Winter Meetings (Day Five)

Update 3: The contract has two separate opt-out clauses. The first comes after three years.

Update 2: Rosenthal has it at 8/$184m.

Update: According to ESPN, the Cubs have signed Jason Heyward.

The Winter Meetings come to a close, after a relatively quiet day.

The latest word on Heyward is that the Nats have emerged as a serious bidder to rival the Cards and Cubs. The contract could pass the $200m mark, and it sounds like a decision could come at any minute.

Stay tuned!


Flashback: Hayward hit a 3 run HR in his mlb at-bat debut vs Zambrano on opening day 2010. Small sample size event but it was all downhill from there.

He's had a lot of upside since then, still does. That can be interpreted in any number of ways by a MLB club thinking about paying him the GDP of a small nation (Kiribati comes to mind)

my big problem is whoever is paying for heyward is also paying for $10m-ish worth of defense to go with the $15m+ worth of bat. sure, D is awesome, but paying a premium for it in the OF is...ow. he's going to be one of the most expensive sub-.800 ob% guys around once you factor in the youth and unrealized-but-can't-discount-it upside. that said, the cubs can afford this (and more) if they want to go this route. it may end up being overpaid, but it's doubtful he'll end up a non-contributor or non-everyday player. he could play CF for a season or 2 and move over to RF when we get our "real" CF ready to play in the bigs.

All free agents with even a DECENT track record, forget great, are way overpaid. That's modern free agency. It sucks. But there it is. So as modern free agents go, a 26 year old with probably a bit more power in his bat, and more additional upside, is as good a deal as you're gonna find. Besides, we won't even be thinking about it when Bryce Harper joins his buddy Bryant on a half billion dollar contract + one of the rooftop buildings across the street.

Okay, so if the Cubs sign Heyward, and I hope they do even though that kind of contract is, in my opinion, insane, how does that make Rizzo feel? He's 26, a gold glove caliber first baseman, more of a slugger, higher career OPS. Next year he'll make $5.8 million, Heyward will make around $25 million. Will that affect the Cubs decision to ultimately pull the trigger? Will it bother Rizzo at all if they do? He seems more devoted to cancer research than just about anything, so maybe he is just beyond thinking that way, being a survivor and all. I just wonder what that does to his psyche, if anything. I would think it would get under the skin a bit of even the most high character of guys, but then Rizzo is pretty smart - he must have known that this could happen when he signed his club friendly contract.

I think you answered your question with your last sentence.

Haha, probably.

I would offer Heyward $144 million for eight years

Which is similar to providing GPS coordinates to Washington D.C.

Another reason to not trade Soler: his contract. I think he'll be a better hitter than Heyward - late last season he was starting to lay off those sliders that were killing him. He needs to get better on routes but he still can - he'll never be an ace out there but he should be able to improve. If the Cubs sign Heyward, they're looking at a billion dollar payroll once the cash deposits on the kids come due. I'm exaggerating but probably not by much. Of course, one strategy could be to keep the line moving. Once the contracts start to matter, bring guys like Eloy and Gleyber up and etc., and trade others. That means theo and company need to keep finding young studs, though.

Cubs or Nats Derrick Goold V ‏@dgoold Source: Heyward has made a decision. #cardinals were very aggressive but doesn't sound like he chose them. #cubs very much in play here.

Rumblings about 6 years, $190 million to Cubs. If so, that's a lotta loot.

Lot of money but only 6 years would be great. Doutbful to see any fall off by the end of the contract.

Might mean Rizzo not resigned

Rizzo is signed through 2021. 2020 and 2021 are team options at $14.5 mill each.

Lot of things can happen over the next 4-5 years, including a new TV deal For now, enjoy!

There's a fake twitter account called Gordon Wittlepenis. Gotta love twitter.

I like Jed Hoyer's account.

more accurate than the real one "castro won't be traded"

+1 where's the like button I hated?!?

Nats said to be "pessimistic."

OH FUCK Gordo saying Cubs got him


yeah but is it a real Heyman account, or some douce with a fake account? Like the twenty billion Rosenthals.

I follow real and Morsi confirms. IT"S DONE!!

nice. It is really 6 years, that's even better.

The highly underrated part of this signing too is he's been a Cubs killer so he won't be doing that anymore and we get to use him against the Cardinals and that is worth a few million right there.

Not reported many places yet. Awesome news if it turns out true.

Contract less than $200 million ouch, nats

Very fun time to be a Cubs fan! Thanks for keeping this going, CT Steve!

The JayHey kid!

Putting aside whether these moves work or not, I think we can say the team isn't really crying poor, is it?

~looking side ways~

Some really "classy" tweets from Cardinals nation -- I especially like all of the "trader!!" accusations. Confirming all of the worst Cardinals fans stereotypes. Heh!

That's the second best part of this signing

And knowing Cardinals fans, those of the classic moran ilk, they really are spelling it "trader" instead of traitor.

I've read down the thread and literally NONE of them have spelled it correctly as "traitor". Stupid, illiterate (and clearly racist and homophobic) idiots...

This....this makes me so happy to read and realize it's the Cubs causing this anger in the Cards. More often than not its been the other way around. Man is it nice to be a Cubs fan in cardinals country right now

Holy shit, some of the BFIB are using racial slurs I've literally never heard of before.

I'm giddy!

Now they just need to find an all field who cares how he hits CF to patrol CF in the late innings in the big parks.

Ghost of Cubs past vs ghost of Cubs future In case you forgot

Cubster posted that a bit further /\ Not such a bad memory at all actually, since I always knew he'd be a Cub. A Cubs?

If the rumors are true, this is the fourth big name free agent (Heyward, Lester, Lackey and Zobrist) who reportedly took less money to play with the Cubs.

have fun with alex gordon, stl...or whatever "plan B" is...

Well he's white. /St Louis fan


8/185 Gordo

In other news Darwin Barney resigns with Jays

Wait till it sinks in that the Redbirds traded Shelby Miller for one season of Heyward. They thought they were renting-to-buy, like they did with Holliday.

WSCR saying Maddon is the "best salesman" with these free agents.

I guess managers matter, and I bet the money spent rebuilding the farm system and the stadium helped too. The idea of winning a world series with the Cubs appears to attractive.

When the Cubs missed out on Russell Martin and the Cardinals got Heyward, Cubs fans on Twitter went apeshit, I was like, calm down, in particular because Heyward could be a rental. (Didn't say he would be, said could be.) I was soundly assured by one Cardinals fan that they would re-sign him. I called him on it today, and all he could say was, "Made offer. Didn't happen."

I don't see African American players flocking to St Louis any time soon

Well, in fairness, Wrigley Field has gotten a rep about this in the past, too.

He can get gas in Chicago with no problem

Just a bit over 2 months till pitchers and catchers report. Want it to be here now.

Must say, I enjoy Cubs baseball so much more when they are exceeding expectations (such as 2015). Going to be virtually impossible to beat expectations next year. Even 110 wins means nothing without a trip to the World Series.

An upside to this trade I only just about is it allows the Cubs to keep Soler with less risk. I've long thought he could be one of our best hitters but the injury risk is huge and last year we didn't have great options to replace him. This next year if he gets hurt Heyward can slide over there and Baez could play CF and we aren't losing nearly as much. Heyward Zobrist Rizzo Bryant Schwarber Soler Russell Montero Pitcher

I would assume short term, Heyward in center, Soler in right, and Schwarber in left. Medium term will depend on how Almora does in AAA, if they need help at the trading deadline, and if Schwarber can catch. Pretty stunning off season so far. Zobrist (S) Schwarber (L) Bryant (R) Rizzo (L) Soler (R) Heyward (L) Russell (R) Montero (L) Pitcher

Righty/Lefty mix could really muck up opposing pitching staffs May-Aug.

Batting Heyward 6 doesn't seem to make much sense. Zob Heyward Rizzo Bryant Schwarber Soler Montero Russell Pitcher

Let the lineup arguments commence! Seriously, though, I would be surprised to not see Heyward at the top on a regular basis.

With this lineup, you could probably lead off with the pitcher and average 7 runs a game. There's really not much to argue about here.

Given the lack of speed in the lineup, I assume JayHey bats #2 behind Zo.

maddon's leaned speed-leads more often than not. even with "slightly above average" type speed it probably points to heyward leading off, but it may be different with a lefty because he's not very good vs lefties. that said, who knows.

cubs still have all their high-end + expendable prospects. baez is a man without a position...dunno if they would consider it worth it to have him be a part-time player scrambling for 400PA vs trading him.

Crunch was this worth putting up with a few years of sucking?

Here we go...


I think Maddon likes him too much for them to take anything but truly premium talent. He could easily give 3B, SS, 2B a rest any time, and if he shows a knack for CF the sky is the limit for that guy, assuming the hitting issue is as fixed as I think it might be.

6 for $190 was mentioned above. Ha, thankfully no. 8 for $184 it is.

Heyward has two opt outs in contract first one after year 3

That's one sick lineup. And it can survive an injury or two (still nobody to backup Rizzo though).

The best part of this may be that he evidently was offered more to stay in St. Louis.


Heyward Zob Rizzo KB Schwarb Soler Russell your mom her sister

What do people think the chances are that the Cubs move Soler and/or Baez for a young pitching this off season?

I think they are dealing from power now, could wait til trade deadline and make deal then too.

I think assuming they will deal Soler and/or Baez is just baseball punditry. More likely they trade unproven guys in the minors.

That was my thought, but my brother is very convinced that they are going to make move sooner rather than later.

I assume they will stick with this group for 2016. Then: - If they believe in Almora after this year, they could trade Soler and move JayHey to RF. Or... - If they believe Schwarber is an everyday catcher, and if they believe in Almora, Soler goes to LF and JayHEy goes to RF. Or... - If they believe Contreras in an MLB catcher, keep the OF as is, or if they believe in Almora, trade Soler. Personally, cold weather aside, I think Soler is going to be an offensive beast. If he can continue to lay off the low/away slider, he can be an offensive monster. Lots of really good options. Fun stuff.

All of the above. And especially on Soler. He's not getting traded. His beast potential is too big, although he needs to round out his overall game a bit. He's got the arm - I just hope they've found a way to try to get him to do some kind of drills this winter to improve his outfield routes. He's not a lumbering klutz out there, he's athletic, just needs to read the ball better. I'm not hoping for gold glove stuff, just a fairly modest improvement in how he fields could really change his game.

I have to imagine Madden is on their ears about not trading Baez, especially if they are going to give Scwarber catching opportunities. I could see Coghlan plus prospects being traded for a reliever though since he's probably going to be unhappy and whiny when he's not handed the starting job in lf.

The Sun Times is reporting that the Cubs will listen to offers on Soler, but don't plan to trade him.

Heyward will be referred to as "$184 million outfielder" in every story.

I wonder if Wittenmier will finally shut the fuck up about Rickets being cheap?

Isnt' he the one who kept referring to Lester as the $150 million dollar pitcher? Or whatever amount Lester's was. It's annoying to hear someone complain about the Cubs not getting free agents but then when they do they complain that they are paid too much. Hello, welcome to free agency 2015.

OPT OUT INFO Jon Heyman ‏@JonHeymanCBS 53s53 seconds ago heyward has opt outs after 3 years and after 4 if he exceeds plate appearance threshhold

Okey Doke. Well looks like Cubdom got what it wants. If nothing else, the pissed off Cardinal fans idiocy is entertainment. Let's hope he's worth it.

HAHAHAAHAHAHAHA! Per @dgoold, #STLCards’ offer was higher than #Cubs.

This is SO Red Sox/Yankees. I love it. We get the players, and the rival loses their two to us. Fuck yeah! PHIL - (or anyone) does Soler have options left? I still don't see why the team would need to trade him. At the least, the Cubs can leisurely wait until the best deal comes along for a pitcher. Ain't no hurry now. This year should be EVEN MORE fun in 2016. It's baseball, yeah, but I mean...

soler's under contract through 2020 with an opt-out in 2018.

Jorge Soler's opt out only triggers if he becomes arbitration eligible, but whether he opts out or doesn't opt out once he becomes eligible for salary arbitration (presumably post-2017), he will remain under club control until the conclusion of the season in which he reaches six years of MLB Service Time (presumably post-2020). 

IBTW, while Soler has burned three minor league options, he is eligible for a 4th minor league option which can be used in either 2016 or 2017 (but not both seasons), so if he is optioned to the minors in 2016 or 2017 and spends at least 45 days on optional assignment, he would remain under club control through the 2021 season. 

Yeah, Theo has a killer instinct. The opt outs clause was a brilliant move.

Heyward also couldn't stomach playing for Dusty so that deal fell through..They couldn't PAY him enough!

AZ PHIL- Now the Cubs lost their #28 pick for signing Lackey, what does that mean for the Heyward signing? Do they lose their 2nd rd pick because they don't "officially" have the comp pick for Fowler because he hasn't signed yet or if the case that he does sign with another team do the Cubs lose that pick instead and retain the 2nd rd because they didn't have the other pick when they signed Heyward? Right now their first 2 picks are #28 and the 2nd rd, the comp pick is still a non existant pick. Could be a nice loophole if th Cubs still keep the comp pick

CUBBIES-4-EVER: The Cubs will lose the Fowler comp pick (between the 1st & 2nd round) for signing Heyward, unless the comp pick doesn't happen either because the Cubs re-sign Fowler, or he remains unsigned up through next year's draft, or he signs a minor league contract, or signs a contract with a Japanese (NPB) team.   

So if Fowler does not sign a Major League contract with another MLB club prior to next June's draft, then the Cubs would lose their 2nd round pick.

The forfeiting of a draft pick happens when a club signs another club's Qualified Player, but the exact draft pick that will be forfeited remains open until the draft.  

any breakdown on the loot yet? if it's not front-loaded it could turn out to be one hell of a deal if (haha when) he opts out. seriously, if he can get this much loot as a sub-.800 OPS guy who struggles to hit 15 homers while not being an ob% machine, the only thing holding him back from making more loot after 3 seasons is injury or a weird form of suck.

That grossly under-sells his offense. wRC+ by year: 134. 96, 121, 120, 110, 121. His SLG% last 4 years: 479, 427, 384, 439. He's also at the age where statistically we should expect a 4-10% increase in SLG% for the next 5-6 years. He probably opts out after 3 or 4 years, but fuck it. Since he's averaging about 23 per year, let's guess for know 69 for 3 years or 92 for 4. Yes yes yes please. Didn't even mention he's one of the best RF's in the game or that he was 23/3 in SB/CS last year.

until you're hitting 130-140+ wrc+ you're talking about a great role player rather than a hitting leader, imo. great role players with the bat generally don't get $23m contracts. they're paying for the glove+arm of one of the best OF'rs in the game at a very high premium. getting a package of "nearly" 5 tools with none being weak and the D being top notch + youth + health wasn't expected to be cheap, though.

This from a guy who spent the entire rebuilding process complaining about the Cubs not spending money to build the team. If there even IS a good way to manage free agency, this is a damn good one.

i love the signing. holy hell, just because im not jizzing all over my monitor screen doesn't mean i don't like it. i fully understand why he got paid, why the cubs did it, and that it's under market value (though very high). i just view him as a very good support player with a large price tag. that's not a bad thing...especially considering what's already here to support. we were told to wait, we waited. we were told when the time was right they would invest, they did. did i like sitting through an intentional tank-fest to get it done? no. but that happened and this happened and what matters in 2016 is both ownership and management delivered and that's the best you can ask for since that's what they promised.

I'm taking offense to this post. I jizzed all over my laptop, my phone, and even an old egg roll sitting on the table as I read the twitter feeds. Now I'm feeling judged.

i love this place. RIP eggroll.

Eggroll's still good. Don't waste that.

i don't like this place as much anymore. :(

I literally cried in laughter while reading this string. Thank you CTSteve for keeping this site alive and well!

Fun fact: I almost made the same joke about the eggroll. It's nice to know that if I don't go there, someone else will...

Just because you CAN say something doesn't mean you SHOULD.

Really?! I need to rethink my life.

This lineup has quite a few boomsticks. I don't want the best hitters, I want the most valuable players. With Heyward and Zobrist, they've identified and obtained two guys who provide value in the best all-around ways. Even if he stays at 120 wRC+, I say he's as valuable for this team as Rizzo and Bryant thanks to everything he brings to the table.

pretty much. he was expected to get paid and he got paid. if he's a 120 wrc+ guy i'd be pleased and not at all surprised. myself, i'm expecting .350-ish ob% with 15-20 homers, 30+ doubles, and deadly outfield play...hopefully injury-free.

If he's healthy, I'm happy. Fun fact: Jason Heyward is one day younger than Anthony Rizzo.

They are paying for a great glove plus a good bat. He was 4th in OBP among RFers and would have ranked 3rd among CFers. He was also a very good base stealer (Tied for 1st among RFers for the combo of amount of steals and efficiency. Polanco was awful) and was 2nd at not swinging at balls out of the strike zone among RFers and 2nd at making contact at pitches in the strike zone among RFers. So he brings us defense in the outfield where we struggled some and plate discipline to a lineup where we majorly struggled. So contract was for great glove, good bat, great bat discipline and very good and smart speed on the bases. Gotta start looking beyond the baseball card stat line at some point. Thank god the people in charge of the Cubs do.

when did wrc+ become a baseball card stat? granted, i haven't picked up a pack in a while, but way to go Topps or Fleer or whoever.

You really haven't opened a pack in a while! There is no Fleer anymore. That hasn't been around since 2007. And in 2009 MLB signed an exclusive deal with Topps, so they are the only card company now, at least until the deal runs out in 2020 I think. Way different than when I was a kid.

The card companies have changed. Topps bought out Bowman, Panini bought Donruss, Upper Deck bought Fleer, and Upper Deck then lost its licensing to most sports for deciding not paying players after signing cards for their packs when they were suppose to.

that blows. the market was VERY oversaturated in the 00's, but only having Topps putting out cards is kinda lame. i mean, they make a good product, but i enjoyed the diversity even if guys had 100 rookie card issues. and yeah, i havent picked up a pack in 10 years, easy.

Do they still come with gum?

in the early 00s some of the "throwback" card issues came with wrapped gum...not bad, though it had weird clove-like elements...softer...not that stuff you could cut yourself on if you dropped it and let it shatter into 1000 pieces. gum became an enemy in the 90s because the flavoring oils and breakdown of the gum stained at least 1 card in the pack once it got a few years old and collecting is more fun

Addison Russell said he'd give up #22 to Heyward, think Szczur will give up #41 for Lackey?

What's really unusual is someone getting a mega contract before he hits his prime. Usually, it is after, and typically at the beginning of the downward slide. As if taking him away from the Cardinals wasn't enough, there's a really good chance that his best years will be with the Cubs. And, he has an incentive to make it so with his opt out. For all the shit I think free agency has become, this was the one big one I really wanted.

Does that mean the Cubs will win 149 games in 2016?

A 0-WAR team is supposed to win about 47 games. That projection says the Cubs have the talent level of a 99 or 100-win team.

So... 149 is not in the cards?

Trade for Trout, Chapman, Gray, Posey, and then get as lucky as the 2012 Orioles, and then still, probably not. But let's stay optimistic!

O&B: Unless he sustains a major injury or his game goes dramatically south sometime in the next three seasons, I think it's very likely that Jason Heyward will opt out as soon as he can (post-2018), in time for his age-29 season.

That doesn't mean the Cubs wouldn't be able to re-sign him after he opts out, but they will have to compete with other clubs for his services.  

But even if he does opt-out post-2018, 3/$72M for Jason Heyward at age 26-27-28 ain't bad. I'd gladly take that. 

Yeah, it's a pretty sweet deal. I love the three year thing. Too bad it's not a two way street but players have all the leverage these days. Still, if the Cubs get three years that are good enough for his services to be in high demand, I suspect there will be some confetti on State Street, and we won't care. Interesting timing, too. Wouldn't that 3 years be the end of Maddon's contract? I seem to remember his was a 4 year gig.

Maddon contract is $5M x 5 years. Goes through 2019.

Heyward is a great batter that knows the strike zone. He really fits the new Cubs mentality of patient at bats and strong defense. This is a great signing and I am so stoked about this team. Also, I am a little bit angry at the incompetence of the previous Cubs regime. This is what it looks like when the guys in charge know what they are doing, why did we have to wait so long to get a competent president and GM? At any rate, I hope Heyward feels more welcome in Chicago. I hope he enjoys it more than backwards-ass, racist St. Louis.

The Tribune tried with Dallas Green, and I would even argue that they tried with Jim Hendry. Things mostly went south when the Trib sold to Sam Zell, who was a walking, human cancer. I'm not really arguing with you here, but sometimes you just don't know what you've got until tbey begin their work. I liked Hendry for awhile. He got the international stuff going, and he made a few nice trades and brought in Javy Baez. His last fear years were pretty atrocious. Also, guys like Theo and (maybe) Jed are very rare.

"Do you really need all those farm teams?"- The Tribune

I feel like the Cubs fell behind the times before Zell in terms of OBP and analytics, but he definitely ruined the organization. Human cancer is right.

Assuming the opt-out, a 3 year contract might be the best of all worlds here. Time to develop next wave and $ available to sign the Russels, Bryants and Scwarbers of the world. Opt out contracts can be the owners friend.

This is not technically true, although I appreciate the sentiment. The only reason Heyward will opt out is if he can get more guaranteed money than what he has left on his contract. If he can, then the contract has surplus value and is a good deal for the Cubs, meaning they could trade him if they didn't want to pay him for the later years of the deal. If he can't, the contract is a sunk cost with dead money on it and he'll just play the contract out. It is entirely to Heyward's advantage.

All of free agency is geared towards favoring the player of course, but this is so much better than 8 years straight up. Heyward is likely to be fully in his prime over the next three years. This will drive his cost up even more (barring injury of course). Even if he slows down a tad, he may develop more power to make up for it. Meanwhile, the Cubs may have guys like Eloy Jimenez and Almora ready to man the outfield, at a very low cost. It's his opt out, though, and so even if the Cubs have guys ready to step in, it's really up to Heyward on how far the Cubs will be able to go with that. But still, no matter how you massage the details, an opt out is better than no opt out.

I think the opt-out may have been what Theo was thinking when he said they would have to "get creative". Assuming Heyward performs, and the money in baseball continues to go up, it seems he will definitely opt out after 2018 and could get $30MM per year then. I think this is brilliant on Theo's (and Jed's?) part -- Cubs will know much more about the kids then, will be on the verge of big TV money, and can decide who to try to keep and who can go. Terrific stuff.

Still have to see what batting minimums he has to teach in order to opt out.

opt-outs are generally player/agent demands, not team/managment. that said, most of the time when a player opts out it means the team got a good value.

Jeff Passan ‏@JeffPassan Free agent Class of 2018 includes: Harper, Donaldson, McCutchen, Machado, Price, Heyward, Kershaw, Fernandez, Harvey, Keuchel, Sale ...

If Harper leaves Washington DC doesn't that make him a true "trader"? I'm so glad the moran meme has been replaced. Trader is much more fun.

Patrick Mooney at CSN reports the Cubs have signed RHSP Stephen Fife to a 2016 minor league contract. 

Fife was the 3rd round pick of the Boston Red Sox out of the University of Utah in 2008, and was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a July 31st trade deadline three-way deal in 2011 that netted the Red Sox LHSP Erik Bedard from Seattle.

Fife missed the 2015 season after undergoing TJS in July 2014, but he apparently caught the attention of the Cubs while working as a rotation starter for Zulia (VWL) post-2015.  

Yo, microphone check one two what is this The five foot assassin with the ruffneck business He floats like gravity, never had a cavity Got more rhymes than the Winans got family No need to sweat Arsenio to gain some type of fame No shame in his game cause he'll always be the same Styles upon styles upon styles is what he has You want to diss the Fifer but you still don't know the half

motte is on his way in strop is on his way out pointing toward the heavens we can only ask or wonder that he is asking some departed relative for forgiveness for this atrocious performance

m.cuddyer (NYM) retired earlier in the day, leaving $12.5m on the table. as much as i'm sure the mets love the savings, i bet they would have liked to learn this info a month or 2 ago.

"Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer pried open the franchise’s financial black box, working with chairman Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney’s business operations department to grab money generated during a surprising run to the National League Championship Series. The Cubs would reinvest in a team that has: two more seasons before Jake Arrieta hits the free-agent market; a ticking time bomb in Jon Lester’s $155 million contract; and no stud pitching prospects anywhere close to making The Show. Next winter’s class of free agents also didn’t look very appealing, so the Cubs wanted to binge this offseason instead of throwing money at the wrong players." (patrick mooney)

I'm kinda hoping Carl Edwards Jr. is spending the winter in Arkansas.

Off season training with Bartolo!

Nick Cafardo's sunday notes, Cub related: Happy birthday, Fergie Jenkins (73)
8. Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, Cubs — Epstein didn’t land his first choice in free agency, David Price, but he was among the more productive executives at the Winter Meetings in signing Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist, and John Lackey. Epstein essentially took two key players away from the rival Cardinals in Heyward and Lackey, and got a veteran presence in Zobrist. He also got a serviceable swingman in Adam Warren from the Yankees.
also some peripheral mentions of Dexter Fowler as a Royals option if they don't get Alex Gordon, Starlin Castro to finally fill the Yankee's 2B void left by Robinson Cano, James Shields still possible for Cubs (if the Padres throw in $$), Rich Hill to the A's gets a mention as well as Daniel Bard is still looking for a job.

I believe negotiations must have went very poorly between the Cubs & Fowler. He seems to be a good fit for the Cubs, he did a great job in '15, but yet there's been little, if any hot stove discussion about Fowler & the Cubs. You just hear things like "The Cubs are still looking for CF options..." with no mention of Fowler.

Fowler wants to get overpaid in his last contract, which he should but unfortunately for him Jim Hendrys is gone.

either the front office was caught off guard with d.price signing so quickly or they stumbled if they really wanted him because their offer at time of close was so low it was barely worth consideration. that said, they picked up a couple good support bats to fill out the lineup, a nice gamble in lackey, and i like warren a lot as a possible mid-rotation guy or high end long man out of the pen...along with the string of other long man/rotation options that will flesh itself out this spring.

I think the nice thing with Warren is we can actually have a competition for the last two lineup spots as opposed to being desperate just to get someone in there.

So the Boston writer who thought casto and Baez would be fair compensation to redsox for Theo now has him scrambling because he didn't get "his guy" Price but Boston did? how many times does Theo have to pants other front offices? /no too bias

So the Boston writer who thought casto and Baez would be fair compensation to redsox for Theo --- Theo sent Chris Carpenter to the Redsox. I think that was his first foray into outsmarting the Cardinals.

I'm so sad for them. Maybe for that competitive edge, they could find another club's database to hack.

MLB Network reports Cubs have signed RHRP Jean Machi to a 2016 minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training. 

Thanks PHIL. He's apparently going to be 34 by Spring Training. Other than him being a former "Pawtucket Red Sox", wonder what else is going on?

Machi had two solid seasons for the Giants:

2013: 51 G, 53 IP, 2.38 ERA, 1.094 WHIP, 8.7 SO/9
2014: 77 G, 66 IP, 2.58 ERA, 0.950 WHIP, 6.9 SO/9

In 2015, however, he struggled with the Giants and then the Red Sox after being claimed on waivers. He also battled a groin strain for a few weeks. His fastball is around 92 and he gets  a ton of ground balls, and if he can recover his 2013-14 self, he'll be good bullpen depth at AAA. If not, he'll be released in ST or later in the season. 

Is it too soon to call the Cardinals the unlovable losers?

Those SOBs find ways to win no matter what happens to them. I'm keeping my schadenfreude in check until we see how it actually starts to shape up. That said, my 2016 playoff beard is coming in nicely.

the cardinals way... oh, someone's injured...let's bring up some random 3rd-15th rounder only the most hardened fan knows of and watch him put up a MVP-style season. that seems to be the way it works, anyway.

Pete strikes out in what is probably his final chance-

good. all the known gambling crap aside, he spent decades shitting on the HOF holding "anti-HOF" autograph signings and events in cooperstown while the HOF inductions were taking place. let him in when he's dead, if at all...ron santo didn't even get the chance while he was alive. pete deserves nothing from MLB or the HOF even though he was one hell of a baseball player.

in ex-cubs news, welly is already slotted as the starting/main catcher for ARZ and their improved pitching staff...not that surprising, though.

Cueto to SF for 6/130, with an op-out somewhere along the line. Opt-outs seem to be becoming the new no-trade clause.

"FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that the Cubs are "one of a number of teams" that have inquired on Ender Inciarte. The Braves just acquired Inciarte from the Diamondbacks, but they're open to flipping him to another club if it makes sense."

No power, doesn't like to take a walk, 21:10 SB:CS. Not especially impressed. Would have to enable a significant upgrade over Hendricks/Hammel to justify replacing Soler's offensive potential with Inciarte's D and slappy bat. Almora compares reasonably well (trade some power for a little patience) with Inciarte's minor league numbers and should be ready to provide a defensive upgrade in another year or two.

I hope they don't trade anything valuable for him. Contact and outfield defense is pretty much his whole game. Not worth arbitration prices - so good for a season or two, max.

he's faster than his 21/10 sb/cs shows. like c.patterson, he's got a ton of speed, but he's not very good at reading pitchers to steal bases. unlike c.patterson he's a top tier glove/arm OF'r. that said, i hope they pass based solely on how he can't do anything with left handed pitching. ...on a side seems they are after a CF'r in order to find room for heyward in RF. they may be able to live with heyward in CF if they can't find a CF'r elsewhere, but it seems like they want to get heyward in RF if they can.

Also...if this was the plan....and I don't agree with getting rid of Soler, then why not have a CF in place if they aren't going to shift Heyward to CF? I'd rather see Schwarbs/Soler taken out for defense in the late innings, and Heyward shifts to RF..

*shrug* maybe heyward wanted to get this done before the holidays or bidding was heating up to the point the cubs had to lay final/serious bids on him. they got a gold glove RF'r and they probably want him to slot in where he does his best work (or heyward wanted it). i kinda hope nothing gets done worth doing and we see heyward slotted in CF. that said, i kinda get the feeling we'll see a platoon in CF between szcuzcuzr and ??? on the cheap while soler gets packaged up for that CF'r + other talent. people are still kicking around the idea of the TB "supertrade" netting the cubs a.cobb + k.kiermaier (god's gift to making people question the hell out of dWAR (seriously, 5 games worth of D from the OF?)).

Right now, 12 position player slots on the roster appear to be locked in, barring injury or trades.

C - Montero
C - Ross
1B - Rizzo
2B - Zobrist
2B - La Stella
SS - Russell
3B - Bryant
IF - Baez
RF - Soler
CF - Heyward
LF - Schwarber
OF - Coghlan

- Zobrist can play 2B, 3B, LF, RF, and SS and CF in a pinch
- Coghlan can play LF, RF, and 2B, 1B, 3B, and CF in a pinch
- Baez can play 2B, SS, 3B and maybe LF-CF-RF eventually given their plans for him in Winter Ball
- Bryant can play 3B, LF, RF, and CF if necessary
- Russell of course can play SS and 2B
- Schwarber can play LF and C, and RF in a pinch
- La Stella can play 2B and 3B
- Heyward  can play RF and CF

That is a TON of versatility, allowing for all sorts of pinch hitting and late inning switches. 

The only major issue is OF defense. Heyward is is better in RF than CF, and Schwarber and Soler are not great in the corners, and Coghlan can only replace one of them late in games. If Baez truly can develop some decent OF skills to the point that Maddon would be comfortable with Coghlan, Baez, Heyward LF-CF-RF, or Coghlan, Heyward, Baez LF-CF-RF late in games, then it is possible they could just go with this group and carry 13 pitchers, allowing for more flexibility and match-up playing on the pitching side too. 

The other option would be to carry an additional OFer. The in house options right now would be someone like Szczur or Alcantara depending on spring training performance. Or they could trade for a back-up CF who plays great defense. Or they could make a larger trade for a starting CFer (likely trading Soler) and shift Heyward to RF.


Soler can get better at route running and while he may never be an all star I do think people are underestimating how much his arm makes up for that. That play at home plate during the Cardinals series was a microcosm of all season where runners rarely tested him and with a better route running I think he will be a force out there. If Soler stays injury free I think it's gonna hurt if we trade him,


I realize KC won the WS, but I really hope the Cubs don't overdo the "contact" thing. OBP used to be the key metric, now it's "contact"? Castro makes a lot of contact, but his OBP is lousy.

Against the Mets, all they had to do was hit the ball somewhere--toward Murphy, Flores, Cespedes, anybody--and the paddle-gloved defenders would do the rest. (Wright could catch, but he couldn't throw across the infield.) Those at-'em balls wouldn't raise your OBP but they would get you to the World Series. Unlike the Royals, Cub hitters kept striking out.

It's not surprising that a team full of rookies had a high strikeout rate. It's bound to improve simply with some experience. Bryant, Schwarber, Russell, and Soler are all still learning how to hit at the major league level. Schwarber shows some real promise of being that rare combination of OBP and high power guy. Bryant, who knows what his ceiling looks like. Same with Soler, who is one low slider away from being a monster (something he started to seem to get the hang of just in time for the playoffs). Adding Heyward and Zobrist seems like a perfect glue for this team.

I think the thing people forgot about Soler too was he was starting to figure things out in August too before he got hurt a second time. He wasn't hitting any HRs but he was hitting hard hit balls to all fields on a line. He had his highest OBP of the season at .378 and lowest K rate at 21.8%. So the playoffs wasn't a flash in the pan he just needs some consistent time not hurt, which is the big if.

One negative may be that Maddon doesn't seem to be quite as fond of him as he is others, like Baez for example. He gushed about Soler early but I seem to remember some stuff where reading between the lines he didn't seem overly happy with him. That could be my imagination. It could also mean nothing - managers don't have to love a guy to play him. It could also be real, and it could be Soler has gotten by on talent and hasn't developed that full on dedication to everyday training that some of the other players have. There is no way for us outside the clubhouse to know. But it could be a factor in the rumors. I'll argue with myself here and say you don't get to the majors without a huge dedication to training, so I admit I'm reaching a bit on trying to figure out the source of rumors and the cause of the injury tendency.

I love OBP, especially in front of power, but at some point you need people who can hit the ball somewhere to get in the guys who took a walk. You don't want a whole lineup of that but one or two can be very handy. Go back and check out Castro's hot streak and check out how many times when we really needed someone to not strikeout and put the ball in play and I'm thinking it was quite a few. The focus on all the Cubs strikeout rate was overblown but we just can't have all that. That said Heyward and Zobrist ate both very good at making contact at pitches in the strike zone and Soler might be too.

it would be amazing if heyward actually refined his stance and clunky swing. there's no telling what he could do with the bat. he seems to be fine with sapping his power in exchange for less Ks and better contact...which isn't a bad thing, necessarily. it's rather spectacular he does as well as he does with making contact. it's controlled chaos (though not at all wild looking). people have tried to fix his swing in the past, but he tends to go back to his "crammed into a telephone booth" setup and swing comfort zone...which works, but could be so much better with adaptation...especially considering his body stays under control and in a nice position during contact (except when he has a long swing, usually when he's trying a wider stance). depending on when you check in his career he's had 1/2 dozen different plate approaches that keeps on settling back (mostly) where he began. at least he's open to trying, i guess.

He definitely has an odd swing that could be improved with less moving parts. Mallee was able to help Russell, Castro, Bryant and Soler all change and improve and simplify their swings so maybe it's the perfect scenario for Heyward.

Mallee seems to have a knack for knowing exactly where a hitter should be at the plate. I kinda wish they'd move Rizzo off a bit, he's gonna get hurt bad one of these days and that's just a guy I don't want to see get hurt for a lot of reasons.

Sad Anthony Rizzo says hello. His SO% and zone contact% are both right there with Heyward. If he can keep that up, Rizzo, Heyward, and Zobrist will all be hybrid contact hitters at the top of a powerful lineup that is also relatively patient.

I was just looking at Inciarte, since Levine was talking about him. He has ten outfield assists in each of his first two seasons. Go get him!

It's too bad he has a sub .600 OPS vs lefties. Very well done article. I think there's a very good chance we will have at least one more player with a WAR above 5. Russell struggled some with the bat but he's 21 and he showed flashes of what he can do and if he does improve there abs playing full seasons of SS his ridiculous defense could very well push his WAR up. Schwarber and Soler both are candidates too if Soler can stay healthy and with a bit more experience now under his belt and with Schwarber playing full seasons and if he can become more consistent at getting hits when he isn't hitting HRs.

JayHey presser video... He's wearing Addison Russell's old uni #22, which we can no longer see above.

that was a very generic jeter-like presser...he's been media coached well. he did nothing wrong, and said a lot of nothing new.

Anybody know where I can get a Heyward name thingy for a jersey and/or a place in the burbs to see that fucker on? Seems like a good time to alter the towel drill jersey.

Good ol' #22 is back (above).

Theo on Waddle and Silvey said a couple interesting things: 1) he did seem to say that they spent more this offseason with the idea they'll spend less next offseason with a weaker FA class 2). He was asked about trading Soler and he pretty much said that probably wouldn't happen this offseason and they'll wait till the season and seeing how the roster looks in action before deciding on any bigger moves

Assuming they keep the team as is, and players perform to, or near, expectations, I'm not sure what holes they would try to fill with FA next year. Another SP, most likely. I guess, depending on Miggy/Schwarber/Contreras, they may need a catcher. But, as of now, the lineup looks set for a few years, with Javy trying to find ABs.

yeah, barring injury (or suck) this team is ready for the next 2 seasons, easy...aside from catching after next season, anyway...and there's hope there's a starter in the system in w.contreras. even if there's not an in-house solution there's not much of a need for the C to be an impact or high-support bat. i hope lackey isn't fool's gold...

If the 2016 Chicago Cubs suck, I would really hate to see how any other team in the MLB is playing...


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  • Charlie 4 hours 17 min ago (view)

    Lol at Nico getting nominated for riding the bench a lot.


  • crunch 6 hours 16 min ago (view)

    RF Jason Heyward, SS Javier Baez, 2B Nico Hoerner, 1B Anthony Rizzo, C Willson Contreras, and Ps Kyle Hendricks and Alec Mills gold glove finalists


  • bradsbeard 10 hours 12 min ago (view)

    Thank you, sir! Sounds like a nice get for the Cubs, and a good project for (what's left of) the new development infrastructure. 


  • Arizona Phil 11 hours 1 min ago (view)

    There have been some holes in the AZIL east-side schedule, with one team canceling games last week (although they are back playing this week) and another canceling game this week due to CoViD-19 issue, so the other teams (like the Cubs) are making up some of the "lost" games with intrasquad and in-house "sim" games. 


  • Arizona Phil 11 hours 56 min ago (view)

    BRADSBEARD: From what I have seen of Jacob Wetzel so far (BP, fielding practice, base-running drills, sim games, AZIL games, and yesterday's intasquad game), I would say he looks like a football running back playing baseball in that he has a high motor and plays with a bit of an edge.

    He has a thick body but he also has plus speed (very much like a football running back in that respect), he runs the bases aggressively, makes hard contact, has HR power, a decent arm, maybe can use some work in the outfield as far as tracking balls. 


  • bradsbeard 1 day 1 hour ago (view)

    Phil, curious if you've seen enough of Jacob Wetzel to offer an initial scouting report. Just from watching some prep video he looked pretty strong and fairly athletic (HS football player and all). Impressive numbers albeit in community college, but he was a division 1 recruit before that so he's pretty intriguing to me. 


  • KingKongvsGodzilla 2 days 23 hours ago (view)

    AZPhil, thank you for these updates! It's a nice little pick me up during this dumb year. If you have anything to say on Yohendrick Pinango, Joel Machado, Rafael Morel, or Richard Gallardo, I would love to hear it! Thanks again!


  • crunch 3 days 8 hours ago (view)

    jim hickey new nats pitching coach.


  • bradsbeard 4 days 3 hours ago (view)

    Several non-prospects ate up spots as well. Ultimately wish they had given a few more Rivas types a shot there. 


  • tim815 4 days 4 hours ago (view)

    Only 60 spots in SB. Others benefited more from the time.


  • crunch 4 days 7 hours ago (view)

    not phil, but i think everyone is holding off on his potential ceiling until he gains enough weight to not look like someone you want to buy a sandwich every time you see him.

    big upside if his skills can strengthen as he builds his body.

    too early for a solid comp, but i wouldn't feel uncomfortable throwing ian happ's name around (bit better arm than happ, though).


  • bradsbeard 4 days 8 hours ago (view)

    Me too. Thought it was weird he wasn't in South Bend at all. 


  • Dolorous Jon Lester 4 days 13 hours ago (view)

    I am very, very intrigued by Rivas. If the DH is unfortunately here to stay, he's a prime candidate for that and give Rizzo a day off 1B here and there. If no DH, hopefully he is a passable OF. Big believer in his hitting ability


  • Hagsag 4 days 16 hours ago (view)

    Phil, do you think Chris Morel is the real deal?


  • tim815 5 days 5 hours ago (view)

    Blue and Red DSL instructs rosters. No Brayan Altuve.


  • crunch 5 days 8 hours ago (view)

    yup, they're gonna try.  starts in about a month.