Countdown to Pitchers and Catchers: 9 Days
With the off-season winding down there is still a large amount of Major League veterans available. Dexter Fowler, Ian Desmond and Yovani Gallardo, the three remaining qualifying offer free agents, headline a list that also includes former Cubs’ outfielders Austin Jackson, Chris Denorfia and David DeJesus.
Players still available at this late date include 1B/DH Pedro Alvarez, LHP Franklin Morales, OF David Murphy, OF Alex Rios, OF Marlon Byrd, OF Will Venable, 3B David Freese, 1B Justin Morneau, OF Drew Stubbs, INF Juan Uribe, LHP Matt Thornton and RHP Tommy Hunter.
Scott Boras does not understand why Alvarez and Austin Jackson have not signed with a team. Boras pointed out to Nick Cafardo in Jackson’s case “three teams need a true centerfielder.”
Another agent Nick Cafardo spoke with said, “Desmond, Fowler, Jackson and Gallardo are players who should have a prominent starting job. Teams aren’t that good that they’re leaving very good players on the sidelines. The compensation issue is a factor, no question, and we have to do something about it with our collective bargaining talks because this is hurting good baseball players getting good jobs.”
40-man rosters across the league are pretty much full. The Astros, Cardinals and Reds are the only three teams with an open spot on their rosters after the White Sox signed RHP Mat Latos on Tuesday.
Buster Olney recently posted four reasons why veteran players could be having trouble signing with teams this off-season: 1) Some teams don’t regard playing experience the way they once did 2) Teams like younger players 3) There is a growing preference to upgrade through trades rather than spending on free agents 4) The teams that may be tanking are having a direct bearing on the market, because they aren’t interested in even marginal upgrades
Several players that have possibly been holding out to get guaranteed big league contracts should at least start signing minor league contracts soon so they can get in camp on time and complete for a spot on a team’s Opening Day roster.
The CCO on the Radio
Tom is scheduled to join Darin Pritchett and Rick Carter on WSBT Radio in South Bend tonight (Wednesday, 5:30pm CST) to talk Cubs prospects with South Bend Cubs Radio. Those that would like to listen to the show live can follow this link … WSBT-960
WSBT Radio had to reschedule last week’s spot. Tom is scheduled to be on the next two weeks to talk baseball with Spring Training just around the corner.
Here is Tom’s radio schedule for the next two weeks:
- Wednesday, Feb. 10 – 5:30pm CST
- Wednesday, Feb. 17 – 5:30pm CST
Those that missed the last three segments can click on the links read the transcripts.
- The CCO Talks Cubs Outfield Prospects on South Bend Cubs Radio
- The CCO Talks Cubs First and Third Base Prospects on South Bend Cubs Radio
- The CCO Talks Cubs Middle Infield Prospects on South Bend Cubs Radio
News, Notes and Rumors
• Javier Baez is among four Cubs looking to rebound in 2016 according to Carrie Muskat … LHP Rex Brothers, RHP Neil Ramirez and OF Matt Murton are the other three players in the organization looking to bounce back this season.
• Patrick Mooney reported the Cubs believe their pipeline will keep producing big-time talent.
• According to Joel Sherman, the Cubs will begin Spring Training with the most pressure of any team in baseball outside of the Mets and Yankees.
• The Washington Post previewed the NL Central Division and detailed why the Cubs will win the central in 2016.
• Jerry Crasnick reported the “Rays are still bargain shopping.” Signing Ian Desmond is “a long shot” for Tampa because they do not want to surrender a draft pick. Matt Silverman is not done with his roster. As previously reported, the Rays are looking to add relievers to the roster. According to Chris Cotillo, Ryan Webb is of interest to the Rays and if Silverman signs a reliever, it would likely be a minor league contract at this point with a NRI to Spring Training.
• According to Nick Cafardo, the Padres’ asking price for Andrew Cashner is “fairly steep.” Teams view Cashner as a fallback option for their rotation. But A.J. Preller would like so much in return for Cashner that the Orioles made a deal for Odrisamer Despaigne instead.
• Nick Cafardo also reported there were teams “kicking around signing” Cliff Lee last week. Lee is looking for a contract apparently in the $6-8 million range, plus incentives. Lee’s price will likely keep him from pitching in the majors this season. It is very doubtful a team will take that big a gamble on him staying on a Major League mound and off the DL.
• Ben Badler explained why the Gurriel brother might not play until 2017.
• According to Bernie Pleskoff, the Indians could still use a bat in the outfield and are looking for help at third base. David Freese and Juan Uribe are free agents that could be options for Cleveland.
• The White Sox signed two players Tuesday … one good guy in 1B/OF Travis Ishikawa to a minor league contract and RHP Mat Latos to a one-year, $3 million guaranteed Major League contract. Latos will compete for a spot in the rotation. It will be interesting to see how he and Todd Frazier get along in the clubhouse.
• Players are now 3-1 in arbitration cases this year … C Jason Castro lost his hearing to the Astros and will make $5 million instead of the $5.25 million he asked for in his last year of arbitration eligibility.
• Jim Bowden posted his “breakout” picks from an offensive standpoint for the 2016 season.
• Jim Duquette’s five best off-season deals: 1) Braves acquired Dansby Swanson, Aaron Blair and Ender Inciarte from the Diamondbacks for Shelby Miller 2) Rays acquired Corey Dickerson and Kevin Padlo from the Rockies for Jake McGee and German Marquez 3) Dodgers signed Howie Kendrick to a two-year, $20 million contract 4) Mets acquired Neil Walker from the Mets for Jon Niese 5) Pirates acquired Jon Niese from the Mets for Neil Walker.
• The Tigers avoided arbitration with OF J.D. Martinez with a two-year, $18.5 million contract extension.
• According to a report from Ryan Hatch, executives are torn on the Yankees’ new second baseman and back-up third baseman, Starlin Castro.
• Former Commissioner Bud Selig is going to teach a class at ASU Law School according to a report from Hardball Talk. Selig will also set up a speaker series and advise students.
• Phish is performing at Wrigley Field this summer, June 24 and 25. Tickets go on sale Saturday, Feb. 27 at Noon (12:00pm CST).
• Jesse Spector posted ‘The Simpsons’ screencaps for all 30 Major League teams.
And last, but not least, Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta are in Mesa early preparing for Spring Training. Arrieta was scheduled to be in Arizona on Sunday. Lester tweeted Tuesday … #LetsGo.
This Day in Cubstory
2013 – Cubs signed free agent Scott Hairston
1989 – Liam Hendriks, born
1980 – Cesar Izturis, born
1978 – Cubs signed free agent Tim Blackwell
1950 – Cubs purchased Frank Hiller from the Yankees
1950 – Cubs purchased Johnny Vander Meer from the Reds
1939 – Cubs purchased Julio Bonetti from the Browns
1926 – Randy Jackson, born
1916 – Cubs purchased Nick Allen from the Buffalo Blues
1916 – Cubs purchased Mordecai Brown from the Whales
1916 – Cubs Purchased Gene Packard from the Kansas City Packers
1916 – Cubs purchased Tom Seaton from the Newark Pepper
1916 – Cubs purchased Steve Yerkes from the Pittsburgh Rebels
1910 – Bob Logan, born