Winter Meetings Day Two: Cubs Continue Talking Samardzija, Focus on Pitching

2013 Winter Meetings – Day Two

As was the case on Monday, the front office is talking to several teams about ways they can improve the overall health of the organization. And any possible trades would require pitching in return.

The Cubs talks with the Diamondbacks about Jeff Samardzija took a backseat when news surfaced Kevin Towers was working on a three-team deal that would include one of the possible trade chips for Samardzija. Towers pulled off the deal with the Angels and White Sox that netted Arizona outfielder Mark Trumbo. The White Sox ended up with outfielder Adam Eaton and the Angels landed both Tyler Skaggs from the Diamondbacks and Hector Santiago from the White Sox. There are two PTBNL in the deal that will be sent to the Diamondbacks after Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft.

Kevin Towers indicated on Tuesday night that he is still looking for a starting pitcher and plans on leaving the Winter Meetings with one. The Cubs and Diamondbacks are reportedly still discussing Jeff Samardzija and Arizona is also talking to Cleveland about Justin Masterson according to Buster Olney.

Derrick Hall, the Diamondbacks’ President and CEO, was on MLB Network Radio on Tuesday morning and reiterated what Kevin Towers has been saying about Archie Bradley. The Diamondbacks view Bradley as a potential ace and have no plans of trading him in any deal this winter. With the pieces that were sent to Los Angeles and the South Side of Chicago on Tuesday, it is unlikely the Cubs and Diamondbacks could match up on a trade for Samardzija without including a third team … or Archie Bradley.

Arizona could sign a free agent, like Matt Garza, instead of trying to acquire a starter via a trade. The Diamondbacks are reportedly hesitant to handout a long term contract to a starting pitcher, and Garza is looking for a multi-year deal.

The D-Backs’ beat writers would not rule out Kevin Towers making a trade for a starting pitcher. Nick Piecoro thinks Towers could use one of his shortstops in a possible trade for a starter.

With Arizona possibly not being able to match-up with the Cubs in a deal for Samardzija, could the Blue Jays swoop in and land Jeff Samardzija? Some in the industry thinks Toronto has the pieces and Alex Anthropolous seems focused on trading for a top of the rotation starter.

The Cubs are not believed to have any deals pending or imminent but they are laying groundwork for possible deals according to ESPN Chicago. Jed Hoyer addressed the Cubs lack of moves over the last two weeks and said, “I think there is a day in the near future where we’ll be here and be really active in making those moves.”

Jeff Samardzija

Jed Hoyer confirmed Tuesday that the front office is having dialogue with other teams about Jeff Samardzija. Hoyer would not comment on the teams that have inquired about Samardzija. Hoyer did say the teams that have been made public are among those interested and he would not provide, for obvious reasons, an update on the talks. The teams that have been connected to Samardzija this winter include the Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Rockies, Yankees, Royals, Phillies, Pirates, Nationals, Orioles, Braves and Angels.

Samardzija’s agent, Mark Rodgers, arrived in Orlando on Tuesday and is scheduled to stay for the remainder of the meetings. Rodgers is scheduled to meet with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer on Wednesday according to Jon Heyman.

Samardzija’s camp rejected at least one offer from the Cubs believed to be five years and $55 million. According to Jesse Rogers, the two sides could be around $20 million apart on what it would take for Samardzija to ink a contract extension.

The Blue Jays could still be an option for Samardzija as Alex Anthropolous continues exploring ways to add a top of the rotation starter to his roster. Anthropolous has looked into signing a free agent starter and while prices have dropped the Blue Jays seem to be more focused on acquiring a starter than signing one.

Anthropolous admitted most conversations he’s had with other teams about a starter usually end up with the team asking for either Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman.

Rogers reported on Tuesday the Braves could end up landing Samardzija, either this winter or at some point during the season. Jesse Rogers mentioned RHP Lucas Sims, RHP J.R. Graham and RHP Mauricio Cabrera, the younger brother of Alberto Cabrera, as possible pieces Atlanta could send to the Cubs for Samardzija.

The Cubs have remained consistent in the fact they would like to sign Samardzija to a long term contract. But the front office is doing what it is supposed to by covering each and every base to turn Samardzija into a long-term asset.

Rick Renteria

The Cubs’ new skipper met with the media on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. Renteria discussed Jeff Samardzija, Starlin Castro and his new team.

Renteria admitted the team is much better with Samardzija on it. Renteria and Samardzija are moving forward in their preparation for the season that he will be part of the team.

Renteria hasn’t started making out lineups yet but mentioned Starlin Castro as a possibility to hit leadoff. Renteria would like to address it with Castro in person.

The Cubs’ new skipper will spend the upcoming weekend with his coaching staff in Mesa and will start working with Brandon Hyde on their plans for Spring Training.

Rick Renteria also talked about the importance of a good bullpen and the fact the NL Central is full of very good teams. The Cubs’ manager is aware of the situation his team is in and admitted the Cubs are “obviously a team in transition.”

Russell, Chamberlain and Other Bullpen Arms

The Cubs are trying to improve the bullpen and engaged the Nationals about what it would take to acquire Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard. Those talks did not progress very far due to Mike Rizzo looking for more than James Russell in a deal for either reliever. The Nationals’ GM labeled the reported interest in both Storen and Clippard as lobby talk and told Adam Kilgore he has not received a real offer for either pitcher. But according to Nationals.com, Storen is more likely to be traded than Clippard.

Mike Rizzo is looking to add a lefty to his pen and would like to solidify his bullpen before he leaves Orlando, or soon after. Rizzo feels his team will be in good shape once a southpaw is added to his relief corps. Adam Kilgore reported Tuesday night the Nationals and A’s were discussing lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Sean Doolittle.

A report from Buster Olney on Tuesday indicated the Diamondbacks offered Joba Chamberlain a one-year contract worth close to $3 million. Olney’s report was shot down but the Cubs are not the only team interested in signing Chamberlain to pitch in their pen. The Astros, Indians, Tigers, Diamondbacks and Rockies are also believed to be interested in Chamberlain according to Ken Rosenthal.

The Cubs remain in the mix for John Axford, but they are not alone. The Indians, Orioles and Mariners also have interest in signing Axford.

Starting Pitchers

Jed Hoyer indicated on Tuesday the Cubs could add more than one starting pitcher this winter. Hoyer has met with Scott Baker’s agent about re-signing Baker and Jon Paul Morosi reported the Cubs have interest in signing RHP Jason Hammel.

The Cubs have not hidden the fact they would like to add at least one starting pitcher to the roster this winter. And which pitcher or pitchers they add will be determined by their ability to sign Jeff Samardzija to an extension and Masahiro Tanaka to a contract.

Masahiro Tanaka

Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are trying to finalize the new posting system this week. According to reports from Joel Sherman, the two leagues have agreed to the new system and are trying to finalize the system with MLB Executive Council this week.

Yozo Tachibana, the President of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, was in Orlando on Tuesday. Tachibana said he had not made a decision on posting Tanaka and would not until he had a chance to meet with Tanaka to discuss the situation. The meeting is not expected to take place until Dec. 15. According to multiple reports, Tachibana is not sure what Tanaka wants to do … be posted or continue his career in Japan. Rakuten’s assistant GM told Jim Passan that Tanaka’s “dream was to play in the states.”

Was?

News, Notes and Rumors

The Cardinals hired former Cubs’ third base coach David Bell to be their new assistant hitting coach.

The Rockies acquired Brett Anderson and cash from Oakland on Tuesday for LHP Drew Pomeranz and RHP Chris Jensen.

The Nationals are not thought to be interested in Nate Schierholtz after signing Nate McLouth according to the Washington Post.

Fredi Gonzalez told Carrie Muskat that Eric Hinske “was a coach before he knew he was a coach” and the “Cubs are lucky to have a guy like that.”

Brian Cashman downplayed the Yankees’ interest in Masahiro Tanaka during an interview on MLB Network Radio on Tuesday.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are looking for good left handed bats despite having three left handed hitting outfielders on the roster.

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Quote of the Day

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