Baseball’s second season kicks into high gear today. Friday at 4:00pm CST is the deadline for clubs to make qualifying offers to free agents. And free agency begins at 11:01pm CST on Friday night.
It could be a rather busy start to the weekend throughout the game. Buster Olney reported late Thursday after the six-player trade between the Mariners and Rays was announced that general managers he spoke with said there was “a ton of trade conversation going on.”
Willson Contreras had to leave Thursday’s game against Salt River in the third inning with an apparent injury. Contreras hurt his leg trying to beat out a double play and did not return on defense in the bottom of the inning.
The Cubs have not addressed what happened to Contreras but the reports from the park did not sound promising.
Video of the at-bat, does not show him running to first base.
Multiple reports indicated Contreras hurt his hamstring running to first base and had to start hopping before he reached the bag. One report stated he “went down in a heap” after he made it to first base and “walked off the field gingerly.”
In 14 games, Willson Contreras hit .283/.361/.547 with five doubles and three home runs for a .908 OPS. Contreras was named to the East Division squad for the upcoming Fall Stars Game. Contreras has improved his stock even more this fall and has become over the course of the year arguably the top catching prospect in all of baseball.
If the reports from the park are accurate, and based on the sources of those reports there is no reason to think they’re not, the Cubs should shut Contreras down so he is not slowed in Spring Training. Contreras was looking forward to playing in the Venezuelan Winter League again but it’s highly unlikely the Cubs would allow him to participate.
Will provide additional information on Contreras once the team updates his status.
The Cubs lost another important contributor to the team’s player development staff. The Rangers announced Thursday that Anthony Iapoce left the Cubs to become the Rangers’ hitting coach. Iapoce was the Cubs minor league hitting coordinator and special assistant to Jed Hoyer in player development for the last three seasons.
Anthony Iapoce and Derek Johnson, who left to take the job as the Brewers’ pitching coach, made an impact to the organization on the player development side.
“Anthony is going to be an outstanding Major League hitting coach,” John Mallee told T.R. Sullivan. “His knowledge of the swing, approach and ability to communicate to all different types of people is really special. He will connect immediately with the players and staff and bring knowledge, energy and a passion to win. He will be greatly missed in Chicago. He is ready for this new chapter and should be a Ranger for years to come.”
- Full Report from T.R. Sullivan
- Full Report from the Dallas Morning News
- Report from the Dallas Morning News
Theo Epstein addressed the possibility of losing front office personnel and coaches to other organizations during his end of season press conference.
“They are getting recognized across the industry, deservingly, and I think it’s a sign of a healthy organization when other organizations come along and are willing to promote and hire some of your guys. And when that happens we will embrace it.”
“We wish them well. We are proud of them,” Epstein said. “And if we’ve done our job we have another wave behind them of front office guys, scouts, development guys who have learned on the job and are ready to be promoted and can step in and continue further The Cubs Way on the field and in the front office.”
The Cubs have not announced replacements for Anthony Iapoce or Derek Johnson.
Alex Gordon and Qualifying Offers
Friday (4:00pm CST) is the deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers to their free agents. Players have until 4:00pm CST on Nov. 13 to accept or decline the $15.8 million contract for the 2016 season. The Cubs are expected to make a QO to Dexter Fowler prior to the deadline.
The Royals announced Thursday that Alex Gordon was extended the $15.8 million qualifying offer. Gordon, like most players that will receive a qualifying offer, is expected to decline it.
Over the first three years of the current system a player has not accepted a qualifying offer. But that could change this year.
The Cubs have been connected to several free agents that will reportedly receive qualifying offers. Those players include Alex Gordon, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lackey, Jeff Samardzija, Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Heyward.
Aramis Ramirez made it official and announced his retirement Thursday.
Ramirez had an excellent 18-year career and will be remembered as one of the top two third basemen in Cubs’ history. Ramirez played his last game against the Cubs and grounded into a 5-4-3 double play in his final at bat.
Ramirez finished with a career line of .283/.341/.492 with 495 doubles, 24 triples and 386 home runs for a .833 OPS. Ramirez had 1,417 RBI in 2194 games. Ramirez was a three-time All-Star, twice with the Cubs in 2005 and 2008. Ramirez hit 25 or more home runs 10 different times, .300 or better in seven seasons and had at least a .800 OPS in all but one season (2010) from 2004-13.
The Cubs recognized Ramirez’s retirement on Twitter. During his nine years with the Cubs, Ramirez hit .294/.356/.531 with 256 doubles, 14 triples and 239 home runs for a .887 OPS. Ramirez drove in 806 runs for three division winners (2003, 2007 and 2008).
Aramis Ramirez retires with the seventh most home runs (386) by a third baseman, ninth in hits (2,303), sixth in doubles (495) and RBI (1,417).
Zack Greinke opted out of the final three years of his contract with the Dodgers and left $71 million on the table. Greinke is a free agent and should at least double what he walked away from earlier this week.
Greinke is likely looking at Jon Lester money, if not more. Greinke should sign a five year contract in the $140-180 million range.
The Dodgers reportedly are the frontrunners to sign Greinke but the Cubs have been rumored as a possible destination. Many think if Greinke does not ink a new deal with the Dodgers he will take his talents to San Francisco and pair with Madison Bumgarner.
David Schoenfield listed five possibilities of where Greinke will sign this winter. The Dodgers are the favorite followed by the Cubs, Nationals, Giants and Diamondbacks.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Prince Fielder and Matt Harvey were named the 2015 Comeback Players of the Year.
• Sports Illustrated posted its Hot Stove Preview for the NL Central.
• Kyle Schwarber did a cool thing during Game 3 of the NLCS that no one cared about at the time according to FanGraphs.
• FanGraphs posted its 2016 top 50 free agent predictions. Dave Cameron does a tremendous job. With that said, his predictions for the Cubs are rather different and unlikely.
• The Nationals are assembling a very good coaching staff. Dusty Baker is the team’s new skipper. Mike Maddux is the pitching coach and the team announced Thursday that Davey Lopes is the club’s new first base and baserunning coach. Reports have suggested Alex Cora will also be added to Baker’s staff.
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Cubs signed free agent Aaron Cunningham
2010 – Cubs granted free agency to Mitch Atkins, Jason Dubois, Jeff Gray, Mark Johnson, Bryan LaHair, Scott McClain and Russ Canzler
1998 – Kerry Wood was named National League Rookie of the Year. Wood held batters to a .196 average and recorded 233 strikeouts in 166 2/3 innings. Wood’s 20K game is considered one of the most dominant starts in Major League history.
2006 – Cubs signed free agent Nate Bland