contracts we have signed and the perceived flexibilty of our infield prospects who are getting close, I believe there will be many options available for the 2015 season. Just think if the top of our rotation included Tanaka, Scherzer, and Samardzija.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          Scherzer would be smart to sign an extension with Tigers…that year screams of “fluke” to me. A good pitcher, to be sure…but not sold on him winning Cy Young every year.

          • triple

            I think a guy at his age, who is represented by good ‘ol Scotty B., will likely be persuaded to test the free agent market next year. Otherwise, why would he have hired the agent who is known to get the most money for his clients.

            I’m also wondering how much more the Tigers will be putting into their payroll, especially as it looks like their World Series aspirations may be passing them by.

            A guy like Scherzer definitely won’t be cheap, but he’s proven over the last 4 seasons that he is a top of the rotation type starter (stronger as a 2). His K/BB ratio keeps getting better. As far as his other stats, in 2011, he was a little south of his career average, and 2013 he was north of his career averages, and by no means was his ’11 season even close to being able to be called poor.

            However, the more I think about it, Homer Bailey could actually be the better signing, as he is almost 2 full years younger, yet has almost just as much pitching experience, but spread out over another year of ML time, so his arm hasn’t been taxed as much. And signing a guy like Bailey would strengthen the Cubs while weakening a division opponent.

        • jtrain23

          Sandoval and Rasmus seem to be upside type guys. They both have plus power and are decent run producers. They are both still young. They both are guys that escape the big hitter conversation usually, so perhaps they come at a “bargain” price.

          However, last year I don’t think Choo would have been discussed as a major game changer and he got a huge contract, so you never know.

          • 07GreyDigger

            Both guys are not without their warts. Rasmus is inconsistent and appears to have somewhat of an attitude problem. Sandoval can’t stop eating cake.

          • triple

            I like this comment just for the last sentence alone.

          • jtrain23

            Indeed. Cake is a formidable opponent.
            I wonder if playing for the Cubs would inspire Rasmus? It would be the ultimate chance to stick it to the team that “gave up” on him in the Cardinals.

          • Dorasaga

            Yup, that’s what I was going to say about Rasmus. I’m kind of wary of Sandoval, because he’s not a better hitter than many other 3-base out there. It’s really his raw talent, contact ability, that stood out. How it will last? I believe not long, if history proves right.

          • triple

            Your mention of Choo is kind of why I think that would make a signing of either Sandoval (preferably) or Rasmus a good pickup. They are likely to be paid as good or better than Choo (maybe not Rasmus) just signed for, but they will be younger, leaving more productive years ahead of them to get more value out of a 6 or 7 year contract. And if you offer them a higher AAV, maybe it’s possible to talk them into a 5 yr contract with a mutual option, leaving the player at an age that is more likely to be able to sign one more long deal if they want to opt out of the contract.

          • Dorasaga

            Choo had injury issues throughout his career. He’s not a big power guy. His plate discipline has been remarkable. His defense will drop to less than average by 2015, when we expect the Cubs to compete. Good example to throw in this discussion, btw, Happy New Year!

    • BigJonLilJon

      If we trade Shark anywhere before the season starts, it has to be for a big haul. If not, wait until the trade deadline. We’ll get what we want then when some contending teams injuries force the issue

      • paulcatanese

        IMO, I don’t think the Cubs are at all interested in trading the Shark given what they are asking for him. He is way overpriced and is a sure indication to me that they would rather have the extension. “One in the hand is worth two in the bush”. I would be surprised if they trade him, too much of an investment.

        • SuzyS

          I agree, Paul. The Cubs don’t have to trade Shark at this juncture…unless someone blows them away with an offer.
          From what I’ve read, most teams viewed Shark as a cheaper alternative to trading for Price.
          The problem is…trading Shark would create a huge hole in the rotation…and the Cubs would need a potential TOR in return…along with other pieces.
          In short, The Cubs are looking for the same return for Shark as the Rays are for Price…and it’s not going to happen that way.
          If not, then why should the Cubs trade him at all THIS offseason?

    • SuzyS

      Unless he comes really cheap, I don’t see the Cubs revisiting Garza…he didn’t show well enough in Texas…or stay healthy enough for us while he was here.

  • jtrain23

    I like hearing the Cubs mentioned with ANY big free agent at this point. Despite reports, I am still skeptical as to how serious the team truly is about signing this guy, but at least it give us some hope of getting talent from outside of the organization.

    I am a bit wary about Tanaka, however. This guy has over 1300 innings logged in his career with a minimum of 155 innings in a season and 53 complete games pitched. Granted, he seems to get better each year.

    Pitchers that have come over from Japan have seen great success, just not on a long term basis. There has been a trend of wearing out fairly quick. This guy is a terrific talent, I would just hate for the first “swing for the fences” this time around turn into a major whiff.

    • Ripsnorter1

      I would put the chances on Tanaka becoming a Cub at less than 1%.
      Talk is cheap, but Tanaka won’t be.

      I think $17 million per is pure fantasy. I think he’ll garner $25+ million per over 7 years
      with a NTC. Very expensive.

      • jtrain23

        Seems that way. He will for sure land in the $100 million range for 6-7 years. Everyday a new team is mentioned to be interested.
        Given the new posting system, he will benefit from a 5+ team bidding war. We all know what that leads to.

        • Tony_Hall

          Keep in mind, that the clock is also ticking. January 24th 5 pm Eastern deadline, can put pressure on both sides. Unlike normal FA, where the player or agent can just say they will let this play out another week or two, they have to decide before the deadline.

          • GaryLeeT

            Given the time frame, I think the first offer the Cubs make, needs to be a “blow them away” offer. That will make sure they taken seriously, and kept in every conversation Tanaka has with Close.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        c’mon man…I would go with at least 3%!

    • J Daniel

      jtrain … I agree with you in the word skeptical … I am at the “show me” state.

      • BigJonLilJon

        Our Cubs can’t afford to be at the “show me” state… they need to make a move, even if it turns out to be wrong in the long term. Will show the next wave of FA’s that Chicago is serious and therefore garner interest.

  • Tony_Hall

    MLB is going to try and watch for teams and Japanese teams, trying to find loopholes in the new system, just like we have talked about on here many times. New system, new loopholes. Good luck on that one Bud.

  • Tony_Hall

    CJ Nitkowski brings up a good point with Tanaka, wanting to go to a team where he will be the ACE. It is just another educated guess (more educated than others having actually played in Japan) of things that will matter to Tanaka, but it makes a lot of sense.

    Can you imagine the Dodgers telling him he will start as their 4th guy, behind Ryu from South Korea?

    • BigJonLilJon

      On the other hand…. if it’s true he wants to sign where he can be the “ace” only, does that show some negative mental traits we need to be aware of??

      • SuzyS

        I’m thinking it’s a good thing…for an mlb player….He wants to be the “big cheese”….Welcome to Wisconsin?

        • SuzyS

          Even the Twins are in on Tanaka.
          While it’s true that Tanaka would be exactly the type of signing that fits the Theo mold when it’s time to compete…I’m not going to hold my breath.
          Too many teams involved for any predictability….

          This should be a fascinating ride watching this process.
          In the end, I hope he can perform up to whatever his contract is.

          • paulcatanese

            Agree Suzy, and admiration to the Orioles’ for not being interested as they do not believe in posting for a player.

      • Tony_Hall


        • John_CC

          You took the word right out of my mouth.

          • Tony_Hall

            I’m assuming the new guy likes his down arrows if you disagree with him.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Between now and the July trading deadline, Shark will be linked to almost every team in a trade…….
    Will Shark imposed the No Contract Extension deadline when Spring Training starts?
    Has anyone listed the excuses why Theo did not sign Tanaka?
    Theo can, and has to do better in next years F/A list of pitchers…… excuses…….there are six starters I would go after……
    Can anyone remember when Jim Bowden had a correct prediction!
    Pablo Sandoval as a Cub!……the guy has a serious weight issue, and playing in a city that has Mr Beef, White Castle, Lou Malnati’s , Giordano’s, Gino’s Pizza, and hundreds of McDonalds will not go over well with Pablo’s diet.

    • paulcatanese

      Correct on Pablo, as he could end up “rolling” to his left to get groundballs.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Do you think San Francisco doesn’t have crappy fast food? Ever been to Jack In The Box?

      • CubbyDenCritic

        JIB, In N Out Burger, Del Taco….now we are talking great take out food…….some of the finer 5 star restaurants are located in the Bay area.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Chicago does have the best pizza!

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Luis Valbuena hitting 303 w/ 4HRs in Winter Ball according to Carrie Muskat.

  • GaryLeeT

    I was poking around MLBTR, and they had a link to a DBacks blogger who handicapped which team would sign Tanaka. I know there’s not much weight to it, but I do like that fact that an objective observer put the Cubs as heavy favorites to land him.

    • Neil

      Thank you for posting this.

      • GaryLeeT

        You’re welcome, it was my pleasure.

    • John_CC

      Thanks Gary. Closer to home, and surely not as objective, John Arguello at Cubs Den has written some good stuff on how/why the Cubs could win Tanaka. He has a way of breaking down numbers, be it stats or money, that I appreciate. This is good one but point #1 is about Tanaka and the Cubs advantage over the Yanks and Dodgers due to luxary tax vs the Cubs salary flexibility.

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