Happy New Year!
It’s the last day of Two Thousand Fifteen and what a year it was for the Chicago Cubs.
The hype that started at the Convention last January continued throughout the spring and into the regular season. Kris Bryant and Addison Russell made their big league debuts in April. Kyle Schwarber had a cup of coffee in June and returned for good in July as the Cubs took off under Joe Maddon.
Jake Arrieta pitched after the All-Star break like no one had in the history of the game. The Cubs made a run at the Cardinals for the division crown but ran out of time. The Cubs beat the Pirates in the NL Wild Card Game and eliminated the Cardinals in the NLDS before running into the Mets in the NLCS.
Joe Maddon, Kris Bryant and Jake Arrieta took home post-season awards from the BBWAA as the front office was busy putting a plan in place to improve the roster.
The additions of John Lackey, Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward to a team that won a total of 101 games have many predicting great things for the Cubs in the New Year.
Javier Baez had a very good night at the plate Wednesday for Santurce. Baez started at shortstop and batted fourth in the 15-1 victory over Carolina.
Baez went 2-for-4 with a home run, four RBI and two strikeouts. Baez smacked a three-run homer, his second longball of the winter, with two down in the third inning that gave Santurce a 4-1 lead.
In 15 games this winter, Javier Baez has played center field four times, second base in seven games and four games at shortstop.
Arismendy Alcantara started at second base and batted sixth for Licey on Wednesday in the 4-2 victory over Estrellas. Alcantara went 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.
Alcantara finished the regular season in the Dominican with a .259/.336/.371 line that included three doubles, five triples and a .707 OPS. Alcantara did not hit a home run in the 34 regular season games (116 at bats) and walked 14 times with 29 strikeouts.
Alcantara was 10-for-30 over his last 10 games (.333/.429/.333) with five walks and seven strikeouts.
The Dodgers announced Wednesday the team signed LHP Scott Kazmir to a three-year contract. Kazmir’s deal is reportedly for $48 million over three years but there is an opt-out in the contract after just one season. Kazmir can become a free agent following the 2016 season.
According to Jon Heyman, Kazmir received a $5 million signing bonus which would make his salary for the 2016 season, $11 million. Heyman reported his contract calls for $16 million in 2017 and $16 million in 2018.
Joel Sherman reported Kazmir’s deal calls for deferrals which would pay him over a six-year period, if he does not opt-out after the first year. Sherman explained, “Dodgers deferring Kazmir’s three-year, $48 million contract over six years so he’s getting $8 million annually in that period, including a $5 million signing bonus and a $3 million salary” for 2016. If Kazmir ops out, according to Sherman, he will receive $16 million total from the Dodgers ($5 million signing bonus, $3 million salary, $8 million deferred).
The Dodgers could begin the 2016 season with five lefties in its rotation: Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Brett Anderson, Alex Wood and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
News, Notes and Rumors
• FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan believes the Cubs are the best team in baseball.
• Hardball Talk’s top 25 baseball stories of 2015 … No. 16 – Legends Yogi Berra and Ernie Banks pass away.
• According to Bob Nightengale, the White Sox have had “dialogue” with Alex Gordon, Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton but the Southsiders are “not close to a deal with anyone.”
• Roch Kubatko doesn’t think the Orioles are a finalist for Yoenis Cespedes unless his price tag has come way down. Kubatko reported sources he spoke with in the organization indicated the Orioles “aren’t going to pay Cespedes $140 million.”
• Jon Paul Morosi reported teams continue to show interest in free agent outfielder Gerardo Parra. He is “waiting for more of the top-tier outfielders to sign.” The Royals, Nationals, Giants and Angels have “varying levels of interest” in him. The Cubs and Orioles have also been linked to Parra this off-season.
• The Dodgers are seen as the frontrunners to sign RHP Kenta Maeda. The deadline for a team to ink Maeda to a contract is Friday, Jan. 8. Dodgers’ GM Farhan Zaidi was asked about the team’s interest in Maeda on Wednesday and he “would not say whether the team had made a contract offer” to him according to Bill Shaikin.
• The Rangers announced Wednesday they signed former Cubs’ top prospect LHP Donnie Veal to a minor league contract. Texas also inked catcher Michael McKenry to a minor league deal, his included a non-roster invite to Spring Training. The now 31-year old Veal pitched in Independent Ball and in the Braves’ system last season.
• ESPN posted the most memorable MLB moments of 2015 … Aug. 30 – Jake Arrieta tosses a no-hitter, celebrates with mustache onesie.
• Paul Casella posted a report on 10 players poised to bounce back, based on WAR, from subpar 2015 seasons in 2016.
• According to Nick Piecoro, the Diamondbacks discussed a deal with the Reds that would have sent Brandon Phillips to Arizona. The Reds would have likely taken Aaron Hill and his contract back. Hill and Phillips are owed roughly the same amount for the 2016 season. But Phillips is under contract for the 2017 season and the Reds wanted the D-Backs to pay more of his salary than Arizona was comfortable taking on.
• Jesse Sanchez provided an update on Lazarito in the video below … around the five-minute mark. And he compared Lazarito to a 16-year old Bryce Harper.
This Day In Cubstory
2009 – Cubs agreed to terms on a three-year, $15 million contract with free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd
2008 – Cubs traded Mark DeRosa to the Indians for Chris Archer, John Gaub and Jeff Stevens
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Aaron Miles
2004 – Cubs re-signed free agent Todd Hollandsworth
1961 – Rick Aguilera, born
1961 – Steve Engel, born
1955 – Jim Tracy, born
1919 – Loyd Christopher, born
1879 – Fred Beebe, born
1857 – King Kelly, born