Buster Olney’s series of ranking the top players at each position resumed with a look at the 10 best left fielders in the game.
Starling Marte topped Olney’s list followed by Michael Brantley and Yoenis Cespedes. Kyle Schwarber checked in at No. 10, behind Mets’ rookie Michael Conforto.
Buster Olney’s top 10 left fielders: Starling Marte, Michael Brantley, Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Christian Yelich, Alex Gordon, David Peralta, Brett Gardner, Michael Conforto, Kyle Schwarber
Schwarber’s ranking is due to his bat, not the glove. Olney pointed out if he logged more time during the regular season he would have probably been a little higher on the list. Schwarber’s defense should improve as he gains experience.
In 69 games, Schwarber batted .246/.355/.487 with six doubles, one triple and 16 home runs for a .842 OPS. Schwarber shined under the bright lights of the playoffs. Schwarber was 9-for-27 with five home runs and four walks (.333/.419/.889) for a 1.308 OPS.
Schwarber spent a majority of his time in the majors in the outfield. Schwarber lined up in left field 41 times in the regular season and saw action in four games in right field. Schwarber held his own in left field for the most part before really struggling in the field during the NLCS.
Jed Hoyer recently addressed which position Schwarber will play next season.
“I think he is going to play a lot of left field next year but I think we are going to still really try to work with him on his catching. Maybe catch him occasionally. We just don’t want to give up on that. He wants to do it. We think he can do it. It’s just hard right now.”
“We are in a winning moment with our team and this guy can really help us with his bat so as a result it’s harder for us just to focus on his catching,” Hoyer said. “But we don’t want to ever lose his catching. If you think about how impactful his bat is in left field you put that bat behind the plate it’s a really fun thought to think about our team in the future. He will definitely catch some. I would expect he gets a ton of at bats in left field.”
Jeff Samardzija and Mike Leake
The Cubs are one of several teams interested in both Jeff Samardzija and Mike Leake. And the Giants view both pitchers as backups if they cannot get Zack Greinke to take their money.
Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday that Samardzija and Leake “are Plan B for the Giants if they lose Greinke.” John Lackey might also be a starter the Giants turn to if they are unable to land Greinke.
Zack Greinke is holding up the market for the second-tier group of starting pitchers. Greinke’s decision will impact the direction the Giants go to add pitching. With so many teams looking at the same mid to back of the rotation starters once Greinke makes up his mind, there should be a flurry of agreements announced.
According to Levine’s source, Samardzija has a $90 million offer from a team and it appears to be a five-year deal based on an $18 million AAV. Samardzija is reportedly the Cubs top priority but Phil Rogers thinks Mike Leake would be a better option.
The pieces should start falling into place once Greinke agrees to terms with either the Dodgers or Giants on a record breaking contract.
The Padres are trying to trade James Shields less than a calendar year after beating out the Cubs for his services. Shields is owed $65 million over the next three years at $21 million per season and a $2 million buyout on a $16 million club option for the 2019 season.
According to Jayson Stark, teams that have checked in with the Padres about Shields say A.J. Preller is “not looking to eat money and hopes to get a young shortstop and more” back in return.
James Shields can opt out of the contract after the 2016 season which gives a team very little control.
Dennis Lin reported Thursday that Shields “loves living in San Diego” and could be “more likely to opt out if traded.” Shields wants to win but there are “multiple factors to consider.”
Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday night the Hiroshima Carp will post Kenta Maeda. An official announcement has not been made yet.
The 27-year old right hander was 15-8 last season with a 2.09 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Maeda allowed 49 runs, 48 earned, on 168 hits with 41 strikeouts and 175 strikeouts in 206 1/3 innings over 29 starts.
In eight seasons, Maeda was 97-67 with a 2.39 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.
The Diamondbacks will be big players for Maeda. It’s unknown if the Cubs will be involved and commit paying the $20 million posting fee it would take to negotiate a contract with him.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The Cubs are expected to announce their 2016 Cactus League schedule soon. According to an update from Carrie Muskat, the delay in releasing the Spring Training schedule is due to ironing out details on split squad days. According to Adam Rubin, the Cubs and Mets will square off in Las Vegas during the annual Big League Weekend at Cashman Field. Rubin said the two teams will play exhibition games March 31 and April 1. The dates have not been announced or posted. The Cubs appear to have exhibition games against the Mets in Las Vegas and the Angels in Los Angeles as the final three practice games of the spring.
• Comcast SportsNet: David Price, Jason Heyward and how Cardinals respond in rivalry with Cubs.
• ESPN Chicago posted a report on the Cubs’ top Winter Meetings priorities.
• The Dodgers and Giants are battling to spend record dollars on Zack Greinke according to Joel Sherman.
• Darren O’Day appears to be closing in on what will be an extremely good deal for him. According to Jerry Crasnick, O’Day is expected to sign for “slightly under Andrew Miller money,” four years and $32-34 million. The Nationals, Dodgers and Braves are “still pursuing” O’Day, who prefers to stay on the East Coast according to Crasnick. And the Orioles “have been reaching out to other relievers” pointing to them being out of the mix for O’Day.
• Major League Baseball announced Thursday that Joe Torre and Dave Winfield will lead a group of current Major Leaguers on a goodwill tour in Cuba from Dec. 15-18.
• Brian Cashman is working on ways to improve the Yankees roster. According to Buster Olney, Cashman has “talked with lots of teams about lots of different players.” The conversations seem to be about the Yankees “trying to acquire young starting pitching.”
• The Mets might be interested in signing Dexter Fowler, but he’s not a fit with the Metropolitans according to a report from NJ.com.
• Paul Casella posted five reasons Alex Gordon is a highly valued free agent.
• Jim Duquette posted five more big trades that make sense … teams include Rays, Astros, Pirates, Nationals, Reds, Twins, Brewers, Rangers, Braves and Diamondbacks.
This Day In Cubstory
2007 – Cubs traded Omar Infante and Will Ohman to the Braves for Jose Ascanio
2002 – Cubs signed free agent Mike Remlinger
2002 – Cubs traded Chad Hermansen and Todd Hundley to the Dodgers for Eric Karros and Mark Grudzielanek
2001 – Cubs signed free agent Delino Deshields
1997 – Cubs signed free agent Alan Zinter
1995 – Cubs selected Rodney Myers from the Royals in the Rule 5 Draft
1995 – Tigers selected Jon Ratliff from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
1993 – Paul Blackburn, born
1984 – Cubs acquired Brian Dayett and Ray Fontenot from the Yankees for Porfi Altamirano, Rich Bordi, Henry Cotto and Ron Hassey
1981 – Jerome Williams, born
1969 – Cubs traded Rich Nye to the Cardinals for Boots Day
1957 – Lee Smith, born
1940 – Cubs acquired Billy Myers from the Reds for Jim Gleeson and Bobby Mattick
1930 – Harvey Kuenn, born