Cubs Complete Outfield By Signing Dexter Fowler and Shane Victorino
In less than 24 hours, the Cubs have significantly altered their outfield situation for 2016. Yesterday, Dexter Fowler was re-signed to a one-year $8 million contract with a $5 million buyout or $9 million mutal option for 2017, and joined the team in a surprise, heart-warming moment. Fowler will start in CF and lead-off most days, with Jason Heyward now slotted for starting everyday in RF, with the ability to move to CF to give Fowler a dayoff or as part of late inning double switches. This significantly increases Heyward's value, since he is a strong right-fielder with little experience playing center. Jorge Soler will now back-up both RF and LF, perhaps forming part of a platoon with Kyle Schwarber in LF, playing against lefties. Soler has hit lefties and righties about equally well so far in his career (though with limited PAs to draw conclusions from). Though again in limited PAs, Schwarber has struggled aginst lefties, posting an OPS nearly 500 points lower than against righties. Similarly, Heyward has posted an OPS nearly 200 points lower against lefties than righties over his career.
To make room for Fowler on the roster, the versatile Chris Coghlan was traded to the Oakland Athletics for AAA starting pitcher Aaron Brooks, who has not produced much at the big league level, but is stretched out as starter, has minor league options left, keeps his walks down, and is cheap. This will be his age 26 season, so he still has some time to click, and presumably the Cubs at least saw some potential in him.
Today, the Cubs made their latest move by signing Shane Victorino to a minor league contract worth $1 million with an additional $1 million possible in incentives. Victorino struggled badly the last two years while battling a number of injuries, including some back issues. He had just 133 PAs with the Red Sox in 2014 and 204 PAs split between the Red Sox and Angels in 2015, and posted and OPS of just .635 combined over that time. He also abandoned switch hitting over those two seasons, hitting only right-handed because hitting left-handed aggrevated his injuries. This will also be his age 35 season, so it is not clear how much he has left in the tank. He claims he is healthy--but all free agents typically do that during the off-season--and there were rumors that he was back to switch-hitting, though we'll see if that materializes in spring training. If he is indeed healthy, then of course the upside potential is high. In 2013, before injuries set in, he put up an 801 OPS, was 21 for 24 in stolen bases, won a gold glove playing mostly RF, and had a WAR of 6.1. That was a career year though, and a repeat shouldn't be expected. Still, if healthy, he could bat .260 with some occasional pop, steal some bases at a high percentage, and back-up all three outfield spots with a strong arm. In addition, he has over 250 post-season at bats across 6 seasons, and has two World Series rings. And all of that is not bad for $1 million. If he really struggles or gets injuried again, he'll be cut in camp. But if he survives and plays at all decently he will almost certainly make the opening day roster, relegating Matt Szczur to AAA. With both Javy Baez and Ben Zobrist able to play OF if needed, the team now has sufficient abilty to cover those three positions and do a lot of defensive switching and playing matchups, which Joe Maddon likes to do.
With those two signings, that makes the opening day position player part of the roster essentially set, barring injury: Miguel Montero, David Ross, Anthony Rizzo, Ben Zobrist, Tommy La Stella, Addison Russell, Javy Baez, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jorge Soler, Shane Victorino, Dexter Fowler, and Jason Heyward. That would then leave 12 slots for pitchers. Assuming a rotation of Jake Arietta, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Jason Hammel, and Kyle Hendricks, that leaves a stiff competition for the final 7 bullpen spots between at least these 9 players, with injuries likely making the decision for the team to start the season:
Hector Rondon (R)
Pedro Strop (R)
Justin Grimm (R)
Neil Ramirez (R)
Rex Brothers (L)
Trevor Cahill (R)
Adam Warren (R)
Travis Wood (L)
Clayton Richard (L)
bradsbeard 2 days 23 hours ago (view)
Great info. Thanks!
Arizona Phil 2 days 23 hours ago (view)
BRADSBEARD: What happens on 12/2 is each club submits what's called a "Central Tender Letter" to the MLB LRD listing which unsigned players on the club's MLB Reserve List (40-man roster) are being tendered a contract and which unsigned players are not being tendered a contract.
The CTL is sufficient as far as providing proof of contract tender.
For players being tendered contracts, the CTL must list the club's MLB salary offer, a minor league split salary offer (if the club so chooses), and performance bonuses (if any) the club is offering to the player.
crunch 3 days 8 hours ago (view)
theo walked away from a big payday for an executive in his last season as a cub without having another job scoped out...and according to him he's not even looking one.
something tells me this isn't going to be a fun off-season for cubs fans.
the state of the cubs household aside, i wouldn't exactly be shocked to see theo with the mets, though he's supposedly not on their radar at the moment.
Dolorous Jon Lester 3 days 8 hours ago (view)
The Cubs have been at the forefront of tone-deaf owners in terms of financial hardship during the pandemic. "The game isn't as profitable as most people think"
tim815 4 days 5 hours ago (view)
The decision on the amount comes later.
bradsbeard 4 days 8 hours ago (view)
At the point when the team makes the initial contract tender, do they have to offer a specific salary, and if so is that the same number the team takes into arbitration? Or does the specific number the teams files at for arbitration happen at a later date?
Arizona Phil 4 days 11 hours ago (view)
jdrnym: A player who is signed to a contract that does not include a minor league split salary is paid his full MLB salary while optioned or after being outrighted to a minor league club.
So if a player goes to arbitration and is awarded (let's say) a $2.5M salary by the arb panel, the contract will not include a minor league split salary or performance bonuses, and if the player is sent to the minors he is paid the full $2.5M while in the minors.
Hagsag 4 days 12 hours ago (view)
Maybe Trump can give them a loan.
crunch 4 days 12 hours ago (view)
it's not exactly looking good when the cubs brass is complaining about "losing 100m in revenue" when a huge chunk of that seems to include Hotel Zachary. it looks like the entire "entertainment complex" is the cubs as far as the Ricketts are concerned...and the team might have to suffer a bit because they couldn't fully realize profits last year. they've publically stated that the big incoming tax credits from the city they're going to realize for stadium work won't help the cubs payroll.
jdrnym 4 days 22 hours ago (view)
If a player doesn't have a split salary in his contract, how much is he making when in the minors (or how is that salary determined)?
crunch 5 days 3 hours ago (view)
we want kyle schwarber to not be mark trumbo so badly...
either way, the NL having or not having the DH needs to be figured out pretty quickly for a lot of off-season sanity.
crunch 6 days 7 hours ago (view)
minor league hitting coordinator chris valaika moves up assistant hitting instructor for the big league team.
looks like a.iapoce's job is safe.
Cubster 6 days 10 hours ago (view)
Jed Hoyer gets a new 5 yr contract that runs through 2025 season.
Cubster 6 days 11 hours ago (view)
BA's list of 19 prospects who impressed at Instructs. One Cub:
Chase Strumpf, 2B, Cubs
Jackstraw 1 week 7 hours ago (view)
Waiting for Ryan Pace to be available. He should be a week from tomorrow.
crunch 1 week 7 hours ago (view)
i haven't even heard a rumor...which is interesting since "virtual" winter meetings start in a couple weeks.
surprised dan kantrovitz hasn't been named "interim GM" or something...which makes me wonder how wide of a net they're casting to fill the position. he was snagged from the A's and was an assistant GM there (and director of scouting for STL).