Baseball’s Winter Meetings are over. And while the Cubs still have work to do this off-season, The World Series Champions accomplished several of the front office’s goals this past week.
Over the last seven days, the Cubs added four relievers from outside of the organization to the big league roster.
A day after trading for Wade Davis and acquiring one of the best closers in the game, the Cubs made a deal with the Brewers for Caleb Smith and agreed to terms on a one year contract with Koji Uehara. The Cubs signed lefty reliever Brian Duensing last Friday.
That is four additions to Joe Maddon’s bullpen and depth for a team that plans on carrying eight relief pitchers on the active roster next season.
The front office is not done and is still looking for pitching, mainly young, controllable starters. The Cubs will continue to be linked to Rays’ pitchers such as Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Drew Smyly and free agent Tyson Ross.
It was a good, productive week for the World Champs.
The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year contract with former Red Sox closer Koji Uehara. The deal is pending a physical and once completed it is believed the Cubs will pay him around $4.5 million next season.
On the surface, Uehara appears to be a veteran reliever on the downside of his career that will be 42 years old the day after the Cubs begin the defense of the World Series Championship. Looking further into the numbers and Uehara is a pitcher that can handle the pressure late in games and he gives Joe Maddon a right-hander in his pen that can really get lefties out.
Uehara has dominated left-handed hitters throughout his career. Last season, pitching at 41 for the Red Sox, he held lefties to a .478 OPS, just five extra basehits (two doubles, three home runs) in 47 games. Left-handers hit only .139/.200/.278 and he issued only six walks with 29 strikeouts. And Uehara had 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
Christopher Kamka pointed out that Uehara will be the oldest Cub to pitch in a game since Hoyt Wilhelm (48) in 1970. Uehara was teammates with Tuffy Rhodes on the Yomiuri Giants more than a decade ago.
Joe Maddon loves reverse splits guys and options. As long as Uehara stays healthy, he will help the Cubs next season. And remember there is no such thing as a bad one-year deal.
- Comcast SportsNet – Koji Uehara would add another dimension to the Cubs bullpen
The Cubs acquired LHP Caleb Smith from the Brewers following Thursday’s Rule 5 Draft for cash considerations. The Brewers selected Smith from the Yankees in the draft and sent him to the Cubs in what was likely a pre-arranged deal. All Rule 5 Draft rules still apply and the Cubs must keep him on the active roster (25-man roster) the entire season.
According to the Tribune, the Cubs view Smith in the bullpen next season and “perhaps later in the rotation.” Jed Hoyer said, “He has velocity and a well above-average changeup. He seemed like he was getting better and better as the season went on.”
While it is still possible, the Tribune reported the addition of Smith all but ends a chance of a reunion with Travis Wood.
Jake Arrieta is arbitration eligible for the last time as he enters the final year of club control. Arrieta becomes a free agent after the 2017 season. The Cubs tendered Arrieta a contract last week and will work out, at the very least, a one-year deal with him for next season in order to avoid the arbitration process.
Despite the rumors, the Cubs will not trade Arrieta this off-season. He is firmly in the plans for the 2017 season. Arrieta in the rotation gives the Cubs a window within the window and helps make them the best team in baseball.
Jesse Rogers talked to Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras and asked him about the possibility of a long-term extension with the Cubs. Boras said those conversations will likely happen in January when the Cubs and Arrieta work on the one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
Rogers said that Arrieta would likely negotiate with the Cubs during the season on a long-term deal. But that Boras “wasn’t thrilled with that idea.” If Arrieta and the Cubs do not work out an extension before the season, and possibly Spring Training, begins it is likely he will become a free agent after one more guaranteed season on the North Side.
Dexter Fowler has taken his talents to St. Louis and will be introduced Friday (10:00am CST) as the Cardinals new leadoff hitter and centerfielder. The deal was completed Thursday and he flew to St. Louis to take a physical.
Based on the reports, the Cardinals made Fowler an offer he could not refuse. The Cardinals reportedly have a deal in place with Fowler for five years and around $80-90 million. It is believed the Cardinals did not want to pay him that much but as the rumors mounted that he did not want to play for Mike Matheny, John Mozeliak opened the checkbook and overpaid to land their No. 1 target.
The Cardinals surrendered their first round pick (19th overall) to sign Fowler. The Cubs will receive a comp pick, and slot money, for Fowler leaving and signing with another team.
Dexter Fowler had the best two years of his career with the Cubs and will always be part of the team that won it all no matter what jersey he wears for the next five years.
Updated 10:12am CST – Dexter Fowler signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the Cardinals that includes a full no-trade clause.
News, Notes and Rumors
• According to the Sun-Times, long-term pitching needs as big as 2017 repeat efforts for the Cubs.
• The Tribune reported the Cubs are reloading as they keep padding roster with pitching depth.
• After Wade Davis deal, the Cubs’ off-season plan comes into focus according to ESPN Chicago.
• Comcast SportsNet reported Joe Maddon breaks down Wade Davis vs. Aroldis Chapman as Cubs ramp up for another World Series run.
• Keith Law posted all the reasons the Yankees shouldn’t have signed Aroldis Chapman for five years. Law called it “a reprehensible signing, given what they know about Chapman’s character and actions.” Law gave it only a 50-50 chance that Chapman will still be a top-five reliever by the time the Yankees are ready to contend again in 2019.
• Ken Rosenthal reported the Aroldis Chapman fallout will be even more interesting that the deal itself. And Andrew Marchand hated the Chapman deal according to Jesse Rogers and said the “smartest thing the Cubs did this off-season” was staying away from that.
• According to Buster Olney, no matter how you frame it, potential contenders have holes to fill.
• Baseball America named the Cubs the Organization of the Year for 2016 … and here’s the trophy.
Cubs' Baseball America 2016 Organization of the Year trophy ready for Chicago: pic.twitter.com/lZsyvUPRry
— Mark Gonzales (@MDGonzales) December 9, 2016
• Joe Maddon said LeBron James can play for the Cubs anytime.
• ‘Joy in Wrigleyville’ debuted Thursday on the MLB Network … and it was really good. Here are a couple of videos. If you missed it, check the schedule and set the DVR for the next time it’s on the Network.
And last, but not least, 670 The Score will celebrate ’12 Days of Cubsmas’ by re-airing the 12 best Cubs games of the 2016 season. The Cubs’ flagship will play one game each day in its entirety starting on Dec. 14 and running through Christmas Day … click here for a list of games and schedule.
This Day in Cubstory
2014 – Cubs acquired Miguel Montero from the Diamondbacks for Zack Godley and Jeferson Mejia
2011 – Cubs selected Jeff Bianchi off waivers from the Royals
2002 – Cubs signed free agent Phil Hiatt
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Benito Santiago
1997 – Cubs signed free agent Jeff Blauser
1996 – Cubs selected Terrell Lowery from the Mets in the Rule 5 Daft
1996 – Cubs selected Ramon Tatis from the Mets in the Rule 5 Draft
1996 – Cubs signed free agent Terry Mulholland
1996 – Cubs released Scott Bullett
1992 – Braves signed Greg Maddux to the largest contract ever given to a starting pitcher. Maddux signed a five-year, $28 million deal.
1992 – Cubs signed free agent Randy Myers
1986 – Cubs selected Heathcliff Slocumb from the Mets in the Rule 5 Draft
1981 – Cubs traded Jim Tracy to the Astros for Gary Wood. Jim Tracy was the last Cubs player to wear No. 23 before Ryne Sandberg
1980 – Cubs traded Bruce Sutter to the Cardinals for Leon Durham, Ken Reitz and a PTBNL. Cubs received Ty Waller on Dec. 22 to complete the trade.
1978 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Carmelo Martinez
1971 – Todd Van Poppel, born
1964 – Cubs acquired Roberto Pena from the Pirates for Andre Rodgers
1957 – Steve Christmas, born
1955 – Cubs traded Don Elston and Randy Jackson to the Dodgers for Don Hoak, Russ Meyer and Walt Moryn
1931 – Cubs purchased Bill Cronin and Earl Sheely from the Braves