The Cubs are in the center of the starting pitching rumors as baseball gears up for the Winter Meetings. David Price continues to be linked to the Cubs while the front office continues to explore all options.
David Kaplan added a name to the list of possibilities when he reported the Cubs were talking to Mike Leake along with Jeff Samardzija and John Lackey. The Cubs could add a starter through free agency that can give Joe Maddon innings in the third or fourth spot in the rotation.
The Cubs are believed to be discussing trades with the Padres, Indians and Braves to acquire a young, controllable arm that would slide into the rotation behind Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar of the Indians and the Padres’ Tyson Ross are reportedly the starters the Cubs have shown the most interest in.
According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs have continued talks with the Padres and those discussions could include James Shields.
The Cubs tried to sign Shields last off-season and reportedly attempted to trade for him prior to the deadline. Shields chose the Padres over the Cubs and signed a four-year, $75 million contract. Shields had a rough season in San Diego and is still owed a lot of money. Shields is scheduled to make $21 million per season for the next three years. His contract has a $16 million club option for 2019 that includes a $2 million buyout. Shields does not have a no-trade clause but there is an opt out after the 2016 season. Shields is owed a guaranteed $65 million.
Shields turns 34 on Dec. 20 and was 13-7 in 33 starts with a 3.91 ERA and 1.33 WHIP this past season. Shields allowed 93 runs, 88 earned, on 189 hits, 33 home runs, 81 walks and 216 strikeouts in 202 1/3 innings. And outside of Petco Park, Shields was 7-4 in 17 starts with a 4.50 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.
It’s unclear how much interest, if any at all, the Cubs may have in James Shields at this point. If the front office trades from the position player depth to acquire pitching it would seem the Cubs would look to deal for a pitcher with upside, not one on the downside of his career that is owed a lot of money.
The Cubs are believed to have talked to the Braves about RHP Shelby Miller, and are likely one of “the 20 or so teams that are said to have expressed interest in Miller.”
According to a report from Jon Heyman, Miller is garnering a lot of attention and the Braves are being “very aggressive” with what they are seeking in return. Miller has three more years of club control before he becomes a free agent. The Braves are going to maximize his value.
A report last week indicated the Braves asked for either Matt Duffy or Joe Panik when the Giants called about Shelby Miller. According to Heyman, the Braves asked the Yankees for RHP Luis Severino in their discussions. The Braves wanted a package of players built around Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins for Miller.
Heyman reported the Diamondbacks and Giants called the Braves about Miller. In an earlier report, Heyman said the Braves asked for Joc Pederson in a package for Miller. Heyman retracted the report and stated Pederson was not in the talks for Miller.
The Braves have set a high price tag for Shelby Miller based on Heyman’s report.
The Cubs have been connected to the Indians since last July. The Cubs have a young power-hitting outfielder in Jorge Soler that the Indians reportedly covet. And the Indians have two young, controllable starters the Cubs are believed to be interested in, Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar.
According to reports from Bruce Levine and Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs have continued conversations with the Indians about Carlos Carrasco. The Cubs “pushed hard for Carrasco” according to Rosenthal prior to the deadline last July.
The Indians would prefer to keep the young arms they’ve developed. Like the Cubs, Cleveland might not be able to fill holes without trading from a position of strength.
Carlos Carrasco turns 29 in March and is under club control through the 2018 season. And his team-friendly deal includes two club options for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Padres will only consider trading Tyson Ross “for a monster package.” A.J. Preller must feel like he is winning a trade according to the Tribune, and the deal he made with the Red Sox for Craig Kimbrel “tempered any momentum toward a Cubs deal involving Tyson Ross.”
Rosenthal reported the Padres may try to extend Ross beyond the two seasons he has left before he hits free agency.
More Pitching Rumors
• Patrick Mooney explored the pitching options for the Cubs while asking if the front office will make another big splash in free agency.
• Peter Gammons spoke to former teammates of David Price and they feel a city he likes, pitching in the National League and being able to hit “will be among factors more important” than getting the last dollar possible. Gammons added “never underestimate Dave Dombrowski.” The Red Sox want Price and want him really bad.
• According to a report from Jerry Crasnick, Zack Greinke is looking for a $30 million AAV.
• David Kaplan reported the Cubs “are being very active on all fronts.” Kaplan does not think the Cubs will sign either David Price or Zack Greinke. Kaplan also indicated the “Cubs farm system is in high demand.”
• Johnny Cueto turned down a six-year, $120 million deal from the Diamondbacks because he expects a bigger contract. The D-Backs are still interested in Cueto even though he wants $20-40 million more than they offered. According to Jon Heyman, the Cubs are among the teams that have shown interest in Cueto. Outside of the national media, there has been little to no connections to the Cubs and Cueto. Heyman indicated Cueto’s market also includes the Dodgers, Giants and Red Sox. Jerry Crasnick reported the teams interested in Cueto believe he’s looking for $140-160 million. There are a lot of concerns throughout the industry about his health and the way he performed with the Royals. There will be a team that meets his contract demands. It can only be seen as a positive the Cubs are not believed to be in on Cueto.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon, Andrew Miller, Drew Storen, Jonathan Papelbon, Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee are the late-inning relievers available on the trade market.