Day Two of Baseball’s Winter Meetings was a wild one and owned by the Red Sox and White Sox. Dave Dombrowski pulled off the blockbuster deal with Rick Hahn for Chris Sale and added two other significant pieces to the Red Sox roster.
The Cubs made headlines late in the day with the near deal with the Royals for Wade Davis. Reportedly the Cubs and Royals have agreed to the trade that would send Jorge Soler to Kansas City for Wade Davis. The announcement is expected Wednesday.
Wade Davis will be the first addition to Joe Maddon’s bullpen. According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are still in the mix for veteran relievers like Brad Zeigler and Jerry Blevins.
Joe Maddon met with the media Tuesday and was asked about which player or players could hit leadoff for the Cubs next season with Dexter Fowler likely leaving the team that he made go the last two seasons.
Maddon said Kyle Schwarber and Ben Zobrist “are candidates” to leadoff for the Cubs next season in place of Dexter Fowler with the way the roster is currently constructed. Jon Jay would also be an option for the top spot in his lineup.
“A couple years ago when Kyle came up and Dexter was still there, I considered leading Kyle off and putting Dexter second,” Maddon said to the mainstream media Tuesday. “But I had all our nerds do the work, and they really liked Fowler one and Schwarber two just based on the data. So I went with that and it worked out well.”
“Now all of a sudden, Dexter is not there anymore. It’s not impossible to consider Kyle in that spot or Zobrist in that spot. I don’t know if we can do anything in this offseason that might cause me to think differently, but there are not a lot of other candidates. You could consider Jon Jay. I don’t see Albert [Almora Jr.]. I don’t see [Javier] Baez.”
Schwarber is 3-for-8 in two games hitting at the top of the Cubs lineup with a double. Zobrist has a career line of .238/.330/.376 with a .706 hitting in 155 games (614 at-bats) in the leadoff spot. And this past season, Zobrist batted .220/.333/.402 with a .736 OPS in 21 games (82 at-bats). Jay has hit leadoff in 179 games over his career and owns a .282/.344/.378 line with a .721 OPS.
Joe Maddon has plenty of time to sort out his lineup that will end up changing 120-plus times during the season any way. The first games in the Cactus League are Feb. 25 and Opening Night in St. Louis is April 2.
The Rangers were one of the American League teams interested in trading for Jorge Soler before the deal with the Royals for Wade Davis was agreed upon. The Rangers are also “checking” on Matt Szczur according Evan Grant.
Matt Szczur spent the regular season with the Cubs and hit .259/.312/.400 with nine doubles, a triple and five home runs for a .712 OPS in 107 games. Szczur played all three outfield spots and did a good job as a pinch-hitter (.261/.306/.326/.632).
Szczur is out of minor league options and slipped down the Cubs’ depth chart with the addition of Jon Jay and the front office’s plan to pair him in center field with Albert Almora Jr. next season.
Joe Maddon held his media session Tuesday at the Winter Meetings and talked about his team winning The World Series, Dexter Fowler and the decisions he made in games six and seven.
“It’s fascinating to me regarding the second guessing because the only reality I know is that we won,” Maddon said. “We have often times talked about the outcome if you had done something differently would it have turned out better? But better than winning, I don’t know what that it.”
Maddon has not come up with yet and said he would “focus this winter on his message to the Cubs in Spring Training to motivate them to win The World Series again.”
Dexter Fowler is at the top of the Cardinals list this off-season. Fowler has received offers from the Cardinals and Blue Jays (four years, $60 million) according to multiple reports. And the Nationals are also interested in Fowler.
The Cardinals know what Fowler can add to their lineup. He would not only give them a leadoff hitter but he would also fill a need in center field.
Mike Matheny was asked about the Cardinals’ interest in Fowler. The Cardinals’ skipper said, “Fowler is an exciting player. We’ve seen enough of him from the other dugout.” Matheny said he would “be happy” to help recruit Fowler and admitted his team is interested in the former Cubs’ leadoff man.
Cardinals’ GM John Mozeliak said Tuesday the he is “not at a point” where the Cardinals are “just a phone call away on anything.”
Derrick Goold posted his thoughts on Dexter Fowler and the fit with the Cardinals. Goold thinks Adam Eaton (White Sox) is high on the Cardinals list to be a leadoff man and play center field. There has also been a conversation with Ian Desmond and his agents.
The Cardinals have discussed a deal with the Royals for Lorenzo Cain. And have talked with the Royals about Jarrod Dyson as a possible platoon with Tommy Pham in center field according to Jenifer Langosch. The Cardinals want to get more athletic and plan on playing more aggressively next season.
Joe Maddon was asked about the loss of his leadoff man. Maddon echoed what the front office and fan base have said that he wishes Fowler and his family the best but hopes he signs with an American League team.
Red Sox and Chris Sale
The Red Sox had a huge day Tuesday at the Winter Meetings and added the best left-handed starter in the American League to its rotation.
The day started for the Sox when it was announced Dave Dombrowski worked out a deal with the Brewers for right-handed reliever Tyler Thornburg. The Sox acquired the Brewers’ closer for 3B Travis Shaw, SS Mauricio Dubon and RHP Josh Pennington.
Dombrowski finalized the blockbuster with the White Sox for Chris Sale in the middle of the day. The Red Sox now have a rotation that includes LHP Chris Sale, LHP David Price and RHP Rick Porcello in the top three spots. The Red Sox sent the game’s best prospect in INF Yoan Moncada to the White Sox along with RHP Michael Kopech, OF Luis Basabe and RHP Victor Diaz.
The White Sox received a very, very good package of prospects from Dombrowski for Chris Sale. The Red Sox outbid the Nationals for Sale, who would have been dealt to Washington if it was not for the package of prospects Dombrowski put together to meet Rick Hahn’s asking price.
According to Pete Abraham, Dave Dombrowski has now traded 21 prospects since he took over Baseball Operations for the Red Sox.
And Boston’s day ended with a one-year deal with 1B Mitch Moreland.
Ken Rosenthal reported the future is now for the Red Sox after dealing prospects for Chris Sale.
The Cubs travel to Boston and play three games at Fenway Park in late April (April 28-30).
News, Notes and Rumors
• Joel Sherman explained why the Royals will trade Wade Davis and Jarrod Dyson.
• Theo Epstein and the Cubs have earned the right to chill this winter according to Buster Olney.
• FOX Sports detailed why the Cubs can lose three key free agents and still be the favorites to win The World Series next season.
• Dan Haren is back in baseball. The Diamondbacks named Haren the team’s Pitching Strategist. Haren will work with “the front office, Major League coaching staff and analytics department.”
• Before the Cubs reportedly agreed to the deal with the Royals for Wade Davis, Comcast SportsNet explained why Greg Holland would have made sense as the team’s next closer.
• Chris Archer’s market picked up after Chris Sale was dealt to the Red Sox but the Rays have other ideas according to Joel Sherman. The Rays seemed Tuesday more likely to trade Alex Cobb and/or Drew Smyly than Chris Archer. The Astros and Nationals are both interested in Archer after not landing Sale, according to Jayson Stark, but the Rays are showing “no sense of urgency” to trade him.
• The Rangers have asked about starting pitchers such as Shelby Miller (Diamondbacks), Anthony DeSclafani (Reds) and Dan Straily (Reds) according to Evan Grant. Miller might make the most sense for the Rangers and the D-Backs might have interest in Jurickson Profar.
• The White Sox are open for business and are involved in “many trade discussions” according to Chuck Garfein.
• Robert Feder reported on Pat Hughes’ new Cubs’ CD … The Chicago Cubs Win the World Series!
• The Rays agreed to terms on a two-year, $12.5 million contract with Wilson Ramos, pending a physical. According to Bob Nightengale, there is an incentives package in his deal that could make his deal worth $18.25 million. The Rays are likely no longer in the mix for Welington Castillo.
• The Astros signed former Cubs’ lefty C.J. Riefenhauser to a minor league contract that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
• A report Monday from Jon Heyman led to confusion. Heyman reported the Dodgers and Cubs were pursuing ‘Holland’ and were the leading candidates to sign him. Heyman did not specify which Holland … Greg or Derek. There was an assumption by a national outlet that incorrectly reported the Cubs and Dodgers were pushing for Derek Holland. Heyman was actually talking about Greg Holland. But on the Derek Holland front, the Pirates and White Sox were in the market for the lefty according to Evan Grant.
• Shane Victorino has not ruled out a comeback attempt in 2017 according to Jerry Crasnick.
• The BBWAA made the right decision and announced Tuesday “all Hall of Fame ballots will be public starting in 2018.” This year remains voluntary.
And last, but not least, according to J.J. Cooper the Double-A portion of the Rule 5 Draft has been eliminated, leaving the Major League and Triple-A phases.
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Kyuji Fujikawa to a two-year contract
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Jensen Lewis
2006 – Cubs selected Jim Henderson from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft
2006 – Blue Jays selected Jason Smith from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
2006 – Cubs selected Josh Hamilton from the Devil Rays in a pre-arranged cash deal with the Reds in the Rule 5 Draft. Reds purchased Josh Hamilton from the Cubs.
2005 – Cubs signed free agent John Mabry
2005 – Cubs traded Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto to the Marlins for Juan Pierre
2004 – Cubs re-signed free agent Nomar Garciaparra
2004 – Cubs re-signed free agent Todd Walker
2003 – Cubs re-signed free agent Tom Goodwin
2003 – Cubs re-signed free agent Mark Grudzielanek
2001 – Cubs signed free agent Luis Ordaz
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Gary Gaetti
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Glenallen Hill
1996 – Cubs granted free agency to Luis Gonzalez
1989 – Kyle Hendricks, born
1989 – Cubs traded Paul Kilgus to the Blue Jays for Jose Nunez
1988 – Cubs re-signed free agent Scott Sanderson
1987 – Cubs signed free agent Manny Trillo
1984 – Cubs re-signed free agent Steve Trout
1984 – Mike Baxter, born
1983 – Cubs received Scott Sanderson from the Expos as part of a three-team trade. The Padres sent Gary Lucas to the Expos. Montreal sent Al Newman to the Padres. The Cubs sent Fritzie Connally, Craig Lefferts and Carmelo Martinez to San Diego.
1981 – Cubs traded Doug Capilla to the Giants for Allen Ripley
1979 – Ryan Theriot, born
1966 – Cubs acquired Ray Culp and cash from the Phillies for Dick Ellsworth
1955 – Scot Thompson, born
1953 – Braves purchased George Metkovich from the Cubs
1935 – Don Cardwell, born
1930 – Mark Freeman, born
1916 – Jorge Commellas, born
1911 – Don Johnson, born
1847 – Deacon White, born