Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!
It’s Christmas Eve and the front office continued its search for pitching leading into the holidays. The Cubs acquired lefty reliever David Rollins off waivers, again, on Friday and he was added to the 40-man roster for a second time this off-season. The Cubs signed two pitchers and two position players to minor league contracts. And the front office, along with around 20 other teams, is pursuing RHP Tyson Ross as reports suggest he might not pick a team and sign until January.
Mike Montgomery is penciled in as the Cubs’ fifth starter for next season. Montgomery was really good with the Cubs after he was acquired from the Mariners last July. Monty pitched in the rotation and out of the pen. And his first save in the majors came in Game 7 of The World Series.
Joe Maddon, Chris Bosio and the front office believe Montgomery has the stuff to be a successful starter in the big leagues. Montgomery will be given every opportunity in the spring to be in the back of the rotation behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and John Lackey.
The Cubs have been looking for controllable pitching for the last two-plus years. And have been focused this winter on acquiring pitching from outside the organization to give the team depth in order to prevent injuries from derailing the season.
As Buster Olney reported the Cubs could have two big holes in the rotation next off-season. Jake Arrieta is eligible for free agency after the 2017 season and John Lackey is under contract for one more year. According to Buster Olney, with the possibility of Arrieta and Lackey leaving via free agency or Lackey retiring, “the great challenge for the Cubs over the next calendar year will be to find solutions for three-fifths of their rotation.” And that is what “makes the development of lefty Mike Montgomery important to watch.”
Montgomery threw “lots and lots of off-speed stuff” after he was added to the Cubs’ staff. According to Buster Olney, “his use of the curveball climbed markedly to the degree that he was throwing it about half the time … like Rich Hill of the Dodgers.”
Monty’s fastball sat in the 94 mph range last season and he featured a very good curve and changeup. His curveball and change might be his best pitches. Evaluators Olney spoke with about Montgomery compared him to Drew Pomeranz “who evolved from a fastball-first lefty with Oakland to someone who primarily relied on off-speed stuff and became an All-Star with the Padres.”
Montgomery was 1-1 with a 2.82 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 4.74 FIP in 17 games, five starts, for the Cubs in the regular season. In the postseason, Montgomery was 1-1 with one save, a 3.14 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. For the season, Montgomery was 4-5 with a 2.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 3.79 FIP in 49 games, seven starts, for the Mariners and Cubs.
As a starter last season, Montgomery was 1-1 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in seven games (0-0 in five starts with the Cubs, 3.33 ERA, 1.15 WHIP). Out of the pen, he was 3-4 with a 2.10 ERA and 1.16 WHIP (1-1 in 12 games with the Cubs, 1.93 ERA, 1.57 WHIP).
The Braves made an excellent move and locked up OF Ender Inciarte for possibly the next six years.
Inciarte signed a five-year, $30.525 million contract extension with the Braves. Inciarte’s contract includes a club option for a sixth season. The Braves bought out all four of Inciarte’s arbitration years and as much as the first two of his free agent seasons.
According to Ken Rosenthal, Inciarte received a $3.5 million signing bonus and will be paid $2 million in 2017, $4 million in 2018, $5 million in 2019, $7 million in 2020 and $8 million in 2021. The club option for 2022 is worth $9 million and has a $1.025 million buyout.
The Braves acquired Inciarte in the deal with the Diamondbacks that sent Shelby Miller to the D-Backs for a package of prospects that includes Dansby Swanson.
In 131 games last season, Inciarte hit .291/.351/.381 with 24 doubles, seven triples and three home runs for a .732 OPS. And he won his first Gold Glove.
The Cubs have been linked to Inciarte for the last two off-seasons. The Braves have not shown any signs of wanting to trade Inciarte since he was acquired from the Diamondbacks. This extension makes Ender Inciarte more valuable than he was before. This is a very good deal for the Atlanta Braves.
News, Notes and Rumors
• The Cubs are going full speed ahead to defend World Series title according to Patrick Mooney.
• Buster Olney reported Edwin Encarnacion committed to Cleveland, not it’s the Tribe fans’ turn. And within 24 hours of Encarnacion agreeing to terms with the Indians, the team added about 200 full-season ticket accounts. Encarnacion’s deal, if the reported numbers are correct, would be the largest free agent contract ever handed out by the Indians.
• And speaking of the Encarnacion deal … click here for a link to audio of Paul Kinzer, Encarnacion’s agent, discussing how the deal went down and that he and Chris Antonetti worked out the details while he was at Six Flags and Antonetti was at the ‘Nutcracker’ … this is really a must-listen, even has info about former Cubs’ third baseman Aramis Ramirez.
• The Rangers are the frontrunners to sign Mike Napoli according to multiple reports. The Cardinals’ fans now want Napoli to play first base with Encarnacion no longer available. Jim Bowden took a look at where the free agent sluggers could sign now that Encarnacion has picked a team. And Bowden thinks Mark Trumbo will re-sign with the Orioles.
• Cliff Corcoran detailed the six craziest MLB moments of 2016.
• According to Bruce Levine, the Pirates have to “dump payroll” even if they are able to pull off a deal with the White Sox for LHP Jose Quintana. Levine pointed out that is why the Bucs are trying to trade Andrew McCutchen. The White Sox and Yankees haven’t been involved in talks for Quintana “in a while” and Chuck Garfien has “heard there isn’t much” to the rumored three-way deal between the White Sox, Yankees and Pirates.
• After spending the past two seasons in Korea, former Cubs’ farmhand OF Jim Adduci has returned to the States. Adduci inked a minor league deal with the Tigers. And RHP Jake Brigham also signed with the Tigers on a minor league contract. Detroit has signed several former Cubs this off-season … Juan Perez, Logan Watkins, Adduci and Brigham.
• The Dodgers announced Friday the four-year, $64 million contract with 3B Justin Turner. Turner’s deal is backloaded according to Jerry Crasnick. Turner will be paid $12 million in 2017, $11 million in 2018, $18 million in 2019 and $19 million in 2020. Turner received a $2 million signing bonus. And according to Jon Heyman, Turner does not have a no-trade clause but if he is traded he will receive $1 million assignment bonus each time he is traded.
• The Angels signed OF Ben Revere to a one-year, $4 million contract. Jon Heyman reported Revere’s contract includes a $2.25 million incentives package based on plate appearances. The Angels have added OF Cameron Maybin, INF Danny Espinosa and OF Ben Revere this off-season. To make room on the 40-man roster for Revere, the Angels designated OF/1B Ji-Man Choi for assignment.
• The Angels claimed RHP Blake Parker off waivers from the Brewers.
• The Reds are now the only team that has not signed a free agent to a Major League contract this off-season. The Reds claimed INF/OF Richie Shaffer off waivers from the Phillies and RHP Tyrell Jenkins off waivers from the Rangers.
• Former Cubs outfielder Justin Ruggiano signed a minor league contract with the Giants. San Francisco also brought back Mike Morse on a minor league deal according to Matt Eddy.
• The Pirates claimed RHP Nefi Ogando off waivers from the Marlins and designated INF Jason Rogers for assignment.
This Day in Cubstory
1994 – Cubs signed free agent Joe Kmak
1949 – Grover Cleveland Alexander was found unconscious in an alley in Hollywood. Alexander was suffering from alcoholism, epilepsy and was missing one of his ears. The Hall of Famer passed away on Nov. 4, 1950 from liver disease.
1948 – Dallas (Texas League) traded Leon Brinkopf to the Cubs for Roy Easterwood