It’s no secret the Cubs are working on improving the depth in the outfield. That is one area Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would like to address before the start of the season.
Jonny Gomes has been viewed as one possible option for the Cubs all off-season, and bringing in Joe Maddon furthered the speculation that Gomes would eventually sign with the Cubs this winter. Gomes is coming off a down year in which he hit .234/.327/.330/.657 with eight doubles and six home runs in 112 games with the Red Sox and A’s. But he still managed a .276/.373/.371 slash line against lefties.
Nick Cafardo reported Sunday, “Gomes could wind up with Jon Lester and David Ross with the Cubs to add some veteran presence to a young outfield.” Cafardo added it’s been slow to this point of the off-season for reserve outfielders. But one National League GM he spoke to about Gomes feels the veteran outfielder is “still an effective player” and he would work “for a team that’s on the verge and on a team like the Cubs or Astros who need a veteran presence.”
A report from Bruce Levine last month pointed to the Cubs talking to the Indians about Nick Swisher. The Indians would like to move him and might be willing to swap a bad contract for Swisher, who has struggled over his first two years in Cleveland.
All of the beat writers jumped on Levine’s report and it was quieted the following morning that the Cubs had inquired about Swisher. And Bruce Levine retracted his initial report.
According to Nick Cafardo, Cleveland would like to trade Swisher after acquiring Brandon Moss and the Cubs could be a possible trade partner with the Indians for Swisher, along with the Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles, Padres and Brewers. Cafardo pointed to the Cubs desire to add a veteran leader as the reason the team could be interested in Swisher.
Nick Swisher turned 34 last month and is coming off double knee surgery. And he’s owed $30 million over the last two years ($15 million in 2015 and 2016) on the four-year, $56 million contract he signed in December 2012. Swisher’s contract also includes a vesting option worth $14 million for 2017.
The Cubs shot down the interest in Swisher once and it appears the front office is looking at other options for depth in the outfield other than Nick Swisher.
Javier Baez’s rough stretch in Winter Ball continued Sunday. Javier Baez hit third and played second for Santurce and went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts, all swinging. Baez flied out to center in his first at bat before he struck out swinging in the third, fifth, eighth and eleventh innings.
Javier Baez is 10-for-43 in 11 games this winter with three doubles, two home runs, five walks and 21 strikeouts (.233/.306/.442/.748).
Chris Rusin may no longer be in the Cubs’ system, picked up by the Rockies in a waiver claim on Sept. 27, but he put his name in the history books last May in New Orleans while wearing an I-Cubs uniform.
Chris Rusin threw the first no-hitter for the Iowa Cubs in nearly 30 years on May 7 in New Orleans. Rusin also went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI on the afternoon. And Matt Szczur ended the game with a diving catch in centerfield to preserve Rusin’s No-No in Nola.
The final out of Chris Rusin’s no-no was one of the most viewed videos on the Iowa Cubs YouTube Channel in 2014.
Minor League Affiliates
The Cubs were not the only organization to change minor league affiliates in the fall. MiLB.com posted a full list of all the changes throughout the minor leagues, all total 21 minor league franchises signed new player development contracts with Major League teams.
As for the changes the Cubs made … the team moved its Low-A ball affiliate from Kane County to South Bend and the South Bend franchise adopted the ‘Cubs’ nickname. The Cubs Short-Season team moved from the Boise Hawks to the Eugene Emeralds. And the High-A affiliate left Daytona for the Carolina League and is now the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
News, Notes and Rumors
According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Tigers and David Price have not discussed a long-term extension this winter. Max Scherzer may still be in play for the Tigers which could lead to Dave Dombrowski trading Price in order to fit Scherzer into Detroit’s budget.
Jason Motte discussed signing with the Cubs on MLB Network last week.
Rumors surfaced before the end of the season that the Cubs could try to sign Denard Span if the Nationals did not pick up his option for the 2015 season. Washington is trying to win The Series and obviously picked up his option and reportedly Mike Rizzo does not plan to trade him. Span had surgery earlier this month to repair a sports hernia. He tweeted Sunday that he swung a bat for the first time this winter.
According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Orioles are interested in OF Colby Rasmus and continue their dialogue with him and “other left-handed hitting outfield options.”
This Day In Cubstory
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Jamey Wright
1998 – Cubs signed free agent David Manning
1997 – Cubs signed free agent Matt Mieske
1982 – Kevin Hart, born
1973 – Theo Epstein, born
1946 – Ken Rudolph, born
1941 – John Upham, born