Jed Hoyer Discusses the Cubs on MLB Network Radio

Jed Hoyer joined Jeff Joyce and Jim Bowden during Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio) on Thursday afternoon. The Cubs’ general manager discussed the Masahiro Tanaka process, the fact they are looking to add “innings” to the rotation before Spring Training begins and the Cubs’ farm system.

Jed Hoyer confirmed the Cubs are looking to add at least one starting pitcher and did not shoot down the team’s possible interest in either Paul Maholm or Scott Baker. Hoyer reiterated Javier Baez will begin the season as Iowa’s shortstop and Kris Bryant is likely going to be a third for Double-A Tennessee on Opening Day.

The lead-in to the interview with Jed Hoyer was highlights from last season with the calls from the great Pat Hughes.

Jeff Joyce: Time to talk a little Chicago Cubs now with their General Manager, Jed Hoyer who joins us. Jed, Jeff Joyce and Jim Bowden here today, great to catch up with you.

Jed Hoyer: Hey guys, how are you doing?

Jim Bowden: We are doing great Jed. So, give us the scoop. How close were you to getting Tanaka?

JH: I don’t know all of the, all of the other offers but we were aggressive. We felt like given where we were it was the right thing to do. You know he is 25 years old and top of the rotation starter. So, we felt like it was a moment in time to be aggressive. Obviously we fell short of where the Yankees were and all we can kinda do is put our evaluation on the player and make the offer accordingly. But, I got the sense from talking with Casey that we were a serious consideration but obviously that doesn’t much matter. Obviously we fell short and he went to New York.

JJ: In the end, seven years and an opt-out clause. Were those deal breakers for this kind of a deal?

JH: For us the opt-out clause would have been a hard thing to put in. In part because we were trying to acquire a young pitcher to help build around. I think that we were pretty honest with him during the process that the first year that you are with us isn’t going to be the best year. We feel like with the young talent we have coming he would fit in great and could really lead that young group and hopefully be a part of that. And so to have a guy opt-out after four years, giving what we are trying build that is kind of the opposite of why we are trying to bring the guy in. So that would have been a hard thing for us. Never really got to that point with Casey to get a sense if that would have been a deal breaker if it had gone our direction. I’m not quite sure, but given this player and this circumstance that would have been hard for us to do.

JB: Jed, you said top of the rotation starter. Let me ask this, did you guys categorize him based on your scouting reports in the Kershaw, Hernandez, Jose Fernandez level, or did you put him a step below those guys?

JH: We didn’t. I mean those guys right now you just listed are some of the absolute best pitchers in the game. I think it is really hard to put any pitcher that has to make a transition in that category. We looked at him as a guy, I think that a comp we used a lot, that was possibly conservative, but would also been a really good pitcher and worth the money would have been Dan Haren in his prime …

JB: Yep …

JH: You know with the angle of his fastball and the split and the pitchability we felt like … Sometimes people think that if you are giving that kind of money you have to get Jose Fernandez-type performance and that would have been wonderful and maybe he does that for the Yankees. But at the same time I think that if he is delivering that 215-220 innings a year of really high quality that is worth a ton too. Obviously, I think that Dan Haren during those years certainly would have been well worth the money.

JJ: How much do you look back at past pitchers to come from the Japanese league or are they all just on an individual basis? Did guys like Darvish and Iwakuma the last couple of years, did that kind of bring the level of value back up for these guys after a Dice-K, we saw him sort of burn out after a couple of years?

JH: I think you look at all of them. You can’t just pick and choose which ones you look at. I think you have to look at all of the transitions. I think some of the transitions went more smoothly than others. It is certainly something that can be done. But I also do think that the transition that can’t be completely minimized as you think about the process. You go from pitching once a week to pitching on a five-man rotation and facing tougher lineups. So I think that the leverage of each pitch and probably the tiredness over the course of the season is probably magnified over here and I think you have to take that into account. Certainly one of the appealing things with Tanaka was the pitchability. All of our scouts felt like this guy really knew how to pitch and if the velocity was down a notch or two because of the five-man rotation everyone felt like he had the secondary stuff and the command to compete. Certainly he has the weapons or obviously we would not have been where we were in the bidding if we didn’t feel good about the transition that he can make.

JB: Jed, if everything plays out perfectly to the blueprint and we know it won’t because it never does in baseball. But …

JH: Right …

JB: If it does play out perfectly. In 2016, is it Rizzo at first, Castro at second, Baez at short, Bryant at third, Soler in right, Almora in center and Lake in left?

JH: I mean … Listen nothing, if everything plays out like that I am not sure who is playing what positions or whether we feel like at some point we need to add, we need to add a veteran bat or maybe get a little more left handed in that group. I think there is a lot of different questions that the names you listed bring to mind. I do think that what you just said, for me, we feel really good about our offense going forward. I think that we have a lot of power which is hard to find. I think that if things go right and guys continue to develop as we think I really feel good about our offense. I think that one of the reasons we were so willing to invest in Tanaka is that we know we have to balance things out. We know we have to find more pitching, more arms in our system, more guys like Tanaka that can come in and pitch for us at a young age. So, I think in some ways what you just listed off, I don’t know exactly how that will play out. No one does. But I think you can say we should have a pretty good offense someday. I think we do need to balance things out with pitching and that is a huge priority.

JJ: Talking to Jed Hoyer of the Chicago Cubs.

JJ: Obviously getting Tanaka would have been a big boost, kind of forwarding this rebuilding process a little bit. Now that didn’t happen, what direction do you guys go? Is this what until next year on the pitching market or will you still look this year for a potential long-term upgrade?

JH: Well, I think we are going to certainly go after some innings on the market over the next couple of weeks. We do have to, you know, find some pitching. With that said, to us really the free agent market, this year in general, we felt like Tanaka was the one player we thought made sense as a big investment for the Cubs given the age and the quality. He happen to go last so as a result there has been some talk that we shouldn’t have saved our money to go after a guy like Tanaka that we should have done other things with it. The honest answer is that this was by far the most appealing guy. While there are other really good, quality players that were free agents we didn’t think fit all that well with our long-term vision. So, we will definitely use that money going forward and spend it wisely, spend it on some guys that are here for a long time when we are good. We will use that money but I don’t think you will see us just take that chunk of money that we were saving for Tanaka and invest it all right now. I think we will save some of that money and kinda roll it forward.

JB: Yeah, I thought it made all of the sense in the world because Tanaka is 25 and he fits into what you are doing and why spend it now unless it is a Tanaka. Save it until you can get guys that can pitch when your young-prospects are ready. Let me ask this. When we get to next off-season and you are a year closer, we don’t know the date that you guys are going to be ready, but when you get a year closer, will you go back on the market? Let’s just say there is not a 25-year old Tanaka out there, but there is going to be a Max Scherzer possibly if he doesn’t sign with the Tigers. Lester could be out there. Homer Bailey. Justin Masterson. Can you see you guys a year from now chasing another pitcher, even if it’s not the ideal Tanaka-type, but maybe a guy that you can stick in your rotation long-term?

JH: I think that as every year you get closer to competing, I think that you focus less and less on the out years of that contract. You always want to make a good investment. But I think a part of the appeal of Tanaka was that we felt like he would still be around in those prime years, in a few years when all of our talent starts to arrive where some of the guys that are 30, 31 right now we didn’t necessarily feel that way about. So I think that as you get closer and hopefully when you are competing you are thinking a lot more about how this guy fits in our rotation right now more than you are thinking how he fits in our rotation, you know, two years from now. I think it does change the equation. It is exciting that there is a pretty good pitching class coming up. Obviously we will scout those guys heavily. If one or more of those guys makes a lot of sense for us we will certainly be involved.

JJ: Talking to Jed Hoyer of the Chicago Cubs.

JJ: I know the time is not now. At some point in the future, if it’s not easy to procure the pitching that you need do you then have to turn around and unfortunately look at some of great positional player, young depth that you have and use that to get pitching at some point in the future?

JH: Yeah, that’s another angle that we may have to take or we could do both in some ways. Look at the free agent market and look at those kinds of trades. I hope that we can get to that position where we feel so good about our depth on the offensive side that we can do that. The one thing I always try to remind myself is there is a lot more certainty with position-playing prospects than pitchers. So if we kinda had to be overloaded on one side, I certainly sleep better at night knowing that we are kind offense heavy because there is a little more confidence and security with those guys as opposed to, you know, the guys who make their living with their arm.

JB: Yeah, no doubt. Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo. Interest in any of those three? Or are they just dollar wise what makes sense where it is more Maholm, Baker?

JH: I don’t want to comment on the specific guys because we have had discussions with some of the guys you mentioned. But, we are looking for some innings obviously as I mentioned. I don’t think you are going to see us making a big splash. And like I said I think we look at those dollars as dollars that we can roll forward and hopefully have an impact with those dollars in the future.

JJ: We talk about some of the prospects. I guess a guy like Javier Baez may be the closest to being Major League ready right now. Odds of him at the Major League level at some point this season? Out of Spring Training? Later in the season? And what is the final piece to work on for him, is it the shortstop defense?

JH: He is going to be our shortstop in Iowa to start the season. He certainly can work hard on his defense. He did make a number of errors last year. It certainly got better and better as the year went on. We just hope he can continue that maturity as a defensive player. He’s got all of the tools you need to play shortstop. He just needs some of the careless, young-player errors, he just needs to get out of the system and I think he started to do that last year in Double-A and he certainly looked better. The plate discipline as well. Again, that also improved as the year went on last year but guys in the big leagues are going to expand the zone on him a little bit more and he knows he has to work on not chasing. He’s got a ton of talent, he’s a great kid and I hope we see him. That means he really dominated Triple-A and pushed us and if that’s the case that means he had a really good year.

JB: Kris Bryant, third base at Double-A or Triple-A to start the year and will he stay at third base?

JH: No final decision. Likely third base in Double-A for us to start the year. We would love to see him stay at third base. That is our goal. He has been working very hard on his defense. We want him to stay there and be a third baseman. We know and he knows if it doesn’t work out he can always go play in the outfield. He did that in college as well. But, I think keeping him at third is great. When you can get power out of third base, a lot of times third base isn’t as strong offensively as it was 20 years ago perhaps. And I think sometimes we always think of there being a ton of power at third base but that is not really the case at third base in today’s game. So if we can have a guy like Bryant hitting a ton of homers at third that would be a good thing. We will keep him there as long as we can.

JJ: Hey, one quick one Jed I just wanted to ask you and I appreciate the time. I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews already about manager Rick Renteria. It sounds like he’s even gotten a chance to talk to a lot of the young kids there. Just thoughts on what he’s done already so far with the organization.

JH: We had Cubs Convention last week and we also had our rookie program last week. He did just a fantastic job presenting to the fans at the Cubs Convention and to the rookies at the rookie program and meeting with the big league players. I know him from San Diego and he’ll be fantastic. No question. He is a guy that is really positive, really upbeat and also has that edge. That is a hard thing to find. He will keep players in line. I think guys are going to really want to play for him and I think he will bring a really nice vibe to the team. We are thrilled to have him and really looking forward to getting to Arizona and have him really start to be part of this organization. It is hard when you hire a guy over the winter. He’s been in Chicago some and still back in California some. I’m looking forward to being with him full time.

JJ: Alright Jed, I appreciate the time as always. Best of luck coming up to you guys.

JH: Alright guys, thanks so much.

__________________________________________________________________________

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  • J Daniel

    Great job, as always, on the transcript. I heard about half of it yesterday … blah blah blah!

  • cubtex

    So I have heard the argument that the Cubs weren’t willing to give Tanaka an opt out after 4 years and that is the reason. Really? Even though his agent is known for doing that with HIS pitchers. He just negotiated that for Kershaw and Greinke. Theo knew this would be the case for Tanaka as well…..so if that reason is coming out of Jed’s or Theo’s mouth they are not telling the truth. They knew that would definitely be the case before negotiations. And if Max Scherzer gets to free agency he will probably get an opt out too. Play with the big boys or don’t play at all.

    • Scott

      Even if Jed and Theo “knew” that would be the case, Jed said that they were never asked about an out clause in the contract. Once the Yankees threw another 35 million than what it appears anyone else offered, it doesn’t seem to matter.

      If you are in the agent’s shoes, and one team offers 6/120 and the other comes in at 7/155, if the first team isn’t willing to come up to 7/155, why even discuss an opt out clause?

      If they were never asked about it from the agent, how can they be lying? What he said was “Never really got to that point with Casey to get a sense if that would have been a deal breaker if it had gone our direction.”

      • J Daniel

        Yes, but the opt out is going to be asked for. Look at it, if he is great he will be 29 and looking at another HUGE contract. If he is no good, well he has a HUGE contract. Also, sure the NO TRADE would be an issue as well.

      • cubtex

        Scott. Look who the agent is. It was a given this would be a requirement to get the deal done.

        • Scott

          I would agree that the agent would much, much more than likely ask for an opt out clause in the deal. But was it a “deal breaker”? No one would know that because it was never even brought up.
          Again, when the Yankees offered more AAV and more years, it didn’t get to the point where the Cubs were asked about the opt out clause.
          I just think it is unfair to throw Jed and Theo under the bus for something that you are assuming to be true. Just because you do not care for their management style, doesn’t mean that it is necessary to try and find fault in every move they make or don’t make.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I’m not a major league GM, but I wouldn’t want to sign a player to an opt out. “Sure, take all my money, but leave when it’s most lucrative for you!” No thanks.

      • cubtex

        Do you think the Yankess “wanted” to? It’s the nature of the game. Sh## or get off the pot. Law of supply and demand. I don’t “want” to pay my radio stations for advertising “until” I collect the money from my customers first….but that is what I “have” to do to be able to contract with them.

        • brent carmona

          Talk about shoving opinions down peoples throat :) Broke my heart when you said that about john over at the Cubs den blog. You should keep an open mind and read some of his stuff fyi.

          cubs made a smart move and did not include a opt out clause. that’s it. done. I don’t know how you can go any farther with this man

          • cubtex

            I am a fan…just like your boy John. I don’t write a blog. See the difference?

            Cubs made a smart move? I agree. Tanaka was a stupid pursuit at the wrong time and Theo and Jed blew smoke up the fanbase’s a## to say they were all in. They weren’t. That’s it. Done No opt out clause…No chance. I don’t know how you can go on any futher with this man.

          • brent carmona

            The fact that you refuse to read his blog is telling.

            So scouting tanaka all those years was bs? Meeting with him and agent in la was bs? Finishing 2nd in bidding was bs? Yankees outbid us 35 mil and had to go an extra year and include and opt out clause bc we were full of bs?

          • cubtex

            this is the last I will say on this. When the posting system changed and made it so he was basically a free agent, It changed everything. Casey Close negotiates opt outs for Greinke and just recently Kershaw. In order to seal the deal….it was a given that they needed to go there. It is like hunting a bear with a bb gun. If you don’t have the bullets or weapon necessary to do the job…won’t happen.
            And that is a wrap!

          • brent carmona

            An opt out clause does not fit our ballclub, end of story. Smart move by our front office to not include it. at least meet in the middle tex.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            I won’t read his blog either.

            I just read the CCO.

        • 07GreyDigger

          Nature of the game? Is it the nature of the game because Clayton Kershaw and Masahiro Tanaka signed these deals? Can you name any other pitchers that have?

          If someone told you to eat dirt because other people were doing it, would you do it?

          That’s why baseball is fun, people have different ways of doing things. Remember when Hendry bought players to contend and nothing happened? Or how Billy Beane trades for young players and rebuilds on the fly all the time? You don’t have to do things a certain way to succeed.

          • cubtex

            It is the nature of the game if you want to dance with the “BIG” boys for “elite” players. If you can’t pay the band….get off the dance floor. Simple.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        the opt-out is only an issue if you think the team won’t be competitive for some of the years of the contract. If you hope to make the playoffs every year, and your FA target is a stud pitcher with an expected AAV contract of $20m/yr, then it shouldn’t matter if you have him for 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 years…you either think he makes your team better or not.

  • Sanibelchuck

    Haven’t we all learned by now that listening to Theo and Jed is the same as listening to politicians speaking? They all tell their constituents/fans what they want to hear and then have excuses why they can’t deliver. Take what they say with a grain of salt.

    • Bryan

      I couldn’t agree more. Nicely said. The Cubs are absolutely masters of the marketing spin…certainly they’ve had 100+ years to perfect the “why we can’t win” pitch to the fan base. And I agree with some earlier posts from others here that if 2014 doesn’t show a measurable improvement at the major league level (e.g. – touted prospects making it to Clark & Addison), that the Theo honeymoon will be over.

    • 07GreyDigger

      Correction. How about every team in every sport?

    • RynoTiger

      No one is forcing you to be a Cubs fan. If you don’t like it, you can walk away and support another team.

      • cubtex

        that was uncalled for. “True” fans can be frustrated with the direction the team is going and voice their displeasure. Other “True” fans like you can be thrilled with the direction the team is going and love everything blue and red.

        • RynoTiger

          I was making a general statement that any sports fan is not forced to be a fan for a team. We all have the option to either support or not support a team and disagree or agree with decisions that are made. But if a fan really doesn’t approve of the direction of their team/organization, they always have the option to walk away and not support that team anymore.

          • Eugene Debs

            It did not come across as a “general statement.” It was a reply that said specifically “you” two times.

      • cubtex

        and again. that was me with the down arrow.

      • Eugene Debs

        Wow, a “if you don’t like it, leave” comment. Really, bro?

      • Swish23

        Very ignorant comment. A real fan does not just stop being a fan so why would you say that? 106 yrs of losing buddy. Real fans have had it. Spoiled rich kids daddy’s trust fund cries poor yet team has top 3 tix prices, top 5 revenues per Forbes/bloomberg and top profit in 2012 yet provides fans with a projected payroll of 26th in baseball. And another 100 loss season. It’s getting old.

  • WidespreadHisPanic

    Yeah, the transcripts always some of my favorite pieces of info. on here. Thank you for everything.

  • Bryan

    Think about this in Vegas terms. At the $1000 per hand table are the Dodgers, Yankees, RedSox…in the backdrop is Theo, turning his pockets inside out, thinking out loud “hmmm, I guess I need to go to the $5 table.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      and Tom Ricketts out on the Vegas strip in the Clark outfit selling water bottles at $2 a piece.

  • redlarczykg

    I know Baez, Bryant and Almora appear to be special talent and I hope they are. But I believe baseball has to be the toughest sport to excel in. Cub fans have lived on hope for over 100 years….but I’m old enough to remember being excited for:
    Nelson Mathews
    Dean Burk
    Terry Hughes
    Karl Pagel
    Rodger Metzger
    Earl Cunningham
    Jerry Tabb
    Scot Thompson
    Brian Rosinski
    Jon Perlman
    Don Schulze
    Drew Hall
    Derrick May
    Mike Harkey
    Brooks Kieschnick
    Kevin Ore
    Gary Scott
    Todd Noel
    Corey Patterson
    Lou Montanez
    Luke Haggerty
    Ryan Harvey
    Corey Patterson
    Eric Patterson
    Tyler Colvin
    Josh Vitters
    Brett Jackson
    There were some good ones
    Jon Garland
    Billy North
    Billy Hatcher
    Josh Donaldson
    Rafael Palmeiro
    Joe Carter
    But they blossomed elsewhere .

    • CubbyDenCritic

      You forgot Scott Fletcher !

    • CubbyDenCritic

      and the Cubs #1 pick before taking Greg Maddux…..Drew Hall.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      Mike Harkey had some serious hype…the next Fergie we were told. I remember cutting out the picture of him from the sports page…he was going to be a superstar! Meh…

      And Corey Patterson had a great 1/2 in 2003, and injury sidelined him. It was hard not to project full year totals. He at least had partial success at big leagues, whereas Felix Pie fizzled from the start.

  • 07GreyDigger

    I thought we was pretty transparent on some things. They did the research on Japanese pitchers transitioning to the majors, they want more pitching and will probably sign a bigger name free agent there next season, they understand not all their prospects will work out and will figure it out as they go. Doesn’t sound like an idiot to me.

    • boozer1

      The thing is, everyone thinks that there is this full barrel of free agent pitchers year in and year to pluck from, when in all honesty, they are either A.) signed to an extension like the Wainrights, Verlanders, Kershaws, Hamels, Cains, and King Felix’s of the world, or B.) they hit the free agent market and the big boys from NY, Boston, Philly, and LA simply demolish the us in terms of contracts because of what the Cubs won’t do as far as clauses.
      The only way the Cubs are going to get pitching on this team is either trade for it with the prospects, or develop your own like most teams seem to be able to do, and given that the Cubs seemingly have top 5 picks every single year because of what currently smells at Clark and Addison, that shouldn’t be that hard to do.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I agree with you sir.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Now we have Wood under contract…..will Shark go to arbitration to show his dis tastes for the Cubs commitment this off season?

  • cubtex

    Worth a read.

    Tanaka fallout at Wrigley: Why can’t Cubs build a good farm system while putting out a decent big-league product? http://bit.ly/1fajZ74

  • Dorasaga

    I must say Hoyer is dead on in his mention of Dan Haren. I always found Haren an underrated pitcher, an ace at his prime who was not deemed as one. There were two forces against Haren in the past:
    1. Scouts fed the media, who in turn exaggerated, Haren’s lesser ability to contain longballs.
    2. Haren was not a good postseason pitcher.

    The first issue had been discussed by length from many sites before. I’ll pass. The second issue is absurd to me, because Haren pitched some innings in the postseason, but not many during his prime. In fact, his teams have always fallen short in his best years, 2007-2011.

    The A’s, the DBacks, the Angels, they never made it to October in those years. I can hardly blame Haren, because the environment in 21st Century baseball, combined with the quick pull his managers were in those teams, he was not entitled to pitch 240 innings. Not that those teams could make it if he did.

    For postseason, Haren pitched 19.1 IP, stranded runners at 89.6 %, while delivered a 3.26 ERA. He gave some longballs in those two October-s pitching for the Cardinals and the A’s, which probably caused his reputation of not deserving ace-status.

  • Eugene Debs

    “Roll forward” the dollars. Sure.

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