As baseball’s off-season winds down, the James Shields watch continues for at least two big league teams and fan bases.
James Shields is expected to make a decision in the next 36 hours where he’s going to pitch for at least the next three years. All signs are pointing to him signing on in San Diego, primarily pitching in the NL West and calling spacious PETCO Park his home for a while.
And the front office is believed to be talking with teams about Travis Wood and Welington Castillo.
The countdown to Spring Training is underway as Joe Maddon celebrates his 61st birthday, and his first as the Cubs’ skipper.
David Kaplan reported that the Phillies were among the teams that have contacted the Cubs about Welington Castillo and Travis Wood. Kaplan thinks Castillo and possibly Wood could be traded before Spring Training begins. Bruce Levine does not see it that way.
Levine mentioned Saturday morning on Inside the Clubhouse (670 The Score) that he thinks the Cubs will hold onto Castillo through a majority of camp. Levine said the Cubs would be able to maximize his value if the front office ends up trading him as teams get a better idea of their catching situation. Plus, Castillo would give the Cubs insurance in the event of an injury to either Miguel Montero or David Ross.
Kris Bryant put up the numbers in his first full season of professional baseball. Despite the accolades and post-season awards he received, there are concerns about contact rate and the amount of times he struck out last year. FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan wasn’t trying to be negative and he doesn’t think Bryant is going to be a bust. Sullivan said, “He is uncommonly good, and uncommonly powerful, with power to all fields that comes out of a shorter swing that you’d expect.” Sullivan pointed out Bryant is not perfect, “there’s no such thing as a perfect prospect.”
Kris Bryant struck out 162 times in 138 games, 594 plate appearances, with 86 walks.
According to the report from FanGraphs, Bryant had a “contact rate a hair under 69%” at the Double-A level, which was the sixth lowest in Double-A. At the Triple-A level his “contact rate was a hair under 65%,” the fourth lowest in Triple-A. Sullivan added that “fewer than two percentage points” separated Bryant from Javier Baez and Brett Jackson.
FanGraphs questioned how “a lot more than average” swings and misses will translate in the majors. Bryant has time to become more of a contact hitter as Jeff Sullivan indicated, and just reported his “flaw” as he put it.
Jeff Sullivan’s report is well worth the time to read … click here for the complete report from FanGraphs.
In a follow-up to Jesse Sanchez’s report that the Yankees, Dodgers, Red Sox, Padres and Tigers are the five likeliest destinations for Yoan Moncada, MLB.com asked the five teams’ beat writers to “give their take on each team’s odds of landing” Moncada on a scale of 1 to 10.
The Yankees are considered the frontrunner for Moncada. Reports have suggested they will not be outbid and beat writer Bryan Hoch put a 9 on Moncada ending up in the Bronx.
Dodgers’ beat writer Ken Gurnick placed a 4 on the likelihood Andrew Friedman lands Moncada while Red Sox reporter Ian Browne gave Boston the same shot as the Dodgers of signing Moncada.
The Padres have been very busy this winter, but Corey Brock gave A.J. Preller only a 3 on the likelihood scale for Moncada and Jason Beck thinks the Tigers have a chance, but only gave Dave Dombrowski a 3 on the likelihood scale.
MLB All-Star Game
According to a report from Jayson Stark, Major League Baseball is going to stop awarding the All-Star game to teams and alternating between National League and American League ballparks. Instead, the Mid-Summer Classic will go through a bidding process, like the Super Bowl.
The new process will begin with the 2017 All-Star Game. San Diego has already been awarded the game for the 2016 season. And the Reds are hosting this year’s game.
When asked about the Cubs hosting an All-Star game at the renovated Wrigley Field, Rob Manfred responded, “One of the things that I am going to try to do with the All-Star Game is … and we’ll make some announcements in the relatively short-term … I am looking to be in more of a competitive-bidding, Super Bowl-awarding-type mode, as opposed to saying, ‘You know, I think Chicago is a good idea.”
Manfred did not go into detail on how the process would work, but according to Jayson Stark “rather than choosing cities based on which league they’re in, All-Star Game hosts will be chosen in the future based on the merits or the city and ballpark, and which team and city can produce the best All-Star Game experience.” Initially, according to Stark, the process will be “complicated.”
News, Notes and Rumors
Rob Manfred reiterated the Joe Maddon tampering investigation is ongoing.
Cubs’ pitchers and catchers do not have to report until Feb. 19. Based on reports there is a lot of activity at the team’s facility. Players that have already reported include Jon Lester, Starlin Castro and Miguel Montero. C.J. Edwards tweeted Saturday he will be in Mesa three days early on Feb. 16.
Former two-time Cubs’ closer Kevin Gregg signed a minor league contract with the Reds. The deal includes a non-roster invite to big league Spring Training. According to Jon Heyman, if Gregg makes the Reds roster he will receive $1.5 million base and the deal includes an incentives package for games and games finished.
Joel Sherman posted the best and worst of MLB’s most bizarre off-season. Sherman liked the winters that the White Sox, Nationals, Braves, Blue Jays and Cubs put together and didn’t much care for the off-seasons of the Brewers, Reds, Astros, Rockies and Giants.
Jim Callis discussed one possible timeframe Addison Russell could be called up on 670 The Score.
According to Baseball America, one-time Cubs outfielder Julio Borbon re-signed with the Orioles on a minor league contract.
Jonah Keri posted the annual look at baseball’s worst contracts … Dishonorable mentions went out to Edwin Jackson, Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Elvis Andrus, Bronson Arroyo, Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Ubaldo Jimenez, Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera and C.C. Sabathia. And the contracts signed by Justin Verlander, Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Shin-Soo Choo, B.J. Upton, Matt Harrison and Alex Rodriguez are the worst 10 deals in the big leagues.
And, last but not least … another reminder to vote in the CCO’s poll →
This Day In Cubstory
2000 – Cubs signed free agent Greg McMichael
1993 – Cubs signed free agent Steve Lyons
1993 – Cubs signed free agent Craig Worthington
1985 – Felix Pie, born
1955 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Don Kaiser
1954 – Joe Maddon, born
1951 – Steve Dillard, born