It’s the last Friday in January. Monday is February 1 and exactly three weeks from today, pitchers and catchers report to Mesa to start preparing for the 2016 season.
Rumors continued Thursday that the Cubs could re-sign Dexter Fowler, even after one of the pitchers the Cubs have been linked to rather heavily this winter was traded to Colorado. Fowler was active on Twitter without giving any indication on where he could be close to signing.
Small moves are expected over the next three weeks leading up to the official start of camp. And the full list of minor league signings and non-roster invitees to Spring Training could be released as soon as Friday.
21 days until Cubs pitchers and catchers … and 34 days left before Opening Day in the Cactus League.
One of the pitchers the Cubs have been talking to the Rays about this off-season was dealt Thursday to the Rockies. If the Cubs believe Jake McGee is their closer of the future, as Bruce Levine reported, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will have to make a deal with the Rockies to acquire him.
The Rays traded LHP Jake McGee and RHP German Marquez to the Rockies for OF Corey Dickerson and minor league 3B Kevin Padlo.
The Rockies designated LHP Christian Friedrich for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for McGee and Marquez. Friedrich was selected by the Rockies in the first round (25th overall) of the 2008 draft. Friedrich was born in Evanston and has struggled at the big league level. Friedrich was ranked as high as the 22nd best prospect in baseball by Baseball Prospectus in 2009.
Marc Topkin talked to Jake McGee before the trade with the Rockies was announced. McGee admitted he thought he would be traded this winter. But as the off-season wore on and he was still with the Rays, McGee was preparing for Spring Training and to start the season with Tampa. McGee now has to change plans for his family for Spring Training in Arizona.
Cubs Spring Training Cap and Jersey
Major League Baseball, Majestic and New Era unveiled a new on-field look Thursday “that includes lighter-weight uniforms, many new cap designs, specially-marked balls and other on-field elements.”
“The jerseys are a part of Majestic’s new Flex Base uniform system, a design developed through insights from Major League players, innovative fabric technologies and extensive wear testing over the past two years. The new Flex Base uniforms feature a new, lighter-weight twill technology and mesh panels on the sides of the jerseys by 10-20 percent and enhance freedom of movement, which is significant to players.”
The new jerseys will debut in Spring Training and will be worn throughout the regular season and post-season. The names and numbers on the back of the Spring Training jerseys “will feature a sublimated Spring Training design pattern featuring Spring Training marks and the silhouetted batter logo.” The sublimated designs will also be on the inside of the caps’ crowns.
Here are the Cubs’ cap and jersey for Spring Training.
According to Jesse Sanchez, Major League Baseball declared INF Luis Yander La O, INF Henry Quintero, C Oscar Valdez and SS Anibal Sierra free agents. The Cuban prospects have been cleared to sign with teams.
The Dodgers are expected to sign more talent before the current signing period ends on June 15. According to Ben Badler, since July 2 the Dodgers have committed $90 million, including taxes, to signing International teenage prospects. And the A’s have spent $1 million.
The Cubs are also expected to be active before the current signing period ends. The Cubs have reportedly spent $11.85 million since July 2. Based on the reports and including taxes, the Cubs have already committed $20,530,700 on International prospects this year.
Ben Badler tweeted Thursday night he would provide an update on the Cuban prospects on Friday.
MLB Pipeline’s Top 10 Outfield Prospects
MLB Pipeline posted its ranking of the top 10 outfield prospects. As expected, the list did not include any of the Cubs’ outfield prospects.
MLB Pipeline Top 10 Outfield Prospects: Byron Buxton (Twins), Lewis Brinson (Rangers), Nomar Mazara (Rangers), Austin Meadows (Pirates), Andrew Benintendi (Red Sox), Bradley Zimmer (Indians), Clint Frazier (Indians), Aaron Judge (Yankees), Brett Phillips (Brewers) and Jesse Winker (Reds) … Next up: Anthony Alford (Blue Jays) and Max Kepler (Twins).
Jim Callis said Albert Almora and Billy McKinney will both be included in MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospect list, which will be released Friday on the MLB Network (8:00pm CST). But neither one of the Cubs’ prospects are “particularly close to top 10 outfielders, need to show more power to rise.”
News, Notes and Rumors
• Matt Szczur hosted a dinner at Overbrook Golf Club in Villanova on Thursday night to benefit the bone marrow charity of his football coach at Villanova, Andy Talley. Jim Salisbury reported that before Spring Training, Szczur is trying to save more lives.
• Patrick Mooney reported the Cubs are hoping to change their offensive identity with Jason Heyward and Ben Zobrist.
• According to Bruce Levine, Javier Baez is ready to make an impact for the Cubs whether it’s in the infield or outfield.
• Ken Rosenthal’s Top Five Starting Rotations: 1) Mets 2) Cardinals 3) Indians 4) Nationals 5) Rays
• For those that play fantasy baseball, Eric Karabell posted the biggest debates from the fantasy baseball summit.
• According to Jayson Stark, the Royals are looking to add an outfielder “at low cost.” Stark reported David Murphy would be a good fit in Kansas City “but probably out of their price range.”
• The Astros signed RHP Doug Fister to a one-year contract. According to Chris Cotillo, Fister received $7 million guaranteed for the 2016 season, with a $5 million incentives package. If Fister maxes out his performance bonuses he will be paid $12 million for the season.
• The Brewers acquired OF Rymer Liriano from the Padres for LHP Trevor Seidenberger. The Padres designated Liriano for assignment on Jan. 22. Bernie Pleskoff likes the pickup for the Brewers. Liriano has the tools to be a very good big league ballplayer, but has not been able to put his career back on track after blowing out his elbow. OF/1B Shane Peterson was DFA’d to make room on the Brewers’ 40-man roster for Liriano. Peterson was a Cub for a couple of days last winter.
• Former Cubs’ catcher Blake Lalli will be in big league camp with the Braves on a non-roster invite.
• Baseball America reported three more minor league players were suspended for violating the minor league drug prevention and treatment program … RHP Dylan Brooks (Giants), INF Luis Mateo (Free Agent), INF Tyler Palmer (Free Agent).
And last, but not least, former Cubs’ farmhand RHP Ryan Searle will represent Team Australia in the World Baseball qualifiers this February.
This Day in Cubstory
2002 – Cubs signed free agent Bryan Ward
1999 – Cubs signed free agent Doug Creek
1997 – Cubs signed free agent Dave Clark
1968 – Kevin Roberson, born
1949 – Jim Tyrone, born
1931 – Hy Cohen, born
1919 – Bill Voiselle, born