Before reports hit the wire the Cubs were in talks with the Nationals for Jordan Zimmermann and working on a deal with Justin Masterson, rumors continued to swirl around the Chicago Cubs at the GM Meetings.
Jed Hoyer provided an update Tuesday on Starlin Castro and according to a report from Patrick Mooney, Castro has recovered from his season-ending ankle injury. Castro was scheduled to take a couple of weeks off before reporting to the Cubs facility for rehab in mid-October. Hoyer said Castro passed running and jumping tests, showed “good mobility” and has returned to the Dominican Republic.
Tim Buss is expected to spend several weeks with Castro in the Dominican, same as he did last winter, to aid in Castro’s off-season program.
Starlin Castro being able to stay on his off-season training schedule is good news for the Cubs in the second week in November.
The New York Daily News’ Andy Martino explored the Mets’ shortstop options, and of course the Cubs’ trio of Starlin Castro, Javier Baez and Addison Russell were in his report.
Martino indicated the Cubs and Mets have talked about potential trades in the past but remain “far apart on the trade values of their respective players.” Martino expects the two teams to talk about a possible trade again “but as of now, they have not found much traction.”
In a separate report, Andy Martino discovered teams that have spoken with the Mets about possible trades “came away with the impression Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom are basically untouchable.”
Jed Hoyer was asked about the Mets trade rumors popping up again. The Cubs GM shrugged off the rumors and said, “It’s just the nature of it now. People are trying to connect those two teams, so that’s just what it’s going to be. I don’t want to say there is nothing there, but I think this is the tenth time those rumors have surfaced. I think at some point it’s almost better to ignore until if and when something actually happens. “
Hoyer also told the assembled media, “We’ve obviously spent three years building up our farm system and did a lot of painful trades. So the idea that we would just rapidly deplete it to sort of go for it is pretty unlikely. The game is moving younger. To all of a sudden build up a stockpile of young players just to deplete it as fast as you’ve built it up, that doesn’t seem like an avenue that would be likely for us.”
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said countless times since the end of the season that Starlin Castro is the team’s starting shortstop in 2015. Castro and Anthony Rizzo are included in the highlight video the Cubs sent to agents of the players the front office is interested in signing this winter.
According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Russell Martin could be the next big domino to fall for the Cubs. The Cubs are very interested in signing Martin and he “could make a decision within the next week or two.” Reports have suggested Martin would be the first of the high-profile free agents to sign this winter.
Neal Huntington and the Pirates are trying to re-sign Martin, who they feel will be able to “sustain being a very good offensive player going forward.”
The Dodgers are reportedly looking to move one of its outfielders this winter. Yasiel Puig is not available, but Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford are and could be had in the right deal.
According to Bruce Levine, Crawford is the “leading candidate to be moved, depending on how much the Dodgers get back for him and how much of the three years and $63 million they would be willing to eat.”
Levine also reported Crawford could be on the Cubs’ radar since he’s a left-handed hitting outfielder … and has ties to the Cubs. Crawford played for Joe Maddon in Tampa and Theo Epstein was the GM in Boston when Crawford was inked to his mega seven-year, $142 million contract.
Carl Crawford has dealt with injuries and staying on the field since he signed the free agent contract with the Red Sox. Levine reported Crawford could hit leadoff for the Cubs if he was acquired. But that is not where Crawford likes to hit.
In 466 games out of the leadoff spot in his career, Crawford has batted .288/.326/.417 with a .743 OPS. Out of the two-hole in 664 games, Crawford has put together a .300/.342/.456 line with a .798 OPS.
Carl Crawford would not seem to be a fit for the Cubs moving forward due to declining skills and the subpar defense he could provide in left field.
In his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago, Jesse Rogers indicated he’s heard Nick Markakis’ name mentioned as a possibility for the Cubs and he’s one of the free agents that has contacted the Cubs since Joe Maddon was hired.
Markakis is expected to re-sign with the Orioles. He’s a favorite of O’s owner Peter Angelos
The Orioles are in negotiation with Nick Markakis on a long-term contract. According to Buster Olney, “one of the unresolved issues is the deferred dollars” in the contract. Dan Duquette said Tuesday that he has enough payroll flexibility to sign Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis.
But Jon Heyman reported the delay with the Orioles has allowed Markakis, who is looking for a four-year contract, to look around.
Marcus Hatley was one of the 15 minor leaguers in the Cubs system that was granted free agency last week, and he wasn’t on the market long. Hatley signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals that includes a non-roster invite to Major League Spring Training.
The Cubs selected the hard-throwing 26-year old right-hander in the 39th round of the 2006 draft. Hatley spent last year in Iowa’s pen and posted a 2-6 record with a 4.60 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP in 45 games (47 innings). Hatley struck out 58 batters, walked 13 and allowed 52 hits.
The Cardinals also signed former Cubs RHP Miguel Socolovich and INF Scott Moore to minor league contracts with invites to big league camp.
Wrigley Field Restoration – The 1060 Project
News, Notes and More Rumors
The Royals have looked at Jason Hammel as an option for their pitching needs and Kansas City is interested in Torii Hunter according to Jon Heyman.
The Sun-Times confirmed the Cubs have checked in with Torii Hunter, but it’s unlikely he will sign with the Cubs with so many other teams interested.
Rival General Managers told ESPN Chicago they would have done the same thing the Cubs did and hired Joe Maddon.
The Cubs used a video presentation to help recruit star free agents according to a report from Bruce Levine.
Theo Epstein was asked if the Cubs would pursue any of the International free agents. Epstein said, “There’s not one guy that’s crying out as an obvious fit.”
According to reports from Pete Abraham and Nick Cafardo, Ben Cherington “deflected a question about whether Jon Lester was a priority or not.” Abraham said “Sure didn’t sound like it did.” Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington think it will take time for the market to develop for free agent pitching. Hoyer said “at least a month.” Cherington has not spoken with Lester’s agent and “did not know that he would.”
Gordon Edes asked Ben Cherington about the Red Sox’s aversion of not signing pitchers over the age of 30 to five or six year contracts. Boston’s GM said the team has made exceptions in the past and he’s “sure that will be another exception.” Cherington added the Sox are interested in Lester and he’s had several conversations with Lester’s agent since the end of the season. Cherington told Edes he was planning on meeting with Seth Levinson before he left the GM Meetings on Thursday.
The Braves are “pitching” B.J. Upton to teams according to Buster Olney … and Ken Rosenthal reported the Braves are trying to package Upton with another player, like Evan Gattis, in order to move him.
Speaking of the Braves, ESPN Chicago thinks Jason Heyward would be a fit with the Cubs, but maybe after next season when he becomes a free agent.
Nick Cafardo spoke with Marlins’ President Michael Hill and he said the Marlins are still negotiating a long-term contract with Giancarlo Stanton. There are reports suggesting Stanton could receive a no-trade clause. Hill told Cafardo that teams have stopped calling about Stanton.
WEEI’s Alex Speier made dollars and sense of Cole Hamels’ contract as an alternative to Jon Lester.
The Cubs hit its season ticket sales limit. The renewal rate was around 90 percent prior to Joe Maddon being announced as the Cubs manager. The renewal rate ended up at 91 percent and 11,000 people were added to the waiting list for season tickets. There are over 50,000 names on the waiting list to purchase Cubs’ season tickets.
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Jim Bowden’s Free Agent Predictions
Jim Bowden posted his annual predications on what he thinks the top free agents will sign for this winter. Bowden doesn’t predict the teams, but he gives best fits. Bowden gave estimates on length and amount of the contracts. Here are Bowden’s estimates on what the players will sign for this off-season that has been linked to the Cubs.
- Max Scherzer – Seven years, $189 million, an AAV of $27 million
- Jon Lester – Six years, $138 million, an AAV of $23 million
- James Shields – Five years, $100 million, an AAV of $20 million
- Russell Martin – Four years, $64 million, an AAV of $16 million
- Nick Markakis – Four years, $52 million, an AAV of $13 million
- David Robertson – Three years, $39 million, an AAV of $13 million
- Andrew Miller – Three years, $25.5 million, an AAV of $8.5 million
- Brandon McCarthy – Two years, $20 million, an AAV of $10 million
- Torii Hunter – One year, $14 million
- Edinson Volquez – Two years, $20 million, an AAV of $10 million
- Jake Peavy – One year, $9 million
- Luke Gregerson – Two years, $14 million, an AAV of $7 million
- Michael Morse – Two years, $16 million, an AAV of $8 million
- Jason Hammel – Three years, $24 million, an AAV of $8 million
- Justin Masterson – One year, $7 million
- Brett Anderson – One year, $6 million
Around Major League Baseball
Buck Showalter (Orioles) and Matt Williams (Nationals) were named AL and NL Manager of the Year on Tuesday. Mike Scioscia (Angels) and Ned Yost (Royals) finished behind Showalter in the Junior Circuit. In the Senior Circuit, Clint Hurdle (Pirates) and Bruce Bochy (Giants) finished second and third in the balloting behind Williams.
The American League and National League Cy Young Award winners will be announced Wednesday (5:00pm CST) on the MLB Network.
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Cubs signed free agent Eli Whiteside
2008 – Lou Piniella was named National League Manager of the Year. Joe Maddon was named American League Manager of the Year.
2007 – Cubs traded Jacque Jones to the Tigers for Omar Infante
2006 – Cubs signed Aramis Ramirez to a five-year, $75 million contract
2006 – Cubs signed free agent Ben Howard
2006 – Cubs signed free agent Jason Smith
2006 – Cubs signed free agent Kerry Wood
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Bryan Corey
2002 – Cubs released Roosevelt Brown
1999 – Cubs signed free agent Angel Guzman
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Alan Zinter
1986 – Cubs granted free agency to Chris Speier
1985 – Cubs granted free agency to Richie Hebner
1978 – Aaron Heilman, born
1968 – Sammy Sosa, born
1964 – Dave Otto, born
1956 – Jody Davis, born