Winter Meetings Day One: Cubs Emphasizing Pitching In All Trade Discussions

2013 Winter Meetings – Day One

Jeff Samardzija is reportedly the Cubs’ player that attracted the most attention on the first day of the Winter Meetings. The Cubs are listening to offers for Samardzija but are asking a steep price for him right now. Jed Hoyer maintained the Cubs would prefer to sign Samardzija to a contract extension.

Nate Schierholtz is also drawing interest according to Gordon Wittenmyer. There was a little noise on Schierholtz earlier in the winter, but those rumors quieted as the focus turned to Samardzija and Masahiro Tanaka.

According to Jim Bowden, the Cubs’ front office is emphasizing pitching in all of their trade conversations. And this should not come as any surprise. The Cubs feel good about the position player prospects in the system but realize they need to add pitching, pitching and more pitching.

The Cubs are also spending a lot of time trying to figure out ways to improve the pen. According to Gordon Wittenmyer, the Cubs are exploring trade possibilities to strengthen the pen. The Cubs are eyeing the Nationals’ Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. And both relievers would fit into the Cubs’ plan. Clippard has two years of club control left before he hits free agency and Storen has three seasons remaining before he would hit the market. Plus keep in mind, Mike Rizzo is looking to add a lefty to his bullpen, so the two teams could find a match on a deal. The Cubs are exploring the free agent market to improve the pen and have been connected to relievers John Axford and Joba Chamberlain.

Jeff Samardzija

The Yankees joined the long list of teams on Monday believed to be interested in trading for Jeff Samardzija. The Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Nationals, Orioles, Phillies, Braves, Rockies, Pirates, and Angels are also thought to have checked in with the Cubs about Samardzija.

The Cubs remain consistent in the fact they would like to sign Samardzija to a long-term contract but the talks with Samardzija have not progressed to the point where the front office cannot listen to offers for him.

According to multiple reports on Monday, the Cubs are definitely talking to teams about Samardzija. And the front office is not going to give him away. The cost for Samardzija is thought to be very high right now. If Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer do not receive the right offer they will hold onto Samardzija and put him back on the market during the season.

The Cubs are looking for pitching in return for Samardzija. The Blue Jays appear to have the arms necessary to land Samardzija even without including Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman … and Baseball Prospectus recently debated if Stroman or Sanchez is the top prospect in the Jays’ system. But the Yankees do not. Eight of the top 10 prospects in the Yankees’ system are position players according to Baseball America. Jason Parks was very critical of the Yankees’ system on Monday and tweeted that the Red Sox farm is so much better than the Yankees that he would encourage Yankees’ fans to drink heavily for the next decade.

The Blue Jays are reportedly working on various deals and one more “complicated longshot.” Alex Anthropolous repeated on Monday he is focused on adding a starting pitcher via trade. The Blue Jays’ GM feels the starters on the market tied to draft compensation may drag into January. Anthropolous would not rule out Toronto getting in the mix for Masahiro Tanaka, if he is posted. According to Shi Davidi, the Blue Jays are also looking for help at second base.

Kevin Towers is trying to acquire a starting pitcher and many feel the Diamondbacks would matchup the best with the Cubs in a Samardzija deal. Archie Bradley and Patrick Corbin are not available and both Wade Miley and Trevor Cahill do not figure to be in discussions with the Cubs.

As for the Atlanta Braves, they like Samardzija a lot according to David O’Brien but the Braves’ front office “does not have a real feel yet for what it’ll take to pry Samardzija from the Cubs.”

While the Cubs do not appear to be in the mix for David Price, most feel Andrew Friedman will trade him this week but the Rays’ GM is in no hurry to trade Price. Where Price ends up will have an impact on Samardzija’s market. The Mariners, Dodgers and Rangers are thought to be the most interested in trading for Price at this point.

Shin-Soo Choo

According to reports from Bruce Levine, the Cubs have interest in Shin-Soo Choo but he could be off the market in the very near future. Ken Rosenthal reported Monday evening Choo talks appeared to be reaching a critical stage. The Rangers were thought to be the frontrunner at the time but the Diamondbacks are also in the mix as the “mystery team.” Rosenthal added the market for Choo is not limited to Texas and Arizona and other teams “are likely in the mix.”

Starlin Castro

Teams have checked in with the Cubs about the availability of Starlin Castro. Jed Hoyer said that Castro was not in play and reiterated that Castro has been working out with Tim Buss in the Dominican Republic to get in shape.

Theo Epstein talked about Castro working out with Buss during last month’s season-ticket holders meetings. Epstein explained then that Castro called and asked for Buss to spend six weeks in the Dominican with him. Epstein put Buss on the plane the next day.

The Cubs are committed to Starlin Castro and the front office is looking for him to get his career back on track next season.

Castro reported to Mesa last year in-not-such-good-shape and the Cubs would like for him to be ready to go this spring so he can perform up to expectations. The Cubs are really hoping last season will serve as a wake-up call for Starlin Castro.

Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

According to ESPN Chicago, Jed Hoyer would not rule out trading a major prospect if it made sense for the future of the organization.

Jed Hoyer indicated that the upcoming 2014 season is a big year for Darwin Barney “no matter what.”

Junior Lake wrapped up his season in the Dominican Winter League and will take the remainder of the winter off before getting ready for Spring Training. Lake was solely used in the outfield this winter.

Ryan Sweeney is slated to work with Rod Carew once again this winter.

Rick Renteria will spend the upcoming weekend with his coaching staff at the Cubs’ facility in Mesa. The meetings are scheduled to begin on Friday (Dec. 13).

Eric Hinske will not only coach first base for the Cubs during the upcoming season but he will also coach the outfielders and baserunning … the same duties Dave McKay had the last two years.

And speaking of Eric Hinske, in his short time with the Yankees before taking the job with the Cubs, he helped the Yankees land Brian McCann.

News, Notes and Rumors from Around the League

Kevin Towers, the Diamondbacks’ GM, told the assembled media on Monday that he feels he has the prospects in his system to “get anyone that is available.”

The Twins are pushing to sign Bronson Arroyo according to Ken Rosenthal.

According to a report from Gordon Wittenmyer, the Brewers and Red Sox are among three to four teams interested in signing Carlos Marmol.

Dale Sveum was in a tough spot with the Cubs according to Ned Yost and he waited about an hour after he heard Sveum had been fired before he called to offer him a job.

Former Cubs’ outfielder, Felix Pie is close to signing with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean League.

And, Mark Prior officially retired from baseball on Monday and could take a job in the Padres’ front office.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

[amazonjs asin=”031620093X” locale=”US” tmpl=”Small” title=”The 34-Ton Bat: The Story of Baseball as Told Through Bobbleheads, Cracker Jacks, Jockstraps, Eye Black, and 375 Other Strange and Unforgettable Objects”]

[amazonjs asin=”030727862X” locale=”US” tmpl=”Small” title=”The Baseball Codes: Beanballs, Sign Stealing, and Bench-Clearing Brawls: The Unwritten Rules of America’s Pastime”]

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein