Speculation continued Monday about the next move or moves the Cubs could make this winter. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said publicly they are happy with the way the roster is currently constructed. Smaller additions are expected to be made before Spring Training but there are those, like Bruce Levine, that are not convinced the Cubs are done this off-season.
Bruce Levine reported, “A big arm in the bullpen and one more starting pitcher would be ideal. A centerfielder with plus defensive range and on-base ability would be the topping on the holiday party cake for the Northsiders.”
The Cubs continue to be linked to the Padres, Indians and Rays for pitching, and the Braves for a centerfielder along with free agent Denard Span.
Cubs Final 2015 Payroll
The Cubs spent $154,907,624 on player payroll in 2015 according to Maury Brown, the 10th highest payroll in Major League Baseball. The Cubs were the only team with a payroll in the top 10 that won a playoff series. The Cubs payroll increased 38.9% in 2015 from 2014.
The Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Tigers, Nationals, Angels, Rangers and Phillies all spent more than the Cubs in 2015.
Teams surpassed a record $4.4 billion ($4,404,807,366) in player salaries, an increase of 8.3% from 2014.
There was mutual interest in a reunion with Jeff Samardzija. The Cubs reportedly made an offer before John Lackey accepted the two-year contract to pitch in the same rotation with Jon Lester again. Samardzija decided San Francisco was the best fit for him and inked a five-year, $90 million contract.
“That was, just sort of a meeting to catch up. We’ve gotten to know each other over the years. Talked about his experiences since leaving the Cubs, what free agency was going to mean to him and possible destinations.”
“Sure, I think Jeff [Samardzija] was definitely a pitcher we were interested in,” Epstein said. “I think the Cubs were a destination he was interested in, but the way the market place played out he found a terrific fit for himself in San Francisco and they got themselves a great pitcher.”
“It was all positive, just not meant to be and it never hurts to have a couple of beers with an old friend.”
ESPN Sunday Night Baseball
ESPN released its early season schedule for Sunday Night Baseball. And the Cubs are not on the schedule through July 17. The first Cubs’ game of the season against the Angels on Monday, April 4 will be carried on ESPN 2.
The Yankees and Red Sox will be on five of the first 10 telecasts, or half of the early season schedule.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Jake Arrieta and Anthony Rizzo made the cut in Sports Illustrated’s best photos of 2015 … click here for the gallery.
• Comcast SportsNet asked, can Jason Heyward handle the pressure of the largest contract in Cubs history?
• Joe Maddon received Baseball America’s Manager of the Year Award during the Winter Meetings. Click here for a video of Theo Epstein presenting it to him. “Anytime a manager receives this kind of award, it’s truly indicative of good players … we have really good players in Chicago.”
• RHP Mike Leake could be signing soon. According to a report from Chris Cotillo, Leake is looking for a five-year deal and the Cardinals are “thought of as the favorite.” Rumblings Monday indicated Leake could ink a five-year deal for around $100 million.
• It’s been very quiet on the Kenta Maeda front. Several teams were expected to be interested in the right-hander but his market has yet to materialize. There are concerns about him holding up to physically to pitching every five days. Ken Rosenthal reported the Padres “will not be a factor in the bidding” for Maeda. Padres’ officials traveled to Japan in November but not for Maeda, to “introduce themselves in a market where they previously had only a minimal presence.”
• The Dodgers “are staying in touch” with the Marlins on Jose Fernandez. The two teams haven’t been able to matchup on a trade. The Shelby Miller trade has increased the Marlins’ expectations on a return for Fernandez. Ken Rosenthal explained, “Adding to the degree of difficulty: The question of how many innings Fernandez will pitch in 2016 and beyond.”
• Jon Paul Morosi reported Monday the Dodgers remain in discussion with the Marlins about a Jose Fernandez deal, but nothing is close.
• Joel Sherman reported on the Billon Dollar Rotation: Just how much are the Mets’ aces worth?
• And speaking of the Metropolitans, according to Jerry Crasnick, Denard Span, Will Venable and Alejandro De Aza are “on their radar as left-handed center field options.” The Mets are “slow-playing” the market. Dexter Fowler is also believed to be of interest to the Mets, but they might not want to surrender the draft pick it would take to sign him.
• The Indians signed one-time Cubs’ lefty Tom Gorzelanny to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.
• Forbes released the list of the Top 50 Must-Follow Sports Business Twitter accounts.
This Day In Cubstory
2011 – Cubs signed free agent Manny Corpas
1999 – Cubs acquired Brandon Pernell from the Padres for Dan Serafini
1993 – Cubs signed free agent Shawn Boskie
1975 – Cubs acquired Mick Kelleher from the Cardinals for Vic Harris
1941 – Cubs purchased Bill Fleming from the Red Sox
1940 – Elrod Hendricks, born