Before the news leaked Friday afternoon the Cubs and John Lackey agreed to terms on a two-year, $32 million contract, Theo Epstein said, “If I had to guess, we’ll still probably sign a free agent and make a trade, but not going to hold ourselves to it.” Epstein did not tip his hand the Cubs landed Lackey and even told the beat writers there were ongoing conversations with Jeff Samardzija.
With Lackey in the fold, it’s believed the Cubs will go the trade route to acquire another starting pitcher. Shortly after the Lackey agreement hit the wire, David Kaplan tweeted Lackey should be the “first of a handful of moves” by front office and he expects the Cubs to trade for a young, controllable starter.
According to Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs “certainly aren’t done making moves” but with Lackey joining the starting staff “they feel they have a rotation that can get back to October.” FanGraphs found value in the signing and pointed out with questions yet to be answered by the Cardinals and Pirates, the Cubs could have a rotation good enough to make them the favorites in the division.
The Cubs continue to be connected to three teams as the front office tries to acquire a starting pitcher. Shelby Miller is believed to be high on the Cubs list and there have been conversations with the Braves about Julio Teheran. The Giants are also very interested in Miller but there does not appear to be a fit. According to Jerry Crasnick, the Braves want an impact, up the middle bat as part of a package for Miller. The Braves are believed to like both Jorge Soler and Javier Baez. While Soler may not fit with the Braves, Baez would.
The Cubs really like Carlos Carrasco and have interest in Danny Salazar. FanGraphs detailed Carrasco’s value to the Indians and why Cleveland does not want to trade him. The Cubs talked to the Indians about Carrasco during the season and tried to acquire him prior to the deadline. According to the Sun-Times, prying Carrasco from the Indians will be expensive but the Cubs might be able to get Lonnie Chisenhall included in the deal. The Sun-Times indicated the Cubs like Chisenhall as “an outfield upgrade at least in a platoon role.” The Indians are also believed to be interested in Soler and Baez.
And according to both Jon Heyman and the Sun-Times, the Cubs still have their eye on the Padres’ Tyson Ross. Acquiring Ross is going to be rather expensive, especially with A.J. Preller not giving a clear cut direction he’s taking the Padres.
The cost of starting pitching has certainly increased since predictions from early in the off-season. Signing free agent starters has never been cheap but the contracts are larger than most expected which has impacted what teams want in return for their young, controllable arms.
Theo Epstein did not close the door on Dexter Fowler re-signing with the Cubs. Fowler is looking for a long-term commitment from a team, believed to be four years, and the Cubs would prefer a centerfielder on a short-term deal.
Once Fowler signs with a team, and both the Mets and Giants are interested, the Cubs receive a compensatory draft pick.
Fowler had a good year at the plate after a rather slow start. In the field, the work he put in with Dave Martinez paid off for the Cubs.
Buster Olney posted his list of the top 10 centerfielders in the game, and free agent Dexter Fowler was ranked eighth despite his defensive shortcomings.
Olney’s top 10 centerfielders: Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen, A.J. Pollock, Lorenzo Cain, Mookie Betts, Adam Jones, Kevin Kiermaier, Dexter Fowler, Kevin Pillar and Adam Eaton. Carlos Gomez and Charlie Blackmon were the two players Olney had the toughest time leaving out of his top 10.
Dexter Fowler is one of the true centerfielders on the free agent market, but his options appear limited to the Mets and Giants at this point.
The Cubs level of interest in Ben Zobrist is unknown at this point. Would the front office like to add Zobrist to the roster? Of course, but there simply doesn’t appear to be a fit.
Zobrist could be getting close to signing with a team. He visited the Mets on Wednesday according to Ken Rosenthal. Zobrist spent the day, “had dinner with Sandy Alderson and Jeff Wilpon and toured part of Westchester and Connecticut.”
Rosenthal also reported “Zobrist has two visits remaining,” the Giants are likely one but there are two unknown teams he has yet to meet with. Zobrist set up four meetings with teams according to Rosenthal. The Cardinals are no longer in the mix and the Braves visited Zobrist.
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers “appear more focused on Chase Utley than Zobrist.” Utley would cost a lot less than Zobrist at this point.
The Mets are waiting on an answer from Zobrist according to the New York Post. And the Nationals are still in on Zobrist according to the Washington Post. Mike Puma reported the Mets expect to know by the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday if Zobrist will be signing with them or not.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The Cubs couldn’t compete for David Price at Red Sox level according to Comcast SportsNet.
• The Diamondbacks are not believed to be done adding pitching to their roster. Arizona landed Zack Greinke with a six-year, $206.5 million contract on Friday. And Mike Leake is an option the D-Backs are pursuing. According to Jayson Stark, the D-Backs “still plan to add a starter through free agency or trade and are still in the bullpen market.” Ken Rosenthal reported Dave Stewart and Tony LaRussa met with Mike Leake on Thursday.
• After losing Zack Greinke to the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers turned to Johnny Cueto. Ken Rosenthal said they are “intrigued” by Cueto and are interested in Hisashi Iwakuma. The Dodgers also reached out to the agents for Scott Kazmir and Jeff Samardzija.
• And speaking of Samardzija, the Cardinals are very interested in Jeff Samardzija after not signing David Price and losing John Lackey to the Cubs.
• Dioner Navarro will receive $4 million from the White Sox on the one-year contract he signed.
• The Red Sox designated Garin Cecchini for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for David Price. Cecchini has been a top 10 prospect in Boston’s loaded system for the last five years. Theo Epstein selected Cecchini in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. The 24-year old lefty is a third baseman that can play first base and left field. Cecchini has played in only 13 games in the majors over two seasons (2014, 2015) and batted .258/.361/.452 in 11 games during the 2014 season with three walks and 11 strikeouts in 31 at bats. Over five seasons in the minors, Cecchini put together a .279/.372/.402 slash line with a .774 OPS.
• The Nationals signed LHP Oliver Perez to a two-year, $7 million contract.
• Jim Bowden posted a team-by-team breakdown of MLB front offices.
This Day In Cubstory
2011 – Ron Santo was elected to the Hall of Fame. Santo was finally voted in to The Hall after receiving 15 of 16 votes from the Golden Era Committee.
2010 – Cubs signed free agent Brad Snyder
1994 – Cubs selected Tanyon Sturtze from the Athletics in the Rule 5 Draft
1988 – White Sox selected Rich Amaral from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
1988 – Cubs selected Eric Yielding from the Blue Jays in the Rule 5 Draft
1988 – Cubs acquired Mitch Williams, Steve Wilson, Curt Wilkerson, Paul Kilgus, Pablo Delgado and Luis Benitez from the Rangers for Drew Hall, Jamie Moyer and Rafael Palmeiro
1983 – Cubs selected Johnny Abrego from the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft
1977 – Cubs selected Jesus Figueroa from the Yankees in the Rule 5 Draft
1974 – Cubs acquired Mike Adams from the Twins for Tom Lundstedt
1973 – Ron Santo became the first player in Major League history to invoke his 10-and-5 rights when he vetoed a trade from the Cubs to the Angels.
1972 – Cliff Floyd, born
1957 – Cubs acquired Taylor Phillips and Sammy Taylor from the Braves for Eddie Haas, Don Kaiser and Bob Rush
1949 – Cubs selected Hy Cohen from the Yankees in the Minor League Draft
1949 – Cubs selected Ben Taylor from the Dodgers in the Minor League Draft
1940 – Cubs purchased Slick Coffman from the Browns
1936 – Cubs traded Woody English and Roy Henshaw to the Dodgers for Lonny Frey