The Cubs were rather busy Wednesday during Day Three of Baseball’s Winter Meetings. The Cubs finalized and announced the deal with the Royals that sent Jorge Soler to Kansas City for Wade Davis. The Cubs added a closer to the roster with one of the best late-inning relievers in baseball over the last three seasons.
The announcement did not come until the afternoon that Davis was officially with the Cubs. Reports late Tuesday indicated the trade was agreed upon. It was believed the Cubs were being thorough with Davis’ medicals due to his history and two stints on the DL last season.
As it turns out, the Cubs did more than just review his medicals. Trainer P.J. Mainville went to Davis’ home in upstate New York to examine him after the Royals encouraged and granted permission for a physical. The Cubs were comfortable with the medicals, the exam and with the way Davis threw in September after dealing with flexor strain/forearm issues.
Theo Epstein said he sees the acquisition of Wade Davis as “an aggressive move, the move of an organization that’s hungry to win another World Series.” And Jed Hoyer said, “I think this was a good baseball trade. They get a talented outfielder, a little more control and we get an elite closer.”
Wade Davis is excited about being part of the Cubs. During an interview Wednesday afternoon on MLB Network, Davis said it has been an exciting 24 hours and that he has heard “nothing but incredible things about the organization.” Davis is glad to be back with Joe Maddon and called his skipper “one of a kind.”
Davis feels great and said he is healthy. Davis pointed out that his workouts “have been going really well.” Davis admitted he watched almost every pitch of The World Series and he knows he is joining a team that is going to compete.
“I’m looking forward to this new journey and new team,” Davis said. “I know they’ve got a stupid amount of talent.”
The Cubs tried to trade for Wade Davis before the deadline last year. The Royals asked for Kyle Schwarber in return for Davis, which was a non-starter for the Cubs. The Cubs shifted gears and made the deal with the Yankees for Aroldis Chapman.
“Obviously, getting a guy the caliber of Wade, that is certainly a central move of the offseason for us. I can never predict the size of the splashes or whatever you want to say, but I can say this was a big move for us in an offseason where we don’t feel we have to make a ton of big moves,” Hoyer said.
Joe Maddon talked about the impact he knows Davis can have on the Cubs next season.
“He’s definitely a difference maker. He feels great. Listen, if he goes out there and pitches like he can next year, which I fully anticipate, his stuff is that good … high velocity, great cutter, very good curve ball. And he knows how to pitch, too.”
- Comcast SportsNet – How Cubs convinced themselves Wade Davis would be worth the health risk
- The Tribune – All-Star closer Wade Davis important piece for Cubs’ World Series defense
- Bruce Levine – Cubs Add Wade Davis with Singular Goal in Mind … Repeating as Champions
- The Sun-Times – Cubs land closer Davis, show ‘hungry to win another World Series’
- Joel Sherman – Cubs flex dynasty muscles with Wade Davis splash
- Baseball America – Cubs Get New Closer in Wade Davis
- ESPN – Wade Davis injury: Second DL stint cause for long-term concern? [July 31]
- WEEI – Red Sox made strong run at Wade Davis before he was dealt to Cubs
The Cubs are not done adding to the bullpen. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer said Wednesday they are still looking for short-term help for the pen after acquiring Wade Davis and would like to add a veteran lefty or two.
The Cubs plan on having an eight-man bullpen next season.
Theo Epstein said Wednesday the Cubs are trying to build as much depth for the bullpen as possible.
“We’re going to try to build up a ton of depth. We’re going to try to build up a really talented, deep bullpen with a lot of different options that we can use in close games.”
The Cubs have been connected to LHP Jerry Blevins and remain in contact with Travis Wood about a possible return.
According to Jon Heyman and the Sun-Times, the Cubs still have interest in Greg Holland. But he might have a better opportunity to close games with another team. The Dodgers are believed to be very interested in him and could turn to Holland if Kenley Jansen signs with the Marlins.
The Cubs have also been linked to RHP Brad Zeigler and RHP Daniel Hudson. Based on the comments from Epstein and Hoyer, the front office appears to be happy with the right-handed relievers and would like to add a southpaw or two to the mix in the pen.
Before the Cubs finalized the deal for Wade Davis, Joe Maddon considered Hector Rondon the team’s closer. Rondon slid back to mainly a setup role Wednesday when Davis was added to the roster. Maddon reached out to Rondon and told the beat writers about their conversation.
Maddon said he explained to Rondon that “Davis can’t pitch all the time and that Hector needs to be ready and prepared.” Rondon will have opportunities to close games next season.
Rondon is apparently recovered from the forearm issue (right triceps strain) that sidelined him from Aug. 19 to Sept. 6 and limited him to nine appearances in September, seven in the postseason. Rondon was not right in the playoffs. Based on reports, Rondon’s injury was more severe than reported during the season.
Maddon admitted Wednesday and during his conversation with Rondon that the way he was used early in the season “may have led to his injury.” Maddon told the beat writers, “When a guy gets hurt like that, I feel responsible. Part of this is maybe using him too much.”
“He was great,” Maddon said. “I told him how much I respect him. And he’s all about the team. It’s just one of those things.”
Hector Rondon could play a big role in the bullpen again next season if he is fully recovered from the arm injuries. The Cubs value what Rondon brings to the table. And if not for the acquisitions of Aroldis Chapman and Wade Davis, he would not have been moved out of his closer’s role.
“Look, it’s been Aroldis chapman and Wade Davis. There’s fewer than 10 people maybe on the planet that you would move Rondon out of the closer’s role for, in my opinion. Those happen to be two of them,” Epstein said. “And we’re just fortunate to have those guys, and he understands that, and he can really impact the team in a setup role.”
According to multiple reports, for now the Cubs plan to have LHP Rob Zastryzny begin next season at Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs view Zastryzny as depth in the rotation and that is more important to the team than him possibly pitching out of the bullpen in the majors.
“Guys with options really have to force their way on the team, or else they’re very valuable depth for us. Right now we need more depth in the starting rotation,” Theo Epstein said Wednesday.
Epstein said Zastryzny, RHP Jake Buchanan, RHP Aaron Brooks and RHP Seth Frankoff are candidates for the starting rotation at Iowa for the beginning of next season.
Zastryzny has most been used as a starter since he was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft. Zastryzny was 1-0 in eight games, one start, with a 1.13 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 2.15 FIP in the majors last season.
In 24 games, 23 starts, for Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa, Rob Zastryzny was 10-5 with a 4.31 ERA and 1.23 WHIP this past season.
According to ESPN Chicago, Travis Wood is receiving interest from 10 teams, seven in the National League. Wood’s agent, Darek Braunecker, told Jesse Rogers the seven teams in the NL like Wood’s versatility.
On the days Wood is not pitching he can be used as a pinch-runner. Wood is a very good hitter which opens him up to pinch-hitting and he showed last season he is capable of playing left field.
Wood is not close to a deal with a team and that includes the Cubs. Jed Hoyer confirmed Wednesday the Cubs are staying in contact with Wood’s agent. Wood would like to start and teams like the Marlins are reportedly interested in giving him an opportunity to start again. The Cubs view him as a reliever and in the role he has thrived in the last two seasons.
Jorge Soler said good-bye and thank you to the Cubs and the fan base Wednesday after the deal with the Royals was announced. Soler is going to an American League team that plans to use him in right field and as a designated hitter. Soler will be reunited with Dale Sveum, the Royals hitting coach. Sveum was the Cubs’ skipper for his first Spring Training in 2013.
Thank you Cubs, the amazing fans, the city of Chicago & my teammates. World Series Champs baby! So many memories I'll cherish forever.⚾️
— Jorge Soler (@JorgeSoler68) December 7, 2016
— Jorge Soler (@JorgeSoler68) December 7, 2016
Theo Epstein admitted the Royals are likely a better spot for Soler at this point of his career than the Cubs. Epstein thinks Soler will be able to unleash his potential now that he has the opportunity to play every day and he stated the Cubs are rooting for him to succeed with the Royals.
“Over the next couple of years, we’ll make more trades where we say goodbye to position players who are hard to part with but give us the pitching we need. We have a good feel now for who our core guys are. If we’re trading position players, we would be trading more from a prospect base than anything else,” Epstein said. “We knew this day was coming. One of the reasons we invested heavily in position players in the draft and international markets is because they’re good bets to return value. We’ve identified a core who will be hard to move. Some prospects have a chance to join that core, but others we’ll end up trading. That was part of the plan all along.”
Jed Hoyer said it was tough to trade Soler “since he was part of the Cubs rebuild from the start.”
Jorge Soler has the talent to be an elite player in the big leagues for the foreseeable future. If the Royals can keep Georgie engaged he will help them win a lot of ballgames.
- Comcast SportsNet – Why the Cubs felt like they had to trade Jorge Soler now
- The Tribune – Cubs upgrade at closer but risk Jorge Soler reaching potential with Royals
- FanGraphs – The Win-Win Trade of Jorge Soler and Wade Davis
The Rule 5 Draft
The Rule 5 Draft is Thursday morning (8:00am CST). There will be only two phases, the Double-A phase has been eliminated. And it will cost teams more to select players in the Rule 5 Draft than before.
Teams have to pay $100,000 now to take players in the Major League portion instead of $50,000 and $24,000 in the Triple-A phase, up from $12,000.
The Cubs have several players in the system that teams could select in the Major League portion. OF Bijan Rademacher, RHP Corey Black, RHP Andury Acevedo, OF John Andreoli, LHP Jose Paulino and RHP Armando Rivero are among the players that could be of interest to other teams. (Click here for full list of players in Cubs system eligible for Rule 5 Draft)
The Cubs have room on the 40-man roster to select a player in the Rule 5 Draft. And according to multiple reports, if the right player is available the Cubs could make a selection in the draft.
According to the Tribune, RHP Justin Haley (Red Sox) and LHP Tyler Webb (Yankees) are on the Cubs’ radar.
Haley pitched in Double- and Triple-A last season in the Sox system and was a combined 13-10 with a 3.01 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Webb spent this past season in Triple-A and was 4-3 in 36 games, five starts, with a 3.59 ERA and 1.23 WHIP.
Updated 8:14am CST – Cubs did not make a selection in Major League portion of Rule 5 Draft. The Cubs lost RHP Armando Rivero to the Braves in Rule 5 Draft.
Updated 8:29am CST – Cubs selected SS Kevin Cornelius from the Yankees Double-A roster in the Minor League Phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
Updated 8:36am CST – Diamondbacks selected Daniel Lockhart from the Cubs in the Minor League Phase of Rule 5 Draft
Updated 8:52am CST – Cubs acquired LHP Caleb Smith from Brewers in Rule 5 Draft trade.
Dexter Fowler remains unsigned as his market continues to shrink by the day.
The Rangers were thought to be out on Fowler even before they signed Carlos Gomez. Texas is reportedly open to signing another centerfielder but Fowler is not believed to be on their list. The Nationals are no longer an option for Fowler after Mike Rizzo gave Rick Hahn way, way too much for Adam Eaton. And the Giants are “tapped out financially” according to Bob Nightengale which takes them out of the market for Fowler, Jose Bautista and Jay Bruce.
Fowler appears to have two options at this point … the Cardinals and Blue Jays. And according to Ken Rosenthal, the Cardinals might trade for Charlie Blackmon after the Rockies signed Ian Desmond.
The Cardinals are very interested in signing Fowler. The concern is the length of the contract he is looking for, not the AAV.
Dexter Fowler reportedly has offers on the table from the Cardinals and Blue Jays.
Adam Eaton – Nationals/White Sox
The White Sox capitalized on a panic move by Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo and did an excellent job with the return they received for Adam Eaton.
Rick Hahn traded OF Adam Eaton to the Nationals on Wednesday for RHP Lucas Giolito, RHP Reynaldo Lopez and RHP Dane Dunning.
Due to the Nationals incredibly massive overpay, Rick Hahn has taken the White Sox system from one of the worst in the game into at least the top 10 of the prospect rankings. Hahn should be applauded for the haul he received for Eaton.
- Jeff Passan – How the White Sox won the Winter Meetings
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, free agent right-hander Tyson Ross is looking for a contract worth in the $9-11 million price range. Grant is not sure if Ross would also like an incentives package in the deal or not.
The Cubs are believed to have interest in Ross and the Rangers are one of the teams that have done significant homework on him according to Evan Grant.
The Rockies pulled off a surprise move Wednesday with the signing of Ian Desmond to a five-year contract. The Rockies gave up the 11th overall pick, and slot money, in June’s Draft. Desmond rejected the qualifying offer from the Rangers.
The plan, for now, with Desmond is to play him in the outfield and at first base.
Desmond signed a five-year, $70 million contract the largest ever handed out by the Rockies to a free agent position player.
Desmond’s deal includes a club option for a sixth season worth $15 million that includes a $2 million buyout. Desmond receives a $1 million assignment bonus if he’s traded. And he gets a full no-trade clause if the Rockies were to trade him. Desmond will be paid $8 million in 2017, $22 million (2018), $15 million (2019, 2020) and $8 million (2021).
News, Notes and Rumors
• Jason Heyward moved to Arizona for the off-season and bought a house near the Cubs facility. Earlier this week the Cubs said Heyward would work on swing with hitting coaches John Mallee and Eric Hinske. According to the Sun-Times, Heyward will also work with Barry Bonds this off-season on his mechanics and hitting approach.
• Buster Olney pointed out Wednesday after the deal was completed with the Royals for Wade Davis that the Cubs free agent class after next season (2017) will be RHP Jake Arrieta, RHP John Lackey, RHP Pedro Strop, LHP Brian Duensing, RHP Wade Davis, C Miguel Montero and OF Jon Jay.
• ESPN asked if the Winter Meetings splash makes the Red Sox better than the Cubs. David Schoenfield broke down the two teams position by position with projected WAR from FanGraphs (Steamer projection) … and the Cubs came out ahead of the Sox.
• Jonathan Mayo reported the Reds, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, A’s and Rays received Comp Round A Picks in the 2017 Draft … and the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Indians, Rockies, Royals, Pirates, Cardinals and Padres received Comp Round B Picks in the draft.
• And speaking of the draft, after the Rockies signed Ian Desmond and forfeited the 11th pick, Buster Olney reported previous 11th overall picks include Max Scherzer, Andrew McCutchen, Addison Russell and George Springer.
• Jeff Passan explained why the modern-day Babe Ruth, Shohei Otani, won’t be coming to Major League Baseball for year.
• Teams are asking about the Red Sox’ extra pitchers according to Nick Cafardo.
• Jay Bruce has a limited no-trade clause in his contract that permits him to block deals to teams. The Mets are trying to trade Bruce. The Diamondbacks, Marlins, Twins, Yankees, A’s, Phillies, Rays and Blue Jays are on his no-trade list for this year according to James Wagner.
• A.J. Ellis is back with Don Mattingly. The Marlins signed the former Dodgers’ catcher to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.
• Paul Hoynes reported the Indians stay humble as the AL Central crumbles around them. Hoynes pointed out that after the Cubs acquired Wade Davis from the Royals it was the third time in two days “an important player has left the AL Central.”
• Bill King, the Oakland A’s legendary announcer, is the recipient of this year’s Ford C. Frick Award. King passed away in 2005 and will finally take his place in the Hall of Fame this summer. Pat Hughes was a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award.
This Day in Cubstory
2015 – Cubs signed free agent Ben Zobrist
2015 – Cubs signed free agent John Lackey
2015 – Cubs traded Starlin Castro to the Yankees for Adam Warren and a PTBNL. Cubs received Brendan Ryan on Dec. 17 to complete the trade.
2011 – Cubs selected Lendy Castillo from the Phillies in the Rule 5 Draft
2011 – Orioles selected Ryan Flaherty from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
2011 – Cubs traded Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMahieu to the Rockies for Casey Weathers and Ian Stewart
2011 – Red Sox selected Marwin Gonzalez from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft. Gonzalez was traded from the Red Sox to the Astros for Marco Duarte.
2010 – Cubs signed free agent Carlos Pena
2005 – Cardinals selected Juan Mateo from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
2004 – Cubs signed free agent Henry Blanco
2004 – Cubs signed amateur free agent Welington Castillo
2000 – Cubs signed free agent Jeff Fassero
1998 – Cubs released Matt Mieske and Pedro Valdes
1995 – Cubs signed free agent Jaime Navarro
1992 – Cubs signed free agent Dan Plesac
1988 – Cubs acquired Lloyd McClendon from the Reds for Rolando Roomes
1987 – Cubs traded Lee Smith to the Red Sox for Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi
1985 – Josh Donaldson, born
1981 – Cubs signed free agent Ferguson Jenkins
1981 – Cubs signed free agent Bill Campbell
1981 – Cubs traded Mike Krukow and cash to the Phillies for Dan Larson, Dickie Noles and Keith Moreland
1980 – Cubs selected Jody Davis from the Cardinals in the Rule 5 Draft
1977 – Cubs traded Jerry Morales, Steve Swisher and cash to the Cardinals for Hector Cruz and Dave Radar
1976 – Cubs received Jim Dwyer from the Mets as part of a three-team trade. The Cubs sent Pete LaCock to the Royals. Kansas City sent a PTBNL to the Mets. New York received Sheldon Mallory on Dec. 13 to complete the trade.
1976 – Reed Johnson, born
1961 – Mets purchased Richie Ashburn from the Cubs
1948 – Cubs acquired Cliff Chambers and Clyde McCullough from the Pirates for Frankie Gustine and Cal McLish
1938 – Cubs purchased Ray Harrell from the Cardinals