According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs are “looking to get creative” to fill their needs in the bullpen. The Cubs have been connected to Darren O’Day, the top free agent reliever on the market, but the front office has other areas they’ve prioritized that must be addressed with the available payroll.
Theo Epstein talked to Comcast SportsNet about the bullpen and how the front office could provide Joe Maddon and Chris Bosio with options this winter.
“Adding to the bullpen … including possibly investing in a salaried reliever … is on the list of things that we would like to do to improve the club,” Epstein told Comcast SportsNet. “But you have to prioritize, too. We’re not going to be able to accomplish everything that we want to do this winter. We just don’t have the means to do it all. No club really does, so we have to prioritize.”
“It just happens to be a poor supply/demand dynamic this year for free agent relievers, so I don’t necessarily think we’re going to talk our way into a really reasonable contract for a reliever. We’ll see. Especially considering that we really prefer to allocate the resources that we have to starting pitching and some other areas.”
“By no means are we going to ignore the ‘pen,” Epstein said to Comcast SportsNet. “I just think we may look to add talent through some of the routes that we’ve used in the past to find quality relievers … the Rule 5 Draft, minor league free agency, smaller trades, buy-low scenarios.”
“That might be more likely than investing a reliever, even though we’d be open to it. It was one of the things we talked about all year: ‘Hey, this might be a good offseason to invest in a reliever.’ But the reality is we can’t do that and preclude a shot at the starter that we need.”
The Cubs recently signed free agent RHP Andury Acevedo, claimed LHP Jake Leathersich off of waivers from the Mets and traded for RHP Spencer Patton. The Cubs also claimed RHP Ryan Cook off of waivers from the Red Sox earlier in the month.
RHP Hector Rondon, RHP Justin Grimm, RHP Pedro Strop, LHP Travis Wood and LHP Clayton Richard are arbitration eligible and under club control for next season. RHP Neil Ramirez, RHP Carl Edwards Jr., LHP Zac Rosscup and RHP Yoervis Medina are automatic renewal players also under club control for next year.
The Cubs are one of six teams that have checked in with free agent veteran right-hander John Lackey. Multiple reports have indicated the Cubs have looked into signing Lackey to pitch behind Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester in the rotation and give Joe Maddon innings next season.
According to Nick Cafardo, Lackey would like to stay in the National League. And the Cubs and Giants “may have the best shot of signing him.”
Cafardo explained the Cardinals are still interested in re-signing him but John Mozeliak “may feel they’ve gotten the best out of Lackey” since the trade with the Red Sox.
Boston would not mind a reunion with Lackey but Dave Dombrowski is focused on signing an Ace.
In his short time with the Cardinals, John Lackey was 16-13 in 43 starts with a 3.10 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
RHP Trevor Cahill was in the news again Sunday. Cahill is apparently garnering a lot of attention, to the point Buster Olney thinks he could sign with a team relatively soon.
Cahill would prefer to start again. And his performance in September and October could have raised his value to where the Cubs will not be able to re-sign him. It’s believed the Cubs would like to bring him back. Olney thinks it would make sense for Cahill to re-sign with the Cubs after the way he pitched for two months.
ESPN Front Office Awards
Last week while the BBWAA were handing out Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young and MVP Awards, ESPN handed out “awards” to front offices across baseball.
Theo Epstein, with help from Jed Hoyer, received the “award” for the Best Player Promotions of the Year Award for calling up Kris Bryant. The Cubs also received the “award” for Best Manager Hire. The Cubs decision to make the difficult call to let Rick Renteria go in order to hire Joe Maddon paid off with a trip to the National League Championship Series.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The Yankees’ self-imposed financial restrictions could cost them Brett Gardner and Andrew Miller according to Ken Rosenthal. And in his report, Rosenthal compared Jason Heyward’s numbers after six seasons to Andy Van Slyke’s after eight years before Van Slyke signed a three-year, $12.65 million extension with the Pirates, which at the time was the contract with the fourth highest AAV in the game.
• The Nationals will likely trade Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen according to Ken Rosenthal. The Nationals are very interested in signing Darren O’Day and trading for Aroldis Chapman.
• According to Buster Olney, Ben Zobrist is not going to sign a megadeal and all of the teams interested in him are likely “talking in the same contractual neighborhood, maybe for a three-year deal.” Olney also reported that Zobrist could be one of the first free agent position players to sign.
• One of five trades Jim Bowden would like to see happen is for the Cubs to send Jorge Soler and Carl Edwards Jr. to San Diego for Tyson Ross. And another would be the Dodgers trading Yasiel Puig to the Indians for Carlos Carrasco.
• The Dodgers dominated the news Sunday afternoon and night. First, the Dodgers opened the checkbook again and bought more talent. According to multiple reports, Cuban outfielder Yusniel Diaz agreed to terms on a $15.5 million contract. And Cuban infielder Omar Estevez agreed to a $6 million deal.
• And while there has not been an official announcement, Dave Roberts is the Dodgers’ new manager according to multiple outlets. Roberts got the job over Gabe Kapler and is expected to be formally introduced after Thanksgiving. Roberts’ contract is reportedly for three years and includes an option for a fourth season.
• Paul Hoynes answered the question as to why the Indians did not protect Hector Rondon and left him exposed in the Rule 5 Draft. The Cubs selected Rondon in the Rule 5 Draft three years ago. And he’s one save short of back-to-back 30-save seasons while sporting a 2.82 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 181 appearances out of the Cubs’ pen.
• According to Jerry Crasnick, Reds’ outfielder Jay Bruce can block trades to eight teams. Bruce recently submitted the list that has the Red Sox, Yankees, Twins, Diamondbacks, Marlins, Athletics, Blue Jays and Rays on it.
This Day In Cubstory
2005 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Marwin Gonzalez
2001 – Cubs signed free agent Mark Budzinski
1991 – Kevin Encarnacion, born
1984 – Casper Wells, born
1984 – Robert Coello, born
1963 – Dale Sveum, born
1878 – Jimmy Sheckard, born