Results tagged ‘ cubs ’

Henry Blanco joins Cubs staff

Henry Blanco is back with the Cubs, joining manager Joe Maddon’s staff as a quality assurance coach. It might not be the only change. Dave Martinez, who has been Maddon’s bench coach since 2008 with the Rays, was dropped on Friday from the list of candidates for the Tampa managerial opening. Martinez, 50, also is a former Cubs player — 1986-88 — and may be a valuable addition for Maddon in his switch to the National League. The addition of Blanco should help Cubs catcher Welington Castillo. Blanco, 43, played for the Cubs from 2005-08, and was a coach on the Diamondbacks staff.

– Carrie Muskat

Waiting on Jon Lester

The Cubs will have to wait a little longer for Jon Lester to make a decision regarding where he wants to pitch next year. According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Lester will meet with at least two more teams next week. The free agent pitcher already has talked to the Cubs, Red Sox, and Braves. The Cubs made their push on Tuesday when Lester visited Chicago.

The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo said he has not been contacted to help recruit any free agents, including Lester, who was the first baseman’s teammate briefly with the Red Sox.

“All these free agents have earned the right to be free agents and they deserve to visit all the teams that are interested and do what’s best for their families and themselves,” Rizzo said Friday in Chicago. “It really [comes down to] the best decision for them. The best sales pitch I can give is that we’re an exciting team and this is Chicago.”

Cubs execs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer know all about sales pitches, especially at Thanksgiving time. In 2003, Epstein and Hoyer, then in the Red Sox front office, had Thanksgiving dinner with Curt Schilling, part of their effort to get the right-hander to drop the no-trade clause in his contract and accept being dealt to Boston.

“If we didn’t sign Curt, it probably would have been the worst Thanksgiving of my life,” Epstein said in 2003. “We tried to refuse [the invitation], and Curt said it was a deal breaker, they would be insulted if we didn’t go.”

Lester most likely will spend Thanksgiving at home.

– Carrie Muskat

Cubs reportedly ask re: Montero

Could Miguel Montero be the upgrade at catcher the Cubs are looking for? According to the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro, the Cubs are one of three teams who have spoken to the Diamondbacks about the left-handed hitting catcher (joining the White Sox and Dodgers). The Cubs missed in their attempt to sign free agent Russell Martin, who agreed to a five-year deal with the Blue Jays this week. Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart has said he’s not shopping any of their players, including Montero, but did say he’s had inquiries about several players. Montero was rumored to be available because of his contract — he’s owed $40 million over the next three years. Montero, 31, batted .243 this season with 13 home runs and 72 RBIs. He’s led the Majors in innings caught since 2011. In his second full season as the Cubs regular catcher, Welington Castillo batted .237 this past season with 13 home runs and 46 RBIs.

– Carrie Muskat

Jon Lester meets with Cubs

Hopefully, Jon Lester brought a warm coat to Wrigley Field Tuesday. According to a source, Lester met with the Cubs in what was believed to be the second stop on the free agent’s offseason tour of prospective teams. The Wrigleyville area was in a deep chill because of an early blast of winter weather. It’s up to Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer, who know Lester from their days together in Boston, to convince the lefty that it won’t be this cold on Opening Night, April 5, at Wrigley Field. The Cubs would not confirm the meeting.

After losing in their bid for free agent catcher Russell Martin, Epstein and Hoyer shifted their focus to adding an ace to the rotation. Lester fits that role, compiling a 116-67 record and 3.58 ERA over nine seasons.

Lester will reportedly meet Thursday with the Braves, who do have an edge over the other teams. In the offseason, the pitcher lives in suburban Atlanta, about a half hour drive from the Braves’ ballpark.

Would Lester be willing to make a switch from the American League to the Cubs? MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, interviewed on a Boston radio station Tuesday, said he believes Lester will return to the Red Sox. Boston traded Lester to Oakland on July 31, and the lefty finished the season 6-4 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts with the Athletics. Lester was 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts with Red Sox before the trade.

After Lester was dealt to the A’s, he told Boston Herald writer John Tomase that he wouldn’t be opposed to coming back to Boston.

“The [Red Sox] told me [after the trade to Oakland], ‘We’re going to be aggressive. You’re going to get blown out of the water by some of these [other] offers,'” Lester said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t need to be blown out of the water.’ Why would I need to be blown out of the water? That doesn’t make or break your decision, at least for me. I’m not going to the highest bidder. I’m going to the place that makes me and my family happy. If that’s Boston, it’s Boston.”

– Carrie Muskat

Report: Cubs to meet with Lester Tuesday

The Cubs were expected to meet with free agent Jon Lester on Tuesday. WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports the Red Sox will have met with Lester prior to the left-hander’s scheduled get together with Cubs officials. The Cubs are in the market to add a starting pitcher, and Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer know Lester well from their days together in Boston.

– Carrie Muskat

Report: Martin to Blue Jays

Cubs fans can cross Russell Martin off their wish list. According to reports Monday, the 31-year-old free agent catcher signed a five-year, $82 million deal with the Blue Jays. The Cubs were viewed as the front runner for Martin, but most likely were not willing to commit that type of deal. No Martin would leave the Cubs with Welington Castillo, who has improved defensively, but struggled offensively this past season. Martin would have provided veteran leadership much needed on the young Cubs.

– Carrie Muskat

Cubs in mix for Martin

Could the Cubs sign free agent catcher Russell Martin? FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal posted on Twitter that executives involved in bidding for Martin feel the Cubs are the “clear front runner.” Rosenthal said they project a deal in the four-year, $64 million range. The Cubs would like to upgrade at catcher after a disappointing offensive season by Welington Castillo. Martin reportedly met with Cubs officials at Wrigley Field earlier this month. Other teams reportedly pursuing Martin include the Dodgers, Blue Jays and Pirates.

The Pirates did extend Martin a qualifying offer, which he declined. The Cubs’ top pick in the June Draft (ninth overall) is protected, and they would have to give up their second-round pick if they did sign Martin.

– Carrie Muskat

Cubs acquire La Stella from Braves

The Cubs’ middle infield just got a little more crowded. On Sunday, the Cubs acquired left-handed hitting infielder Tommy La Stella from the Braves, as well as Atlanta’s No. 4 international signing bonus slot, for pitcher Arodys Vizcaino and three international signing bonus slots. Vizcaino, 24, returns to the Braves, where he began his pro career. The Cubs had acquired the right-hander in July 2012 from the Braves along with pitcher Jaye Chapman for pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson.

In Sunday’s deal, the net gain for the Braves in international bonus pool slot money is about $832,000, according to Baseball America. Atlanta will get the Cubs’ Nos. 2, 3 and 4 international signing bonus slots. The Braves’ No. 4 slot is valued at $142,000.

Where will La Stella play? A good contact hitter, he’s the type of player the Cubs would like at the top of the lineup. But they already have an overload of middle infielders with Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Logan Watkins, Luis Valbuena and top prospect Addison Russell. At the end of the 2014 season, Castro and Baez were projected as the starting shortstop and second baseman for next year. The Cubs are in the market to add starting pitching, and could possibly deal one of the infielders.

However, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said the deal for La Stella was not a precursor to any other deal.

“Sometimes you have to acquire guys that can get on-base,” Hoyer told ESPN.com. “It’s something we needed.”

– Carrie Muskat

Jon Lester to meet with Cubs

According to reports, free agent pitcher Jon Lester will meet with Cubs officials next week. ESPNBoston.com reports Lester’s agents have prepared a 200-plus page full color portfolio on the pitcher, along with a three-minute video. It features his charity work as well as his efforts on the field. Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson, met with Cubs officials as well as others, including Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, during the GM meetings in Phoenix. That’s standard procedure — agents touch base with all teams interested in their clients. But the bidding for Lester most likely will come down to the Cubs vs. Red Sox, who would like Lester to come back.

Just don’t expect the Cubs to sign Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields.

“It’s hard to acquire pitching. Period,” Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Wednesday in Phoenix. “It’s hard to acquire top-of-the-rotation pitching. I’ve seen us linked. People predict that we’re going to sign two top-of-the-rotation starters who both require nine-figure contracts. That’s not happening.

“Look at the history of nine-figure starting pitching contracts, and it’s a huge risk,” Epstein said. “So, to put an organization in the position to have two such deals immediately in the course of the same offseason, I couldn’t imagine something like that occurring.”

– Carrie Muskat

Cubs deny Zimmermann report

Cubs officials denied a report they were in contact with the Nationals regarding a potential trade for right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. A source told the Chicago Sun-Times that the teams have mutual interest, with the Cubs sending one of their middle infielders to the Nationals for the pitcher. However, a Cubs official told MLB.com Tuesday night that the report was not true. FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal also reported Cubs officials denying the Sun-Times report.

The Cubs are in the market for starting pitching, but are more likely to be exploring the free agent pitchers on the market, including Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields. If the price for those players is too high, they could wait for next year’s free agent market that will include Zimmermann, David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Theo Epstein has said repeatedly that they are looking at players over the next 15 months, not just this offseason.

Zimmermann, who turns 29 in May, is due to make $16.5 million in 2015, the last year of his contract. He was 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA in 32 starts in 2014.

– Carrie Muskat

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