Results tagged ‘ Theo Epstein ’

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 checking list of who to keep, deal

On Friday, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported on Twitter that the Cubs may hang onto Justin Ruggiano and Luis Valbuena at the Trade Deadline even though both have drawn interest and could help a contending club. On Wednesday, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein told Chicago media that they are evaluating the current roster and trying to decide who to keep. What they want to determine is which players now will help the next generation make the transition.

“There’s value to keeping players who have roles here for the sake of continuity and leadership and performance on the field,” Epstein said at Wrigley Field. “We’re not in any rush to make trades for the sake of making trades.”

– Carrie Muskat

Epstein: No rush to make moves

The Trade Deadline is approaching, but Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein says he is not frantically trying to make changes to the roster.

“We’re not in a rush to make moves,” Epstein said Wednesday.

The Cubs made their splash on July 4 when they dealt Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the A’s. Epstein said they are evaluating the current roster to determine who they’d like to keep, who can help the team going forward, and what they can do on the field with the next generation coming up.

“There’s value to keeping players who have roles here for the sake of continuity and leadership and performance on the field,” Epstein said. “We’re not in any rush to make trades for the sake of making trades.”

– Carrie Muskat

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

7/25 Schierholtz, DeJesus wait

Cubs outfielders Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus are both well aware the Trade Deadline is one week away. Any team looking for a left-handed bat and a solid defensive outfielder would be interested in Schierholtz, who was batting .313 with runners in scoring position this season. A few teams have followed Schierholtz, including the Pirates.

“It’s out of our control what happens,” Schierholtz said after Wednesday’s extra inning win over the Diamondbacks in which he had his first five RBIs game. “I love being a Cub, and hope to stay here. You never know what will happen in the next week. All we can do is go out there and focus on trying to win games.”

DeJesus’ name also has been mentioned in trade rumors, and Theo Epstein did take time to talk to the outfielder, but not about a possible move. Instead, Epstein wanted to thank DeJesus, and tell him how much they appreciate his mentorship of the younger players. DeJesus showed that during his rehab stint with the Rookie League players, many of whom are teenagers.

“He’s a really good baseball player, lived up to his contract, he’s a left-handed bat who has the exact approach we’re trying to teach in this organization,” Epstein said. “There’s a lot of value to having him here. That said, will we make him untouchable? No — no one’s untouchable. We’ll sit and weigh out the options and what’s best for the Cubs.”

DeJesus, activated from the DL on Wednesday, was prepared.

“My name’s been in the rumors before,” he said. “It’s nothing new. You’ve just got to be professional and play the game and see what happens from there.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/17 Ryan Dempster rumors

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports the Red Sox are aggressively pursuing Ryan Dempster. As a player with 10 years in the Majors, and five with one team, Dempster has the power to veto a trade. He’s drawing a lot of interest from teams looking to fortify their rotation, including the Dodgers and Yankees. The Cubs are looking for top prospects in return. We’ll have to wait and see if Theo Epstein can make a deal with his former assistant GM, Ben Cherington. This is the last year of Dempster’s contract with the Cubs, and he currently leads the Majors with a 1.86 ERA.

But WEEI.com in Boston reported Tuesday that Major League sources say Dempster isn’t on the Red Sox’s wish list. Dempster also is a pure rental, which could influence what teams are willing to give up in exchange for th right-hander. Players must be with a team for an entire season in order to qualify for draft-pick compensation, so if Dempster is traded, the team that acquires him won’t get Draft picks if he leaves after this season.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports the Cubs are exchanging names with teams interested in Dempster, and lists the Dodgers, Tigers, Braves and Red Sox as teams in the hunt. Rosenthal also reports the Red Sox are interested in Matt Garza, although the price for him will be high. Garza is under club control through next season. He has a career 23-15 record, 3.34 ERA vs. AL East teams.

– Carrie Muskat

4/5 Opening Day at Wrigley

Theo Epstein is well aware he’s been the focus this offseason. On Opening Day, he said, it should shift to the Cubs.

“That’s nice and a complement but I’m realistic to know if that’s the case, it’s because I’m a symbol,” said Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations, who took over the team last October. “It’s not me. There are dozens and dozens and dozens of people — the players first and foremost — who working extremely hard trying to push the organization forward.”

He included the Cubs ownership, manager Dale Sveum and the rest of the baseball operations staff.

“I’m one small person in a very big machine,” Epstein said. “Not only have I not done anything yet but I’m a small part of it.”

Opening Day is the perfect start.

“It’s a special day, one of the best days of the year and the feeling of renewal is amplified every time you’re with a new team,” Epstein said.

“Opening Day is the one day of the year that doesn’t feel like any other days,” Epstein said. “I really cherish the second day of the year because that’s when the baseball rhythms kick in, you see the people at the park who will be with you the whole year and you get into your routine. That’s when it feels like baseball. Opening Day feels like a holiday. That second day of the year is when it all kicks in.”

There are some who feel Epstein is powerful enough to have made the ivy on the outfield walls bloom in time for the season opener between the Cubs and Nationals. Actually, it’s because of the early summer-like weather in Chicago in March.

“I was telling someone last night, I hope that’s a good omen,” Epstein said of the ivy. “We’ll take it as a sign of good things to come.”

The red, white and blue bunting may be on the ballpark and optimism is high but there’s still work to do.

“Maybe this completes the transition phase for me personally coming to new surroundings,” said Epstein, who was with the Red Sox from November 2002 until he joined the Cubs. “But it’s just another day. Nothing stops on Opening Day as far as we’re concerned. We need to do something every day to better the organization.

“The best time for reflection is the morning after sipping champagne when you win a World Series,” he said. “Until then, you keep plodding forward and try not to look back too much.”

– Carrie Muskat

1/11 Wood close to deal with Cubs?

FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweeted Wednesday that the Cubs were close to a one-year deal with Kerry Wood, which could include a club option for 2013.

During a stop on the Cubs Caravan on Wednesday, Cubs president Theo Epstein said he was hopeful the two sides could come to an agreement.

“If we can’t figure this out, something’s wrong,” Epstein said.

Wood, 34, posted a 3.35 ERA in 51 innings for the Cubs last season. He did miss time because of a blister and ended his season in September because of a torn meniscus in his left knee. The right-hander gave the Cubs a hometown discount in 2011, signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal to come back. He has said he wants to stay in Chicago, and last year, started the Wood Family Foundation, which is hosting a fundraiser Friday prior to the Cubs Convention.

– Carrie Muskat

12/5 Cubs talk to Pujols’ agent re: Lopez

Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, did meet with the agent for Albert Pujols on Monday. But agent Dan Lozano also represents Rodrigo Lopez, whom the Cubs would like to return to give them pitching depth.

“You see [Lozano] going into someone’s room, it’s not always that you’re there to talk about the big Kahuna,” Epstein said.

That’s the nature of the Winter Meetings, which officially got underway Monday at the Hilton Anatole with lots of talk, and not a lot of action.

The Cubs do need a first baseman, but Pujols and the multi-year mega deal he’s seeking doesn’t appear to fit what Epstein & Co. are trying to do. Bryan LaHair might. Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer did meet with LaHair, who was at the meetings to receive an award Monday after leading all of the Minor Leagues with 38 home runs at Triple-A Iowa. No promises were made to LaHair, who still has a few more weeks to play in Venezuela.

“We told him we appreciate the things he can do as a player and asked him to concentrate on certain elements of his game as well and said we look forward to seeing him in Spring Training,” Epstein said.

At least LaHair is an option. As far as third base, Epstein said, they “have internal candidates more than definite internal solutions.”

Jeff Baker, DJ LeMahieu, Josh Vitters and Junior Lake on the Cubs roster as options at third. There were reports the Cubs had talked to the Rockies about Ian Stewart, and Epstein said they’ve put a few feelers out.

“We’re not close to anybody,” Epstein said.

– Carrie Muskat

11/15 Cubs in meet & greet phase

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, the Cubs brain trust, are meeting with agents re: free agents and talking to teams about possible trades during the General Manager Meetings at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee this week. Right now, it’s the initial phase of conversations.

“We’re still very much in the information gathering mode on all of that stuff [re: free agents],” Hoyer said Tuesday. “We’re not really in a position to rule out much at this point. We’re going to listen on a lot of things and think about a lot of things. I’d be misleading if I started to dice up the free agent pool too much.”

Hoyer wouldn’t specify how much he has to work with as far as the team payroll is concerned, and would not comment on specific players. But they are meeting with lots of agents to lay the ground work as they try to fill some spots on the Cubs roster.

“Coming in late sometimes, a player looks at it like, ‘Where’s this team been? Maybe I was a second choice, third choice,'” Hoyer said. “I think expressing an interest is important. Coming out of the gate strong with an offer, a lot of times at this time of year, people are wary to accept anything because they want to see how the market develops. I think expressing interest early is very important.”

– Carrie Muskat

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