Winter Meetings Day Three: The Cubs Are Not Just Hanging Out in Orlando

2013 Winter Meetings – Day Three

The Cubs continued laying the groundwork for future trades and possible free agent signings on Wednesday. Theo Epstein indicated the team has offers out to free agent starters and relievers plus a trade on the table for a position player.

Theo Epstein addressed the Cubs lack of activity at the Winter Meetings. Epstein said the club is working on improving the team and added, “We’re just not hanging out at the old Dolphin.” The Cubs continued talking trades with other teams as they try to improve the big league roster for next season. Epstein did admit “teams that have less currency often times execute things later in the winter.”

Epstein met with Jeff Samardzija’s agent on Wednesday and the Cubs were connected to two more free agent pitchers. The Cubs might have seen one of their targets, Logan Morrison, traded to Seattle and some think they are still in on Shin-Soo Choo.

Theo Epstein described the deals they are working on “would be significant” to them and their 2014 team but he does not think the moves will be deemed as significant by the public.

Jeff Samardzija

Theo Epstein met with Mark Rodgers, Samardzija’s agent, on Wednesday in Orlando and discussed his future with the Cubs. Epstein would like for Jeff Samardzija to remain a Cub for a long time and told the media Samardzija is not going anywhere right now. The two sides described Wednesday’s meeting as “very amicable.”

Epstein said Jeff Samardzija would be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter unless something changes and he would not be discussing Samardzija’s status in public any longer.

Epstein informed Samardzija’s agent of three options for his client moving forward … a trade, sign an extension or stay on the team for now.

The Cubs are believed to be listening to offers for Samardzija and could end up circling back to the Diamondbacks at some point. The same teams are still thought to be interested in trading for Samardzija but according to Epstein, a trade for Samardzija is not imminent.

The Diamondbacks are thought to still be interested in Samardzija but Kevin Towers has made Masahiro Tanaka their number one priority. Matt Garza remains in the mix to fill a spot in Arizona’s rotation despite reports of questionable medicals. Ken Rosenthal reported Towers could use Randall Delgado and/or Trevor Cahill in a deal to improve his starting rotation.

The Braves are exploring a wide range of options to add a starter to replace Tim Hudson according to Ken Rosenthal. But the Blue Jays are finding the price to trade for a starting pitcher too expensive. Alex Anthropolous indicated he has “some potential trades on the table” but “the acquisition cost just doesn’t work” for the Blue Jays right now.

Rick Renteria reached out to Jeff Samardzija and they both decided to move forward as Cubs. Renteria indicated that when he spoke with Samardzija he was very excited about the “proposition of the upcoming season.”

Starting Pitchers

Roberto Hernandez, the pitcher formally known as Fausto Carmona, was linked to the Cubs on Wednesday. The Cubs recently spoke with Scott Baker’s agent about what it would take to re-sign his client. The Cubs have reported interest in Jason Hammel as well.

Relievers

The Cubs are reportedly interested in free agent relievers such as John Axford, Mitchell Boggs and Joba Chamberlain. Theo Epstein said they have checked in on every available free agent reliever on the market.

The Padres, Mets, Indians, Mariners and Orioles are also interested in signing Axford and the Tigers are believed to be hot on the trail of Joba Chamberlain.

Former Cubs’ closer, Kevin Gregg is drawing interest from the Mets. Gregg’s agent met with the Metropolitan’s front office on Wednesday.

Lefties in the Pen

Theo Epstein told ESPN Chicago that Brooks Raley is transitioning to the pen and Zac Rosscup is knocking on the door. Epstein said he had to listen for offers on James Russell but the Cubs envision an Opening Day bullpen featuring both Russell and newly signed Wesley Wright. The Cubs’ pen will feature two lefties in 2014.

Scott Boras

Scott Boras held court at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday and addressed the Cubs rebuilding process. Boras thinks the Cubs are operating like a small market team during the building process and pointed out that major market teams, like the Cubs, use a different approach

Scott Boras was adamant about the Cubs having the money to sign a free agent, like Shin-Soo Choo. Boras added the Cubs have the capacity to “sign any player they want at any time.” The only question would be does the player fit their plan. Boras defended the Cubs’ front office and said, “The baseball ops people – I know them and I think they want to win today. But they also work for people. Their baseball ops people and their ownership have to sit down and decide when the time is right.”

Boras indicated on Wednesday that he is moving closer on a deal for Shin-Soo Choo. Boras has received offers and Choo is discussing the options with his wife. Reports surfaced on Wednesday night the Rangers had an offer on the table to Choo that was receiving “serious consideration.” But those reports were shot down.

Scott Boras labeled the Cubs’ rebuild as an “all day sucker” … meaning it’s like a lollipop and will take a long time to dissolve.

Tommy Hottovy

According to a report from Chris Cotillo, the Cubs signed former Royals’ reliever Tommy Hottovy to a minor league contract. The deal for the southpaw includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

Hottovy last pitched in the majors in 2012 and posted a 2.89 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP in nine appearances with the Royals. Theo Epstein selected Hottovy in the fourth round of the 2004 draft. The 32-year old southpaw spent last season in the Blue Jays’ system and was 0-1 in 42 relief appearances with a 4.19 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. In 43 innings, Hottovy surrendered 46 hits with 17 walks and 42 strikeouts.

Rule 5 Draft

The Rule 5 Draft takes place on Thursday morning. The Cubs are not expected to select any players in the draft this year but could lose RHP Marcus Hatley, RHP Marcos Mateo, RHP Matt Loosen and/or OF Jae-Hoon Ha. Theo Epstein expects the organization to have at least one player taken in the draft, but he pointed out that just because the player is taken in the draft it doesn’t mean the Cubs will lose him.

The Phillies received the Cubs’ first round pick in the draft as compensation after they filled a grievance over the way the Cubs’ handled Lendy Castillo during the 2012 season.

It would not be a stretch to say the Phillies could use that pick to take a player from the Cubs’ system. After all, Ryne Sandberg is very familiar with players in the Cubs’ organization.

The Rule 5 Draft begins at 8:00am CST on Thursday morning.

News, Notes and Rumors

Matt Garza could be looking at a four-year contract this winter. The D-Backs, Twins and Angels are thought to be interested in Garza … and not being attached to a draft pick is helping his stock.

Susan Slusser reported the Cubs, along with the Twins and Rockies, have interest in signing Kurt Suzuki.

Reports from Day Three of the Winter Meetings

Here are links to the daily reports from day three of the Winter Meetings

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Quote of the Day

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