If the GM Meetings were any indication there will be a lot of activity throughout the game over the next month and at the Winter Meetings. Teams met with player’s agents and other teams about possible trades. The amount of information out of the meetings by far outweighed any previous year.
Theo Epstein told Carrie Muskat the Cubs “met with at least six agents” of free agent players. Epstein said it is “still the feeling out period” of the off-season. The Cubs are believed to have met with representatives for David Price, Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann and Jeff Samardzija plus Alan Nero, who represents Ben Zobrist and Casey Close, the agent for Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon. According to Carrie Muskat, the Cubs did not discuss “hard years and dollars” with free agents.
The Cubs also talked to other teams about possible trades. And only a fraction of those talks from Boca Raton surfaced.
Theo Epstein said, “Every off-season has a rhythm. The GM Meetings are the top of the first. There’s a long way to go.”
Friday (today at 4:00pm CST) is the deadline for players to accept or decline the $15.8 million qualifying offer for next season. And it appears that for the first time a player will accept the qualifying offer.
According to Ken Rosenthal, OF Colby Rasmus has accepted the qualifying offer from the Astros and will return to Houston. Rasmus is taking the one-year contract and it could have to do with Rasmus having the same agent as Jason Heyward, Dexter Fowler and Alex Gordon. Rasmus would have an idea of his market.
Buster Olney reported both LHP Brett Anderson (Dodgers) and RHP Ian Kennedy (Padres) could accept their offers prior to the deadline.
Dexter Fowler is expected to reject the Cubs’ qualifying offer.
Ken Rosenthal explained players that accept qualifying offers cannot be traded until June 15. But due to a quirk in the system, if the player that received a qualifying offer signs a multi-year contract they can be traded right away.
The Blue Jays are working on a two-year contract with Marco Estrada. The Jays made a qualifying offer to Estrada and the two sides were working on a deal late Thursday to keep him in Toronto prior to Friday’s deadline.
According to Rosenthal, if the Blue Jays are close on a multi-year contract with Marco Estrada then the deal is done. Players accepting qualifying offers would have to pass a physical before the 4:00pm CST deadline.
As of Friday morning, only Colby Rasmus appears to be set to accept the $15.8 million qualifying offer for next season.
There were two trades in Major League Baseball on Thursday, one rather big one and the other involved a veteran reliever leaving San Diego for Seattle.
The Braves traded SS Andrelton Simmons and C Jose Briceno to the Los Angeles Angels for INF Erick Aybar, LHP Sean Newcomb, RHP Chris Ellis and cash ($2.5 million). The Angels received the top defensive shortstop in baseball and the Braves received the Angels top two pitching prospects along with Erick Aybar. Atlanta is expected to move Aybar for more talent.
The Angels paid a huge price for Simmons. Newcomb has a chance to be a true No. 1.
The Mets attempted to acquire Simmons according to Joel Sherman. But the Braves asking price for Simmons because of trading him within the division started with Michael Conforto plus one of the young pitchers.
The Mariners acquired RHP Joaquin Benoit from the Padres for RHP Enyel De Los Santos and INF Nelson Ward. No one is sure the direction A.J. Preller is going with his team. Most thought when the Padres picked up Benoit’s option he would stay in San Diego to pitch the ninth inning and Craig Kimbrel would be moved. San Diego instead received two players that were in A-ball last year for Benoit.
James Russell is returning to the NL East.
The Phillies announced Thursday the team signed Russell to a minor league contract and his deal includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
Russell spent last season with the Cubs after re-signing with the organization that drafted him in the spring on a minor league contract after the Braves let him walk. Russell played a big role in the bullpen early in the season before he ran out of gas.
Russell was designated for assignment on Sept. 1 to open a spot on the 40-man roster for RHP Trevor Cahill. Russell was outrighted to Triple-A Iowa and finished the season with the I-Cubs. Russell appeared in nine games for Iowa and posted a 2-0 record with three saves, 2.45 ERA and 1.09 WHIP.
The Cubs selected Russell in the 14th round of the 2007 draft. Russell made his big league debut on April 5, 2010. Russell was 0-2 in 49 games with a 5.29 ERA and 1.50 WHIP this year with the Cubs. Over six seasons with the Cubs, Russell was 10-18 with a 4.03 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 365 games with five starts.
James Russell appeared in the most games by a left-handed pitcher in franchise history.
Silver Slugger Awards
The 2015 Silver Slugger Awards were announced Thursday. Here are the winners …
- Miguel Cabrera – 1B
- Jose Altuve – 2B
- Josh Donaldson – 3B
- Xander Bogaerts – SS
- Brian McCann – C
- Mike Trout – OF
- J.D. Martinez – OF
- Nelson Cruz – OF
- Kendrys Morales – DH
- Paul Goldschmidt – 1B
- Dee Gordon – 2B
- Nolan Arenado – 3B
- Brandon Crawford – SS
- Buster Posey – C
- Andrew McCutchen – OF
- Bryce Harper – OF
- Carlos Gonzalez – OF
- Madison Bumgarner – P
Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant were among the finalists at first and third base in the National League.
News and Notes
• For General Managers, winning the winter can lead to a cruel summer according to Bob Nightengale.
• Jon Paul Morosi reported Stephen Strasburg had a growth surgically removed from his back.
• According to Bruce Levine the Cubs’ creative bookkeeping can help add on.
And last, but not least, Rob Neyer discussed the title changes in front offices across the game and who actually attended the GM Meetings.
This Day In Cubstory
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Scott Baker
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Alberto Gonzalez
2009 – Cubs granted free agency to Chad Fox
2008 – Cubs acquired Kevin Gregg from the Marlins for Jose Ceda
2007 – Cubs sent Craig Monroe to the Twins as part of conditional deal
2006 – Cubs signed free agent John Webb
2002 – Cubs acquired Damian Miller from Arizona for Gary Johnson and Dave Noyce
2000 – Cubs signed free agent Trace Coquillette
1998 – Cubs signed free agents Steve Gojkowski, Scott Stahoviak and Andrew Lorraine
1990 – Arodys Vizcaino, born
1989 – Cubs granted free agency to Scott Sanderson
1985 – Cubs released Dave Beard
1984 – Ryne Sandberg was named National League Most Valuable Player. Sandberg became the first Cub to win the MVP award since Ernie Banks in 1959.
1981 – Cubs granted free agency to Tim Blackwell, Dick Tidrow and Hector Cruz
1956 – Cubs acquired Ray Jablonski and Elmer Singleton from the Reds for Warren Hacker, Don Hoak and Pete Whisenant