The Winter Meetings just ended and it’s not even the middle of December but questions were asked this past week about the Cubs lineup for next season. With Dexter Fowler no longer with the team, the Cubs have an opening to fill leading off games. Joe Maddon said during the Meetings that Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist and Jon Jay were options to bat at the top of his order.
As it turns out, Jed Hoyer and the front office really love the idea of Schwarber batting leadoff.
During an interview Friday on the Spiegel and Goff Show (670 The Score), Hoyer said the Cubs have discussed hitting Schwarber at the top of the lineup. Joe Maddon will make the final decision on his batting order but Schwarber is an option the Cubs will explore.
“When we talk about it internally and kind of kick things around, I love that idea. There’s only a handful of guys … maybe more than a handful, maybe a dozen guys in the big leagues … that really make sense as a true leadoff guy. You know, guys that if you get on base can really run the bases and they’re obviously guys that you pencil in at No. 1 every day. I think if you don’t have that kind of player, forcing someone into that role can be really dangerous,” Hoyer said.
“To me, what I was always taught in baseball was when we started working with Bill James with the Red Sox, the most important part of a lineup is making sure your best hitters hit the most often. You’re only guaranteed to leadoff once a game, and the most important thing is having the right guys at the plate the most often. To me, it’s pretty terrifying to think of Schwarber, [Kris] Bryant, [Anthony] Rizzo to start the game. That pitcher’s coming out for that first inning, and he knows he’s in trouble right away. And I love that idea, I think it’s intimidating, and I think getting your best hitters up there the most often is the most important part of our strategy.”
Kris Bryant, the NL MVP, signed an extension with Adidas.
Adidas announced the deal Thursday but did not release the terms of Bryant’s contract.
Bryant’s new deal with Adidas is “a record-breaking MLB shoe deal” according to Darren Rovell that is believed to be worth more than $1 million a year. Rovell reported the extension is “in the neighborhood of a decade long.”
Bryant will collaborate on future baseball cleats according to the release.
“It’s a phenomenal time to be partnered with Adidas with all the energy and momentum that the brand has right now. Adidas embraced me as part of the family from the start.”
— adidas Baseball (@adidasBaseball) December 8, 2016
Dexter Fowler was introduced Friday at a press conference in St. Louis to officially announce he signed a five-year contract with the Cardinals. Fowler will be paid $82.5 million over the next five years at $16.5 million per season. Fowler received a full no-trade clause.
Fowler handled questions about the Cubs the right way while stating he signed with the Cardinals because he likes winning and thinks he has a chance to get another ring in St. Louis. It was a rather awkward press conference with Fowler sitting in between manager Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak. Fowler looked incredibly uncomfortable early on but seemed to relax toward the end.
With No. 24 not available due to the Cardinals retiring it for Whitey Herzog, Fowler will wear No. 25 as a tribute to his mentor Barry Bonds.
Fowler said Theo Epstein called him before signing Jon Jay. Fowler complemented the Cubs, his boys on the team, the front office and Joe Maddon.
According to Jon Heyman, the Cardinals were also talking to Ian Desmond and had conversations with the White Sox about Adam Eaton. When both players came off the board, the Cardinals shifted to Fowler, who was their No. 1 target according to Mozeliak. The Cardinals reportedly signed Fowler to a bigger contract than they intended to.
Dexter Fowler’s wife thanked the fans and the city of Chicago for their two years with the Cubs (click here).
Fowler finished his time with the Cubs with the second highest OBP out of the leadoff spot in franchise history among players with a minimum of 200 games … Stan Hack (.398), Dexter Fowler (.369), Tommy Leach (.366) and Augie Galen (.364). Fowler is fourth on the Cubs all-time list in home runs to start a game … Alfonso Soriano (22), Jimmy Ryan (20), Rick Monday (17) and Dexter Fowler. And he is the only player in franchise history with at least 10 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 70 walks in back-to-back seasons (2015-16).
- CBS Chicago – Jed Hoyer: Dexter Fowler Forever Will Lead Off Game 7 with a Homer
- Matt Snyder – Even after only two years and Cardinals exit, why Fowler is beloved by Cubs fans
- Jesse Spector – Signing Fowler isn’t The Cardinal Way
- Carrie Muskat – Cubs thank Fowler, receive comp pick
- Jeff Passan – Dexter Fowler’s $82.5 million deal with the Cardinals shows free agency is alive and well
- Comcast SportsNet – Dexter Fowler: Cubs-Cardinals rivalry almost even
- The Sun-Times – Dexter Fowler signs with Cardinals, says new teams can win it all
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Fowler is a leader who could energize the Cardinals’ clubhouse
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Cardinals go over the top to catch Fowler
- ESPN – Dexter Fowler on new team: Cardinals always in the hunt
- Keith Law – Signing Fowler was the move St. Louis needed to make
- FanGraphs – Dexter Fowler Fill Glaring Hole for Cardinals
According to a report from the Baltimore Sun, former Cubs’ catcher Welington Castillo has “emerged as the Orioles’ top catching target.” And FanRag Sports reported momentum is building toward Castillo signing with the Orioles.
The Diamondbacks did not tender a contract to Castillo last week and made him a free agent. Castillo has gone from being non-tendered to possibly receiving a multi-year contract. Estimates have Castillo inking at least a $15 million deal over two years. The Braves are also believed to be interested in Castillo but the O’s are clearly the frontrunner at this point.
CBA – Minor League Rehab Assignment
Jeff Passan discovered a detail in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that had not been released … and this is good news for the players and teams.
Pitchers coming off Tommy John surgery can now spend 60 days on a minor league rehab. That is twice as long as the previous maximum number of days. Pitchers could only be on a rehab assignment for 30 days prior to the change in the new CBA.
- MLB, MLBPA Reach Agreement on New CBA [Nov. 30]
News, Notes and Rumors
• Jason Heyward is in Arizona working on his swing and mechanics with Eric Hinske on a daily basis. John Mallee has also spent time with Heyward this off-season. At a time when most players are still taking time off, Jed Hoyer pointed out Friday that Heyward is working hard on putting last season at the plate behind him. Hoyer has received positive reports and likes what he has seen on video from the work Heyward has already put in.
• Jim Bowden broke down the action at the Winter Meetings. Like most, Bowden really liked the Cubs acquisition of Wade Davis for Jorge Soler. Bowden reported red, white and blue? Sox rock, while others blunder in D.C.
• According to Jayson Stark there is plenty of holiday shopping left to do after the Winter Meetings. Stark expects it to be very busy throughout the game leading up to Christmas.
• Marc Topkin reported moves give Rays a lot of good possibilities to trade a starter.
• According to Joel Sherman, GM banter doesn’t reveal true state of Yankees-Red Sox. Sherman’s report includes other information from the Winter Meetings.
• The Diamondbacks made the signing of RHP Fernando Rodney to a one-year contract official on Friday.
• The Braves re-signed INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio to a minor league contract.
• Junior Lake has agreed to terms on a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox. Lake played in 22 games with the Jays last season and hit .200/.282/.371 with three doubles and one home run for a .653 OPS. Lake was in the Jays’ system all year. In 82 games at Triple-A Buffalo, Lake hit only .231/.314/.352 with 12 doubles, two triples and six home runs for a .667 OPS.
• The most expensive box of baseball cards ever costs more than a car according to a report from Chris Cwik.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Orioles selected Edgar Olmos off waivers from the Cubs
2014 – Cubs agreed to terms with free agent Jon Lester
2009 – Cubs selected Mike Parisi from the Cardinals in the Rule 5 Draft
2003 – Cubs signed free agent Gary Glover
2001 – Cubs acquired Alex Gonzalez from the Blue Jays for Felix Heredia and a PTBNL. Cubs sent Jim Deschaine to the Blue Jays on Dec. 13 to complete the trade.
1996 – Cubs signed free agent Mel Rojas
1993 – Cubs signed free agent Roberto Rivera
1993 – Cubs released William Brennan
1993 – Cubs traded Chuck McElroy to the Reds for Mike Anderson, Darron Cox and Larry Luebbers
1991 – Cubs granted free agency to Steve Carter
1982 – Cubs signed free agent Wayne Nordhagen
1982 – Cubs traded Ty Waller to the White Sox for Reggie Patterson
1982 – Cubs acquired Chuck Rainey from the Red Sox for Doug Bird
1966 – Mel Rojas, born
1963 – Rick Wrona, born
1960 – Paul Assenmacher, born
1957 – Cubs traded Tom Poholsky to the Giants for Freddy Rodriguez
1944 – Steve Renko, born
1938 – Cubs released Tony Lazzeri
1933 – Cubs signed free agent Oscar Judd
1932 – Ed Donnelly, born
1925 – Cubs traded a PTBNL and additional compensation to Louisville (American Association) for Red Shannon. Cubs sent Pinky Pittenger to Louisville on Dec. 28 to complete the trade.