Rob G.'s Archives

Cubs Sign Motte

The Cubs have signed reliever Jason Motte to a one-year deal for $4.5M with a games finished incentive. Motte hasn't pitched a full season since 2012, but did have a helluva nice run out of the Cardinals bullpen from 2010-2012, including being their closer in 2012 where he knocked out 42 saves with a 2.75 ERA thanks to a 10.1 K/9 rate, 2.1 BB/9 rate and 0.917 WHIP that season..

2014 Winter Meetings Day 3

4:54: PM CST: Break out the salt shakers, but..."Cubs are talking very seriously with James Shields." -@injuryexpert @br_radio #BRAD". So the tweet comes from Jason Goff, who seems to host an afternoon Sirius radio show and I think he's talking to enemy of the state, Will Carroll, who I believe is the one saying the above. It would't completely surprise me, but it would be surprising in a way. I would think that after being able to sign Lester and a high draft pick next year, Cubs would prefer to have one more big draft class opportunity, but I could be wrong.

2:35 PM CST: Well, I suppose Johnny Gomes technically qualifies as a LF power bat.

1:49 PM CST: Jim Bowden (yeah I know), says Cubs are looking for a LF power bat.

My final take on this Jon Lester business. Yes, of course, it's too much money for too many years (aka big ticket free agency) and the full no-trade clause puts a bit of a damper on the deal, but with that much competition on Lester, it was probably necessary. It seems there is a $30 million signing bonus involved, with $20 million being paid to Lester right now and the other $10 million being spread out over the life of the contract. If that is how it works out, that's $135M over 6 years, which would be $22.5M per year. Let's say I'm a big fan if that is the case, using the savings from the last few years to make the contract slightly more manageable in the future. There is a 7th year option worth $25M that automatically vests if Lester throws 200 innings in 2020 or 400 total innings between 2019 and 2020. I haven't seen if that's a club, player or mutual option, but I would guess player. I'm not sure if there's a buyout involved. I'm also not sure what numbers I'm missing because the report is that it would be a total of $170M over 7 years if the option vests, but I get $180M ($155+25M), so there's something not adding up, but I'm sure it'll get figured out soon enough.  Lester also gets 25 hours a year of private air travel paid for by the Cubs.

In the end, the Cubs got the guy they wanted...the guy with the ability and make-up that they craved, the guy with 2 rings to show off to the youngsters. And there is some success in left-handers in their mid to late 30's (Lilly and Pettite come to mind) that the Cubs will still get something out of Lester on the backend of the deal. In itself, it's not enough to put them in playoff contention next year, but it's enough to start them down the path. And well, you never know, maybe the youngsters all come out hitting like they did in the minors and next year the magic begins.

More rumoring after the break...

The Cubs Get Their Man

Yes, that man...Jon Lester. Joel Sherman and Ken Rosenthal have both tweeted that Lester has informed Red Sox he won't be signing with them.

More to come...

UPDATE #1: The deal is for 6/155M.

UPDATE #2: Red Sox offer was 6/135, Giants were willing to go 7/168 according to Jeff Passan.

2014 Winter Meetings Day 2

8:51 PM CST: Gordo, unsurprisingly, couldn't have been more off as Lester has called the Giants and let them know he won't be signing there. All indications are as earlier, it's between the Red Sox and Cubs. MLB Network had a report that Lester's agents had a meeting scheduled with Lester again tonight. However... whomever @BaseballEssential is, they are claiming lots of buzz that Lester is signing with Cubs, but nothing official yet.

If Cubs lose out on Lester, Morosi is reporting that Boras is seeking $200M guaranteed contract.

7:35 PM CST: Just kidding about all that Giants out of it nonsense, Gordo has a source saying Lester is leaning towards Giants now. ~shrug~

6:30 PM CST: Theo claims they are not shopping Welington and that Montero will be a good compliment to him. "We're not shopping (Castillo) at all. The second that the Montero news came out, we got calls from a number of teams about Wely." Of course, just cause they're not shopping him, doesn't mean they won't move him if one of those calls bears fruit.

Olney says Lester will have final options tonight.

5:00 PM CST: You're not a good agent until you're squeezing every last dollar out. Oy vey!

4:15 PM CST: On that Ross note, Cubs have a meeting with him tonight.

3:36 PM CST: Jeff Passan says the Cubs will indeed look to move Welington Castillo. Well, 38-year old David Ross was pretty good against lefties last year as well (.809 OPS in 67 PA's, .770 for his career). Of course, if he's Lester's personal catcher, won't be able to take advantage of the offensive split.

3:06 PM CST: Montero deal is done pending a physical. D'Backs get Jeferson Mejia and Zack Godley. That seems absurdly reasonable. Neat. The 20-year old Mejia can certainly end up being quite good, but you have to give up something to get something. And he wasn't anyone, nor was Godley that was anywhere near a top 20 prospect list at this point. The 25-year old Godley has a real nice K rate, but was a bit old for the Hi-A league last year (ages are what their baseball playing age will be next season using the July 1st cutoff).

2:52 PM CST: Giants assistant GM was on the radio and said Lester told him that top dollar will not be the deciding factor and that "heartstrings" are pulling at him. Sounds like a reunion with the Red Sox, unless there's more to his relationship with Theo and Jed that we don't know about it. AZ Phil nailed it in the comments, that Jeferson Mejia would be one of the pitchers heading to the D'Backs for Montero.

1:43 PM CST: The Cubs have "ratcheted up their offer" for Montero and a deal seems close.

The big rumor last night was that the Cubs were well along on a deal for Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero and Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the deal should be done by the end of the day. The Cubs would take on Montero's contract (3/40M) and DBacks would get 2 low level pitchers, presumably of good quality, but not CJ Edwards quality. The debate rages on if the Cubs should bother with Montero, afterall he's owed some money, he'll be playing his age 31 season next year and his OPS has been south of .700 the last 2 seasons. But we do know the Cubs want some vet leadership on the team and the catching position is where they want it, add in that Montero hits from the left side and has good on-base skills and you can see some of the interest. One other thing to note, his splits versus lefties and righties. He had a .719 OPS in 2013 .735 in 2014 versus righties, but just a .492 in 2013 and .563 in 2014 versus lefties. On the other side, Welington is a .684 vs. righties for his career and .845 versus lefties. Let's say I'd like that a platoon if it works out. Maybe the Cubs go with a Montero/Ross platoon if this all happens, but I don't know if they need 2 vet catchers.

Also of note, DBacks ownership already nixed a deal of Andre Ethier for Montero, although no reasons were given. Did they not want to trade Montero within the division, did they want to just shave payroll in a Montero deal or do they just not want to move him? I doubt it's the latter, otherwise their GM would stop shopping him in deals, but regardless, there's probably a final obstacle even if they do agree on a deal.

2014 Winter Meetings Day 1

6:17 PM CST: Yanks allegedly making a late push for Lester. I think it went something like this.

Cashman checks his twitter account and reads, " Lester's agents waiting to see if one of his suitors will go to $150 million."

Calls Lester's agent, "Cute Seth, you can just call me next time. Do I make the check out to you or Lester?"

5:18 PM CST: Rosenthal says Lester choosing between Giants and Cubs "barring late change." Then Lester's agent said that is "totally false...liar, liar, pants on fire. We'll totally take anyone's money still as long as it's the highest offer." (I might have paraphrased a little there).

2:20 PM CST: A little last-minute money squeeze by the agents, as it's being reported that Lester and Co. are hoping to get someone to pony up 6/150M to get the deal done.

1:37 PM CST: Apparently Hammel can void the 2017 club option, but must reach some very high performance-based thresholds to earn that right.

1:21 PM CST: Mooney says the 3rd year option on Hammel is for $12M, so 3/30M if the Cubs pick up option or 2/20M if they buy him out.

Once upon a time, I rocked the the updates during Winter Meetings, feverishly updating the site with every little bit of bullshit that was spewed. Those were different times of course, finding those sources, meant about 20 open browser tabs and constant reloading of rotoworld, NSBB forum, MLB trade rumors, the Chicago papers, etc, etc, etc. I felt like I was providing a service to you rumor-hungry readers.

Now everything is on twitter and I just favorite it, and it's up in the left sidebar for you two seconds later. I have as much use as a switchboard operator now...ah, how times have changed.

Regardless, since I have a bit of time this morning, here's a few tidbits.

Random Trade Ideas

The offseason has kind of been slow going for the Cubs on the player side...they're in hot pursuit of Jon Lester, but every team with big wallets is gonna make an offer before it's over, and many of them are in better positions to win next year than the Cubs. Thus my doubts that Lester will actually sign if the claims that it won't just be about the money are true. Yeah, the Cubs might be better set-up for a long run of playoff appearances, but I think they're 2-3 years away from that run myself. It's close, but not quite there yet. That being said, it's pretty hard to acquire all the crucial pieces for said playoff run in one offseason, so I'm all for the Cubs making a run at some pieces this offseason like Lester or Max Scherzer, although I think going all in is a bit premature.

On the other hand, every baseball fan likes a good here's a few that I wondered about.

A few rules here...

- Fans and organizations overvalue their own players....

- You have to give up something good to get something good.

- I'm not necessarily advocating these trades, just some ideas to get the discussion going.

- The basic premise here is what I think the Cubs need to give up to actually get these players, not some fanciful penny on the dollars type trades that will never happen.

New Cubs Bench Coach, New Rumors

A couple of quick hits for everyone...

- The Cubs have indeed hired former Cub and rumored backstabber Dave Martinez as their bench coach (not Davey Lopes if you're following Bruce Levine on twitter). That'll move Brandon Hyde to first base coach and newly hired Doug Dascenzo to outfield/baserunning coordinator.

Cubs 40-Man Roster Moves

The Cubs have put C.J. Edwards on the 40-man and that is the extent of their Rule 5 deadline roster moves. You can check out AZ Phil's full list of Rule 5 eligibles if you wish, but I don't see any obvious names that will get selected. Maybe Zach Cates or Ivan Pineyro or Starling Peralta, but there's certainly no one on there that folks should all be too worried about losing even if they do get picked.

Cubs Trade for La Stella

The Cubs have acquired 2b Tommy La Stella from the Braves and their #4 international bonus slot for former Brave RHP Arodys Vizcaino and Cubs international bonus slots #2, #3 and #4. The Braves end up with about $832K more in international bonus money. So with the Braves getting more cash, the silent agreement between the two clubs is that La Stella was the better bet going forward as a player, certainly in the Cubs' collective minds.


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