Arbitration is Going to be the End of Jim Hendry
UPDATE: MLB Trade Rumors and Eddie Bajek updated their reverse-engineered rankings from two days ago and don't ask me how they changed but they did. Gregg and Grabow as Type A, Harden and Johnson as Type B. For what it's worth, Chone Figgins has been dropped to Type B status by their rankings. Muskat says Gorzelanny and Fontenot will qualify as Super Two status and the Cubs have 10 arb-eligible players total (Arizona Phil also has So Taguchi in his list on the right sidebar). The official Elias Rankings will be out soon enough.
The Cubs will not offer arbitration to Harden, who was their top strikeout pitcher in 2009.
I had mentioned earlier in the week that it looks like Harden will be a Type B free agent meaning it wouldn't cost the signing team any of their own draft picks, but the Cubs would get a supplemental pick between the first and second rounds. If Levine's statement turns true, the Cubs are betting that no team would offer more in a multi-year deal to Harden than he could get in a one-year arbitration case coming off an ERA above 4.
There's obviously a few criteria that have to hit first, Harden would need to officially be labeled a Type B free agent and the Cubs would officially have to not offer arbitration, but if that scenario does play out where Harden is a Type B free agent (hell a Type A free agent even) and the Cubs don't offer arbitration, well let's say I won't be a happy. The Type A status would make it a little sketchy, since teams would certainly hesitate a bit more if Harden cost them a first round pick, but considering John Lackey is the only other talented starting pitcher on the market, I think Harden will still get a few decent offers.
The article also states that the Cubs would like to sign John Grabow to a 2-year deal. Earlier it was mentioned that Grabow wants a 3-year deal. Chances are that means the Cubs would offer arbitration and be content if Grabow accepts for one year. If Grabow gets Type A status as expected, I see little chance any team would sign Grabow and cough up a first round pick. The Cubs could get lucky and a team with a protected first round pick or one that already signed a higher rated free agent would sign Grabow and not worry as much about losing a second round or lower draft pick, but it's a far more unlikely scenario.
There's some Milton Bradley talk and Levine also believes the Cubs won't have to pay as much of the $21M+ of Bradley's contract as many people believe...which is all of it. One deal discussed was a disgruntled Bradley to the Rays for the statuesque Pat Burrell who was a major disappointment for the Rays this year. At least it would be a helluva bench bat for the Cubs.
There's some talk about Chone Figgins although no whispers of the Cubs interest level. And Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson should be back at the right price.
This might be old news but Hammel was on ESPN 1000 and said that he changed his diet and workout routine over the off season and tweaked his delivery so it'd be more repeatable so he'd have a better second half. So...some cause for optimism anyway.
CHILDERS: RHSP Dylan Cease and LHSP Bryan Hudson are probably the top two SP prospects in the organization right now.
LHSP Jose Paulino has electric stuff (91-94 MPH fastball with sinking action and a mid-80's slider), but he also has trouble commanding it.
RHP Jose Albertos (2015 IFA - Mexico - $1.5M bonus) just turned 17 in November, and his fastball already sits at 95-96. He also throws a curve and a change-up, and is fairly advanced for a kid his age.
AZBOBBOP: Most of 2016 draft picks will get assigned to either Eugene or AZL Cubs, but the Opening Day Eugune roster will probably be almost 100% from the Extended Spring Training squad roster (pending the arrival of draft picks).
I think I can probably tell you which pitchers and players at EXST are in contention for roster slots at Eugene and which are in contention for slots with the AZL Cubs - AS THINGS STAND RIGHT NOW - (listed alphabetically):
* bats or throws left
# bats both
Eloy Jimenez atop the leader board for minor-league home runs in the Cub system, with seven. Tied with Balaguert and Vogelbach, two 24-year-olds. Jimenez won't be 20 until late November. Leads the Midwest League in SLG and OPS. Maybe he'll get promoted to the Myrtle Beach squad that visits Woodbridge, VA, in June or Frederick, MD, in August.
Watched two Pelican games at Frederick the other week. Was most impressed by Stinnett and Happ. Happ may swing harder than Javier Baez, though more compactly. (Also got to see Brockmeyer hit a bomb.)
E-MAN: Jose Paniagua isn't a string-bean, but I wouldn't say he necessarily bulked-up during the 2015-16 off-season either, He led the DSL Cubs in HR and doubles in 2014, and he showed XBH power when he arrived in Mesa last year, leading the AZL Cubs in HR, doubles, and RBI in 2015. It's just that he has taken his HR power to a new level this year.
Paniagua displayed plus-HR power in Cactus League Minor League Spring Training games in March, and that got him a slot on the South Bend Opening Day roster. But he was sent to EXST after only six MWL games.
More on the Cub Way.
Martinez is one of my least favorite pitchers in baseball. I'd love to see a game like yesterday's against him.
Send Soler down!
Awesome thanks AZ
Great report, Phil! This organization has so many hitters to be excited about.
Ben Zobrist is very enjoyable to watch!!!!!!
given that he seems to only be throwing low 90s these days rather than the 93-96mph he used to throw, along with his wildness issues this year, he may end up passing through.
i dunno if something is wrong with him physically or his past shoulder issues has rendered him what he currently is, but he's been throwing a lot of sliders he can't control well and his fastball isn't as sharp. even when his slider wasn't working in a game he was still throwing a lot of them.
Any scuttlebutt on where Neil Ramirez gets traded?
He seems better than some of the relievers on competitive teams. He ought to bring more than the waiver fee.
My guess? Toronto.
PHIL: It seems as if Paniagua has always played 1B with the Cubs. At 6'2 and 180#, what is his frame like? String bean? Have you seen him bulk up? Where do you project him? Thanks.
Phil, what's your thoughts on which position players are going to Eugene and who is staying in AZL?
Ahhh...way to bring me down BB.
Still - a win tomorrow will be an acheivement regardless.
Don't mean to spoil your mood, but with tonight's win the are 3-5 on the trip with one to play.
While I'm bringing the room down -- Richard comes in to pitch the 9th with a 12-1 lead...and can't finish the game. Woof.