Cubs Baseball Returns and Other News, Notes and Rumors

Baseball received a jolt on Wednesday when Derek Jeter announced on his Facebook page he would be retiring at the end of the 2014 season. ‘The Captain’ has decided to hang ‘em up. The Cubs play the Yankees twice this season. Rick Renteria’s team travels to the Bronx in April (April 15-April 16) for two games and the Derek Jeter Farwell Tour will stop at Wrigley Field in May (May 20-May 21) for a pair of games.

On the Cubs’ front, the team held their annual organizational meetings at the new facility on Tuesday and the ribbon cutting ceremony for Cubs Park took place Wednesday. Many of the players from all of the levels in the Cubs’ system have already reported to Cubs Park and are preparing for the start of Spring Training … pitchers and catchers officially report on Thursday.

The Cubs lost two pitchers on waivers Wednesday after the Reds claimed RHP Brett Marshall and the Twins claimed LHP Brooks Raley. The Cubs had to clear at least one spot on the 40-man roster to add Jason Hammel and the second spot could be used on RHP James McDonald.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are scheduled to address the media on Thursday to give their annual ‘State of the Cubs’ address.

Jeff Samardzija

FanGraphs posted a report about the off-season Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs have had. The two sides would like for Samardzija to stay with the Cubs on a long-term deal but they remain far apart in what Samardzija is worth.

Samardzija sees himself as a top of the rotation starter and would like to be compensated as one. Reportedly the Cubs have offered Samardzija a five-year contract in the $55 million range while he is rumored to be looking for a contract in the $90 million range.

The Cubs have asked the Blue Jays for a package of players that would include Toronto’s top two pitching prospects in Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. FanGraphs reported the Cubs asked Atlanta for Justin Upton or Jason Heyward, a new rumor on the Samardzija front, when the Braves were trying to acquire him earlier in the winter.

The Mariners have recently checked in with the Cubs about Samardzija. And Seattle’s interest might have to do with the news that Hisashi Iwakuma will be out for four-six weeks and miss the start of the season with a strained tendon in his right middle finger.

With A.J. Burnett off the market and on his way to Philly on a one-year, $16 million contract that is believed to include a mutual option for 2015 and a partial no-trade clause, the free agent pitching market is shrinking and with it, the options for teams still wanting to add a starting pitcher.

The Samardzija rumors will continue throughout Spring Training and into the season unless the two sides can find a common ground on a long-term extension. And the Cubs are expected to keep shopping Jeff Samardzija while hoping he stays healthy and shows the improvement on the mound he feels he is capable of.

Jae-Hoon Ha

According to a report from Global Sports Integration, Cubs’ outfield prospect Jae-Hoon Ha had surgery on his left wrist recently that could hold him out until at least June. The Cubs left Ha unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and many thought some team would take a chance on the underrated outfielder. The injury to his left wrist could explain why the Cubs left him unprotected and a team did not take a chance on him in the draft.

Nothing official has come from the Cubs on Ha’s wrist surgery or if the surgery was related to the injury he suffered when he crashed into a wall making a diving catch late in the 2012 season.

Jae-Hoon Ha played in 90 games last season between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa and hit .254/.318/.365 with 18 doubles and six home runs.

Justin Grimm

Justin Grimm begins his first Spring Training with the Cubs and he is going into camp with a chance to make the Cubs’ rotation. Grimm was asked to prepare as a starter this winter and while it is a long shot for him to make the rotation, Grimm could break camp in the bullpen.

Grimm told the Bristol Herald Courier he thinks he is in the Cubs’ plans for the upcoming season. Grimm said he has to “take care of business” and “get people out.” Grimm reported to the Cubs’ facility on Monday.

Grimm had a rough spring with the Rangers a year ago. He said he learned a lot by the experience he gained. Grimm still earned AL Rookie of the Month honors for April last year before he was traded to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal.

Chad Noble

The Cubs have a new bullpen catcher, former Cubs’ minor league catcher Chad Noble. The Cubs did not renew Andy Lane’s contract at the end of last season and have filled his spot with Chad Noble.

The Cubs selected Chad Noble in the 37th round of the 2010 draft out of Northwestern. Noble spent last season at three levels in the Cubs’ system (Daytona, Iowa and Tennessee) and his .223/.275/.289 in 62 games. Noble has an excellent reputation and was more of a defensive catcher than an offensive one during his professional career.

News and Notes

Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz is having an open showcase at the Padres facility in Peoria, Ariz. on Thursday. Diaz is eligible to sign with a Major League team on Feb. 18 and is expected to ink a contract in the next week according to Jesse Sanchez. The Cubs were connected to Diaz last year.

And speaking of Cuban infielders, the Dodgers signed Erisbel Arruebarruena.

RHP Jen-Ho Tseng signed with the Cubs last year for $1.625 million. Tseng has created a lot of buzz during his short time in the Cubs’ system with his mid-to-upper 90s fastball. According to a report from Global Sporting Integration, Tseng is leaving Korea on Feb. 19 to report to Spring Training in Mesa.

Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters will try to re-establish themselves this spring after hitting the reset button on their careers this off-season. Both players are on the 40-man roster and will try to make the big league roster this spring according to a report from Patrick Mooney.

And last, but certainly not least … Santo Films created a Facebook page to honor Ron Santo … If you have a chance, give them a ‘Like’ and let them know the CCO sent you.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"Show me a guy who’s afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time." – Lou Brock

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  • Tony_Hall

    Let’s take a look at the reported numbers for Samardzija.

    5 year contracts

    Cubs offering $55M
    2014 – $5.4
    2015 – $9.6
    2016 – $12M
    2017 – $14M
    2018 – $14M

    I would sign him for this. This is a good estimate following the pay being in line with his arbitration numbers and then paying him like a solid 2/3 for his 3 free agent years.

    Now if Samarzija wants $90M, those last 3 years skyrocket when you consider 14 and 15 at his arbitration numbers.

    2014 – $5.4M
    2015 – $9.6M
    2016 – $25M
    2017 – $25M
    2018 – $25M

    I don’t think so. Still think the Cubs are not treating him fair?

    How about we just say Jeff, we will pay you equally over the 5 years? No one really does this when you have 2 arbitration years to go, but let’s see.

    2014 – $18M
    2015 – $18M
    2016 – $18M
    2017 – $18M
    2018 – $18M

    No thanks on that one either.

    Samardzija is wanting to get paid like a 1/2 in the last scenario and like a real stud ACE, when you account for his real arbitration numbers, for his 3 free agent years. He is not an ACE and not a 1/2 and we hope he will be a solid 2/3 for the next 5 years. If you think about it, the Cubs offer is just a little light of what you would think would be fair market value, which means it is just right, as teams should get a little discount when guaranteeing more years to a player, especially a pitcher, 2 years before free agency.

    • DWalker

      Shark only remembers the games he looked like an ace and wants to be paid for them. He seems to have a lot of trouble remembering all the games he forgot what the plate looked like. He wil be traded, and his first FA will be a real wakeup call unless he learns to get his head in the game every time he takes the mound.

      • calicub

        I sure haven’t forgotten. His spot start against the Phillies a few years back where I want to say he allowed like 7 ER’s in a few innings is burned in my mind.

    • Cubbie Kid

      Hey Tony it’s Gus

  • SuzyS

    While I have no great expectations on either Vitters or BJAX…I will be extremely interested in how they do in ST. They’ve both had a rough go of it as hyped prospects that fell short. I wish them well.

  • Henry

    Neil, I was a little busy so I did not comment when I saw the Don Henly quote a couple days ago. Thanks!
    I could not let the first day of Spring training go by without a quote. Here is one from our own Ernie Banks:
    “The riches of the game are in the thrills not the money!”
    It would be nice if all players felt this way. I am sure there are still some that do.

    • Neil

      You’re welcome and thank you for the Ernie Banks quote.

  • Hackman23

    Can MLB contracts be front loaded? I would love to see the Cubs do something and front load it. I don’t want to hear they don’t have the money it is BS. Instead of back loading contracts they could front load them while the payroll is low. It lines things up for the future and makes a good player someone that everyone wants to trade for. Give Shark money upfront and it gets cheaper at the end. It is the best way to win. Major Market Teams eat the money all the time to get better prospects.
    Do we have to overpay for him of course we do. Rebuilding does not make people want to stay here or come here. It is a start to show that the Cubs are getting close. If they don’t sign him they are not close. He is not an ace but he is not asking to get paid CC money IMO. It is the going rate for #2/3 which he could be on a good team with a ML Lineup.
    Keep asking for the moon for him but if you don’t get it you have to sign him. He will bring a ton in free agency.

    • Tony_Hall

      Yes you can front load contracts. Let’s say the Cubs and Samardzija agree at 5 years and $65M. They would have come to the number with some sort of agreement to his worth in each year. They can the pay a signing bonus to him to front load the contract. They can also have the last years at a lower rate then the early years. It is starting to happen but not as popular as back loading so a team can add a player this year and pay them later.

    • cubtex

      Can they be frontloaded? The FO constructed a brilliant frontloaded contract only 1 year ago.

      EJAX= 4 year 52 mil. 1st year he got 19 mil and 11 mil for the next 3 years. So….let’s break down this brilliant contract.

      2013- EJax 8-18 with a 4.98 ERA and a 1.460 WHIP.. But don’t worry…the saber guys say he was a bit unlucky. So we can expect a bounceback to his norm. But….what is his norm??? Here is his 162 mlb average
      11-12 with a 4.47 ERA and a 1.440 WHIP. Whew….So he’s got that going for him.

      But let’s break down the contract.
      1st year 19 mil
      2nd 11 mil
      3rd 11 mil
      4th 11 mil

      Say the Cubs have had enough of EJAX after this year and deal him. The Cubs would have paid 30 mil of that contract with 22 mil left for the next team to be on the hook for(provided they don’t have to include any more cash) and they would probably only receive back a mid tier prospect in return.

      Now….If the contract was not frontloaded.

      Every year would have been 13 mil. So…If they traded EJAX in year 2…The Cubs would have paid 26 mil(instead of 30 mil) and imo would get the same mid tier prospect in return.

      What’s an extra 4 mil here and there for 2 years of EJAX??

      • Tony_Hall

        Tex – We may not agree on everything, but your arguments are usually good and well thought out. This isn’t one of them.

        • cubtex

          What is not true about it? If they trade him after 2 seasons it cost Ricketts an extra 4 mil. It’s a fact.

          • Tony_Hall

            All true, but the reason you front load is to make players easier to trade down the road and/or because you have room in the current years budget.

            Bottom line $4M over 2 years is just not that big of deal. Like I said, you usually have great points and good arguments, whether I agree with your spin or not. This is just not even worth the time we just spent on it.

          • cubtex

            Not much to argue and I agree because there was no need to front load his contract. Great for the player, bad for the team. If a team is willing to trade for EJax at 11 mil they would at 13 mil. It isn’t worth the time because there is no defense.

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL You would prefer it was back-loaded. LOL!!

          • cubtex

            Why not make it 13 mil each year? U think 11 mil is the magic number for EJax per year? He can’t be moved at 13 but he can at 11? That is a big lol.

          • Tony_Hall

            Dude, it is just not a difference. You just admitted it. So why the post trying to make it sound like it is?

            And the reason why, because during negotiations, you find out what the other side wants then see if you can give it to him. Edwin and his agent obviously liked the signing bonus, that is why he signed. The other reason is the obvious, they had the money in the budget to spend.

          • cubtex

            Thank you for finally admitting it. Good for player, bad for team. That is what almost all front loaded contracts are. As a businessman it is a bad deal. It either cost Ricketts an extra 4 mil of 2 mil if he is traded before his contract ends.

          • Tony_Hall

            I think teams should front load all contracts. Agree to the total amount then move as much as possible to the beginning.

          • cubtex

            Then all teams would go broke. What if the Mainers paid Cano 35 mil per for the first 4 years. How smart would that be? No offense Tony, but I am glad you aren’t my acct or run my books. I’d be out of business :)))

          • Tony_Hall

            So you think any entity that pays for things instead of putting off paying for things is bad business.

            No offense but the best business pay for what they buy with cash and don’t put off paying later.

            Rainy day funds are better than rainy day debts.

          • cubtex

            Lol. So why not just cut a check for Cano for 200 mil. Do that for every player. That is fantasy not the real world.

          • Tony_Hall

            What if you had the money and he would accept less money to have more upfront? Then it would make sense, if it was enough of a discount.

            Are you sure you don’t work for the government? They are good at back loading costs as well.

          • cubtex

            Are you sure you are not playing with fantasy money. There are budgets that you have. There isn’t this limitless fund of cash that you can draw from. IF you want to win and feel like a player can bring you a WS. This player wants a 4 year 80 mil deal. You cannot afford to pay him 20 per year but you can in year 3 ….what would you do Tony? Pass on that player? Or give him 17 the 1st 18 the 2nd and 25 the last 2. Go ahead. You are the boss. Do you sign off or not? Do you play to win or not?

          • Tony_Hall

            Yet if you had front loaded contracts when you had years you could do it, you would be able to sign the player you want without taking money from future payrolls to pay this years. Yes, when you are going for the World series you may have to back load a contract. But if you actually plan more than a year at time, and take advantage of opportunities to front load some contracts, you will have more money in the future to spend on the players you need, without stealing from future payrolls.

          • cubtex

            What happened to Theo when he ran the Red Sox for years. They had a 170 mil payroll. Did he not look ahead? What happened? I’ll tell you. Big market teams will get to a point where they all will be faced with that scenario. You are giving example for the Rays and A’s. I always knew you were a small market fan

          • Tony_Hall

            LOL The Rays and A’s don’t have the money to front load a contract.

            And Theo had the money to have a 170M payroll. It isn’t about how much you spend, it is how you structure your contracts to accomplish what you need when you are trying to win.

            I am done with this. As I said, this argument was not one of your best.

          • cubtex

            Going out for a run. Have a good night

  • Neil

    According to multiple reports, Orioles have agreed to a three-year contract with Suk-Min for $5.75 mil plus performance bonuses for games started pending a physical.

  • paulcatanese

    Jae-Hoon Ha, the Cubs left him unprotected believing no one would pick him up because of his surgery. Very true, as they (Cubs) seem to be the only ones that are interested in injured players, rest of the teams, too smart.

    • paulcatanese

      To those giving the down arrows, truly sorry that I don’t want to join you’re bowling teams.
      And just open you’re eyes, who has brought or is trying to bring in the injured, or just over surgery?
      I have been constant with my feelings on that.
      I will never change that opinion even if one player does make it out of that insanity.

      • calicub

        I don’t understand why so many people on this site are up-in-arms over the down arrows provided by Disqus.

        Not every comment requires a reply and the arrows allow those of us not wanting to get into p!$$ing matches with fellow commenters to simply show our assent or dissent to any given comment.

        For instance, I down arrowed your comment for two reasons: (A) the extreme negativity and implied pessimism, as well as (B) for the dismissal of a low risk-high reward tactic of keeping additional players (by not adding Ha to the 40 man, they were able to save another player) and an avenue through which a rebuilding club, not intent on adding FA’s may add possible impact talent at relative low risk.

        • paulcatanese

          Good answer. My interest however is on the Major League team and watching them. Over the last two years and now again starting out the same way this year leads to the negativity and pessimism. I would rather they close Wrigley and put the players on administrative leave until the kids are brought up.
          I just cannot grasp the idea that is being put out there now.

          • calicub

            Paul, I understand your frustrations with the Cubs. You have been a fan for a long time and have yet to have your patience rewarded. They have been close so many times only to fall to shambles soon there after. I know it seems unfair for you to have to put up with a crappy ML roster for several years after all you and other generations of Cubs fans have had to endure, but to direct your anger at Theo & Co. is simply misguided.

            Your negativity, angst and overall distaste should be directed at the years of inept owners, GM’s and Front Offices who have ran this organization into the ground! Not the guys who have come in and done everything as if they had started a new franchise. Not the guys who came in to fix it to make it right in order to give future generations the feeling and excitement you have been robbed of throughout your life.

          • paulcatanese

            That’s where I have been. I go back and look at all of the teams and have had the same displeasure with ownership then as now. I did display my feelings for JH as well, there was no blog or computer to voice that opinion before then. ( I did boycott Wrigley chewing gum).
            All of those years though, I cannot say that I ever disliked the team on the field, no matter what they did. I can never recall however that I was aware of a deliberate attempt not to field a team to gain draft picks. Cannot say that prior Cub teams were ever led down that path.
            All I’m saying here is these kids in the minors right now may or may not be the answer and who knows how it will work out. But the continuous signing of on the bubble players with the hope of being traded off down the line or placed here and there for other bubble players to do the same thing all over again
            gets old. Very frustrating.

        • cubtex

          It is funny because we all know who the “huge” down arrow guys are. I rarely give one to the “way over the top” optimists and when I do…I let it be known it was me. Stand by it. We see who up arrows people and I even got called out for that :)

        • cubtex

          and why did you down arrow my comment about the front loaded contract? You disagree with what I said. Why? I am curious why you think it was a smart move, Debate it. See if you can make a good point that makes sense.

          • calicub

            First of all, I am not one of the three commentators who down-voted your comment.

            Second of all, even if i had, the entire point of this exchange has been that down arrows serve the exact purpose of avoiding what we are doing here:

            a verbal exchange with someone who is a little over-eager in expressing their point and strenuously does so until the other participant no longer wishes to engage a beleaguered point.

          • cubtex

            It is just comical on some of the things that get down arrowed. The so called “optimists” just do it to certain posters no matter what is posted. It is plain childish. It is like “click” there you go. I will give that person a down arrow and noone will know it is me. Tee hee :) To be honest. I love getting them. I want the title! As many as Cubby Den,Paul,Rip and I get…you don’t see the same thing being returned to the “optimists” I’ll speak my mind and tell someone when I give a down arrow.

          • calicub

            Is that not possibly because a majority of the viewers and commentators on this site are optimists who simply disagree with your otherwise pessimistic views or is it just because all optimists are childish?

            You only categorize these down-votes as childish because that is how you quantify someone’s silent dissent and the overall unpopularity of your opinions. Was the silent majority in the 1960’s that elected Nixon childish for not going out and competing with the vocal minority? I think not.

            Just because you show an opinion but choose not to verbally express it does not make one childish and it is wholly irrellevant whether this is done under the guise of anonymity. Those who display their opinions in a public forum should be prepared to encounter dissenters, whether they be verbal or silent.

            As to the others, some of those posters receive soooo many down votes because they post information that is irrelevant or incorrect, spam the chat with nonsense, annoyances or occasional pure lunacy and recently one posted comments with underscores of racism in it.

          • cubtex

            “Power to the anonymous Down Voters”
            Get em Cali. You got my vote for the President of that club!

            I think the reason this site is so good is that there is a good variety. How boring would it be if everyone was either one way or the other.
            If you feel a down vote gives you reason to pound your chest as an anonymous poster….go for it! You know my opinion on it and I know yours. One vote is public and the other is anonymous.

          • calicub

            I, Calicub, disagree with this post.

          • cubtex

            lmao. now I appreciate that. thank you for making that disagreement public
            Signed CubTex.

            PS- Do you agree that the number of down votes would decrease substantially if they were made public? If you agree then what you are saying is false. Many are hiding behind the anonymity of the vote.

          • calicub

            you like what i did there eh?

            I can’t speak to what others would do, but it wouldn’t deter me. I, like you, would prefer it. No reason it makes you sign in to down vote, but won’t show your name, yet you can up-vote without signing in and allows people to up-vote their own posts…

          • calicub

            and just to be clear, i have yet to down-vote one of your comments today..

          • cubtex

            and you don’t notice any down votes on things you have said today even though I don’t agree with it. I voiced my opinion.