Speculation continued throughout the game Saturday as the baseball world descended on Boca Raton for the annual GM Meetings that begin Monday.
More rumors surfaced on which players might be traded as front offices concentrate on improving their rosters over the next six weeks. For the Cubs, the talk was focused on pitching and specifically David Price, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann and Jeff Samardzija.
The Cubs could move a position player or two to acquire pitching from teams like the Indians or Padres. And who could play center is a question the Cubs will have to find an answer to as multiple reports mentioned Denard Span as a possibility.
It should be a busy and interesting week as teams renew conversations and front offices meet with agents about their clients.
Javier Baez and Zack Wheeler
The New York Post’s Joel Sherman thinks the Mets should explore trading for Javier Baez and the Rangers’ Jurickson Profar to fill the team’s need for a shortstop. Sherman pointed out both Baez and Profar are “huge risks” but the “reward would be a shortstop who could be in the same sentence as the other young, emerging stars.”
Sherman indicated earlier in his report that baseball is entering a golden age of shortstop with Carlos Correa (Astros), Francisco Lindor (Indians), Addison Russell (Cubs) and Corey Seager (Dodgers) “ready to be full-time impact players from Day 1” next season. Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox) is entrenched at short and more are on their way like Trea Turner (Nationals), J.P. Crawford (Phillies) and Orlando Arcia (Brewers).
According to Sherman, “no one thinks Starlin Castro is a shortstop any longer” and he feels the Cubs would be willing to trade Baez in the right deal that possibly included Zack Wheeler.
The Mets had a deal in place to send Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores to the Brewers for Carlos Gomez before the deadline. The trade did not happen due to Gomez’s medicals as the baseball world watched Flores breakdown on the field because he thought he was no longer a Met.
Wheeler turns 26 in May and was very good before Tommy John surgery (18-16 in 49 big league starts with a 3.50 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 3.77 FIP). Wheeler should return and at least be back to where he was by 2017. For a team expecting to compete it would be hard to see the Cubs move a player like Baez for a pitcher recovering from Tommy John.
The Cubs success in the majors and with player development down on the farm has led to several changes in the Cubs’ front office, scouting and player development.
The Cubs hired Jared Porter to be the team’s Director of Pro Scouting and Special Assistant in September. The Cubs should be announcing changes in the organization as well as the minor league managers, coaching staffs and coordinators soon.
Since the end of the season, Tim Wilken has left for a job with the Diamondbacks. Joe Bohringer was replaced by Jared Porter and has since taken a job in the Mariners’ front office.
Anthony Iapoce is the Rangers hitting coach. Derek Johnson departed to be the Brewers’ pitching coach. Minor League pitching coaches Storm Davis and Mike Cather left the organization for positions with other teams.
Bruce Levine reported Saturday, long-time scout Ken Kravec will not return in 2016. Kravec has been one of the Cubs’ top scouts for 19 years. Levine did not say if Kravec was hired by another team.
The Cubs have announced minor league managers, coaching staffs and coordinators under the current regime during the week prior to Christmas since 2011.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The Cubs tentative regular season schedule received a little clarity. The Cubs open the regular season at Angel Stadium on Monday, April 4 and play the first two games of the year against Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and company. The Cubs have an exhibition game on the schedule for Sunday, April 3 at Angel Stadium. The Cubs typically end Spring Training with two games in big league parks. The game on April 3 would be one and the other should be announced in the coming weeks, along with the 2016 Cactus League schedule.
• Dave Martinez will interview for the Dodgers’ managerial opening at some point in the coming week. Marc Topkin still expects Gabe Kapler to end up managing the Dodgers. Kapler has been seen as the frontrunner.
• According to the Tribune, the Cubs have top free agent starters in their sights.
• And Paul Sullivan reported off-season plotting for Cubs and White Sox picks up steam at GM Meetings.
• Comcast SportsNet reported the Cubs jump into free agency looking for big-time pitchers.
• Andrew Baggarly asked which free-agent ace will the Giants pair with Bumgarner?
• The Cardinals are ready to make pitch to Jason Heyward according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And if John Lackey accepts the qualifying offer, the Cardinals feel good about him pitching on one a year deal for $15.8 million after the season he just completed.
• Richard Justice looked at four players that could accept qualifying offers … Colby Rasmus, John Lackey, Ian Kennedy and Brett Anderson.
• Ken Rosenthal is still not clear if any of the 20 players will accept qualifying offers this year.
• The Cubs are positioned to make biggest impact in free agency according to Big League Stew.
This Day In Cubstory
2010 – Cubs signed free agent Mike Parisi
2005 – Cubs signed Neifi Perez to a two-year, $5 million contract.
2001 – Cubs signed free agent Adam Melhuse
1998 – Sammy Sosa was named the National League Most Valuable Player. Sosa hit 66 home runs and led the National League with 158 RBI. Sosa helped lead the Cubs into the playoffs for the first time since 1989.
1989 – Jerome Walton won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, topping Dwight Smith. Walton and Smith were the first NL teammates to finish 1-2 in the voting since the Phillies Jack Sanford and Ed Bouchee in 1957. Walton was the first Cubs’ player to win the Rookie of the Year Award since Ken Hubbs in 1962.
1987 – Cubs granted free agency to Bobby Dernier
1985 – Darwin Barney, born
1984 – Cubs granted free agency to Dennis Eckersley, Tim Stoddard, Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Trout and Rick Reuschel
1967 – Henry Rodriguez, born
1965 – Jeff Blauser, born
1963 – Dwight Smith, born