Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals for winning the American League Pennant for the second straight year to advance to the World Series. It’s the Royals and Mets in the Fall Classic … Go Royals!
The Cubs rumor mill picked up considerably late Thursday and Friday in the wake of Theo Epstein’s end of season press conference. Several outlets began speculating on the moves the front office could make this winter to improve the club.
Theo Epstein pointed out Thursday the focus is on adding pitching to the roster. The Cubs could go the free agent route and sign LHP David Price or RHP Jordan Zimmermann or RHP Zack Greinke to slot in at the top of the rotation. The Cubs have also been linked to free agents RHP John Lackey and RHP Jeff Samardzija for possible mid-rotation upgrades.
The Cubs could also improve the starting staff by dealing from the position-player depth to acquire RHP Danny Salazar (Indians), RHP Carlos Carrasco (Indians), RHP Tyson Ross (Padres) or RHP Julio Teheran (Braves).
According to Bruce Levine, RHP Andrew Cashner “is a name worth keeping an eye on.” The Padres have shown interest in Starlin Castro and were connected to him leading up to the deadline. The Cubs obviously know what Cashner is capable of when he’s healthy and able to pitch. Cashner is coming off a rough season and a career-high 31 starts. Cashner was 6-16 with a 4.34 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 3.85 FIP. Cashner allowed 111 runs, 89 earned, on 200 hits with 66 walks and 165 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings. Cashner is arbitration eligible in 2016 and will be a free agent next off-season.
The Denard Span rumors increased Friday as discussion continued on which direction the Cubs could go for a center fielder and leadoff man if Dexter Fowler leaves via free agency. The Cubs are interested in bringing back Fowler but for no more than two years. Fowler will likely receive more than a two-year deal and the Cubs will receive draft pick compensation when he signs with another team. Span is believed to be looking for a one-year contract to rebuild his value after missing most of the season with various injuries.
According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs covet Indians third baseman turned outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall. The Cubs have been interested in acquiring Chisenhall for several years. The lefty hitting Chisenhall is coming off a down-year at the plate but one in which he moved to the outfield and performed well defensively.
As a right fielder, Chisenhall batted .303/.367/.423 in 51 games with eight doubles and three home runs for a .790 OPS. Overall, Chisenhall put together a .246/.294/.372 line with 19 doubles, a triple and seven home runs for a .667 OPS.
The Cubs are looking to upgrade the defense in the outfield and Chisenhall could be a part of a larger deal with the Indians that included Jorge Soler for pitching.
If the first two days of the Cubs’ off-season are any indication, it is going to be a rather interesting off-season for the Chicago Cubs.
Bowden’s Cubs Rumors
For some reason, Jim Bowden thinks the Cubs could trade for Jacoby Ellsbury to play center if they take on most of his salary or Brett Gardner from the Yankees. Bowden also mentioned Joc Pederson (Dodgers) and Marcell Ozuna (Marlins) as other possible options for center field.
In the bullpen, Bowden thinks the Cubs may go the free agent route which would go against the front office’s plan. The Cubs are looking to add two or three proven relievers but Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are not going to handout long-term contracts to relievers like Tyler Clippard and Darren O’Day.
Jim Bowden reported free agents RHP Mike Leake, LHP Wei-Yin Chen or LHP J.A. Happ could be options for the Cubs for the back of the rotation. And the Cubs could consider trading for RHP Joe Ross (Nationals), RHP Jake Odorizzi (Rays) or LHP Wade Miley (Red Sox).
Of all the possibilities Bowden reported, the only two that seem realistic would be trading for Joe Ross or Jake Odorizzi, that is if either pitcher is available. Jason McLeod drafted Joe Ross while he was in San Diego and thinks the world of the entire Ross family.
Kris Bryant had a sensational rookie campaign and will be named NL Rookie of the Year on Nov. 16. Bryant was by far the best first year player in the Senior Circuit, despite what the Cardinals’ beat writers, fans and players think.
Bryant batted .275/.369/.488 with 31 doubles, five triples and 26 home runs for a .858 OPS. Bryant broke the Cubs’ rookie records for home runs and RBI (99) that were set in 1961 by Billy Williams. And he topped Sammy Sosa’s franchise mark (174) for the most strikeouts (199) in a single-season.
Kris Bryant is one of only five players in MLB history with at least 20 home runs, 70 walks and 90 RBI in the first year in the majors joining Ted Williams (1939), Alvin Davis (1984), Bob Johnson (1933) and Del Bissonette (1928).
News, Notes and More Rumors
• According to Christopher Kamka, the Cubs are the first team in the history of the game to have four pitchers with 160-plus strikeouts and fewer than 50 walks … Jon Lester (207/47), Jake Arrieta (236/48), Jason Hammel (172/40) and Kyle Hendricks (167/43).
• Jon Lester thanked Cubs fans and the city of Chicago for a great first year.
• RHP Trevor Cahill is a free agent but don’t be surprised if the Cubs try to bring him back at least on a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. According to Jon Heyman, the Cubs tried to acquire Cahill several times before signing him to a minor league contract. Cahill had a good stint with the Cubs pitching out of the bullpen. Chris Bosio worked well with Cahill and he produced. Over 11 appearances in the regular season, Cahill was 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 3.13 FIP (four runs on eight hits with five walks and 22 strikeouts in 17 innings). In six appearances in the post-season, Cahill was 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.31 WHIP.
• According to Jon Heyman, as expected OF Jason Heyward is looking for a rather large payday. Heyward “is certainly going to insist on beating Jacoby Ellsbury’s $153 million deal and get as close to $200 million as possible.” Heyward will play most of the 2016 season as a 26-year old (Aug. 9) and hit .293/.359/.439 with 33 doubles, four triples and 13 home runs for a .797 OPS.
• RHP Tommy Hunter is a free agent and would like to return to the Orioles and Baltimore is interested in bringing him back according to Roch Kubatko.
• Comcast SportsNet reported, don’t take it for granted the Cubs will face great expectations in 2016.
• Scott Servais was named the Mariners manager on Friday and will be formally introduced Monday in Seattle.
• The Nationals are expected to meet with Bud Black and Dusty Baker again about their managerial opening.
• Gabe Kapler is the frontrunner to be the next manager of the Dodgers. And many in the industry will be surprised if he does not land the job. Cubs’ bench coach Dave Martinez is believed to be on a list of candidates that could receive an interview if the Dodgers decide to go through the process.
• According to a report from ESPN, Major League Baseball is “contemplating discipline for teams that bring alcohol onto the field and spray fans with it.”
• Cuban RHP Yasiel Sierra pitched “in front of 350 an estimated scouts and several top club officials” Thursday in Jupiter, FL according to a report from Jesse Sanchez. Sierra could help a team in the majors next season and is expected to begin visiting cities of interested teams soon. No word on if the Cubs are one of the teams interested in signed Sierra.
This Day In Cubstory
1980 – Cubs granted free agency to Lenny Randle
1957 – Bill Hayes, born
1950 – Rawly Eastwick, born
1905 – Cubs acquired Harry Steinfeldt and Jimmy Sebring from the Reds for Jake Weimer
1885 – The Chicago National League Ball Club lost 13-4 to the St. Louis Browns in the Championship Series. With both teams winning three of the first six games, a special committee called the series a standoff without a clear champion. Cap Anson was 11-for-26 in the series while Fred Pfeffer was 11-for-27.
1857 – Ned Williamson, born