It was an incredibly busy first official day of the Winter Meetings. There were rumors galore and it seemed like the Cubs were in the middle of a lot of them. One of the big three relievers came off the board when Mark Melancon inked a record setting contract with the Giants and the Nationals reportedly inched closer to acquiring Chris Sale from the White Sox.
On the Cubs’ front it was mostly about pitching before Jed Hoyer provided updates on Kyle Schwarber, David Ross, Jason Heyward and Miguel Montero.
The Cubs would like for David Ross to return to the organization and possibly take the title of a Special Assistant to the General Manager.
“There’s definitely interest on our part,” Jed Hoyer said on Monday. “It would be a shame if he wasn’t back. No one has a better feel for what tweaks we’ll need in the clubhouse or what’s going on than he will. Having him around the next few years, he’s really valuable. It’s so rare to have a guy who has that kind of feel for our clubhouse. How do you not want that guy around?”
David Ross was supposed to talk to Theo Epstein about his future with the Cubs after Thanksgiving and planned to go over the offers and different opportunities he has received with his agent around the same time.
Jason Heyward will spend the off-season in Arizona working on his swing according to multiple reports Monday.
Heyward bought a house near the Cubs’ facility in Mesa. Heyward is focused on putting the worst offensive season of his career behind him. Heyward will work with Cubs’ hitting coaches John Mallee and Eric Hinske.
“You’re not re-inventing him but getting him back to some of the places where he had the most success,” Hoyer said to the beat writers Monday. “If you look back at his career, he’s has some really good offensive seasons. We want to tweak his mechanics to the times when he had success and get him back to those places. We’re not asking him to do new things but go back to doing things he did well. He’s totally bought in and excited to get started.”
Jed Hoyer fielded questions about the Miguel Montero–Joe Maddon issue that made headlines on the day the Cubs celebrated winning The World Series with the incredible parade and rally.
Hoyer told the beat writers Monday that he thinks Miggy will sit down with Joe and talk things through. Hoyer doesn’t “see that as a lasting thing.”
Hoyer said he believes Montero and Willson Contreras “are a good catching tandem, and they fit very nicely.”
Miguel Montero switched agents. Montero is no longer represented by Alan Nero and Octagon according to Jerry Crasnick. Montero signed on with Paul Kinzer’s agency.
According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are looking for a third catcher. Levine did not specify if they are looking to sign one to a Major League or minor league contract. But based on other reports, the Cubs would like to sign a catcher for depth to a minor league deal.
Levine reported that Tim Federowicz is about to sign with the Giants. The Cubs would like to have a third catcher behind Willson Contreras and Miguel Montero.
Jed Hoyer told the Tribune the Cubs “seek a minor league catcher with Major League experience in the event of an injury to Miguel Montero or Willson Contreras.” Contreras is expected to be the Cubs everyday catcher next season.
Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman and Closer Contracts
According to Ken Rosenthal, the record-breaking contracts Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman will receive and sign in the coming days will likely have an opt-out clause just like the one Mark Melancon signed with the Giants.
Melancon inked a four-year, $62 million contract that has an opt-out after two years. Melancon received a $20 million signing bonus, $12 million of that he received up front with $8 million deferred. Melancon will make $4 million in 2017, $10 million in 2018 and $14 million in both 2019 and 2020 if he does not exercise his option and void the last two years. Melancon received a guaranteed $34 million contract over the next two years.
Aroldis Chapman is looking for a six-year contract and admitted Monday he has not been in contact with the Cubs. Kenley Jansen is expected to sign at least a five-year deal.
The Dodgers made it official and announced the three-year contract with Rich Hill on Monday. Hill had a press conference at the Winter Meetings and was rather emotional.
The Dodgers signed Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.
By all accounts, Hill is one of the really good guys in the game. He’s been through a lot personally and professionally. It is great to see him succeed the way he has since he returned to Major League Baseball.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Availability of Javier Baez will be investigated by teams with quality young pitching according to Bruce Levine.
• The Tribune reported the Cubs hold cautious history with injured pitchers.
• A lucrative holiday gift is on the horizon for the Cubs according to the Tribune.
• According to Mark Gonzales, Omar Vizquel is hoping Hector Rondon will pitch for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
• According to FanGraphs, the Giants made the obvious move with the signing of Mark Melancon.
• The Giants met with Mark Melancon in the Bay Area and at AT&T Park and with Kenley Jansen in Arizona according to John Shea. The Giants did not meet with Aroldis Chapman before signing Melancon.
• And according to Tyler Kepner, the Nationals offer to Mark Melancon was for at least $10 million less than the Giants. Melancon inked a four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants that includes an opt out after two years and a $20 million signing bonus ($12 million up front, $8 million deferred).
• The Royals are in a bind and will have to do something about it soon according to Ken Rosenthal.
• The Blue Jays signed Steve Pearce to a two-year, $12.5 million contract.
• Alex Cobb changed agents and switched from ACES to Beverly Hills Sports Council according to Marc Topkin.
• The Rays, Braves and Orioles are interested in Welington Castillo and the former Cubs’ catcher could go from being non-tendered to receiving a multi-year deal in the $15 million range within a week according to Marc Topkin.
• Mark Simon explained why the Diamondbacks signing of Jeff Mathis is a bigger deal than you think. The D-Backs bring framing into focus with catching switch.
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Cubs selected Hector Rondon from the Indians in the Rule 5 Draft
2007 – Blue Jays selected Randy Wells from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
2006 – Cubs traded Freddie Bynum to the Orioles for a PTNBL. Cubs received Kevin Hart from the Orioles on Dec. 7, 2006 to complete the trade.
2007 – Marlins selected Adelberto Mendez from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
1990 – Cubs signed free agent George Bell
1988 – Cubs selected Erik Pappas from the Angels in the Minor League Draft
1976 – Cubs selected Willie Hernandez from the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft
1973 – Cubs traded Randy Hundley to the Twins for George Mitterwald
1965 – Cubs purchased Don Bryant from the Tigers
1959 – Cubs traded Bill Henry, Lou Jackson and Lee Walls to the Redlegs (Reds) for Frank Thomas
1947 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Don Elston
1945 – Larry Bowa, born
1939 – Cubs traded Dick Bartell to the Tigers for Billy Rogell
1938 – Cubs traded Billy Jurges, Frank Demaree and Ken O’Dea to the Giants for Dick Bartell, Hank Leiber and Gus Mancuso
1909 – Stan Hack, born
1903 – Tony Lazzeri, born