With two weeks to go before the start of the Winter Meetings, rumors continue to dominate baseball’s landscape. Teams continue to talk to agents and other clubs trying to improve their respective rosters.
One huge free agent agreed to terms late Sunday. Hanley Ramirez and the Red Sox are expected to finalize a five-year, $90 million contract Monday according to Ken Rosenthal. And a report from Jon Heyman early Monday morning indicated Pablo Sandoval and the Red Sox agreed to terms on a five-year, $100 million contract.
For the Cubs, the wait continues on Jon Lester as Joe Maddon and the front office continue to work on finalizing the coaching staff for next season.
The Cubs are believed to be one of five teams that “have shown legitimate interest” in free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes. And it appears “legitimate interest” is the catch phrase of this winter season.
Gomes has a strong relationship with Joe Maddon and would check off several of the boxes for the front office. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are looking for a veteran that can play outfield while providing leadership in a back-up role.
The Sun-Times reported Saturday, since the front office lost out on Russell Martin “the Cubs are in position to land free agent outfield Jonny Gomes.” Jake Peavy recently talked up Gomes as a clubhouse leader that can help create a “winning atmosphere.”
The Cubs are one of at least three teams that have talked to the Diamondbacks about Miguel Montero. It is unclear what Dave Stewart and Tony LaRussa would want in exchange for Montero or if a swap of bad contracts, like Edwin Jackson, would be enough for Arizona. Bruce Levine said Saturday that Welington Castillo would likely have to be included in a trade for Montero.
The D-Backs are looking for pitching depth and are willing to eat some of his contract for salary relief. Montero wore down as the season progressed (.262/.344/.416/.760 with 14 doubles and 11 home runs in first 85 games) and would likely have better results if he’s paired with the right catcher.
Even with his offense taking a nosedive in the second half (.212/.303/.293/.596 with nine doubles and two home runs in 51 games), Montero had a good year behind the plate with help from Henry Blanco. Buster Olney said Sunday it will “be interesting to see if the hiring of Blanco creates any traction for a trade for Miguel Montero.”
Instead of Miguel Montero, could the Cubs go the free agent route with a catcher and sign veteran back-up David Ross? Patrick Mooney tossed his name into the ring a couple of weeks back, pretty much thinking out loud with the disclaimer he wasn’t sure if the Cubs “would head in that direction.”
The same week as Mooney’s report Ross mentioned in an interview on MLB Network Radio he would not mind reuniting with Jon Lester on whichever team the lefty signed with this winter. When asked directly about Lester’s interest in the Cubs, Ross said he thought Lester would be a good fit with the Cubs.
According to Nick Cafardo, Ross is wondering “whether his status with the Red Sox depends on whether they sign Jon Lester.” Other teams, besides the Red Sox, are showing interest in Ross.
Jon Lester and David Ross “are connected after their successful run in 2013” according to Cafardo.
Jason Hammel’s agent, Alan Nero, spoke with Nick Cafardo about his client. Nero has fielded calls about Hammel “but no great advancements have been made on a contract.” Nero thinks the secondary pitching market is going to take some time to develop.
Jason Hammel is believed to be at the top of the Cubs second-tier pitching options. Hammel has been heavily connected to the Cubs, Yankees, Red Sox and the Braves and is reportedly looking at the three-year, $30 million contract Scott Feldman signed last winter with Houston as his baseline.
MLB Replay System
According to a report from the New York Post, Major League Baseball is expected to make minor tweaks to the replay system. The way managers challenge the calls will reportedly be altered slightly so skippers are not killing time with umpires on the field or using a variety of stall tactics to give the team’s video crew a chance to look over the play to make sure a challenge should be made. Joe Torre mentioned the possibility of managers just being able to signal from the dugout that the team is looking at the play.
Managers will continue to receive one challenge per game and can earn a second one if the first challenge overturns a call. And MLB is contemplating camera and technology changes that would help speed up reviews.
News, Notes and More Rumors
Rob Neyer looked at the pace of game experiment that took place in the Arizona Fall League. There were positive results. But with only 10 minutes per game difference, Neyer questions if the Players Association would “sign off on any substantive changes.”
Andrew Miller could stay in the American League East according to Nick Cafardo. The Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays and the Yankees are interested and Boston “has engaged in serious discussions” with the lefty reliever.
Jesse Rogers spoke with Russell Martin’s agent and provided information on the pursuit of Russell Martin.
The Minnesota Twins might not have won the bidding for Korean LHP Hyeon-Jong Yang. Reports surfaced Sunday the Rangers won the bid. C.J. Nitkowski reported Texas placed the highest bid, around $1.5 million, but the Kia Tigers have not decided whether to accept the bid. Mike Berardino could not confirm which team posted the highest bid. Either the Twins or the Rangers will be notified when Kia either accepts or declines the posting fee.
The rumors surrounding the Cubs made more headlines than actual news throughout the weekend. The Cubs were connected to Miguel Montero while a former Diamondbacks’ coach that helped Montero with his defense last year decided to leave Arizona. With Henry Blanco on Joe Maddon’s staff, the Cubs inched closer to announcing the coaches for next season. But the Cubs could be waiting on Dave Martinez before making another official announcement on the coaching staff.
Here are the headlines with all of the news, notes and rumors from the weekend:
- From the Wire: Cubs Select Contract of C.J. Edwards from Double-A Tennessee, Add to 40-Man Roster
- Nationals Reportedly Tell Teams Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are Available
- The Daily CCO: The Jon Lester Watch Continues and Cubs News and Rumors
- Report: Cubs Have Talked to the Diamondbacks about Miguel Montero
- Trip to Las Vegas Added to Cubs Spring Schedule
- Anthony Rizzo and Jed Hoyer Share Joe Maddon’s Less is More Philosophy
- The Daily CCO: Could Dave Martinez Land on Joe Maddon’s Coaching Staff?
- Jon Lester Update: Meetings Scheduled with at League Two More Unidentified Teams Next Week
- Henry Blanco Joins Joe Maddon’s Staff as Quality Assurance Coach
- Kris Bryant on the Cover of Baseball America’s Prospect Handbook and News from the Cubs Farm
- The Daily CCO: The Return of Hank White and Other Cubs News and Rumors
- Jon Lester Update: Interest is Booming in the Free Agent
This Day In Cubstory
2003 – Twins selected Augie Ojeda off waivers from the Cubs
1993 – Cubs signed free agent Glenallen Hill
1993 – Cubs acquired Willie Banks from the Twins for Dave Steven and Matt Walbeck
1992 – Cubs signed free agent Eddie Zambrano
1968 – Dave Hansen, born
1948 – Hack Wilson passed away at the age of 48 in Baltimore without a penny to his name. Wilson’s 56 home runs in 1930 was a National League record until 1998 and the 191 RBI he collected in 1930 remain an All-Time record that many feel will never be broken. National League President Ford Frick paid $350 for his funeral services, that included the cost of a coffin.