The Cubs have been incredibly busy this off-season, one of the most active teams in the game. With all of the changes over a two-plus month time span, it seemed like an appropriate time to post a recap of the roster moves the front office has made to this point as well as provide a couple of other important updates.
There is one announcement that has been expected but has not been made. Ownership reportedly extended Crane Kenney’s contract but has not announced signing Theo Epstein to a contract extension.
From all indications, Epstein and his baseball operations department is on the same page with the Ricketts family. Based on public comments made by Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein, the two just simply haven’t had a chance to sit down and finalize his extension yet.
Epstein has been focused on improving the club and not on his contract. Epstein is confident in the moves the Cubs have made this winter and recently said, “It can be uncomfortable to get all of this kind of attention this time of year because typically teams that get the praise in December have time on their hands in October.”
Joe Maddon and Cubs Coaching Staff
For the first time in seven years there were not any changes made to the Cubs field staff. Dave Martinez interviewed for the Dodgers’ managerial opening but Dave Roberts landed the job and Martinez will be by Joe Maddon’s side in the dugout for the 2016 season.
Joe Maddon is under contract for four more seasons. And the Cubs reportedly signed Chris Bosio to an extension.
Cubs coaching staff for 2016 season: Joe Maddon, Dave Martinez (Bench Coach), Chris Bosio (Pitching Coach), Lester Strode (Bullpen Coach), Mike Borzello (Catching Coach), John Mallee (Hitting Coach), Eric Hinske (Assistant Hitting Coach), Gary Jones (Third Base Coach), Brandon Hyde (First Base Coach), Henry Blanco (Quality Control Coach)
40-Man Roster Moves
The front office started making roster moves at the end of October. C Taylor Teagarden was outrighted off the 40-man roster and sent to Iowa. Teagarden elected free agency and his future in baseball is up in the air after he admitted using PEDs on camera. Jonathan Herrera also elected for free agency after he was removed from the roster and has not signed with a team yet this off-season.
RHP Jacob Turner was claimed off waivers by the White Sox on Oct. 27. Turner is set to compete for a spot in the Sox’s rotation this spring.
Eight players were granted free agency at the end of the World Series. RHP Jason Motte, OF Austin Jackson, RHP Trevor Cahill, RHP Dan Haren, OF Dexter Fowler, OF Chris Denorfia, RHP Fernando Rodney and RHP Tommy Hunter all became free agents on Nov. 2. RHP Jason Motte has since signed with the Rockies. Dan Haren officially retired and the Cubs re-signed Trevor Cahill. The Cubs have interest in bringing back Fernando Rodney, but the other five players that became free agents more than two months ago remain unsigned.
RHP Ryan Cook was claimed off waivers from the Red Sox on Nov. 6. The Cubs decided not to offer Cook a contract on Dec. 2 and he became a free agent. Cook has not signed with a team.
The Cubs signed free agent RHP Andury Acevedo on Nov. 18 to a Major League contract and he was added to the 40-man roster. The Cubs claimed LHP Jack Leathersich off waivers from the Mets on Nov. 19, non-tendered him on Dec. 2 and re-signed him to a minor league contract on Dec. 15.
Right-handed reliever Spencer Patton was acquired from the Rangers on Nov. 20 for minor league infielder Frandy De La Rosa. And the Cubs sent minor league lefty Wander Cabrera to Colorado for lefty reliever Rex Brothers on Nov. 25. The Cubs avoided arbitration with Brothers and Clayton Richard on Dec. 2.
The long and winding December for LHP Edgar Olmos started on Dec. 4 when the Cubs claimed him off waivers from the Mariners. The Orioles claimed Olmos from the Cubs on Dec. 10. And the Cubs reacquired Olmos on Dec. 23 when the front office claimed him off waivers from the Orioles.
The Cubs announced signing RHP John Lackey to a two-year, $32 million contract on Dec. 8. The same day the front office traded Starlin Castro to the Yankees for Adam Warren and a PTBNL. The Cubs received INF Brendan Ryan from the Yankees on Dec. 17 to complete the Castro-Warren trade and designated RHP Yoervis Medina for assignment to create space on the 40-man for Ryan. The Cubs released Ryan on Dec. 23, the same day Olmos was claimed off waivers and the Pirates snapped up Yoervis Medina off waivers from the Cubs.
The last official changes to the 40-man roster were announced Dec. 23. The Cubs Major League Reserve Roster stands at 40 players.
40-Man Roster Additions
The Cubs added four of the top prospects in the system to the 40-man roster in late-November. RHP Pierce Johnson, 1B Dan Vogelbach, C Willson Contreras and 3B Jeimer Candelario had their contracts purchased from Double-A Tennessee and were placed on the 40-man roster.
All four prospects will be in Major League Spring Training next month. Candelario, Vogelbach and Contreras have been called up from minor league camp for the day to participate in Cactus League games but this will be the first big league camp the three players attend from the beginning. Johnson was in camp last spring before he was slowed by injury.
Minor League Signings
Since Nov. 12 the Cubs have signed 13 players to minor league contracts and several of those deals include non-roster invites to big league camp.
The Cubs re-signed LHP Jeffry Antigua (Nov. 12) and RHP Fernando Cruz (Dec. 17). And the team signed RHP Drew Rucinski (Nov. 16), LHP Luis Parra (Nov. 23), OF/1B Kelly Dugan (Dec. 11), RHP Jean Machi (Dec. 11), RHP Stephen Fife (Dec. 12), RHP Brandon Gomes (Dec. 13), OF Juan Perez (Dec. 15), LHP Jack Leathersich (Dec. 15), LHP Luis Cruz (Dec. 17), LHP Scott Barnes (Dec. 18) and RHP Miguel Mejia (Dec. 21).
A move that had been anticipated for a year was officially announced on Nov. 11. The Cubs radio broadcasts were moved from WBBM 780 AM to WSCR-AM 670 The Score. Starting in March with the Cactus League games from Arizona, Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer will call the action on The Score.
The Cubs changed radio partners last off-season from 720 WGN to CBS Chicago. There was a one-time option in the seven-year contract that allowed the broadcast to be moved from WBBM to 670 The Score if the White Sox changed radio partners. When the Sox left The Score for Cumulus Media and WLS AM 890, the Cubs and CBS Radio were able to move the games to the new station.
Mark Grote will continue his pre- and post-game shows. And the Joe Maddon Show prior to each game will continue, along with the manager’s weekly spot on the Spiegel and Goff Show.