Friday was another busy day around baseball as players accepted and rejected qualifying offers from their former teams. For the first time a player accepted a qualifying offer, in fact there were three players that took the $15.8 million offer for next season and will return to their team for another year.
Colby Rasmus, Matt Wieters and Brett Anderson accepted the qualifying offers, Marco Estrada re-signed with the Blue Jays on a two-year contract and the other 16 players now have draft pick compensation tied to them.
Dexter Fowler declined the Cubs qualifying offer. With Fowler’s decision, the front office is exploring options to play center field and hit leadoff for Joe Maddon next season.
For the second day in a row, there was a huge trade. Friday night, Craig Kimbrel was sent to Boston from San Diego. The Hot Stove League is heating up.
According to reports from Jim Bowden and Bill Shaikin, Dave Martinez is not a finalist for the Dodgers’ managerial opening. The Dodgers will conduct a second round of interviews next week. And Martinez is not among the four candidates left standing.
It appears the Dodgers have reduced the list down to Gabe Kapler, Bud Black, Darin Erstad and Dave Roberts. Erstad reportedly withdrew from consideration. Kapler is still considered the frontrunner to land the job.
The Dodgers would like to have a manager in place by the Winter Meetings.
With Martinez not leaving the Cubs for Los Angeles, Joe Maddon’s staff entire staff should return for the 2016 season.
Wrigley Ticket Increase
The Cubs sent letters to season ticket holders Friday that explained the renewal process and the increase in cost. The average increase will be 10 percent with some areas in Wrigley being slightly more and others seeing a lower increase. Crain’s Chicago Business indicated the increase could be almost 14 percent in some areas of Wrigley.
There are more than 73,000 on the Cubs’ season ticket waiting list … and nearly 1.2 million people sought to purchase Cubs post-season tickets according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
The Cubs were connected to Craig Kimbrel leading up to the deadline last July. Several reports indicated Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer tried to acquire Kimbrel and one of the Padres’ controllable starters (Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, James Shields) but A.J .Preller decided to stick with the players he had and finish out what was a disappointing season in San Diego.
The Padres are believed to like Starlin Castro and/or Javier Baez and talks with the Cubs about swapping a shortstop for a controllable young arm were expected to be rekindled this winter. And rumblings suggested those discussions could have been expanded to include Craig Kimbrel.
Craig Kimbrel was dealt Friday night to Boston for four prospects and A.J. Preller restocked his farm system according to Jonathan Mayo by trading his closer. This deal barely put a dent in the Red Sox loaded farm system.
Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox new President of Baseball Operations, sent OF Manuel Margot, SS Javier Guerra, LHP Logan Allen and INF Carlos Asuaje to the Padres for Kimbrel. The Red Sox had the prospect currency and redundancy to pay a rather hefty price for Craig Kimbrel and take on his remaining contract.
Kimbrel is owed $11 million for 2016, $13 million for 2017 and a $1 million buyout on a $13 million club option for 2018. That is a guaranteed $25 million over the next two seasons plus incentives ($3.5 million in performance bonuses and $50,000 for All-Star selection).
Dombrowski used the farm system he inherited to cross off one of the areas he said he would address this winter. Keith Law posted his review of the trade and he thinks the Sox surrendered too much for Kimbrel, even with dealing players that are seemingly blocked at the big league level.
As previously reported, closers are available this winter and there are three rather big ones left for the taker. The Yankees are reportedly listening to offers for Andrew Miller. And it will be interesting to see what a team gives up for Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon even with less control than the Red Sox received by paying a big price for Craig Kimbrel.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The Cubs were one of several teams interested in playing an exhibition game in Cuba toward the end of Spring Training if MLB could make the event happen. The Rays were chosen as the team that will participate in the game. Rob Manfred held the drawing Friday and the Rays were awarded the game against the Cuban National team.
• Theo Epstein sees a two-year window for chance at a “super team” but resists temptation to go all in for the short-term according to the Sun-Times.
• And the New York Post ranked Theo Epstein as the third best “general manager” in baseball behind the Cardinals’ John Mozeliak and the Rangers’ Jon Daniels.
• Paul Sullivan reported the Cubs believe the chance to end championship drought is appealing to free agents.
• Jesse Rogers answered a few questions from Twitter and he thinks “there is a decent chance” Jeff Samardzija could re-sign with the Cubs.
• According to Paul Hoynes, the Indians “seem opposed” right now to trade one of their starting pitchers (Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar or Trevor Bauer) for an impact bat in the outfield.
• When news broke of Craig Kimbrel being traded to the Red Sox, Jeff Passan thought Tyson Ross could be part of the deal. Ross was not included but appears to still be available.
• The Padres would like to acquire a shortstop this winter and have expressed interest in Ian Desmond according to Dennis Lin.
• Six hundred Chris Denorfia bobbleheads were mysteriously found on a doorstep in San Diego. Click here for the report from Comcast SportsNet … and click here for the must-see video from NBC San Diego.
• The 2015 Rookie Class was the best in 100 years according to FanGraphs.
Wrigley Field Photos – Phase Two of The 1060 Project
This Day In Cubstory
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Brian Bogusevic
2012 – Cubs signed free agent J.C. Boscan
2006 – Cubs signed free agent Mark DeRosa
2005 – The Devil Rays named Joe Maddon the team’s manager, replacing John McLaren who took over in the dugout during the previous season for Lou Piniella.
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Neifi Perez
2002 – Cubs signed free agent Tim Christman
1999 – Cubs signed free agent Daniel Garibay
1978 – Xavier Nady, born
1973 – Cubs completed the trade for Mike Paul from the Rangers by sending Larry Gura to Texas as the PTBNL
1968 – Kent Bottenfield, born
1954 – Willie Hernandez, born
1937 – Jim Brewer, born