Theo Epstein said it would be a wild Winter Meetings. And Tuesday was exactly that for the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs made two significant moves and they are reportedly not done. The Cubs signed Ben Zobrist to a four-year contract and traded Starlin Castro to the Yankees for RHP Adam Warren and a PTBNL.
Joe Maddon has more hardware for his trophy case. Baseball America named Maddon its Major League Manager of the Year and Maddon won the MLB Esurance Award for Manager of the Year.
Maddon received both awards Tuesday at the Winter Meetings.
The BBWAA voted Maddon the NL Manager of the Year last month, it was the third time Maddon was named the league’s manager of the year by the baseball writers. Maddon led the Cubs to 97 wins and a trip to the NLCS.
Maddon spent a lot of time with the media Tuesday and made appearances on the MLB Network and MLB Network Radio. Maddon talked about the expectations already placed on the Cubs for next season. Maddon said he wants his team to embrace the pressure.
Maddon is very happy with the addition of John Lackey. Maddon thinks Lackey is a perfect fit for the Cubs according to ESPN Chicago.
While admitting anything is possible, Maddon sees Javier Baez and Jorge Soler as building blocks not trade chips according to Patrick Mooney.
Joe Maddon guided the Cubs through one of the best seasons in franchise history. Maddon now has the tough task of putting his team in a position not to repeat last year but to take it further and meet expectations.
Tuesday was the end of an era for the Chicago Cubs. Starlin Castro was traded to the Yankees for RHP Adam Warren and a player to be named later.
Castro made his Cubs’ debut as a 20-year old five years ago and leaves the only organization he’s known more than five years later. Castro had an underappreciated career with the Cubs, one that ended nine hits short of 1,000 in just six seasons.
Starlin Castro was brought up too soon and not only had to learn how to be a Major League Baseball player, he had to learn the game at the highest level.
The Cubs and Yankees were connected last month in a possible deal for Castro that was reported by the New York media and quickly shot down. When the Tribune reported Castro moved to Tampa for the off-season and he was thinking about buying a home there, questions were raised if he could be traded to the Yankees at some point in the near future. The Yankees Spring Training facility is located in Tampa.
Brian Cashman said Tuesday that the Yankees tried to trade for Castro at the deadline. Cashman and Epstein rekindled talks for Castro about a month ago. Conversations increased over the last couple of days and Cashman knew in order for Epstein to trade Castro another deal, signing Ben Zobrist, would have to take place.
According to ESPN Chicago, the Cubs and Yankees discussed a Starlin Castro for Adam Warren trade after the season “but Cashman had other ideas before returning to this one.”
Theo Epstein said Tuesday was a bittersweet day for the Cubs. He believes Castro will thrive with the Yankees.
Bruce Levine spoke with Castro’s agent, Paul Kinzer. Castro “is sad to leave the Cubs and his roots but is happy to go to a great team like the Yankees.”
- ESPN Chicago: Cubs fill holes with moves that send Castro out, bring Zobrist and Warren in
- Comcast SportsNet: Cubs sign Ben Zobrist for $56 million and trade Starlin Castro to Yankees
- The Sun-Times: Combo deal … Cubs trade Starlin Castro to Yankees, sign free agent Ben Zobrist
- ESPN: Busy Cubs aren’t done yet after Ben Zobrist, Starlin Castro deals
- Joel Sherman: What the Starlin Castro deal tells us about Yankees’ new mindset
- Jon Paul Morosi: After season of swings and misses, Cubs hit home run with Zobrist
- ESPN New York: Mets’ John Ricco on Ben Zobrist decision: ‘I don’t think this was about money.’
Jon Heyman confirmed the Cubs interest in re-signing RHP Fernando Rodney. Heyman reported Tuesday that the Cubs and Padres “are in on Fernando Rodney.”
The Cubs were one of the teams showing the most interest in Rodney according to Mike Berardino. The Twins, Cubs and Padres were believed to be the three teams on Rodney earlier this week.
Rodney had a nice stint with the Cubs after he was picked up last August. Rodney struggled with the Mariners and was designated for assignment. Reports have suggested Rodney is looking for an opportunity to close again. Rodney would have a better chance at earning the closer’s job in San Diego with the way the Cubs’ roster is currently constructed.
According to multiple reports, RHP Kenta Maeda was posted Tuesday.
Jim Bowden reported the Hiroshima Carp placed the maximum $20 million released fee on Maeda. Bowden said teams have one week to decide whether or not to be part of the process to negotiate with Maeda. The posting rules state teams must notify Major League Baseball within a day of the player’s NPB team posting him.
The Cubs have been linked to Maeda the last two years. It’s unknown if the Cubs will be in on Maeda.
The Cubs are exploring ways in which to replace Dexter Fowler in center field. There are the rumors that the front office could sign Jason Heyward and have him play center for the first few seasons of what could be a decade-long deal. The Cubs have also been linked heavily to free agent Denard Span.
Theo Epstein told Wittenmyer, “We’re not particularly close to anything in center field.” Wittenmyer reported center field “remains the priority” and the Cubs options “include giving up some offense for big defense.”
Veteran right-handed reliever Jason Motte will not be returning to the Cubs. Motte signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Colorado Rockies. Motte will receive $5 million per season (2016 and 2017).
Motte had a memorable season with the Cubs, pitching in 57 games before ending the year on the disabled list. Motte was 8-1 with a 3.91 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and six saves. Motte stepped up for Joe Maddon when Hector Rondon struggled and helped close out games in the first half.
Jason Motte tweeted Tuesday, “Thanks Cubs for a great year. My family and I are excited for new opportunities with a new team in yet another great city. #KCancer.”
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to Buster Olney, OF/1B Mike Baxter signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners. Baxter should be in camp with the Mariners in the spring.
• OF Quintin Berry inked a minor league deal with the Angels that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
• FanGraphs took a look at who Adam Warren is and based on the report, the Cubs received a good swingman that could be more from the Yankees.
• The Diamondbacks know what the critics think of the Shelby Miller deal, but they don’t care according to a report from Ken Rosenthal.
• According to the Tribune, the Cubs created wiggle room for more additions.
This Day In Cubstory
2014 – Cubs acquired Miguel Montero from the Diamondbacks for Zack Godley and Jeferson Mejia
2011 – Cubs selected Jeff Bianchi off waivers from the Royals
2002 – Cubs signed free agent Phil Hiatt
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Benito Santiago
1997 – Cubs signed free agent Jeff Blauser
1996 – Cubs selected Terrell Lowery from the Mets in the Rule 5 Daft
1996 – Cubs selected Ramon Tatis from the Mets in the Rule 5 Draft
1996 – Cubs signed free agent Terry Mulholland
1996 – Cubs released Scott Bullett
1992 – Braves signed Greg Maddux to the largest contract ever given to a starting pitcher. Maddux signed a five-year, $28 million deal.
1992 – Cubs signed free agent Randy Myers
1986 – Cubs selected Heathcliff Slocumb from the Mets in the Rule 5 Draft
1981 – Cubs traded Jim Tracy to the Astros for Gary Wood. Jim Tracy was the last Cubs player to wear No. 23 before Ryne Sandberg
1980 – Cubs traded Bruce Sutter to the Cardinals for Leon Durham, Ken Reitz and a PTBNL. Cubs received Ty Waller on Dec. 22 to complete the trade.
1978 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Carmelo Martinez
1971 – Todd Van Poppel, born
1964 – Cubs acquired Roberto Pena from the Pirates for Andre Rodgers
1957 – Steve Christmas, born
1955 – Cubs traded Don Elston and Randy Jackson to the Dodgers for Don Hoak, Russ Meyer and Walt Moryn
1931 – Cubs purchased Bill Cronin and Earl Sheely from the Braves