Results tagged ‘ cubs ’
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
Alfonso Soriano is retiring from the Major Leagues after 16 seasons, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Soriano, 38, was released by the Yankees in July after playing in 67 games in 2014, the final year of an eight-year, $136 million contract he signed with the Cubs before the 2007 season. He was selected to seven consecutive All-Star Games during his career and ranks 50th on the all-time home run list with 412.
“I’ve lost the love and passion to play the game,” Soriano said in a radio interview Tuesday in his native Dominican Republic, according to the AP. “Right now, my family is the most important thing. … Although I consider myself in great shape, my mind is not focused on baseball.”
Soriano played parts of five seasons with the Yankees from 1999-2003 before he was traded to the Rangers in 2004 in the deal that brought Alex Rodriguez to New York. After two seasons with Texas, Soriano was traded to the Nationals before the 2006 season. Soriano spent seven years with the Cubs before being dealt to the Yankees in 2013.
One day after signing free agent manager Joe Maddon, the Cubs are checking the list of free agent players and are reportedly looking at Russell Martin. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman said Tuesday the Cubs are going to target Martin, considered the top catcher available this offseason. Sources also told Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s Patrick Mooney that the Cubs have Martin on their radar.
The Pirates extended the $15.3 million qualifying offer to Martin, but he was expected to turn that down. The Pirates want to bring Martin back, and are one of several teams interested in the catcher. The list also is believed to include the Blue Jays and Red Sox. Martin will most likely be looking for a five-year deal, especially after catchers Brian McCann, Yadier Molina and Miguel Montero each signed contracts of that length. McCann received $85 million, Molina $75 million and Montero $60 million.
Other players who received the one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer on Monday include Max Scherzer, Victor Martinez, Melky Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Nelson Cruz, Francisco Liriano, Michael Cuddyer and Ervin Santana. The players have until Nov. 10 to make a decision.
The Cubs would not have to give up a first-round Draft pick to sign Martin because of the team’s finish in the bottom 10 among Major League teams but instead it would cost a second-round pick. They also would have the amount slotted for that pick subtracted from the total amount of their Draft signing bonus pool, which governs how much a team can spend to sign picks in the top 10 rounds.
Martin’s slash line last season with the Pirates was .290/.402/.430, and he hit 11 home runs and drove in 67. He did miss time early in the season because of a left hamstring injury.
The Cubs had hoped Welington Castillo could pick up where he left off in the second half of 2013 when he hit .288 but instead batted .237 in 110 games. Castillo did set career-highs in home runs (13) and RBIs (46), but also was sidelined with a rib cage injury.
<em>– Carrie Muskat</em>