The rumor mill went from zero to 100 on Sunday morning as the baseball world began getting back into the full swing of the off-season following the holidays.
The Cubs have a lot of work to do and based on reports continue to explore ways to add depth to the outfield.
Ben Zobrist, Colby Rasmus, Denard Span, Coco Crisp and James Shields were connected to the Cubs on Sunday by the mainstream media.
While the first month of the New Year has a tendency to be quiet, it appears this January will be rather busy throughout the game with the Cubs possibly in the middle activity.
90 Days until Opening Night against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field …
Javier Baez started at second base and hit second for Santurce on Sunday. Baez went 1-for-4 with a RBI and a strikeout. Baez was replaced at second by Robert Andino in the bottom of the seventh and received one at bat.
Baez rapped into a double play in his first at bat (6-4-3), single to center and plated Jonathan Rodriguez in the third inning and popped out to shortstop in the fifth. Baez struck out swinging in the seventh inning.
The Cubs are one of four teams seriously pursuing a trade for Ben Zobrist, at least according to Nick Cafardo. The Giants are believed to be hot after Zobrist along with the Angels and Nationals.
According to Nick Cafardo acquiring Zobrist could cost a team a top prospect and a mid-level one. The Rays are looking for Major League-ready talent that gives them cost certainty.
Ken Rosenthal thinks the team that trades for Zobrist, or the Rays if they don’t deal him, would offer Ben Zobrist a qualifying offer after next season. Zobrist has a $7.5 million salary for 2015 and the qualifying offer should jump from $15.3 million this year to around $16 million next off-season according to Rosenthal.
Zobrist would likely turn it down and test free agency as Rosenthal pointed out. If Zobrist accepted the qualifying offer, he would cost around $23 million for two years, a bargain according to Rosenthal.
There is a possibility the team that trades for him could sign Ben Zobrist to an extension at a lower AAV than the qualifying offer.
The Cubs were connected to free agent RHP James Shields by Nick Cafardo on Sunday as the mainstream media tries to figure out which teams are interested in signing him. Shields is not only looking for a five-year, $110 million contract but he’s also attached to draft pick compensation. Shields rejected the Royals qualifying offer in the fall and would cost the team that signs him its first available pick in the draft and the allotted slot money.
If the Cubs were to sign Shields, the second round pick and slot money would be forfeited.
Ken Rosenthal was told by “a number of executives they expect the free agent right-hander to land a contract of at least five years, $100 million” and others indicated to Rosenthal they “would be surprised if Shields topped $100 million.” Rosenthal reported two executives told him Shields has a five-year, $110 million offer from a team but is “looking for an even higher guarantee.”
Jim Bowden confirmed several reports Shields is looking for five and $110 million but he added there is not a team interested in Shields at that price range. The Marlins, Rangers and Red Sox “are waiting for his price to drop.”
Rosenthal reported the Giants, Marlins, Diamondbacks and Padres are not in on Shields and the Yankees, Tigers and Angels have not been connected to Shields.
Nick Cafardo’s sources indicated the Cubs, Red Sox, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Blue Jays and Giants are the teams that have spoken with Shields or have shown some level of interest.
Colby Rasmus and Andre Ethier
The Cubs and the Orioles are interested in free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus according to Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden. Buck Showalter met with Rasmus on Saturday and according to Ken Rosenthal, Baltimore is pushing to sign him.
The Orioles think Showalter can have the same effect on Rasmus that he did on Delmon Young last year.
Baltimore is looking for at least one outfielder this winter and Rasmus is not the only one on Dan Duquette’s list. The Orioles could trade for the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier as Roch Kobatko reported. The Cubs were loosely linked to Ethier by Bruce Levine.
Kubatko reported the Orioles and Dodgers have discussed a trade for Ethier. But it’s unclear how far those talks advanced and how much of the remaining $56 million the Dodgers would be willing to eat. Ethier is owed $18 million for the 2015 and 2016 seasons and $17.5 million in 2017. There is a club option for $17.5 million that includes a $2.5 million buyout attached that becomes guaranteed if Ethier has 550 plate appearances in 2017 or a combined 1,100 plate appearances in 2016-17. One of the known perks in Ethier’s contract: “use of stadium luxury suite for eight games each season.”
Roch Kobatko does not think the Orioles will trade for Ethier because of his contract.
News, Notes and Rumors
According to Jon Paul Morosi, Emilio Bonifacio agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract with the White Sox and the deal includes a club option for 2016.
John Mallee is bringing his vast hitting knowledge to his hometown team according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
Jon Paul Morosi reported Major League Baseball and the Players Union will meet in January to discuss a domestic violence policy for the league.
It’s not likely MLB will add a pitch clock this year, but other rule changes could be made during the Owners Meetings next week in Arizona according to Jon Paul Morosi. The pitch clock was tested in the AFL. The rules that could be changed or added includes: Hitters keeping one foot in the batter’s box. A rule that runners must slide directly into second base and no longer “deviating from their paths with a takeout slide.”
According to Jim Bowden, the Marlins are hoping Dan Haren changes his mind and pitches for them this year.
In Interleague play, Ben Zobrist 113-for-413 in 111 games with 28 doubles, two triples and 15 home runs (.274/.384/.460/.844).
This Day In Cubstory
2012 – Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano and cash to the Marlins for Chris Volstad
2011 – Yankees selected Brian Schlitter off waivers from the Cubs
2009 – Cubs agreed to terms on a three-year, $30 million contract with free agent OF Milton Bradley
2008 – Cubs traded Angel Pagan to the Mets for Corey Coles and Ryan Meyers
1996 – Cubs signed free agent Dave Magadan
1984 – Cubs signed free agent Richie Hebner
1973 – Ramon Tatis, born
1963 – Jeff Fassero, born
1962 – Danny Jackson, born
1961 – Henry Cotto, born
1957 – Bobby Dernier, born
1898 – Riggs Stephenson, born
1892 – Chuck Wortman, born
1870 – Bill Dahlen, born