Free agency officially started late Friday night (11:01 pm CST) and Jed Hoyer told the beat writers Friday afternoon the Cubs would probably start making phone calls as soon they could. “You want people to know right away that you’re interested.”
It was an incredibly busy Friday throughout the game as a record number of players received qualifying offers. A total of 34 players the first three years of the current system received qualifying offers, 20 players, including Dexter Fowler, were extended qualifying offers prior to Friday’s deadline.
Those 20 players have until next Friday (Nov. 13, 4:00pm CST) to accept or decline the one-year, $15.8 million offer. This could be the first year a player accepts due to the volume of questionable offers made.
Jed Hoyer talked to the beat writers Friday afternoon and said the Cubs focus is to add “multiple starting pitchers at various levels of the organization.” ESPN Chicago reported the Cubs “will seek rotation arms both pricey and cheap.”
The Cubs plan to add at least one Major League starting pitcher but need to build depth. According to ESPN Chicago, Hoyer admitted “the Cubs came up short in the playoffs” due to the lack of starting pitching and the team was “fortunate to win 97 games without a lot of depth at that position.”
Hoyer said financially the Cubs “have the means to fill the holes we want to fill.” But according to Jesse Rogers, Hoyer warned, “There has to be a level of common sense when thinking about what we’re going to do. We’ve been linked to everyone already.”
Multiple reports indicated Hoyer said the Cubs would prefer to spend their money on pitching this winter over position players. The Cubs would like to re-sign Dexter Fowler and as ESPN Chicago pointed out, there is likely not enough room in the budget for contracts like David Price and Jason Heyward are expected to sign.
The Cubs could acquire pitching through trades. The front office would prefer to keep the position player depth they’ve built over the last four years but that might not be possible. Hoyer told the beat writers, “We’ve talked to every team at this point. I expect the conversations next week to become more detailed.”
ESPN Chicago does not think the Cubs will “wait long to make a splash” this winter.
Ken Rosenthal reported Friday that two agents for free agent starting pitchers predicted David Price will sign with the Cubs and an executive that knows Price said the Cubs are his first choice.
According to ESPN Chicago the chatter around baseball is “Price want to be a Chicago Cub” and he came close to saying as much this past season when he was still with the Tigers.
The Cubs are seen as the favorites to sign David Price. Based on the reports there is mutual interest between the Cubs and the left-handed ace.
The Cubs may trade one of the shortstops this winter and it could be Starlin Castro that is dealt to help address other areas of need. If the Cubs have players that are untouchable, Addison Russell would appear to be on that list along with Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber. It’s believed the Cubs like Javier Baez’s versatility and upside.
According to Ken Rosenthal, Castro rebuilt his value over the final two months of the season with the way he hit and adapted to second base.
After a miserable three months, Castro hit .295/.319/.464 in his final 65 games with a .783 OPS. As a second baseman, Castro batted .339/.358/.583 with 11 doubles, a triple and five home runs for a .941 OPS in 38 games.
Denard Span and Austin Jackson
The Cubs would like to re-sign Dexter Fowler but he is likely to receive more dollars and years from another team. Jed Hoyer said Friday the front office would sit down and talk to his agent, Casey Close, at some point about the possibility of Fowler returning.
The Cubs will explore other options for center field and that will include free agent Denard Span.
Span did not receive a qualifying offer. With him looking to rebuild his value on a short-term deal, the Nationals could not risk paying him $15.8 million next season. The Cubs were very interested in Span last winter and tried to acquire him before making the deal with the Astros for Dexter Fowler.
Span could be the short-term solution in center and leadoff the Cubs are looking for if he’s healthy. Span is recovering from hip surgery and has said he will be ready for Spring Training. According to Bill Ladson, Span is “expected to start jogging in a couple of weeks and should be able to ease into baseball activities a few weeks after that.”
According to Patrick Mooney, the Cubs viewed Austin Jackson “as only a rental player” when he was acquired before the waiver deadline. With that being the case, Mooney reported Jackson would not appear to be an option for center field next season.
The Cubs have been connected to nine of the 20 players that received qualifying offers. Reports have suggested the Cubs are interested in Wei-Yin Chen, Dexter Fowler, Alex Gordon, Zack Greinke, Jason Heyward, Howie Kendrick, John Lackey, Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Zimmermann.
David Price and Ben Zobrist are not tied to qualifying offers as both players were traded in-season and were not eligible. Two pitchers the Cubs have not been linked to, Mike Leake and Scott Kazmir were also traded during the season and could not be extended a qualifying offer.
Rumors and More Rumors
• According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are doing their homework on Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward. The Royals want to re-sign Gordon and he would like to return to Kansas City according to a report from Jeffrey Flanagan.
• For those that missed it, click here for Ken Rosenthal’s breakdown of the Hot Stove League from free agents to trade targets.
• The L.A. Times looked at the areas the Dodgers and Angels would like to address this winter. Bill Shaikin sees the Cubs as an option for Zack Greinke if he doesn’t re-sign with the Dodgers.
• The Yankees could be shopping everyone and Brian Cashman said he’s “open to anything” according to a report from Ken Rosenthal.
• With a record number of players receiving qualifying offers, this could be the year a player accepts the one-year contract. The Padres gambled and gave Ian Kennedy a qualifying offer. Will a team forfeit a draft pick to sign him if he turns down the offer? Two other pitchers that would be risking a nice contract if they walked away from the qualifying offer are Marco Estrada and Brett Anderson. Estrada had a good year but does not really equate into a long-term contract. And Anderson started a career-high 31 games. First time since his rookie season (2009) he started at least 30 games.
• The Nationals helped Doug Fister and did not extend a qualifying offer to the veteran right-hander.