Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Mesa one month from today …
The Cubs landed the biggest free agent outfielder of this year’s class. And as it turns out, the Cubs have had Jason Heyward in their sights for well over a year.
According to a report from Patrick Mooney, the presentation given to Jon Lester last off-season to sell him on the team had Jason Heyward playing center field. Mooney explained “the elaborate presentation during Jon Lester’s recruiting visit to Wrigleyville, the Cubs unveiled a diamond diagram projecting their 2016 lineup” and Heyward was the team’s centerfielder.
As the report from Comcast SportsNet pointed out, Lester met with the Cubs in November 2014 when Heyward was still with the Braves and before the trade that sent him to the Cardinals.
Jon Lester said the front office’s plan was to “go all-in for this year.” The front office did not see last season coming but Lester thinks the way the team played in 2015 put that “sense of urgency into this year.”
The front office is sticking to its plan. Now it is up to Joe Maddon and the players to execute it.
Ian Happ was the Cubs first round pick last June. After signing, the switch-hitter was sent to Arizona then assigned to Eugene and moved up South Bend just to hit, play the outfield and get an idea of what professional baseball, at least in the minors, is all about.
Happ played in 67 games and batted .259/.356/.466 with 17 doubles, four triples and nine home runs.
The Cubs started working with him on his defense at second base in Fall Instructs.
According to Carrie Muskat, Cubs’ infield coordinator Jesus Flores is traveling to Florida this week to work with Happ. The Cubs have scheduled the session “to speed up the process before Spring Training.”
Ian Happ is committed to playing second base. And Jaron Madison said the Cubs are committed to him playing second.
Cubs News from Convention Weekend
As to be expected, a lot of information came out of the Sheraton Grand Chicago during convention weekend. Here are links from the mainstream media … and for those that missed our Weekend Recap, click here for the headlines from the Convention.
- Comcast SportsNet – Cubs still planning to launch TV network, but not expecting Dodger megadeal
- ESPN Chicago – Cubs executive: TV network still the plan; in-market stream is coming
- ESPN Chicago – Love, tears and other observations from 2016 Cubs Convention
- Bruce Levine – Theo Epstein Not Worried About Contract Extension
- DNA Info Chicago – Farmers Markets, Ice Rink, Metal Detectors Coming to Wrigley in Plaza Plan
- Sun-Times – Cubs foundation in place, sustained success up to Crane Kenney
- Sun-Times – Cubs seek shutdown of Clark, Addison on game days, add metal detectors for security
- Comcast SportsNet – Cubs strengthening security at Wrigley Field after Paris attacks
- ESPN Chicago – Cubs eliminate 3:05pm Friday games for 2016
The free agent outfielder market got a little smaller late Monday when reports surfaced Justin Upton and the Tigers agreed to terms on a contract.
According to multiple reports, the Tigers added Justin Upton to their lineup for six years and $132.75 million. Ken Rosenthal reported Upton can opt-out of the contract after two years. Upton received an AAV of $22.125 million.
The Tigers will forfeit their third round pick in June’s draft once Upton’s deal is official. The Tigers first round pick is protected, and Zimmermann cost them their second round pick.
As Jon Heyman pointed out, Al Avila has added Justin Upton, Jordan Zimmermann, Francisco Rodriguez, Mike Pelfrey, Justin Wilson, Mark Lowe and Cameron Maybin to the Tigers roster this off-season to try to catch the Royals.
Brad Ausmus is going to have an extremely one-sided lineup. His starting nine figures to be all right-handed with the exception of switch-hitter Victor Martinez.
With Upton off the market, Yoenis Cespedes, Dexter Fowler and Austin Jackson are still looking for jobs with less than a month before pitchers and catchers start reporting to Spring Training.
News, Notes and Rumors
• During Saturday’s session with Joe Maddon and the Cubs’ coaching staff, Chris Bosio said Trevor Cahill had a two-year deal in place to be a starter with the Pirates but turned it down to sign a one-year contract with the Cubs.
• With Justin Upton on his way to Detroit, Ken Rosenthal provided an update on the free agent commitments this off-season. The Cubs have committed $4 million more to free agents this winter than any other team … Cubs ($276.25 million), Tigers ($272.25 million), Giants ($251 million), Red Sox ($230 million), Orioles ($214.8 million), Diamondbacks ($206.5 million) and Royals ($178.5 million).
• Before the news about Justin Upton surfaced, Jim Bowden posted the best fits for the top seven remaining free agents. According to Bowden, Dexter Fowler is a fit with the Angels, Athletics, Braves or Indians. And Austin Jackson would be a good fit with the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Indians, Pirates, Angels or Cubs.
• According to Jesse Sanchez, Carlos Beltran is a big reason each team will finally have a full-time, year round bilingual employee as part of MLB’s Spanish language translator program.
• Bruce Levine reported signing youngsters early to long-term deals on Cubs’ mind.
• The Cubs have already sold two million tickets for the upcoming season according to Bruce Levine … and the team is hoping to sell-out the entire season.
• According to Jon Paul Morosi, this year will feature plenty of International intrigue for MLB as baseball looks to Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico and London as it tries to expand its appeal.
• Baseball America reported High School draftees are now permitted to have an agent.
• Carl Edwards Jr. is grateful he was able to witness the Cubs’ 2015 run according to a report from Carrie Muskat.
• RHP Carlos Martinez says he feels about 90 percent healthy according to a report from Hardball Talk citing Jenifer Langosch as its source. Martinez expects to be ready for the season. The Cardinals should know more about Martinez “as he ramps up his throwing in the coming weeks.” Martinez was shut down last September with a Grade 2 shoulder strain. He did not have surgery and chose to rehab instead.
• Cardinals’ announcer Mike Shannon will no longer broadcast road games according to a report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
• The Cardinals are looking to add a veteran catcher to the roster. Yadier Molina will not have the hard cast on his left hand removed until Feb. 18 according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals are not sure how long he will need to get ready for the season. Brayan Pena signed with St. Louis earlier in the off-season but John Mozeliak is looking for another back-up catcher to pair with Pena just in case.
• And one last Cardinals note, Randal Grichuk is ahead of schedule in recovery from hernia surgery according to a report from Hardball Talk.
• Former Cubs’ slugger and Spring Training sensation, Jake Fox signed a minor league contract with the Phillies. The Cubs selected Fox in the third round of the 2003 draft. The now 33-year old hit .252/.305/.457 with 14 doubles and 11 home runs over two seasons (2007, 2009) with the Cubs.
• The Toronto Blue Jays signed LHP Daniel Schlereth to a minor league contract. The Cubs released Schlereth in early June of last season after inking him to a minor league deal.
• A Royals reliever was mistaken for a smaller version of Jake Arrieta according to a report from The Score.
And last, but not least, the 2017 Cubs Convention is Jan. 13-15, 2017 … Click here for reports from last weekend’s Cubs Convention.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs acquired Dexter Fowler from the Astros for Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Rodrigo Lopez
2011 – Cubs traded Tom Gorzelanny to the Nationals for Michael Burgess, Graham Hicks and A.J. Morris
2006 – Cubs signed free agents Matt Skrmetta and Les Walrond
2000 – Cubs signed free agent Willie Green
1983 – Cubs acquired Ron Cey from the Dodgers for Dan Cataline and Vance Lovelace
1971 – Phil Nevin, born
1966 – Anthony Young, born
1965 – Kevin Coffman, born
1948 – Ken Frailing, born