It was a rather busy first week of February for the Chicago Cubs.
The Cubs added a pitcher to the roster while designating another for assignment. Pedro Strop settled with the Cubs and avoided arbitration while reports suggested the Cubs added a veteran lefty reliever on a minor league deal.
The Welington Castillo and Travis Wood rumors picked back up while James Shields jumped back into the Cubs news. There is mutual interest for Joe Maddon to be Shields’ manager again.
The team released the first broadcast schedule for the spring games. And the Cubs partnered with American Airlines.
In between all of the news and rumors, there were prospect reports and more prospect reports. Plus two publications named the Cubs the best organization in baseball.
Cubs Down on the Farm Report – 02/02/15
The week began with Tom’s final look at the Cubs players participating in Winter Ball and an extensive preview of the Caribbean Series. Plus, nominations began for the annual reader’s poll.
The Daily CCO: It’s Groundhog Day, Thirty-One More Days Without Cubs Baseball
Miguel Montero should be a boost to the pitching staff and past teammates Mark Gonzales spoke to think he will help the Cubs moving forward. The first of many Yoan Moncada updates of the week was included along with all of the headlines from the previous weekend.
James Shields Remains Unemployed as Pitchers and Catchers Prepare to Report
As rumblings began that the Cubs could enter the mix for James Shields, the mainstream media started looking for possible landing spots for Shields. At the time, the Cubs were not believed to be a landing spot by the national writers. A breakdown of where Shields could sign was provided before the Cubs and Shields watch for the week officially started.
A Look at the Similarities Between Chris Denorfia and Reed Johnson
The CCO looked at the numbers Chris Denorfia put up prior to signing with the Cubs and the similarities between him and Reed Johnson, circa 2008. The numbers are rather close, but will Joe Maddon receive similar production from Denorfia that Lou Piniella got from Johnson seven years ago?
The Daily CCO: Jed Hoyer is Ready for Spring Training and Other Cubs News and Notes
Jed Hoyer sounds cautiously optimistic for the upcoming season. Hoyer is ready for Spring Training while knowing a lot of the Cubs’ success is going to depend on the young players producing in the big leagues. Hoyer is hoping the veterans on the roster can outperform expectations. Kris Bryant joined Jake Arrieta as the keys to the Cubs season. And ESPN asked who is the better team, the Cubs or White Sox? Includes rumors, minor signings and the incredible home video of Wrigley Field from 1938.
Kris Bryant’s Power is the Best in the Minors and Cubs News from the Farm
After placing six players in MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospect list, the Cubs have the best power bat in the minors, in Kris Bryant, according to Jim Callis. MLB Pipeline posted its list of the top tools in the minors. Includes minor moves from down on the farm.
Yoan Moncada is a Free Agent, Clear to Sign with a MLB Team
Major League Baseball sent a memo to all 30 teams outlining the league’s new policy for signing Cuban players. And in the process, 19-year old Yoan Moncada became eligible to sign a contract with the team of his choosing. The bidding for Moncada is expected to get wild and he would like to sign soon … which would seem to take the Cubs out of the running for him.
Report: Cubs Close to Signing LHP Pedro Feliciano to a Minor League Contract
Jon Paul Morosi reported the Cubs were close to signing veteran lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano to a minor league deal and Jon Heyman confirmed the signing the next day. If Feliciano makes the roster out of Spring Training, the Cubs will pay him $700,000 plus incentives. And Joe Maddon would have a proven southpaw in his bullpen.
Five to Six Teams Reportedly Still Trying to Trade for Cole Hamels
As Spring Training quickly approaches, the Phillies are talking to the Padres, Red Sox and four other teams about Cole Hamels. The asking price remains steep in terms of the package of prospects Ruben Amaro Jr. would like in return for his number one pitcher.
The Daily CCO: James Shields to Sign by the End of the Week? And Other Cubs News and Rumors
Jon Paul Morosi jumpstarted the James Shields rumor mill when he reported Shields had multiple offers on the table and was expected to sign by the end of the week. Dexter Fowler will wear No. 24 for the Cubs during the upcoming season, and he’s not the only one of the new Cubs that’s taken a number. The biggest news of the day, the first beams arrived at Wrigley Field for the bleacher construction.
Jim Callis Includes OF Billy McKinney in Beyond Top 100 Prospect Report and Cubs News from the Farm
The other player received from the Athletics in the Samardzija-Hammel deal last summer is pretty good too. While Billy McKinney was not one of the six Cubs that landed in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospect List, he just missed according to Jim Callis. The Cubs’ brass is not worried about Albert Almora and ZiPS ranked the prospects based on its projection system.
Yoan Moncada Update: Tells MLB.com Looking to Sign Soon and Begin Pro Career in United States
Yoan Moncada should break records with the signing bonus he’s getting ready to receive. Moncada still has workouts scheduled and a possible second round of meetings and workouts with the teams that show the most interest. Moncada told Jesse Sanchez he is looking to sign soon and start his career.
From the Wire: Cubs Claim LHP Drake Britton Off Waivers from the Red Sox, DFA Gonzalez Germen
In the easiest to call waiver claim in recent memory, the Cubs claimed LHP Drake Britton off waivers from the Red Sox. The Cubs lack lefty relievers and have a history with Britton. The talented southpaw is out of options and will have to make the team in Spring Training, the talent is there. To make room on the 40-man, the recently claimed Gonzalez Germen was designated for assignment.
Cubs Release Spring Training Broadcast Schedule
The Cubs released the broadcast schedule for Spring Training for radio, TV and internet broadcasts. Detailed table with dates and outlets included in report. And Mick Gillispie returns for another spring on Cubs.com.
Report: Cubs One of the Teams Interested in Signing James Shields
David Kaplan sent the shockwave through the fan base that the Cubs are interested in James Shields and he is interested in the Cubs. The front office has been waiting to see where the market went for Shields. And while nothing was close, Kaplan said there is a chance at Shields which would give the Cubs a very good starting five.
Teams Reportedly Contacting the Cubs about Welington Castillo and Travis Wood
David Kaplan reported not long after the James Shields news that teams were interested in Welington Castillo and Travis Wood. Moving either player would clear payroll and allow the front office to address another area or areas of the team. The Phillies are among the teams interested in Castillo and Wood and both players could possibly be dealt before Spring Training.
The Daily CCO: Castro, Watkins and Former Cubs News Two Weeks Before Pitchers and Catchers Report
The Cubs received good news on Starlin Castro. He’s healthy and in Arizona preparing for Spring Training. The news on Logan Watkins was not-so-good. Watkins is out for the season after tearing his Achilles on Wednesday. Drake Britton was caught off guard when the Red Sox cut ties. And several former Cubs found new jobs … Carlos Villanueva, Mark Prior and Moises Alou.
Cubs and American Airlines Announce Legacy Partnership
The Cubs have a new airline after the team signed its seventh Legacy Partner, American Airlines. Deal includes signage at Wrigley Field and Sloan Park.
Cubs Top The Sporting News Organizational Rankings
The accolades for the Cubs system continued when the Sporting News ranked the Cubs at the top of its organizational ranking. The Cubs have paid a lot out in signing bonuses and Myrtle Beach announced changes to its front office.
From the Wire: Cubs and Pedro Strop Avoid Arbitration, Agree to Terms on a One-Year Contract
The Cubs avoided the ugly arbitration process with Pedro Strop and agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.525 million contract for the upcoming season. All seven of the Cubs arbitration eligible players are under contract for 2015.
Cubs System Ranked No. 1 by Baseball America
The Cubs took over the top spot in Baseball America’s talent rankings in the 2015 Prospect Handbook … three spots higher than a year ago. Baseball America joined ESPN’s Keith Law and the Sporting News by naming the Cubs system the best in the game.
Baseball America’s Top 31 Cubs Prospects for 2015
The Prospect Handbook arrived and it included the ranking of the top 31 prospects in the Cubs system … a lot of new names from last year’s list and 15 pitchers in the top 31.
The Daily CCO: Cubs Expecting Resolution and Vindication Soon on Tampering Charges
Major League Baseball has not ruled or announced its findings on the tampering charges the Rays filed over the Cubs hiring Joe Maddon. Theo Epstein is expecting a resolution on the matter before Spring Training and he is positive the Cubs will be cleared of all charges. The Rays may have proof the Cubs did in fact tamper with Maddon. And Keith Law has concerns about Javier Baez.
Padres Viewed as Frontrunner to Sign James Shields
The Padres began separating themselves from the pack in the James Shields derby. As of late Friday, the Padres were considered as the favorite to sign Shields. And the Padres would have both Shields and Wil Myers on the same roster. The Marlins, Cubs, and Blue Jays were still in the mix … looking in from the outside as far the mainstream media was concerned.