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.

- The Cubs will sign RHP Jason Hammel on a 2/18M deal with a 3rd year club option. There's a $2M buyout on that option so Hammel is guaranteed $20M over 2 years. I haven't seen Year 3 numbers, but good presumption it's in the $9-$10M range. Hammel put up a beaut of a 2.81 ERA/3.19 FIP line with the Cubs in 17 starts before heading over to the A's with Samardzija and netting the Cubs Addison Russell. With the A's, he was just awful, leaving him with a 3.57 FIP on the year, which is still better than his career average of 4.27...but of course a lot of that was at Playstation Park in Colorado. Ultimately, he's a guy that should settle in that 3.50 ERA area with flashes of brilliance at times. It's a helluva cheap deal for a guy that should be a solid 2 WAR pitcher and easily tradeable if necessary.

It does leave the Cubs now with 8-11 starting pitchers (Arrieta, Hammel, Hendricks, Jackson, Wood, Wada, Doubront, Turner, Straily, Jokisch, Beeler) on their 40-man roster and that's without their ace that they'lll acquire eventually...at some point...over the next 2 seasons.  Some will get sent to minors, some will go to the bullpen, some will get cut and some may get traded...but I still find the signings of Wada and the contract tender of Travis Wood to be curious decisions.

- Rumor be that Jon Lester will make his decision by tonight or early tomorrow. It seems Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox and Cubs are all in the mix and unsurprisingly, the World Champs made a good impression on Lester during their meeting, dragging dreamboy Buster Posey along.

- Report from last night was that the Cubs are telling teams Starlin Castro is not available. You never know how much truth is behind these reports, but if the Cubs are in the mix for some high end free agents, it's tough to sell that you're ready to compete now if you're trading your All-Star shortstop, regardless on whom may be coming up soon. There's still enough room on the diamond to fit everyone that's ready for another year or two. The risk is that Castro doesn't quite have as good a season as last year, but the risk for other teams is that Castro gets even better. Regardless, until Bryant and Russell are up, there's plenty of room for Castro still and I'm not 100% sold that Baez or Alcantara won't be seeing the minors for a brief bit next year either.

- Jeff Samardzija to White Sox rumors are heating up again, Alexei Ramirez, Tim Anderson and Marcus Siemen seem to be the focal points on the A's return at this point.

Comments

some Red Sox rumoring that they'll go after Hamels if Lester doesn't work out...Mookie Betts seems to be the key piece that Phillies want.

@Joelsherman1 #Padres would like Jurickson Profar -new GM Preller signed for Tex- but as much as #Rangers want SP Kennedy/Ross/Cashner doesn't get done

Not sure how to read that one, is it saying Padres won't give up one of those 3 or Rangers would need more?

Cashner for Profar sounds like a real fair trade to me.

[ ]

In reply to by jacos

@Ken_Rosenthal  Sources: Barring late change, Lester choosing between #Cubs, #SFGiants.

@JonHeymanCBS concur that giants & cubs seem like favorites, as @Ken_Rosenthal said. tho least red sox havent been informed theyre out.

Gonna be a tough sell for TheJedi against an organization with 3 rings in 5 years and favorable pitching environment...and decent clubhouses :)

How amusing if Giants sign Lester with extra money from not signing Sandoval?  Well not amusing if you're a Red Sox fan...

We shall see...

This might be 5/160, but ESPN is reporting that a decision is probably going to be made by Tuesday.

this would be nice... lester/arreita/hammels/wada/hendricks i could live with that...plus t.wood becomes trade bait for the team. they just gave wada $4m, so i suppose they actually want him in the rotation. i also assume ejax isn't going to be allowed near the rotation without a stellar spring or injury...if he's even still with the cubs after this winter. i don't care that j.turner, d.straily, or f.doubront exist...so i'm not handicapping them into this fantasy musing...though i do think j.turner might make a decent long pen guy.

I won't believe Lester is actually with the Cubs until I see him pacing around behind the mound at Wrigley shaking his left arm while Maddon and the trainer jog out to see what the problem is.

Convince me on Miguel Montero? I see a declining catcher who was not better than Castillo the last 2 years and who will cost player(s) and $40 million over 3 years. The upside is gone, the opportunity cost is high, and there's a big fat contract to pay.

"FOX Sports' Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal report that the Cubs are discussing a trade with the Diamondbacks involving Miguel Montero." at this point i'd be surprised if welly isn't traded this offseason...they seem dead set on an "upgrade" there.

I don't know if this would make sense, but perhaps it would be something like Edwin Jackson and Welington Castillo for Miguel Montero? 

Jackson is making $22M 2015-16 ($11M in both 2015 and 2016) and Montero makes $26M combined in 2015-16 ($12M in 2015 and $14M in 2016), plus another $14M in 2017 after Jackson's contract will have expired.

Like Montero, Castillo is only under club control through the 2017 season, and while he is eligible for salary arbitration post-2014-16, he won't be making anywhere near what Montero makes in 2015-17. 

Bottom line is the D'backs would be essentially exchanging three seasons of Montero for three seasons of Castillo (unless they sign contract extensions in the meantime, both will be free-agents post-2017), but the Snakes would also be saving some payroll in 2015-16 (the $4M difference between Montero's and Jackson's salaries in 2015-16 less whatever they have to pay Castillo in 2015-16) and then they would save whatever ends up beng the difference between Montero's salary and Castillo's salary in 2017 (could be substantial, possibly as much as $10M). And while Montero's contract (and $40M in salary) is iron-clad guaranteed through 2017, the D'backs would have the option to just non-tender Castillo post-2015 or post-2016 if they believe he isn't worth what he would get from being eligible for salary arbitration after those two seasons.

So it would be mostly a straight catcher-exchange and salary "adjustment" for Arizona (although EJax did pitch a no hitter for the D'backs a few years ago, so a change of scenery could be a benefit for him), and for the Cubs it would be exchanging a younger arbitration-eligible RH hitting catcher for a veteran LH hitting catcher offset further by the Cubs disposing of Jackson's albatross contract.

Patrick Mooney (CSN) on twitter: In a Miguel Montero deal, source says Cubs wouldn't be moving pieces from 40-man roster or trading talent that's close to big-league ready. Jeff Passan (Yahoo) on twitter: Cubs and Dbacks are indeed talking about Miguel Montero, as reported. Arizona return wouldn't be big. Montego is owed $40M over the next 3 years. Cubs would assume most, if not all, of $ with low-level prospects going to D-backs. Nick Piecoro (AZ Republic) on twitter: Continues to sound like this Miguel Montero trade with Cubs has legs. If it happens, it's "likely" for two A-ball pitchers.

[ ]

In reply to by Cubster

i have a hard time seeing this happen without welly going to ARZ. ARZ doesn't seem to be in punt mode and losing montero leaves a huge hole at C with a weak FA market for catchers. that said, i could live with welly for montero as part of the deal. if they can manage to get montero for low-level prospects alone, and then trade welly to another team...then mega-awesome, sweet, etc.

[ ]

In reply to by crunch

If the Cubs sign Jon Lester, they almost certainly would also sign David Ross (Lester's "personal" catcher in Boston), and then Montero and Ross would be the Cubs two catchers going forward. So I would think that Welington Castillo would be soon gone if the Cubs acquire Montero and sign Lester. 

k.rosenthal on MLB network live coverage of the winter meetings stating the cubs could be looking for another "signature bat" if they get lester + montero. i know it's going to suck to hand lester all that loot and most likely a 7th year...but hey, the cubs have a lot of room to take that hit. hopefully it doesn't get to the point where it's so stupid it makes sesne for the cubs to say "screw that, we're out." i heard a rumor that free agency sucks...

put my vote in for a Montero/Castillo platoon with a R. Lopez as the call-up. Don't know if they need 2 vet catchers. Doubt they'd sign Ross just for Lester.

Montero/Welington makes sense to me, as does Welington/Ross. Montero/Ross...not so much.

Heyman says Samardzija deal to White Sox is agreed to, plus White Sox sign David Robertson to 4/46m deal.

at least they spent money...

Foxsports.com says Semien, Trayce Thompson, and Chris Beck. Well I had it to the Sox: they are going for it.

‏@JonHeymanCBS lester said to have 6- and 7-year offers. most expect deal to wind up in $150-175M range. #giants #cubs #redsox #dodgers

No wonder I could not sleep last night. The White Sox improved, and the Cubs are working hard to acquire a new player who won't improve the team at all. Oh, and some pitcher.

If it's about money From Phil Rogers Sportswriter math on state tax on $150 million contract -- $19.95 m in Calornia, $7.725 m in Massachusetts & $5.625 m in Illinois.

[ ]

In reply to by WISCGRAD

I live in Indiana and although we don't have a catchy nickname, the plummeting tax revenues and school funding is complete and utter bullshit. Nobody wants to pay any taxes- as if government can run on lapel pins and the reciting of the pledge of allegiance.

If the Cubs land Lester, I think they should go after Scherzer, too. The hell with it. "Those are some expensive luxury boxes you got there, Tommy." "The better to pay my Lloyds of London TMJ insurance with, my dear."

Two weeks ago to the day I predicted here on TCR that the Cubs would get Lester for 7/175 ... Hopefully today we shall harvest this prophecy!!!!! C'mon Lester! Cheap taxes!! World Series drought! Let's do this ...

[ ]

In reply to by Carlito

"Two weeks ago I predicted . . ." I'm starting to agree with you, Carlito, though I hope they don't have to go all the way to $175. I think the Cubs are going to do this. While the Yankees have to buy all their superstars, the Cubs seem to be growing a few of their own, and therefore can match the Yankee offer on a given target. All things ($$$$) being equal, I'm sure he'd rather play for the Cubs. I'm starting to get excited about this. I love lefty aces, which is one of the things that has made Cub fandom sorrowful for me. Let's see, in my fifty-seven-odd years of Cub-watching, there was Dick Ellsworth . . . and Ken Holtzman . . . and Rich Hill?

Bruce Levine reporting Boston had one final meeting with Lester's agent last night. The Boston officials left the meeting "in a somber mood".

So before we know the final number, where would people draw the line on Lester? I'm thinking anything over $150 million is too much.

[ ]

In reply to by jacos

Cubs aren't winning anything next year...be happy if they're over .500.

Lester isn't that great to go beyond reasonable measures imo...6/150 is about where I'd max out, hopefully in a creative enough contract way that it's moveable after year 3 or 4.

There are other options out there over the next 2 years if Lester goes elsewhere. Teams regret these deals more than they celebrate them at the end of it all.

[ ]

In reply to by Rob G.

and who knows who'll be available by trade Agreed. And the Cubs may be more inclined to part with some prospects a year from now when this year's youngsters have gotten some exposure and next year's youngsters (Russell, Schwarber*, Almora, McKinney, Vogelbach, Edwards, Johnson) are ready for their first significant exposure. The supposed logjam/surplus of Cubs prospects won't be real until then. *OK, there is not track that's really that fast. I know 2017 is the more realistic if still optimistic ETA for the Schwarbster/Schwarbucks/Schwarbel Rye.

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