Results tagged ‘ cubs ’

12/9 Cubs, Nationals talking

The Cubs are looking for bullpen help and one name they are believed to be interested in is Nationals’ right-hander Drew Storen. In four seasons with the Nats, the right-hander has a 3.40 ERA in 232 games. Last season, he appeared in 68 games, finished 20, and averaged 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings. Storen, 26, was a first-round pick in 2009, and is arbitration eligible for the first time. His best season was 2011 when he totaled 43 saves and posted a 2.75 ERA over 75 1/3 innings. The Nationals are interested in finding some help for the bench and looking for a young, versatile player in return.

The Cubs are looking for a closer. So far this season, they’ve added lefty Wesley Wright to the bullpen, although that deal has not been officially announced. Wright still needed to take a physical to complete the deal.

– Carrie Muskat

12/6 Jeff Samardzija and Cubs

The Cubs are still hoping to lock up Jeff Samardzija to a long-term contract. You’ll hear Samardzija’s name mentioned a lot next week during the Winter Meetings as teams seeking a starting pitcher try to pry the right-hander away from the Cubs. Where does the team stand in talks with Samardzija?

“I’m not going to provide a running play by play,” Theo Epstein said Thursday. “It’s in the same place it’s been. There’s mutual interest [to get something done]. The situation sometimes makes things tough.”

Samardzija has made it clear he wants to stay with the Cubs, but is under team control for two more seasons and will be a free agent after 2015. Considering the salaries starting pitchers are getting these days, he may decide to wait. He’s coming off his first 200-inning, 200-strikeout season.

– Carrie Muskat

12/4 Roundup

After Tuesday’s explosion of deals, the Hot Stove returned to a light simmer on Wednesday, but there still was plenty of news.

One of the most significant topics was the posting system that governs how Japanese players get from Nippon Professional Baseball to the Major Leagues. The two sides have been working on a new agreement throughout the offseason, which has been holding up the bidding for one of the winter’s hottest commodities, pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

However, a deal appears to be near, with Japanese media outlet Sanspo reporting Wednesday that the NPB is expected to accept a proposal limiting posting fees to $20 million. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports later added that if multiple teams submit the maximum bid, the player then could negotiate with all of those clubs.

Elsewhere on the international front, our Jesse Sanchez writes about the next wave of Cuban players set to follow recent signings such as Jose Abreu and Alexander Guerrero to the Majors. One of those players, slick-fielding 23-year-old shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena, will audition for teams at a showcase this weekend at the Yankees’ facility in the Dominican Republic, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino writes that the Mets will be among those teams with scouts in attendance.

In other news from around the league:

  • In the wake of the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann to contracts totalling $238 million, our Bryan Hoch looks at whether free agent Robinson Cano is still a fit in the Bronx. If Cano doesn’t return, the Yankees have an insurance policy in Kelly Johnson, with Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network reporting that the two sides have agreed on a one-year deal for about $3 million.
  • One other team rumored to be pursuing Cano is the Mariners, but general manager Jack Zduriencik wouldn’t confirm that interest.
  • Seattle also is among the teams that could enter the fray to acquire Rays ace left-hander David Price. That market soon will intensify, according to Passan, who names the Mariners, Dodgers, Angels, Pirates, Rangers, D-backs and Blue Jays as likely contenders. While Tampa Bay doesn’t need to trade Price, doing so now probably would earn it the best possible return, given that Price has two seasons left before free agency. Several baseball officials who talked to Passan named the Mariners as a frontrunner to land Price, perhaps by offering a package headlined by highly touted pitching prospect Taijuan Walker.
  • Max Scherzer is another Cy Young Award winner who has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason, but Detroit could be ready to pursue a contract extension instead. Our Jason Beck also addresses whether the Tigers could make a run at free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
  • With Ellsbury gone, our Ian Browne discusses what the Red Sox will do to fill his spot in center field next season.
  • The Mets are “deep in talks” with free-agent outfielder Curtis Granderson, reports our Anthony DiComo.
  • Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija has been discussed as a trade target this offseason, but Theo Epstein said the right-hander likely will be in the team’s Opening Day rotation, with a long-term deal a possibility.
  • The Cubs also agreed to a one-year deal with left-handed reliever Wesley Wright, who was non-tendered by the Rays on Monday.
  • Paul Konerko has decided to return to the White Sox for one more season, filling a part-time role in his 16th year with the club. He will make $1.5 million, plus $1 million deferred until 2021.
  • The Rockies are getting close to a two-year deal with free-agent first baseman Justin Morneau, who is expected to platoon with the right-handed Wilin Rosario. Morneau likely will get $12.5 million, plus a mutual option for 2016.
  • The Reds might not be as likely to trade second baseman Brandon Phillips as was reported earlier in the offseason, especially in light of comments general manager Walt Jocketty made on Wednesday.
  • With A.J. Pierzynski among the catchers who have gone off the board recently, the Rangers continue to look for a backup to pair with Geovany Soto. Kurt Suzuki is one candidate.

– Andrew Simon

12/4 Cubs sign Wesley Wright

The Cubs added another left-handed reliever to the bullpen mix on Wednesday, signing free agent Wesley Wright to a one-year deal believed to be $1.425 million. Wright, 28, was non-tendered by the Rays on Monday. He posted a combined 3.69 ERA in 70 games for the Rays and Astros this past season, striking out 55 over 53 2/3 innings pitched.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale first reported the deal. Major League sources confirmed it, pending Wright undergoing a physical.

In his career, Wright has held left-handed hitters to a .231 average compared to .266 by right-handed batters.

Wright announced the signing himself by changing his Twitter profile @realweswright to say he’s now a relief pitcher for the Cubs.

The Cubs were looking for bullpen help, and especially another left-hander to help southpaw James Russell, who ranked 10th in the National League in games (74). Chicago is still shopping for a closer to replace Kevin Gregg, who is a free agent.

– Carrie Muskat

12/4 Jeff Samardzija – UPDATE

During an interview Wednesday night on Chicago Sports Talk Live, Theo Epstein said the chances of Jeff Samardzija being in the Cubs Opening Day rotation are “pretty good.”

Samardzija has been the subject of trade rumors since July, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick wrote Wednesday that the Cubs will do some “serious listening” at the Winter Meetings to teams interested in trading for the right-hander.

In the show Wednesday night on Comcast SportsNet Chicago, Epstein repeated that the Cubs are hoping to sign Samardzija to a long-term deal. The pitcher is arbitration eligible.

“He’s our best pitcher and I’m really bullish on his future,” Epstein said on the Comcast SportsNet Chicago show. “He’s a guy who is a difference making starting pitcher for a long time.”

Epstein did say they want to get the most out of their assets, and although one way is a contract extension, another way is to trade that player for “mulitiple young impact assets.”

“With Jeff, I still have the belief that he can be the guy, he has the exact makeup we’re looking for,” Epstein said.

Samardzija is under team control for two more seasons, has shown that he’s durable, he’s a power pitcher, and he’s only 28 years old. The Cubs would have to be blown away by a package to deal Samardzija, who is arbitration eligible and projected to get a $4.9 million in 2014. Many teams looking for starting pitching consider him to be a better alternative than the free agent pitchers still on the market.

What could influence the Cubs decision on whether to part with Samardzija is if they can fill that spot in the rotation with Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. According to a report on Wednesday, Japanese baseball officials are willing to accept the $20 million maximum bid, which would be part of the new posting rules. Tanaka was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for Rakuten this season.

Stay tuned. The Winter Meetings get underway Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

– Carrie Muskat

Granderson dishes on Mets dinner (Where’s the beef?!)

Last month, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson dined with Robinson Cano’s agents, including Jay-Z at a posh Manhattan hotel. A few weeks later, Alderson continued his dinner circuit with what appears to be a more serious pursuit of outfielder Curtis Granderson.

Alderson dined with Granderson Sunday night in San Diego, touching base with a power-hitting outfielder who could fill one of the team’s most pressing needs.

“We ate a nice meal and it was great to enjoy some salmon,” Granderson said on a conference call Tuesday to announce Tony Clark’s appointment as executive director of the MLB Players’ Association. “Other than that, it was kind of what you would expect: a conversation, a Q and A, and continue the process moving forward.”

Asked if he had any additional meetings on his calendar, Granderson quipped that he had one scheduled with union executives later Tuesday afternoon. Neither Alderson nor Granderson’s agent, Matt Brown, returned messages seeking comment.

Seafood aside, a marriage between Granderson and the Mets would make sense on multiple levels. Granderson, 32, is accustomed to playing in New York, having spent the past four seasons with the Yankees. He took to the city, hitting 84 homers from 2011-12 before multiple injuries derailed his 2013 season.

The Mets, meanwhile, are searching for a corner outfielder to pair with Chris Young and Juan Lagares, potentially pushing Eric Young, Jr. into a utility role. Granderson’s left-handed power would also make it easier for the team to part with first basemen Ike Davis or Lucas Duda, perhaps in a deal for starting pitching.

But no marriage is perfect. There are significant questions regarding Granderson’s ability to transition from Yankee Stadium — arguably the most left-handed power-friendly ballpark in the Majors — to more neutral Citi Field. Granderson will also be 33 on Opening Day and is coming off an injury-plagued season.

Then there is the matter of money. The Mets have openly balked at the prospect of handing out nine-figure deals to top free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, and are not expected to pursue marquee free agents at any position. While Granderson would certainly come cheaper than Ellsbury or Choo, the industry assumption is that he can land a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $60 million.

A popular clubhouse presence in New York, Granderson has already been linked to the Yankees, Cubs and White Sox, among others.

“The free agent market has been enjoyable,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited about what the next step and chapter is in my baseball career.”

Last month, Alderson, assistant GM John Ricco and COO Jeff Wilpon met with Cano’s representatives at a Manhattan hotel. The GM later defined the meeting as more of an introduction to Jay-Z, who recently founded the talent agency Roc Nation Sports, than a negotiation session.

–Anthony DiComo

12/3 Could Cubs bid for Tanaka?

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees and Dodgers are expected to be the most aggressive in pursuit of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka when the posting system is finalized. Major League officials and the Japanese league are still working on details.

Sherman said executives from two clubs expect the Cubs to be in the mix as well, with one saying they will be “really aggressive.” Sherman notes that the Cubs have several impact position players (Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora) but not enough pitching.

Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have been involved in the posting process for Japanese players before. They were with the Red Sox when they gave $51.1 million posting fee to land Daisuke Matsuzaka. If the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox are in pursuit of Tanaka, it will be expensive.

The posting fees are still to be resolved. According to Sherman, MLB officials have been trying to lower the fees transferred from their teams to Japanese teams as part of the process to gain negotiating rights. The Rangers paid the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters $51.7 million posting fee to get Yu Darvish, then signed him to a six-year, $60 million contract.

MLB has a current proposal that involves a limit of $20 million, Sherman writes.

Why is Tanaka so highly regarded? Tanaka, 25, was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 regular season games with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, that’s why.

– Carrie Muskat

11/24 Samardzija rumors

Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija struck out 200 over 200 innings in his first full season as a starter, and has drawn interest from teams looking for a young pitcher, especially one who would be under team control for two more years. The Diamondbacks, Nationals and Blue Jays have reportedly inquired about Samardzija and on Sunday, there was a report that Toronto was putting together a package of young players for the Cubs right-hander.

During an interview on MLB Radio on Sunday, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos was asked if there was any truth to the rumor about the Blue Jays pursuing Samardzija.

“You know what, I just saw that [rumor], too,” Anthropoulos told MLB Radio. “I’m in the office [Sunday] just going through some things. I’m going to try to be a little more candid than I may have been in the past. I won’t comment on specific rumors and things like that but I will say that we’re definitely exploring starters with teams. But also, just like a lot of stuff that’s out there that is false, we have not made an offer to anybody with respect to a starter. So if there is something out there that [says] we’ve actually made an offer to someone for a starter, that is not accurate. It doesn’t mean we’re not inquiring.”

MLB Radio host Jim Duquette asked if anything was imminent regarding either adding a free agent or making a trade.

“You know what, we’re talking to one club about a smaller trade and maybe it’ll move the next few days, or maybe it won’t happen,” Anthropoulos said. “But, no, I don’t think, not right now there isn’t anything imminent. We’re not necessarily waiting on someone to get back to us but, again, at any time that can change and I hope it does. I think, and you guys both went through it, before the Thanksgiving holiday sometimes there’s that last little push [when] teams want to get some things off their plate. So maybe things happen here in the next two or three days. If not, we’ll take it to the [Winter Meetings], I guess, at that point.”

The Cubs have approached Samardzija, 28, about a possible contract extension. The pitcher, who was the Opening Day starter this year, has not been in a hurry to something done.

“I have two more years of arbitration so there is a lot of time to get something done,” Samardzija said in early November.

As for all the rumors, GM Jed Hoyer said Samardzija had the right attitude because he doesn’t pay any attention to the reports.

Teams shopping for starting pitching may be comparing the cost of acquiring Samardzija with another 28-year-old, David Price, who also is under team control for two more years. However, Price has more innings and experience as a starter, and won the AL Cy Young in 2012 when he went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA for the Rays. Price did miss time this season because of a left triceps strain. Samardzija, who ranked fifth in the National League in strikeouts per nine innings, has been healthy. Price was paid $10 million in 2013; Samardzija $2.6 million.

The Cubs don’t have that much depth pitching-wise, with Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jake Arrieta set for the rotation in 2014.

– Carrie Muskat

11/23 Roundup

The Yankees stole the Hot Stove headlines on Saturday, when they filled their void at catcher by agreeing to a five-year contract with free agent Brian McCann. In a deal first reported by The Dallas Morning News, New York committed to paying McCann $85 million, with a $15 million vesting option for 2019.

 The Yankees clearly needed more offense behind the plate, after their catchers combined for a .587 OPS last season. McCann comes in with seven All-Star appearances, five Silver Slugger Awards and a career .823 OPS.

In other news from around the league:

  • The Cardinals apparently have found their shortstop, with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick breaking the news that St. Louis is close to an agreement with free agent Jhonny Peralta.
  • The Angels will bolster their bullpen by signing free-agent right-hander Joe Smith to a three-year contract worth roughly $15 million.
  • Free-agent right-hander Colby Lewis, who missed the 2013 season due to injury, re-signed with the Rangers on a one-year Minor League deal that includes an invitation to Major League camp. Lewis went 32-29 with a 3.93 ERA over 80 starts with Texas from 2010-12 but hasn’t pitched in the Majors since July of ‘12.
  • In his morning (Insider-only) column, ESPN’s Buster Olney said some executives, “see the Mariners as the great sleeping giant in baseball,” because of their potential financial clout, lack of long-term contract commitments outside of Felix Hernandez, and solid stable of young players. Olney wonders if the Mariners could go after top free agents Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury.
  • The Cubs have generated a lot of interest in right-hander Jeff Samardzija, with the Blue Jays one of those trying to pry him away, according to Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago and ESPN Radio 1000.
  • There was speculation on Friday that Cano was in Detroit to visit the Tigers. A deal between the two parties would seem to be a longshot considering the club just acquired Ian Kinsler, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted.
  • The market for free-agent closers is locked in a “staring contest,” tweets FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi.

– Andrew Simon

11/17 Roundup

When a team is looking to improve on one facet of its club, it helps when it has a surplus in another area. Read ahead in today’s Hot Stove roundup to find out which club is in such a situation, and plenty of other news:

  • Between Jurickson Profar, Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler, the Rangers have a wealth of infield depth. The Dallas Morning News‘ Evan Grant reports the Rangers could very well trade one of those players (with some top prospects also working their way into the picture) to fill other needs. “We have three guys at the major league level and two guys at Double-A [Rougned Odor and Luis Sardinas]; it would be irresponsible not to consider it,” general manager Jon Daniels told Grant. “Will we ultimately make a deal? I really don’t know. Teams are getting the lay of the land, see what’s out there and make a decision.”
  • The Blue Jays are looking to add starting pitching talent. But would they be willing to part ways with Jose Bautista in order to get it? The Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo says it’s a possibility.
  • Cafardo also notes there’s a “growing sentiment” that the Padres will deal third baseman Chase Headley this winter.
  • It’s no secret the Tigers need a closer, and Joe Nathan and Brian Wilson are two names that have been closely linked to Detroit. It was reported earlier this week that there has been mutual interest between the Tigers and Nathan, but Buster Olney tweeted that the Tigers may prefer Wilson because of salary.
  • Right-hander Jeff Samardzija has the potential to be a building block for the Cubs moving forward, and David Kaplan is reporting that the Cubs have reached out to him about a contract extension. Samardzija, who will become a free agent after the 2015 season and turns 29 in January, had a 4.34 ERA last year and logged a career-high 213 2/3 innings.
  • Because of the unique structure of Bryce Harper‘s contract and some unresolved issues, the Washington Post‘s Adam Kilgore reports, Harper and the Nationals could be looking at a grievance hearing next winter.

– Joey Nowak

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