The Cubs signed Jason Motte to a one-year contract for $4.5 million to add a veteran presence to a young bullpen and give Joe Maddon insurance late in games. For as good as the backend of the pen was at the end of last season, the young arms lack experience closing out games for a team expecting to contend.
Jon Heyman reported the incentives package that Motte received from the Cubs. Motte’s base salary for next season is $4.5 million and the incentive package based on games finished maxes out at $2.5 million. The incentives package kicks in when he finishes his 50th game of the season. For every game 50-59 he finishes, Motte receives $250,000 and $250,000 for 60 appearances and $250,000 for 65 appearances.
Motte said last week the Cubs plan to use him in high-leverage situations in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Motte and the Cubs say he’s fully recovered from the Tommy John surgery that cost him the entire 2013 season.
During the 2012 season when Motte was closing games for the Cardinals, Motte finished 58 of the 67 games he appeared in.
From all indications, Hector Rondon will begin Spring Training as the Cubs’ closer. But one of Joe Maddon’s strengths is getting the most out of his bullpen. And Maddon could use his best reliever in the eighth inning if he feels the game is on the line at that point.
Hector Rondon was very good last season, especially in the second half. Rondon was 4-4 in 64 games with a 2.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 2.26 FIP. Rondon allowed 21 runs, 17 earned, on 52 hits with 15 walks and 63 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings. After the break, Rondon was 2-1 with a 0.62 ERA and a 0.66 WHIP … four runs, two earned, on 17 hits with two walks and 24 strikeouts in 29 innings.
Rondon finished 44 of the 64 games he pitched in last season.
A reliever’s performance from year to year is very difficult to predict. The Cubs will begin Spring Training with more depth for the backend than in previous years. And with an experienced skipper that knows how to manage a bullpen.
Javier Baez went 0-for on Monday night in Santurce’s 9-3 loss to Carolina. Baez hit third, played second and went 0-for-4 with a RBI and two strikeouts. Baez struck out swinging in the first and third inning. Baez flied out to center in the fifth. Baez plated Reymond Fuentes with a grounder to short in the seventh inning.
Javier Baez is 9-for-26 in seven games with two doubles, two home runs, three walks and 11 strikeouts (.346/.400/.654/1.054).
And the winner is … the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It was announced Monday that the Pirates placed the high bid for SS Jun-Ho Kang. Pittsburgh has committed $5,002,015 million for a 30-day exclusive window to negotiate a contract with Kang and sign him.
The Pirates infield appears to be in good shape with Neil Walker at second, Jordy Mercer at short and Josh Harrison at third. And two options at first base in Pedro Alvarez and the newly signed Corey Hart.
It is believed the 27-year old shortstop will be moved to either second or third base because he struggled at short, even making routine plays, during his time with Nexen. Ben Badler reported Monday that scouts he spoke with pointed to Kang being a good addition to a Major League bench.
Alan Nero is reportedly looking for around $5 million a year for Kang. Nero said Monday that his client is excited and is ready for the challenge of playing in the majors. Kang knows the Pirates had a good team last year. He wants to help the Bucs make it back to the playoffs and win a World Series. Nero said Kang is “looking forward to visiting the city [of Pittsburgh] and meeting the fans.”
Jung-Ho Kang and the Pirates have until Jan. 20 at 5:00pm ET (4:00pm CST) to finalize a contract.
News, Notes and Rumors
Joe Maddon was back in Hazelton for his annual Thanksmas … and he wore a Cubs’ t-shirt.
The San Diego Union-Tribune mentioned the Cubs in a long list of teams (Angels, Brewers, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Nationals, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees) as a rumored suitor for Max Scherzer … Theo Epstein has said the Cubs will not be adding another nine-figure starting pitcher to the Cubs roster this winter.
RHP Josh Johnson has an agreement in place with the Padres for a one-year, $1 million deal. Johnson can earn an additional $6.25 million basically if he just stays healthy. Johnson’s incentives package is broken out as follows: $500,000 for fifth start, $1 million for 10th start, $500,000 for 15th start, $1 million for 20th start and $250,000 for every start beyond 20 (21-33). The contract might not be finalized for a couple of days according to Jerry Crasnick.
James Shields is looking for a five-year, $110 million contract according to Nick Cafardo. Shields is apparently using Cole Hamels’ contract as the framework for his deal. Counting the $20 million option for 2019, Hamels is owed $110 million for five years. Jim Bowden pegged the Giants, Red Sox, Rangers, Blue Jays, Dodgers, Angels, Yankees and Cardinals as the best fits for Shields. And the San Diego Union-Tribune mentioned the Cubs as one of the many rumored suitors for Shields (Angels, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Marlins, Rangers and Royals).
Johnny Cueto is willing to negotiate with the Reds until the season starts according to Jon Heyman. Cueto is a free agent after the season, but would like to stay in Cincinnati, but he’s inline for a big pay day. Cueto’s agent said Jon Lester is a better comp than Homer Bailey, but the closest comp would be Max Scherzer.
Scott Miller took a look at some of the perks players receive in their contracts.
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Cubs selected Brett Marshall off waivers from the Yankees
2013 – Orioles selected Liam Hendriks off waivers from the Cubs
2011 – Cubs acquired Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt and Ronald Torreyes from the Reds for Sean Marshall
2008 – Yankees announced two exhibition games against the Cubs would be the first ballgames played in new Yankee Stadium in April 2009. Bleacher seats for the exhibition games with the Cubs were cold for .25 cents and grandstand tickets for $1.10, the same cost of tickets when the original Yankee Stadium opened in 1923.
1997 – Cubs traded Doug Glanville to the Phillies for Mickey Morandini
1994 – Cubs granted free agency to Jose Bautista
1991 – Cubs signed free agent Chico Walker
1982 – Brad Nelson, born
1941 – Ken Hubbs, born
1941 – Milwaukee (American Association) purchased Johnny Hudson from the Cubs
1939 – Cubs released Carl Reynolds
1933 – Elder White, born
1900 – Danny Taylor, born
1880 – Doc Gessler, born