The front office acquired a player to help the big league team win games during the upcoming season, a new and improved concept for the Cubs. With Dexter Fowler in the outfield mix and last year’s starting third baseman now in Houston, it doesn’t mean Kris Bryant will begin the season on the Major League roster.
Jed Hoyer told the beat writers during a conference call Monday that trading Luis Valbuena was independent of Kris Bryant. Hoyer explained, “We said all along we want to build a team that’s ready to compete. And I think that comes with making some moves that obviously look different than moves we were making the last three years, when we were focusing very much on control and very much on volume with a look to the future.”
Mike Olt, Tommy La Stella and Arismendy Alcantara will see time at third base in the spring. Jed Hoyer also mentioned the possibility of Javier Baez lining up at third base during Spring Training. Olt has another opportunity to increase his value to either the Cubs or another team.
Defensively, Olt showed he could handle the position last year. Olt was solid, showed a strong arm but was inconsistent in the field. At the plate, Olt flashed the power that made him the Rangers’ second best prospect just two years ago. Olt also struggled with making contact before making adjustments during his stint with the Iowa Cubs toward the end of the season. Olt was 10-for-38 back in the majors during 17 September games with four doubles, six walks and 16 strikeouts (.263/.370/.368) with a .738 OPS.
According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are “sensitive to overloading Baez, who has a lot of work to do offensively to earn a place in the lineup.” Carrie Muskat indicated Javier Baez is projected as the Cubs second baseman. And ESPN Chicago reported, Hoyer would rather Baez work on his swing in the spring than worry about a new position.
Hoyer said that when the Cubs think Kris Bryant is ready for the big leagues he will be called-up. Monday’s trade does not accelerate his timeframe to the majors.
Bryant will be on the list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training and should spend a majority of camp with the Major League team. The Cubs have not closed the door on him beginning the year on the 25-man roster. But it’s unlikely he’s at third base on Opening Night against the Cardinals.
The Cubs have addressed several of the areas the front office had on its off-season to-do list in the fall. A top of the rotation starter and left-handed bats (Miguel Montero, Tommy La Stella and Dexter Fowler) that get on-base were added to the roster. Acquiring Dexter Fowler cost the Cubs a player they really liked in Luis Valbuena.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs “didn’t love giving up two years of control on Valbuena plus RHP Dan Straily for Fowler.” The front office dealt from a surplus and with Bryant expected up in May, Valbuena’s role would have been reduced. Straily was pretty far down on the Cubs’ depth chart and would have started the year at Iowa. Straily now will have a legitimate shot with the Astros to make a starting rotation.
John Mallee recommended Dexter Fowler to the front office and the former Rockie and Astro is excited to be part of the Cubs young team according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
Hoyer told the beat writers, “The biggest thing John [Mallee] kept saying to us is ‘This guy really put on an at-bat. He sees pitches, he gets on base.’ Mallee said it’s a pleasure to watch this guy execute an at-bat.”
Cubs Kicked Off Convention Weekend with Caravan Tour
The Chicago Cubs completed the two-day 2015 Cubs Caravan Tour last Thursday with trips to Advocate Children’s Hospital-Park Ridge, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, three elementary schools and the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine base where 200 military service personnel and veterans were served a hot lunch by players and front office personnel in partnership with the USO of Illinois. The annual community outreach tour featured two buses of players, coaches and front office personnel.
At the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, patients learned drills, played a baseball game and had a pizza party with Cubs players and coaches and at Advocate Children’s Hospital-Park Ridge, Cubs players Anthony Rizzo and Mike Olt visited children and gave them teddy bears and Cubs hats.
During stops at Horace Greeley Elementary and Henry D. Lloyd Elementary School, players read to students. The tour ended at the Jacob Beidler Elementary School, where Cubs players and more than 100 front office associates painted wall murals, made snack packs, built benches and organized reading spaces.
Attendees throughout the two-day caravan tour included: Laura Ricketts, Joe Maddon, Albert Almora, Jake Arrieta, Dallas Beeler, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm, Pierce Johnson, Eric Jokisch, Rafael Lopez, Jason Motte, Mike Olt, Blake Parker, Anthony Rizzo, Zac Rosscup and Brian Schlitter.
News, Notes and Rumors
For those that missed the news Monday, RHP Max Scherzer agreed to terms with the Nationals on a seven-year, $210 million contract. The deal reportedly includes a $50 million signing bonus. Half of Scherzer’s deal is deferred and he will be paid $15 million a year for 14 years. The record breaking signing bonus will be paid over time as well for tax purposes.
With Max Scherzer in Washington, the Nationals are 6/1 favorites to win the 2015 World Series. The Dodgers are 8/1 and the Cubs, Red Sox, Angels and Cardinals are at 12/1 according to Bovada.
Jed Hoyer told the beat writers it’s “way too early” to talk about a contract extension for Dexter Fowler. The Cubs need to get to know him first.
Sports Illustrated reported the Cubs bolstered its lineup by getting Dexter Fowler from the Astros.
The Brewers sent RHP Yovani Gallardo to the Rangers along with $4 million (with the trade, Gallardo’s contract kicked in a $1 million bonus, he’s owed $14 million) for SS Luis Sardinas, RHP Marcos Diplan and RHP Corey Knebel. Baseball America ranked Sardinas the sixth best prospect in Texas’ system prior to last season and Diplan checked in at No. 10. Jon Paul Morosi reported the Rangers and Phillies “had in-depth talks on Cole Hamels” before Jon Daniels decided to trade for Gallardo.
Jason McLeod and Jaron Madison are happy the top prospects in the system were not traded according to the Sun-Times.
Rick Sutcliffe revealed Sunday morning in the 30 Years of Convention Memories that he was involved in the recruiting process for Jon Lester. Sutcliffe is expected to be a Spring Training coach for the Cubs again and helped land Lester at the request of Theo Epstein. Sutcliffe said Sunday the Cubs fans swayed Lester’s decision according to the Tribune.
Joe Maddon lives up to his billing early on according to ESPN Chicago.
Odds are, the White Sox are better than the Cubs according to conversations the Sun-Times had with scouts.
According to the Tribune, for the Cubs to thrive in 2015 the young guns will have to produce.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Cubs signed free agent Chris Coghlan
2014 – Cubs signed free agent Lars Anderson
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Bobby Scales
2009 – Cubs signed free agents Jason Dubois, Luis Rivas and Mike Stanton
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Cody Ransom
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Mark Guthrie
1998 – Cubs traded Jon Ratliff to the Braves for Ray King
1983 – Geovany Soto, born
1981 – John Baker, born
1979 – Cubs signed free agent Steve Waterbury
1972 – Cubs traded Johnny Callison to the Yankees for a PTNBL. Yankees sent Jack Aker to the Cubs on May 17, 1972 to complete the trade.
1929 – Gale Wade, born
1891 – Earl Smith, born