Baseball’s Winter Meetings get underway today before officially starting Monday. It is expected to be a rather wild five days throughout the game.
It is known Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would like to add depth to the bullpen. The Cubs are believed to be happy with Hector Rondon closing games. Rondon is coming off a very good season, one that is overlooked by the media and a large part of the fan base.
Rondon was 6-4 in 72 appearances with a 1.67 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. Rondon allowed 19 runs, 13 earned, on 55 hits with 15 walks and 69 strikeouts in 70 innings. Rondon was 30-for-34 in the “all important” save stat.
Jerry Crasnick reported Saturday the Cubs “are actively exploring a trade for one of the top closers.” Crasnick did not provide any more details or the closers the Cubs may be interested in.
Hector Rondon could slide down to a setup role if the Cubs acquire a closer.
There are a lot of closers reportedly available in the right deal: Mark Melancon (Pirates), Aroldis Chapman (Reds), Jake McGee (Rays), Brad Boxberger (Rays), Ken Giles (Phillies), Andrew Miller (Yankees), Drew Storen (Nationals) and Jonathan Papelbon (Nationals)
The Diamondbacks and Cubs are seemingly the two teams mentioned the most in the numerous rumors surrounding Shelby Miller. The Cubs thought they had the foundation of a deal in place with the Braves for Miller before John Coppolella decided he was no longer available.
The Braves discussions with the Cubs (Jorge Soler, Javier Baez), Diamondbacks (A.J. Pollock), Dodgers (Joc Pederson, Corey Seager), Giants (Matt Duffy, Joe Panik) and Marlins (Marcell Ozuna) have centered on young, controllable bats.
The Diamondbacks “have pushed Shelby Miller in talks with the Braves” according to Buster Olney. Atlanta is focusing on Arizona’s outfielders, especially A.J. Pollock and have tried to expand the deal to get him from the D-Backs.
No matter how much the Braves may want A.J. Pollock as part of a package from the Diamondbacks for Miller, Derrick Hall is on record saying Pollock “is off limits.”
It might just be time for the Braves to focus on other players or reduce the asking price for a pitcher that is not supposed to be available any longer. As Peter Gammons said, the Braves and Padres do not appear to have a clear plan for the direction of either organization.
Dexter Fowler’s market is picking up. The Mets and Giants have shown interest in Fowler and there may be a fit with the Marlins if Marcell Ozuna can be traded.
Fowler and Giancarlo Stanton are very close, plus Fowler has working relationship with the Marlins’ new hitting coach, Barry Bonds. Fowler has worked with Barry Bonds each of the last two off-seasons and is supposed to again this winter.
Peter Gammons thinks Fowler will sign with a team during the Winter Meetings.
The Cubs are searching for a centerfielder. Denard Span and Gerardo Parra remain options on the free agent front.
• Comcast SportsNet: Cubs see centerfield possibilities for Javier Baez
Bruce Levine reported Saturday that free agent lefty Wei-Yin Chen is a “hot topic for the Cubs.” This is not the first report connecting the Cubs to Chen this off-season. But after signing John Lackey and forfeiting a draft pick, it’s hard to see how Chen would fit in the Cubs’ plan.
Chen is looking for at least five years and $85 million and is represented by Scott Boras, who planned to use the contract Rick Porcello signed as a way to get his client the most money possible this winter. Plus, Chen is attached to draft pick compensation after rejecting the Orioles qualifying offer.
Wei-Yin Chen is coming off a good season in the AL East (11-8, 3.34 ERA and 1.21 WHIP) and he should sign a rather large contract this winter. As Jesse Rogers said after John Lackey agreed to terms, Chen is not believed to be an option for the Cubs any longer.
Jeff Samardzija agreed to terms Saturday with the Giants on a five-year, $90 million contract. Samardzija is returning to the Bay Area where he enjoyed pitching after the Cubs traded him to Oakland in July 2014. Samardzija should benefit with being able to work with Giants’ pitching coach Dave Righetti, who is considered one of the best in the business.
Henry Schulman provided a breakdown of Samardzija’s contract. Samardzija received a $3 million signing bonus and will receive $9 million for the 2016 season. Samardzija will be paid $18 million per season for the remaining four years (2017-20). The other $6 million is paid out as a bonus over four years (2017-20) at $1.5 million.
Samardzija also received a limited no-trade clause. Samardzija can pick eight teams per year that he can veto a trade.
• Joel Sherman: Why Giants believe in $90 million Samardzija, but the Yankees wouldn’t bite
• Comcast SportsNet: No Cubs reunion, Jeff Samardzija’s bets pay off with $90 million deal from Giants
News, Notes and Rumors
• Jayson Stark examined the starting pitching market and the teams that are interested in the free agents or trading for a young, controllable starter.
• According to Jon Heyman, teams believe Padres “need to be overwhelmed to trade Tyson Ross.” A.J. Preller could deal Andrew Cashner, who has only one-year of control before he becomes a free agent, “after the free agent market shakes out.” Ken Rosenthal reported the Padres “still want to compete yet collect as many prospects as possible.” With San Diego being in the same division as the Dodgers, Giants and Diamondbacks it is going to be very difficult for Preller’s Padres to do both. Rosenthal explained the contracts being handed out to free agent starting pitchers “will make Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner and even James Shields more attractive.” And Preller hasn’t decided yet whether he would like to extend Ross or trade him.
• Ben Zobrist has scheduled a visit with the Giants and he remains “high on priority list” according to Ken Rosenthal.
• Lou Piniella attended Redsfest and could be on the verge of taking a job within the front office. Piniella was scheduled to meet with Reds’ owner Bob Castellini to discuss a role in the organization. Piniella could rejoin the Reds as a special assistant. Piniella has reiterated over the last five years since stepping down as the Cubs’ skipper that he does not want to manage again.
• There are six front offices with a lot of work to do at the Winter Meetings according to Jim Bowden.
• Joel Sherman analyzed the boom-or-bust markets for the five most intriguing free agent hitters … Yoenis Cespedes, Daniel Murphy, Jason Heyward, Chris Davis and Ian Desmond.
• The Rays are shopping every one of their starting pitchers not named Chris Archer according to a report from The Score.
• Henderson Alvarez has already drawn interest from 10 teams according to a report from Hardball Talk.
• The Cubs saved big money and now must spend what they have wisely according to Paul Sullivan.
• Mark Gonzales detailed the Cubs goals for Baseball’s Winter Meetings.
• Buster Olney’s top 10 right fielders: Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista, Jason Heyward, George Springer, Shin-Soo Choo, Ender Inciarte, Carlos Gonzalez, J.D. Martinez and Gregory Polanco … the toughest for Olney to leave off his list: Curtis Granderson, Hunter Pence, Kole Calhoun, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty.
This Day In Cubstory
2012 – Cubs selected Hector Rondon from the Indians in the Rule 5 Draft
2007 – Blue Jays selected Randy Wells from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
2006 – Cubs traded Freddie Bynum to the Orioles for a PTNBL. Cubs received Kevin Hart from the Orioles on Dec. 7, 2006 to complete the trade.
2007 – Marlins selected Adelberto Mendez from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
1990 – Cubs signed free agent George Bell
1988 – Cubs selected Erik Pappas from the Angels in the Minor League Draft
1976 – Cubs selected Willie Hernandez from the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft
1973 – Cubs traded Randy Hundley to the Twins for George Mitterwald
1965 – Cubs purchased Don Bryant from the Tigers
1959 – Cubs traded Bill Henry, Lou Jackson and Lee Walls to the Redlegs (Reds) for Frank Thomas
1947 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Don Elston
1945 – Larry Bowa, born
1939 – Cubs traded Dick Bartell to the Tigers for Billy Rogell
1938 – Cubs traded Billy Jurges, Frank Demaree and Ken O’Dea to the Giants for Dick Bartell, Hank Leiber and Gus Mancuso
1909 – Stan Hack, born
1903 – Tony Lazzeri, born