Chicago Cubs – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-06-23T06:09:15Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Place Brandon Morrow On Disabled List]]> 2018-06-20T16:12:52Z 2018-06-20T16:12:23Z The Cubs announced Wednesday that they’ve placed closer Brandon Morrow on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to June 17. Morrow was unavailable in yesterday’s doubleheader due to back spasms. Right-hander Justin Hancock, whom the Cubs recalled to serve as the 26th man in yesterday’s twin bill, will remain on the roster for the time being. To this point in the season, Morrow has made good on the Cubs’ two-year, $21MM investment, pitching to a 1.59 ERA with 9.9 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and 0.4 HR/9 with a career-best 53.6 percent ground-ball rate through 22 2/3 innings. Chicago has been cautious in its usage of Morrow in an effort to protect the injury-prone righty’s arm; he’s yet to pitch more than an inning in any appearance, and he hasn’t pitched on three consecutive days all season. There’s no indication as to how long Morrow will be expected to miss, though there’s little reason to believe that this’ll be a lengthy absence. With Morrow on the disabled list, righties Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop stand out as the likeliest candidates to get the call in save opportunities.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Cubs’ Rotation Plans]]> 2018-06-18T14:06:13Z 2018-06-18T14:06:13Z When Mike Montgomery stepped into the Cubs’ rotation following Yu Darvish’s placement on the 10-day disabled list skipper Joe Maddon characterized the move as temporary and suggested that the lefty would be bullpen-bound once everyone was healthy. After four excellent starts by Montgomery, though, GM Jed Hoyer is making no such proclamations, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.

Hoyer suggests that the Cubs will “use common sense,” noting how well Montgomery has pitched and plainly stating that the front office has taken notice. The GM also stressed, however, that his comments don’t necessarily indicate that one of the team’s five members of the Opening Day rotation — Jon Lester, Jose Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, Tyler Chatwood and Darvish — will be losing his spot, either.

[Related: Chicago Cubs depth chart]

The Cubs have utilized a six-man rotation in the past, and it seems that could be a possibility based on Hoyer’s comments. Darvish is set to throw a simulated game on Tuesday of this week, as’s Carrie Muskat wrote last night, and Montgomery will step up and make his fifth start in place of Darvish on that same day. It’s not hard to see why Montgomery at least has the Cubs thinking about altering their plans; in 23 2/3 innings over four starts in place of Darvish, he’s pitched to a 1.14 ERA with a 14-to-3 K/BB ratio. While the lack of punchouts isn’t ideal, Montgomery has induced grounders at a 60.9 percent clip and has allowed hard contact at a below-average clip (29 percent) while inducing plenty of weak contact (21.7 percent) as well.

Of course, Montgomery has had opportunities in the rotation in the past and has not locked down a long-term spot in the Cubs’ rotation, so it’s not especially surprising to hear Hoyer imply that the four-start stretch, while impressive, isn’t guaranteeing him anything. Beyond that, the Cubs have invested significant financial resources in Darvish (six years, $126MM) and Chatwood (three years, $38MM). While both have struggled — Darvish with home runs and Chatwood with a staggering 8.2 BB/9 mark — each right-hander figures to be afforded ample opportunity to work things out given those contractual obligations.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Not Sure On Deadline Needs]]> 2018-06-17T18:57:22Z 2018-06-17T18:57:22Z
  • The Cubs aren’t yet sure what their plans are for the trade deadline, GM Jed Hoyer told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription link).  “What we may need on July 31 may be totally different than what we know sitting here right now,” Hoyer said.  “I do think that right now the answers are here….Now, that might not be the answer in six weeks. But I think that’s the answer today.”  Chicago already has quite a bit of depth and talent on the roster, plus Yu Darvish and Carl Edwards Jr. will provide reinforcements upon returning from the disabled list, though it would be surprising if the Cubs didn’t make at least one notable addition as they push for another postseason berth.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cafardo: Albert Almora Jr. Could Help Lead Manny Machado To Cubs]]> 2018-06-17T01:13:19Z 2018-06-17T01:13:46Z If Orioles shortstop Manny Machado becomes a free agent in the offseason, “the Cubs would be high on his list because of his friendship with Albert Almora,” Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe hears. Machado and Almora, the Cubs’ center fielder, have been close friends since childhood – something David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune detailed back in 2016. The two may end up on the same team as early as this summer, given the high likelihood the Orioles will trade Machado and the speculation linking him to the Cubs. Although, team president Theo Epstein threw cold water on Machado-to-Chicago rumors last month.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Prospect Adbert Alzolay To Miss Remainder Of Season]]> 2018-06-15T23:19:05Z 2018-06-15T23:19:05Z Top Cubs pitching prospect Adbert Alzolay is slated to miss the remainder of the season, GM Jed Hoyer told reporters including Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). The recovery timeline for the lat injury he suffered recently is too lengthy to make a return plausible.

    Clearly, that’s disappointing news for the Chicago organization and its prized young hurler. The 23-year-old was seen as a rising talent entering the year, topping most lists of the best prospects in a generally low-rated farm.

    It surely seemed possible, at least, that Alzolay would factor as soon as the current season and certainly by 2019. He had not exactly dominated in eight starts at Triple-A, working to a 4.76 ERA with 6.1 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 over 39 2/3 innings, but was (and is) still seen as a big talent within the organization.

    As Hoyer put it, via’s Carrie Muskat (on Twitter): “It’s a setback for 2018 but we don’t see it as a setback for his career. We love the makeup, love the stuff. We think he’ll help us a lot in the future.”

    It’s obviously still possible that Alzolay will be a notable part of the Cubs’ depth chart next year. But the loss will tell. He will miss a lot of development opportunities, while the team will not get to evaluate him as fully. Most notably of all, perhaps, is the simple question of innings. Alzolay had not previously topped 120 1/3 in a full season. Even if he is able to log some frames in fall or winter ball, that’s not going to make the Cubs comfortable pushing him out next season.

    Fortunately for the Cubs, the 2019 rotation is already fully accounted for (assuming full health). Still, Alzolay’s injury situation will impact the team’s planning. Per Hoyer, via’s Jesse Rogers (on Twitter): “We’ll be on the lookout for rotation depth and in the bullpen, no matter what, but this [injury to Alzolay] underscores that a little bit.”

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Efren Navarro Signs With Japan’s Hanshin Tigers]]> 2018-06-15T16:55:33Z 2018-06-15T16:55:33Z First baseman Efren Navarro has officially been released by the Cubs and reached an agreement with the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. The Tigers themselves announced the agreement.

    Navarro, 32, was designated for assignment by the Cubs back in late May and cleared waivers. The Cubs organization placed Navarro on the temporarily inactive list in the minors while apparently hammering out compensation with the Tigers in exchange for granting Navarro his release and allowing him to make the jump to NPB.

    A longtime Angels farmhand, Navarro has seen action in parts of six Major League seasons, appearing in 157 games and hitting .241/.304/.331 in a limited sample of 355 plate appearances. He’s a career .304/.371/.428 hitter in parts of eight Triple-A seasons, though, and had been enjoying a strong year there in 2018, hitting .310/.386/.440 with the Cubs’ top affiliate in Iowa. Navarro has struck out in just 15.8 percent of his career plate appearances in Triple-A and walked at a 9.7 percent clip, so he’ll bring a mix of plate discipline and on-base skills to his new club overseas.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Amateur Draft Signings: 6/14/18]]> 2018-06-15T03:45:11Z 2018-06-15T03:45:03Z Here are the day’s deals of note from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Baseball AmericaMLB.comFangraphs and ESPN’s Keith Law — with the scouting reports from MLB and Fangraphs both coming free to the general public) …

    • Athletics second-round pick Jeremy Eierman will receive a $1,232,000 bonus, per Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). That’s well over the $872,400 slot value that came with the 70th pick. The Missouri State produce drew big grades from BA (#26) and (#29) as the top collegiate shortstop, with both a history of productivity and an intriguing power/speed offensive profile for a player who could potentially stick at shortstop. Analysts also note that an offensive downturn in the just-completed season introduced new questions about his long-term outlook.
    • The Cubs are in agreement with second-round pick Brennen Davis on a $1.1MM bonus, Callis reports on Twitter. That checks in just north of the 62nd pick’s $1,060,900 allocation. Davis ranked 81st on the Fangraphs board, with physical tools and projection driving the outfielder’s draft standing. He had been committed to the University of Miami.

    Earlier Updates

    • The Padres will pay out $2.6MM to land supplemental first-round choice Xavier Edwards, according to’s Jim Callis (Twitter link). A consensus first-round talent, Edwards went 38th overall ($1,878,300 allocation) and required a well-over-slot bonus to give up his commitment to Vanderbilt. Fangraphs was the highest outlet on the Florida high-schooler, ranking him 17th among all eligible players based upon his outstanding speed, quality bat, and promising outlook as an up-the-middle defender.
    • The Rays have deals in place with compensation selection Nick Schnell and competitive balance Round B choice Tanner Dodson, according to reports from Callis (Twitter links) and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (also on Twitter). Schnell will receive $2.3MM; the high-school outfielder was chosen with the 32nd overall pick, which comes with a $2,171,700 slot value. He’s credited with a quality tool set and what calls an “extremely projectable frame.” Tampa Bay will save some money on Dodson, whose $997,500 bonus falls shy of the $1,228,000 slot value at #71. He’s valued most as a power pitcher but is also said to have legitimate talent as a switch-hitting outfielder, which could give the Rays another multi-functional prospect to work with.
    • Second-round choice Nick Sandlin will go to the Indians for $750K, Callis tweets, which will leave some savings against the $939,700 pick allocation. With the signing, the Cleveland organization will add a highly effective collegiate hurler who is known less for his pure stuff than for his wide pitch mix and use of varied arm angles. Sandlin cracked the top 100 list of the Fangraphs team and landed within the top 200 draft prospects as graded by Baseball America and It certainly seems he’ll be an interesting player to follow as a professional.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Notes: Smyly, Bullpen, Deadline]]> 2018-06-13T02:58:19Z 2018-06-13T02:57:13Z Left-hander Drew Smyly threw a 25-pitch live batting practice session over the weekend and feels that he’s getting close to the end of his rehab from Tommy John surgery, writes Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription link). General manager Jed Hoyer and president of baseball ops Theo Epstein watched the session, and Hoyer tells Mooney that Smyly looked “free and easy” in his first throwing session against live hitters. “He is going to be in the back of our mind as we think through the rest of our season and how we approach both deadlines in July and August,” says Hoyer of Smyly, who is coming up on the one-year anniversary of his TJ surgery later this month. Mooney speaks with both Hoyer and manager Joe Maddon about the struggles of Yu Darvish and Tyler Chatwood thus far. Both expressed optimism that the righties can turn things around, though Hoyer acknowledged the importance of eventually getting into “sustained turn-after-turn consistency” in the starting rotation in order to best position the team to win the division and embark on a deep playoff run.

    Here’s more out of the North Side of Chicago…

    • Offseason pickups Brandon Morrow and Steve Cishek have been outstanding for the Cubs, writes Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago/670 The Score, but the team will need to eventually receive more innings out of its rotation if it is to sustain its current pace. Cishek is on pace for 80 appearances, while the trio of Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop and Justin Wilson are all on pace for 72 to 75 games pitched. Levine speculates that both Kelvin Herrera and Brad Hand will be deadline targets for the Cubs, writing that Chicago tried to pry Hand away from the Padres last summer but balked when San Diego asked for Javier Baez in return. Levine chatted with an NL East scout to get an opinion on both Herrera and Hand, each of whom is off to a brilliant start in 2018.
    • Epstein spoke with Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times about his team’s approach to the 2018 trade deadline, noting that it’s still too early to assess just what type of players the Cubs will pursue. Epstein noted that in some seasons, it’s clear what areas of need a team will need to address for months in advance, but he doesn’t feel that to be the case with his 2018 club. “[A]s talented and as deep as we are in most areas, it’s more about observation and maintenance and trying to stay ahead of the depth areas,” said the Cubs president. Epstein noted that maintaining starting pitching depth is especially important but characterized that as more of a “contingency” than a need, adding that the team isn’t looking to supplant any of its starters. Wittenmyer writes that the Cubs plan to check in with the Orioles on Manny Machado once he’s more aggressively being shopped. However, the left side of the infield isn’t a need for the Cubs like it is for other teams, and Wittenmyer feels it’s “doubtful” that Chicago will be among the most aggressive suitors.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Finalizing Deal With First-Rounder Nico Hoerner]]> 2018-06-12T21:12:00Z 2018-06-12T21:12:00Z The Cubs are closing in on an agreement with first-round pick Nico Hoerner, reports Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (via Twitter). The former Stanford shortstop is expected to sign for the full slot value of $2.724MM that comes with the No. 24 overall selection, according to Mooney, and he’ll begin his pro career with the Cubs’ short-season Class-A affiliate, the Eugene Emeralds.’s Carrie Muskat tweets that all that remains for the deal to be finalized is a physical, which should happen later this week.

    Chicago, it seems, was a bit more bullish on Hoerner than most pre-draft rankings. Hoerner ranked 37th in the class in the estimation of Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, while ESPN’s Keith Law pegged him 39th, Baseball America ranked him 42nd and Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of tabbed him 52nd.

    Those reports indicate that there’s somewhat of a split among scouts as to whether Hoerner can remain at shortstop or will require a move to second base or the outfield. BA makes note of his impressive exit velocity and strong hands, while all of the reports note his quality bat-to-ball skills and above-average speed. McDaniel and Longenhagen note that he has drawn some comparisons to Arizona’s Chris Owings.

    Hoerner hit .345/.391/.496 at Stanford this past season, with two homers, 17 doubles, six triples and 15 steals (in 19 attempts) along the way. More impressively, he struck out just 22 times in 57 games played while drawing 20 walks in that time as well.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Select Anthony Bass]]> 2018-06-11T20:56:45Z 2018-06-11T20:56:45Z The Cubs have selected the contract of right-hander Anthony Bass from Triple-A Iowa, clearing space on the 25-man and 40-man rosters by optioning Cory Mazzoni and transferring Eddie Butler from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL (Twitter link via Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune).

    Bass, who turned 30 this offseason, has only pitched 5 2/3 innings in the Majors over the past two seasons, all coming with the Rangers last season. He spent the 2016 campaign with Japan’s Nippon Ham Fighters, working to a 3.65 ERA in 103 2/3 innings.

    That said, Bass still brings a fair bit of Major League experience to the table. The right-hander has logged 284 career innings, working to a 4.60 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 47.6 percent ground-ball rate in the big leagues. He’s spent the season to date in Triple-A, pitching to a pristine 2.28 ERA with 20 strikeouts against six walks in 23 2/3 innings out of the bullpen.

    Butler, meanwhile, has been out since April 20 due to a groin strain and has yet to be sent out on a minor league rehab assignment. He’s already nearing the 60-day mark on the disabled list, and being transferred over won’t reset the date on which he’s eligible to be activated. He’ll technically be eligible to activated later this month, though there’s no indication from the Cubs as to when he’ll be healthy enough to return.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yu Darvish Might Not Return Before All-Star Break]]> 2018-06-10T19:39:00Z 2018-06-10T19:38:11Z The Cubs are unsure if injured right-hander Yu Darvish will return before next month’s All-Star break, manager Joe Maddon told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic and other reporters Sunday. Darvish has been on the shelf for two weeks with right tricep tendinitis, and even though he doesn’t have any structural damage, he’ll end up sitting out nearly two months (if not even more time) if he doesn’t come back prior to the July 17 All-Star Game. Of course, in an ideal world for Darvish and the Cubs, he’d be representing the team in the Midsummer Classic after landing a six-year, $126MM guarantee in free agency over the winter. Instead, not only has Darvish endured multiple DL stints (one for the flu), but the 31-year-old has posted a career-worst 4.95 ERA/4.80 FIP over 40 innings when he has taken the mound.

    • The Pirates activated righty Ivan Nova from the disabled list and optioned fellow righty Nick Kingham to Triple-A prior to Sunday’s game. Nova returned after a finger injury shelved him for two weeks. His presence is unfortunate for Kingham, who continued his strong rookie season Saturday with 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball in a loss to the Cubs. Overall, the 26-year-old Kingham has pitched to a 3.82 ERA with 35 strikeouts against seven walks in 35 1/3 innings (six starts).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Yu Darvish Cleared Of Structural Damage To Right Arm]]> 2018-05-30T17:38:06Z 2018-05-30T17:38:06Z Cubs righty Yu Darvish is not dealing with a structural injury to his right arm, the club announced today. As’s Carrie Muskat explains, an MRI showed only that Darvish is dealing with inflammation in his triceps.

    The hope at this point is that the veteran starter will be able to resume throwing in relatively short order — as soon as the coming weekend, in fact. If he progresses well, then, it seems he may not end up missing much action at all. Darvish is already on the DL, with a placement dated to May 23rd.

    While there was never any particular reason to fear that Darvish had suffered a major injury, it’s always at least a bit concerning when a pitcher goes in for an arm examination. That’s all the more true here, as he has struggled to open the year after signing on with the Cubs for six years and $126MM.

    Of course, most indicators on the stat sheet suggest that Darvish hasn’t been too terribly different from his typical self. The results obviously haven’t been great — he owns a 4.95 ERA and has handled only forty innings in eight starts — but the 31-year-old is throwing with his typical fastball velocity (94.8 mph) and generating swings and misses in range of his career rate (11.1% this year; 12.1% career).

    There will surely be some things to work on for Darvish once his arm feels at full strength. He has issued too many walks (4.7 per nine) and permitted too many long balls (1.58 per nine, 17.5% HR/FB rate), but the hope will remain that he can sort through those concerns and get back to being the high-quality rotation piece he was viewed as when he was signed.

    In the meantime, Mike Montgomery will fill in for Darvish. He represents a solid backup plan for a Cubs team that is nevertheless dealing with some general consternation in the starting staff even beyond the Darvish situation. Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks have been excellent, but Jose Quintana owns a 4.78 ERA and Tyler Chatwood has allowed more walks (45) than strikeouts (44) to this point of the season.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Yu Darvish]]> 2018-05-28T00:53:09Z 2018-05-28T00:53:09Z
  • Yu Darvish will undergo an MRI on Tuesday, 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine reports (Twitter link), and the Cubs righty has said that the soreness in his right triceps is in a different place than it was in 2015, when Darvish underwent Tommy John surgery.  This could be a further sign that Darvish’s current injury isn’t very serious, so he could be back in Chicago’s rotation sooner rather than later.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs "Not Overly Concerned" About Yu Darvish's Injury]]> 2018-05-27T14:15:30Z 2018-05-27T14:15:33Z
  • Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish went to the disabled list on Saturday with triceps tendinitis, though it doesn’t seem as if he’ll be on the shelf for long. The team’s “not overly concerned” about the injury, manager Joe Maddon told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune and other reporters. Indeed, it’s only believed to be a “minor” issue, a Cubs source informed Sullivan, who notes there’s a chance Darvish could ultimately miss just one start.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Manny Machado, Cubs]]> 2018-05-27T04:52:02Z 2018-05-27T04:51:20Z Orioles shortstop Manny Machado seems like a good bet to end up on the move this year, though it’s not “anywhere close” to happening, Roch Kubatko of reports. The Orioles aren’t “actively shopping” Machado right now, and they’re content to keep the soon-to-be free agent until closer to the July 31 non-waiver deadline, Kubatko writes. Kubatko goes on to list some potential Machado suitors, including the Phillies, who “left open the possibility of engaging in talks” with the Orioles when they were in Baltimore a couple weeks ago. Meanwhile, according to Kubatko, the Cubs reached out to Orioles general manager Dan Duquette to express interest in Machado, but Chicago – like Baltimore – isn’t prepared to make a major deal yet. Of course, Cubs president Theo Epstein addressed the Machado-Chicago speculation earlier this week, saying it’s “in fantasy land at this point.”

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Place Yu Darvish On DL]]> 2018-05-26T22:54:06Z 2018-05-26T22:32:15Z Cubs starter Yu Darvish is headed to the disabled list (retroactive to May 23) with right tricep tendinitis, Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic tweets. The club has recalled lefty Randy Rosario from Triple-A Iowa in a corresponding move, and righty Tyler Chatwood will start in Darvish’s place Sunday.

    This is already the second DL placement of the year for Darvish, who missed time earlier this month on account of the flu. Darvish’s newest issue looks like a much more alarming one for him and the Cubs, given that it’s an arm injury and the team has so much invested in him.

    Darvish parlayed stardom with the Rangers and Dodgers from 2012-17 into a six-year, $126MM guarantee from the Cubs over the winter, though the free-agent signing has gotten off to a slow start in the Windy City. The 31-year-old has pitched to a 4.95 ERA/4.81 FIP with 4.73 BB/9 across 40 innings (eight starts), thus offsetting a strong strikeout rate (11.03 K/9). Darvish has continued to throw hard, however, and his most recent outing (May 20) was among his best as a Cub. He earned his first win with the team after tossing six innings of two-hit, one-run ball – with seven strikeouts and three walks – against the Reds.

    The severity of Darvish’s injury isn’t yet known, but it’s worth noting that arm issues aren’t anything new for him. The 6-foot-5, 220-pounder previously underwent Tommy John surgery May 2015, causing him to miss that entire season and some of the ’16 campaign. Darvish bounced back nicely from that procedure, though, and the Cubs will hope he’s able to return in short order from his newest ailment. In the meantime, the 28-22 Cubs will continue trying to catch up to the NL-Central leading Brewers, who own a 32-20 record and a 3.5-game advantage over them in the division.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Cubs Designate Efren Navarro, Select Chris Gimenez]]> 2018-05-26T20:14:26Z 2018-05-26T19:54:45Z The Cubs have designated outfielder Efren Navarro for assignment, tweets Carrie Muskat of In his stead, the club has selected the contract of catcher Chris Gimenez. Fellow catcher Victor Caratini has been optioned to Triple-A Iowa in a related move.

    The move probably isn’t related to the performance of Caratini (though he’s hardly lighting the world on fire with his .264/.304/.308 batting line) as much as it is to the contract situation of Gimenez. As Muskat notes in a separate tweet, the latter had an opt-out clause in his contract that he could have used if he wasn’t on the big league roster by June 1st. Navarro, then, may simply be a casualty created by the Cubs’ desire to preserve their catching depth.

    Navarro’s actually played in parts of six seasons with the Angels, Tigers and Cubs, though he’s amassed just 355 plate appearances and posted a meager 77 wRC+ during that time. That’s obviously not particularly impressive, but even a 0.4 fWAR career to date is probably better than odds would suggest for a 50th round draft pick.

    Gimenez, meanwhile, is an interesting add to the MLB roster if only for his relationship with struggling ace Yu Darvish. The two played together for the Rangers during parts of two seasons, and have a close relationship with each other. Perhaps working with Gimenez could go a little ways towards helping Darvish get back on track, though that’s obviously a largely intangible factor.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers Acquire Michael Roth; Kevin Jepsen Elects Free Agency]]> 2018-05-26T01:19:04Z 2018-05-26T01:19:04Z The Rangers have acquired lefty Michael Roth from the Cubs, according to a club announcement. He had been pitching on a minor-league deal.

    In other Ranger reliever news, the club announced that righty Kevin Jepsen has elected free agency rather than accepting an outright assignment. He had been designated for assignment recently.

    Roth, 28, last appeared in the majors — quite briefly — with the Rangers back in 2016. He has thrown 36 total innings at the game’s highest level. In 29 2/3 frames this season at Triple-A, Roth owns a 3.03 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 4.6 BB/9.

    As for Jepsen, the 33-year-old will head onto the open market in search of another chance at returning to the majors. He had a less-than-promising showing this year in Texas, posting a 5.94 ERA with an 8:11 K/BB ratio in his 16 2/3 innings. Jepsen has had stretches of high-quality work in the majors, of course. In particular, he threw 215 1/3 innings of 2.93 ERA ball from 2012 through 2015.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Epstein: Machado Speculation “In Fantasy Land At This Point”]]> 2018-05-25T04:07:03Z 2018-05-25T00:15:01Z There’s been plenty of buzz about the Orioles’ poor start to the season and the impending free agency of Manny Machado, with seemingly countless reports connecting Machado to various teams throughout the league. The Cubs have been perhaps the most oft-cited match for Machado, but in a radio appearance on the Mully & Hanley show on 670 The Score, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein scoffed at the very notion that there’s any serious market taking shape for Machado at such an early juncture in the season.

    “I understand it’s natural for people to connect the dots and there to be this kind of frenzy from time to time, but it’s honestly something we’re looking at and just rolling our eyes at,” said Epstein. “It’s not like July, where every now and then there’s lots of coverage on deals that are actually being discussed or actually might happen. This one is just out there in fantasy land at this point.”

    Addison Russell, in particular, has been an oft-suggested component of Machado trade scenarios (FanRag’s Jon Heyman suggested that match last week, for instance). But Epstein noted that when he sees rumors that appear to be “hyper-focused on one player and if there’s essentially nothing to it,” he’ll typically pull the player aside and explain as much in a one-on-one conversation. While he didn’t outright say that he’s done so with Russell, Epstein strongly suggested that to be the case, and Russell himself told The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney over the weekend that he’s paying little heed to the chatter. Elaborating further, Epstein described the amount of trade discussion that’s taken place so far as “essentially nil.”

    There’s been no shortage of rumors pertaining to Machado, though the connection with the Cubs has always been a fairly obvious one. Machado was, after all, reported to be a target of the Cubs this offseason, and Russell was said to be a potential component of those talks all the way back in December when Baltimore initially began fielding offers for him.

    There’s no recent precedent for a trade of this magnitude taking place in May, and it’s even rare for such transactions to take place in June. The White Sox’ acquisition of James Shields in 2016 is the most recent example of an early-June swap of any real significance. Russell himself was traded from Oakland to Chicago in 2014’s Jeff Samardzija blockbuster, and even that July 4 swap was an uncharacteristically early agreement for a deal of such import.

    In a similar vein, recent reports indicating that the Rangers and Royals are preparing to gauge trade interest in their current assets suggest that such processes are only in the nascent stages. It’d be a surprise if the Orioles were drastically further along in the process, if for no other reason than the fact that most teams have not yet plotted their deadline trajectory.

    Most clubs, to this point, are focused on the upcoming amateur draft, after which they’ll begin to truly assess whether they’re interested in acquiring assets, selling them, or utilizing players on their current big league roster to address other needs. (Increasingly, there are active teams at each deadline that don’t fall neatly into the traditional “buyer” or “seller” categories.)

    There will undoubtedly be teams that don’t make that final determination until even the day of the deadline. Last year’s Twins, for instance, acquired Jaime Garcia from the Braves in late July, only to lose six of their next seven games while the Royals and Indians went on prolonged winning streaks. Minnesota ultimately traded Garcia to the Yankees just six days after acquiring him and also shipped closer Brandon Kintzler off to the Nationals.

    All of that is to say, it’s highly improbable that a clearly defined market for Machado will come together at any point the near future. Perhaps a team with an obvious need on the left side of the infield will bowl the Orioles over with an offer earlier than most would expect, but history gives little reason to expect that to happen until the calendar flips to July.

    A Machado trade to some team, of course, feels inevitable at this point. But while the Cubs stand out as a plausible on-paper fit — just as they did throughout the offseason — Epstein’s comments bluntly indicate that such speculation won’t come to fruition for quite some time, if at all.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Yu Darvish Promising In Return]]> 2018-05-22T20:14:02Z 2018-05-22T13:41:41Z
  • Over at Fangraphs, there are a couple pieces well worth a read for fans of the division. Jeff Sullivan examines the curious case of Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks, the flamethrowing reliever who has thus far registered very few strikeouts. It’s a well-balanced take on the youngster, who certainly has exhibited a fascinating skill but still will need to make improvements to become a dominant MLB reliever. Speaking of fastballs, Jay Jaffe looks at the arsenal of Cubs starter Yu Darvish and his reasonably promising return from the DL. It’s a complicated picture, but well worth a look for anyone looking to gauge where things are headed for the high-priced hurler.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Addison Russell Discusses Trade Speculation]]> 2018-05-20T18:28:38Z 2018-05-20T18:28:42Z There has been speculation about the Cubs pursuing Orioles shortstop Manny Machado in a deal that could cost the North Siders their current shortstop, Addison Russell. But Russell told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription required) and other reporters Saturday that he’s not sweating those rumors. “As far as the trade rumors, if it happens, it happens. But I really don’t pay them any attention,” he said. “The only time I really even hear about them is the media bringing it up to me.” Unsurprisingly, the 24-year-old Russell also made clear that he’d like to remain with the Cubs, who originally acquired him from the Athletics in a 2014 blockbuster with the Athletics. Russell has since emerged as a solid starter, not a superstar like Machado, but trading him to acquire the latter would mean surrendering his three-plus years of control for a few months of control over Machado. Of course, it would also boost the Cubs’ World Series chances for this season, thus creating a conundrum for Chicago’s brass if it actually does discuss a Machado-Russell trade with Baltimore.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[No Timetable For Jason Heyward's Return]]> 2018-05-13T21:43:16Z 2018-05-13T21:43:57Z
  • Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward won’t come off the seven-day concussion DL on Monday, Carrie Muskat of relays. It’s unclear when Heyward will be ready to go, as manager Joe Maddon said Sunday that there’s no timetable for his return. In better news for the Cubs, right-hander Yu Darvish will take the ball against the Braves on Tuesday, per Muskat. Darvish will end up missing the minimum, then, after going on the 10-day DL retroactive to May 4 with flu-like symptoms.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Select Contract Of Justin Hancock]]> 2018-05-09T19:05:41Z 2018-05-09T19:05:41Z The Cubs have selected the contract of righty Justin Hancock, per a club announcement. He’ll be making his way onto an MLB roster for the first time.

    Outfielder Mark Zagunis is also coming up to the active roster after briefly debuting in 2017. In corresponding moves, the Cubs have optioned righty Jen-Ho Tseng and southpaw Rob Zastryzny.

    It’s obviously a big day for Hancock, who was originally selected by the Padres in the ninth round of the 2011 draft out of Lincoln Trail College in southern Illinois. At that time, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was at the helm in San Diego.

    Hancock has worked exclusively out of the bullpen since landing in the Cubs organization in the deal that sent Matt Szczur to the Friars. He continued to struggle with command last year but seems to have righted the ship thus far in 2018, with 14 1/3 innings of 3.77 ERA ball over which he has recorded 19 strikeouts against just four walks.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Expect To Inquire On Manny Machado]]> 2018-05-09T13:37:00Z 2018-05-09T13:24:19Z Bob Nightengale of USA Today provides an interesting look at the post-playing career of Hall-of-Famer Andre Dawson, the slugging outfielder best remembered for his time with the Cubs and Expos. The Hawk now operates a funeral home with his wife in the Miami area, a surprising turn for a legendary ballplayer. Fans of the former great will certainly want to read the entire piece, which paints a compelling picture of Dawson and his new line of work.

    • The summer trade picture is only just starting to take shape, but Manny Machado obviously represents a key component. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams wrote recently, it is hard to imagine the Orioles won’t end up trading him before he reaches free agency at season’s end. And the Cubs are shaping up to be an interesting fit, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. Indeed, per the report, the Chicago organization has plans to discuss Machado with the O’s once the trade window begins to open. Of course, that’s hardly surprising and hardly suggests that the Cubs are a favorite. As Wittenmyer notes, the club has a relatively diminished upper-level talent pool to draw from in making a deal; while indications are that ownership is willing to green-light an aggressive approach, it’ll still be tough to pull off a deal. And the Cubs surely won’t be alone in pursuing Machado, who could be seen as a difference-maker for numerous rosters around the game.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Cubs Place Jason Heyward On 7-Day DL]]> 2018-05-09T03:41:35Z 2018-05-08T22:09:13Z
  • The Cubs announced today that outfielder Jason Heyward has been placed on the 7-day concussion DL. Infielder David Bote is back up from Triple-A to take his spot on the active roster for the time being. Heyward collided with the right-field wall over the weekend when attempting to rob former teammate Dexter Fowler of what wound up being a walk-off home run in the 14th inning of Sunday’s game against the Cardinals (video link). Interestingly, manager Joe Maddon tells reporters that Kris Bryant could see some time in right field while Heyward is sidelined (Twitter link via’s Carrie Muskat).
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Place Yu Darvish On 10-Day DL]]> 2018-05-08T00:15:23Z 2018-05-08T00:15:23Z The Cubs have placed righty Yu Darvish on the 10-day DL, per a club announcement. He is dealing with the flu.

    Without knowing more, it would rate as a surprise if the treatment for this common illness mandates anything other than a brief respite. At this point, though, there’s not much of an indication of what kind of an absence the club expects.

    Of course, there’s a broader slate of concerns surrounding Darvish, who joined the Cubs on a six-year, $126MM contract over the winter. He has allowed twenty runs in thirty frames over his first six starts with his new team. Perhaps, then, this DL placement will also allow the veteran hurler a chance at a more general re-set.

    Darvish has carried a strikeout rate of 11.1 K/9, right at his typical level. But he’s getting swinging strikes on just 9.4% of his offerings, which is well off his career average, while doling out an uncharacteristic 4.8 free passes per nine. Plus, Darvish has been rather prone to the long ball (1.80 HR/9, 20.0% HR/FB).

    It’s hard to know just what has gone wrong for Darvish thus far. Arm speed isn’t the problem, as he’s throwing both his four and two-seam fastballs harder than ever. His typically excellent slider has not been clicking, and he has seemingly experimented with throwing the pitch harder — but with less movement — over the course of the year. (See here, here, and here.) Darvish is also fiddling with his pitch mix, without yet finding the answer.

    Clearly, getting Darvish back to full health is only a part of the puzzle now facing the Cubs. It’s also unclear just what the club will do to replace him in the rotation. A corresponding move has not yet been made.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Inside The Cubs' Hitting Coach Change]]> 2018-05-07T04:58:44Z 2018-05-07T04:58:44Z
  • Phillies hitting coach John Mallee “was totally surprised” at being replaced as the Cubs’ hitting coach after last season, he tells Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.  Though manager Joe Maddon praised Mallee’s work, the Cubs’ decision to part ways with Mallee and hire Chili Davis seemed due (as Maddon and Theo Epstein explain) to an organizational preference for more of a well-rounded hitting attack, as opposed to Mallee’s more launch angle-based philosophy.  It seems like there could be a bit of a learning curve to the new approach for Cubs hitters, as the team’s offensive numbers are down over the first six weeks of the season.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mikolas On Offseason Interest From The Cubs]]> 2018-05-05T17:50:54Z 2018-05-05T17:50:26Z
  • While many Cards fans were skeptical of the team’s two-year, $15.5MM deal with righty Miles Mikolas this offseason, but the 29-year-old has gone a long way toward proving his doubters wrong with a 2.70 ERA and a 31-to-2 K/BB ratio through his first 40 innings back in the Majors. Mikolas chatted with the Post-Dispatch’s Derrick Goold about the Cardinals’ offseason pursuit of him, revealing that the division-rival Cubs were also in pursuit of his services before they “cooled of” and eventually struck up a deal with Tyler Chatwood“I guess they didn’t want me that bad,” said Mikolas of the Cubs. “I guess they thought it would be more fun facing me than having me on their staff. They figured they’d take their chances.”
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs To Sign Lane Adams]]> 2018-05-05T04:54:58Z 2018-05-05T04:54:58Z The Cubs have reached agreement on a minor-league deal with outfielder Lane Adams, according to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter). He had recently elected free agency after being removed from the Braves’ 40-man roster.

    The 28-year-old Adams will provide some outfield depth to a Chicago organization that has struggled to produce runs of late. But it does not appear as if he’ll be an immediate factor at the MLB level.

    Adams has been a productive hitter in limited action since landing with the Braves in advance of the 2017 season. He slashed .270/.345/.460 with six home runs in 143 plate appearances in Atlanta. That’s the most extensive MLB time the former Royals farmhand has received in his career, though clearly he did not receive much time while he was on the active roster.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Maddon: Cubs Not Considering Happ Demotion]]> 2018-05-04T03:58:58Z 2018-05-04T03:54:52Z Despite Ian Happ’s alarming struggles at the plate — he’s hitting .233/.282/.384 with a mammoth 46.2 percent strikeout rate through 78 plate appearances — Cubs skipper Joe Maddon says the team is not discussing the possibility of optioning the young switch-hitter to Triple-A Iowa (link via Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times). Per Maddon, the 23-year-old is frustrated by his lack of contact but handling the struggles quite well. Maddon acknowledges that it’s difficult to get all of his young hitters into the lineup but maintains that the best place for Happ to right the ship at the plate is with the big league club for the time being.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Jake Arrieta On Declining Cubs’ Offer]]> 2018-05-02T17:12:00Z 2018-05-02T17:12:00Z In a chat with Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, Phillies hurler Jake Arrieta verified prior reports that Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein made a last-ditch offer before the team agreed to terms with Yu Darvish.

    Arrieta, who ultimately signed with the Philadelphia organization later in the winter, tells Wittenmyer that he does not really believe that Epstein expected to get a deal done when he called with a “take it or leave it” proposal of six years and $120MM. That statement reflects previous reporting on the perceptions of both sides to that conversation.

    While he emphasized that he harbors no ill will at all toward Epstein or the Cubs organization, Arrieta says that approach was a non-starter, even though he had yet to receive a formal contract offer to that point:

    “[T]hey weren’t willing to negotiate at all, and that wasn’t acceptable for me,” Arrieta tells Wittenmyer. “I bet on myself just like I have my entire career and ended up getting a good deal.”

    Arrieta, of course, is referring to the three-year, $75MM guarantee he took down from the Phils. He obviously preferred the higher average annual value but also emphasized in his comments that he expects to play longer than that in Philadelphia. Arrieta’s deal includes a provision that allows the Phillies to add on two years at a salary of $20MM or more (depending upon escalators) per season.

    The veteran hurler certainly exuded confidence in his chat with Wittenmyer, which is well worth a full read. Among other things, he discussed his leadership efforts with the Phillies and flatly rejected the idea that there’s any concern with how he’ll age — or how his velocity will hold up — over the course of his new contract. To the contrary, Arrieta suggests his new organization will receive an exceptional player. “There’s not many like me,” he tells Wittenmyer. “… I don’t care what the situation is, I bet on myself to get the job done.”

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Cubs Activate Ben Zobrist, Option David Bote; Bryant Back In Lineup]]> 2018-04-28T15:17:53Z 2018-04-28T15:17:18Z Ben Zobrist has been activated from the 10-day disabled list and will bat seventh today against the Brewers, Bruce Levine of reports. Kris Bryant will also make his return to the lineup after sitting out for a few days following a hit-by-pitch injury. In a corresponding move, the Cubs have optioned third baseman David Bote to Triple-A Iowa.

    Zobrist was off to an impressive start in 49 plate appearances, accruing a .326 average and .408 on-base percentage before a lower back strain sent him to the DL. Though landed there on April 21st, he was eligible to return today because the move was retroactive to April 18th.

    Bryant was hit in the head by a 96-MPH fastball on Sunday and has been held out of the lineup as a precaution ever since, even though he’d been cleared of all concussion symptoms on the same day he suffered the injury.  “This is about a young man’s life and how he feels 30-40 years from now, so I’m all into that … Getting him back on the horse is always a good thing, obviously, so I think he’s going to be fine,” manager Joe Maddon had said of the injury on Thursday.

    The 25-year-old Bote made just nine plate appearances in Zobrist’s absence, and managed just one hit while striking out three times. It was Bote’s first taste of the major leagues; he’s been a career Cubs farmhand since the club selected him in the 18th round of the 2012 draft. He’ll head back to Triple-A for the time being, where he’s got a .511 slugging percentage on the young season.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Send Scouts To Watch Rays]]> 2018-04-23T00:48:43Z 2018-04-23T00:48:43Z
  • Evaluators from the Cubs and Cardinals were recently on hand to watch the Rays last week, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.  The Rays’ limited payroll capability could make them sellers regardless of their record, though the team is also off to a slow 8-13 start overall (though Tampa has won five of its last six games).  It isn’t known what players were being watched, though the Cubs have been heavily linked to Chris Archer in the past while the Cardinals had strong interest in Alex Colome this offseason.
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Zobrist, Despaigne, Ohtani]]> 2018-04-21T14:24:23Z 2018-04-21T14:24:23Z Ben Zobrist says he’s headed to the DL to tend to a minor back injury, via Jesse Rogers of ESPN. There doesn’t seem to be any serious concern, but Zobrist has missed the past few games due to the injury, so the Cubs appear to be proceeding with caution. They’ll be able to make the move retroactive by a few days, so it seems unlikely he’ll be out for very long. The versatile Zobrist is in the third year of a four-year, $56MM contract with Chicago. He’s certainly off to an impressive start; in 49 plate appearances so far this season, the veteran has hit .326/.408/.465 with more walks (six) than strikeouts (5). For the time being, players like Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ will likely continue to get an extra game here and there to plug the gaps created by Zobrist’s absence

    A pair of additional injury notes elsewhere in MLB…

    • The Marlins officially placed 31-year-old righty Odrisamer Despaigne on the DL last night (along with fellow reliever Chris O’Grady), as we noted in our daily roster roundup. The reason was a strained forearm, which is always a concerning injury when it comes to pitchers. According to Joe Frisaro of, Despaigne had the following to say about his injury: “I first felt it tight when I was warming up in the bullpen. I tried to keep going with it. When the game started, it’s when I started to feel the pain.” For the Marlins, it’s yet another development that thins out an already-shaky pitching staff.
    • Two-way Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani appears to be making progress in regards to his blister issues. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that Ohtani feels his blister is “recovering”, and that he’s on schedule to make a start on Tuesday in Houston. Fletcher also notes that Ohtani worked with pitching coach Charlie Nagy in a bullpen session, and came away with some things he can use (presumably to prevent a re-aggravation of the injury).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Place Eddie Butler On 10-Day DL]]> 2018-04-21T02:31:33Z 2018-04-21T01:48:47Z
  • The Cubs have placed long reliever Eddie Butler on the 10-day DL with a groin strain. He turned in four strong appearances to open the year but has been knocked around in his last two and now owns a 4.30 ERA over 14 2/3 innings, with ten strikeouts against five walks. There’s no reason at this point to believe that Butler will be sidelined long. Fellow righty Luke Farrell received the call to take the open active roster spot. He, too, ought to be able to give the team innings in some volume when needed, as he’s stretched out to start.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Activate Anthony Rizzo]]> 2018-04-18T03:34:44Z 2018-04-18T02:20:18Z As expected, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was activated from the DL after a minimal time away from the team. But plenty of other players are still hurting, so we’ll take a spin around the league to catch up on the latest injury news of note:

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Poll: Service Time Considerations]]> 2018-04-16T02:57:23Z 2018-04-16T02:57:23Z It’s no secret that talent alone doesn’t necessarily dictate when top prospects will reach the major leagues. Ballclubs have significant financial and competitive incentives to keep top prospects down in the minors even when they’re hitting the cover off the ball, or embarrassing every opposing batter from the mound. These incentives are a by-product of MLB’s service time regulations.

    For those unfamiliar, the basic concept is as follows: players accrue service time for each day spent at the MLB level, even if they’re on the major league disabled list. After a player collects six years of service time, he’s eligible for free agency.

    Things get far more complicated from there, however. MLB has specific regulations in place to account for partial seasons, since the vast majority of players are promoted at some point in the midst of the season. Perhaps the most significant aspect of these regulations (and certainly the most controversial) is that a player doesn’t get a full season’s worth of service time if he spends 12 days in the minors.

    That seemingly short amount of time is the difference between the Cubs keeping Kris Bryant under team control through 2020 or 2021, which was (unofficially) the reason the team elected to keep him at Triple-A to start the season. At the end of 2020, Bryant will fall exactly a day shy of qualifying for free agency, giving the team the rights to one more of his prime seasons.

    The conversation has once again resurfaced (though admittedly to a lesser extent) in regards to Braves prospect Ronald Acuna. Although the 20-year-old annihilated Grapefruit League pitching to the tune of a .432/.519/.727 batting line with four homers and four steals, Lane Adams and Peter Bourjos made the opening day roster while Acuna was reassigned to minor league camp. He’s now been down long enough to give the Braves control over him for an additional season.

    It’s hard to blame teams for managing the service time of top prospects in this way, especially a Braves club that has little chance to contend this season as it is. From a pure baseball standpoint, the fraction of a WAR that Acuna might have contributed in those first 12 days (it’s worth noting that he’s off to a .152/.222/.182 start in Triple-A) is worth tens of millions less than the WAR total he’s likely to post in the year 2024.

    On the other hand, the system is hardly fair to the players. At its core, it seems absurd that a single day of service time can cost a player the additional seven or even eight figures he could have earned if his final arbitration season had instead yielded open market value for him.

    There wouldn’t seem to be an easy solution to the issue, either. There’s not exactly a midway point between becoming a free agent and being under team control for an additional season (though the Super Two regulations at least guarantee players more arbitration dollars if they’ve accrued a significant portion of a seventh year’s service time). One could say that 12 days is an awfully small percentage of a season and that players should gain the full year even if they spent 20 days, 30 days, 40 days, etc. in the minors, but no matter what, it’d always come down to one day making a multi-million dollar difference in value.

    What do you think? Should the service time rules change, or are they perfectly reasonable the way they are now? (Poll link for app users)

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Details On The Cubs' Late Call To Jake Arrieta]]> 2018-04-14T14:59:13Z 2018-04-14T14:59:13Z The Cubs were known to have made “one last call” to Jake Arrieta’s agent Scott Boras before signing Yu Darvish, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman provided some new details on that exchange.  Theo Epstein proposed a “theoretical” offer of six years and $120MM to Arrieta if, and only if, things did not work out with Darvish.  Epstein reportedly didn’t seriously think Arrieta’s camp would take the offer, and the executive was “just making the call to show respect” to a player who was such a major factor in Chicago’s recent success.  Even if Darvish had turned the Cubs down, it still doesn’t seem as if Arrieta and the team would’ve been able to come to an agreement, as Arrieta simply wanted a larger average annual value than Chicago was willing to offer (due to their desire to stay under the luxury tax threshold).  The Cubbies also are said to have put $48MM over four years on the table for Alex Cobb earlier in the winter before putting pen to paper with Darvish, and Heyman speculates that the Cubs might have eventually become interested in Alex Cobb had they missed out on both Darvish and Arrieta.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Chris Coghlan Set To Join Cubs' Top Affiliate]]> 2018-04-13T04:12:31Z 2018-04-13T03:46:15Z In a minor signing that flew under our radar at the time, the Cubs picked up veteran infielder/outfielder Chris Coghlan on a minor league contract just prior to Opening Day (Twitter link via The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney). The 32-year-old Coghlan has batted just .190/.292/.307 over the past two seasons but was a productive bat for the Cubs in 2014-15, hitting .265/.346/.447 in 935 plate appearances. As Mooney noted, his late signing sent him to extended Spring Training to open the season, though Coghlan seems likely to eventually join Chicago’s Triple-A affiliate in Iowa.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Select Contract Of Efren Navarro]]> 2018-04-10T17:50:49Z 2018-04-10T17:50:49Z The Cubs have selected the contract of outfielder/first baseman Efren Navarro, per a club announcement. He’ll take the roster spot just vacated by Anthony Rizzo, who’s headed for what the team hopes to be a brief DL stint.

    Navarro, who’ll soon turn 32, has seen action in five MLB campaigns. But his next trip to the plate will only be his 350th at the game’s highest level. Navarro carries a career .243/.306/.334 batting line.

    Unsurprisingly, the results have been better in the upper minors. Navarro has maintained a .303/.370/.427 slash through nearly 3,500 plate appearances over eight seasons at Triple-A.

    Clearly, Navarro is going to need some good fortune — and a good showing — to carve out a sustainable role at the major-league level with the Cubs. Barring any intervening changes in the health situations of other players, he’ll likely end up being bumped from the roster upon Rizzo’s return to action.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Place Anthony Rizzo On 10-Day DL]]> 2018-04-10T19:02:47Z 2018-04-10T16:29:51Z Anthony Rizzo’s back issues have forced the Cubs to place him on the 10-day DL, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Tribune tweeted and has since been announced. But it seems there’s little reason to anticipate a lengthy absence for the first baseman, who nearly avoided a stint on the shelf altogether. The move was backdated to Friday the 6th, so Rizzo — who has averaged 154 games annually since the start of the 2013 season — is already less than a week away from being eligible to be reactivated.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Healy, Sheriff, Rizzo, J.C. Ramirez]]> 2018-04-08T18:49:06Z 2018-04-08T18:49:06Z Mariners first baseman Ryon Healy showed up to the team’s clubhouse today in a walking boot; he twisted his ankle in a postgame workout, says Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. It’s been described as a “pretty bad sprain”, and Healy will have an MRI soon. The expectation seems to be that he will require a DL stint, though the severity of the injury is unclear at this time. Healy provided the heroics in last night’s win; it seems likely that Dan Vogelbach will receive everyday at-bats in his absence.

    More injury items from around the league…

    • Cardinals left-hander Ryan Sheriff has been placed on the DL with a toe injury; the team has recalled right-hander John Brebbia from Triple-A Memphis in a related move. Sheriff was added to the roster with the news that Brett Cecil would be out for an extended period of time; he allowed one earned run in his 2 2/3 innings of work this season. Sheriff also managed a 3.14 ERA last season in 14 1/3 innings of work for the Cardinals.
    • Anthony Rizzo has missed a couple of games for the Cubs due to back tightness, says Carrie Muskat of The first baseman’s back has evidently been bothering him ever since the club’s trip to Cincinnati. Rizzo has just three hits (including one home run) in 32 plate appearances to begin the season.
    • J.C. Ramirez is officially headed to the DL with forearm issues, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times tweets. We noted earlier that the righty had been experiencing forearm tightness; he now joins fellow Angels starters Matt Shoemaker and Andrew Heaney on the disabled list, leaving the club incredibly thin in the rotation beyond Garrett Richards, Shohei Ohtani and Tyler Skaggs. Parker Bridwell and Nick Tropeano seem to be the likeliest candidates to get rotation attention, but for the time being the club has recalled relievers Felix Pena and Eduardo Paredes (righty reliever Akeel Morris was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Claim Cory Mazzoni]]> 2018-03-30T05:02:41Z 2018-03-30T05:02:41Z The Cubs have claimed righty Cory Mazzoni off waivers from the Dodgers, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). That’s a reversal of a recent transaction in which the 28-year-old went from Chicago to Los Angeles.

    Mazzoni has had no success in minimal MLB opportunities and was knocked around this spring. He’s also not far removed from a significant shoulder surgery that limited him to just two appearances in 2016 and 38 1/3 total innings last year. Evidently, though, these large-budget contenders have identified something about the former second-round draft pick.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Dodgers Designate Trayce Thompson, Claim Cory Mazzoni From Cubs]]> 2018-03-27T21:35:25Z 2018-03-27T21:08:58Z The Dodgers have claimed right-hander Cory Mazzoni off waivers from the Cubs, the team announced on Twitter.  Mazzoni has been optioned to Triple-A.  To create roster space, outfielder Trayce Thompson has been designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

    Thompson posted an .896 OPS over 135 plate appearances as a rookie with the White Sox in 2015, and came to L.A. as part of the three-team trade with the Sox and Reds (the same deal that also sent Todd Frazier to Chicago and Scott Schebler to Cincinnati).  Between that rookie performance and a strong start as a Dodger in 2016, it looked as if Thompson was on his way to becoming a key piece in the Los Angeles outfield, though his season was prematurely ended by a pair of back fractures.  Still hampered by injury and recovery last season, Thompson hit .212/.269/.363 over 369 PA at the Triple-A level and appeared in just 27 games for the Dodgers.

    With Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig slated for everyday duty in center and right field, the Dodgers had a multitude of options for the left field and backup outfield spots, including Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez, Andrew Toles, and prospect Alex Verdugo.  It could be that the Dodgers’ inability to trade Kemp and his big contract led to Thompson’s situation and the roster crunch, as it seems as though Kemp and Pederson will begin the year in a righty/lefty platoon in left field.  Thompson is out of options, which makes the Dodgers’ decision to designate him rather than just keep Toles and Verdugo in the minors something of a curious one, as now L.A. could lose Thompson to any team that issues a claim for his services.

    Mazzoni has been rocked to the tune of a 17.28 ERA over his 16 2/3 career big league innings, and he missed almost all of 2016 recovering from shoulder surgery.  The righty is switching teams for the second time this offseason, as the Cubs previously claimed him off waivers from the Padres back in November.  A second-round pick for the Mets in the 2011 draft, Mazzoni has a 3.72 ERA, 9.1 K/9 and 4.02 K/BB rate over 373 frames in the New York and San Diego farm systems, working exclusively as a reliever the last three seasons.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cubs Notes: Maddon, Hendricks]]> 2018-03-27T18:12:36Z 2018-03-26T00:59:04Z Joe Maddon aims to keep managing for at least five more years, which would take him beyond both his current deal with the Cubs and past his 68th birthday, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. (Maddon had previously made similar comments to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag.) The Cubs have yet to speak to Maddon about an extension, with GM Jed Hoyer that any discussions between the two sides won’t be made public, though there isn’t yet any immediate need for talks given that Maddon is still under contract through the 2019 campaign.  At age 64, Maddon is the oldest manager in baseball, though by all appearances he still connects with younger players as well as any skipper.  His clear desire is to stay with the Cubs, as Maddon said “I can’t imagine doing this anywhere else, I really can’t.  I’m very loyal to groups.  It also comes down to whether the Cubs want me or not, too. That’s really what it comes down to.”

    • Kyle Hendricks isn’t scheduled to hit free agency until after the 2020 season, and the Cubs right-hander tells The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney (subscription required) that he isn’t yet thinking about a potential contract extension with the team.  While Hendricks is taking a broader look at the game’s overall business due to his role as the Cubs’ assistant MLBPA representatives, his view when it comes to his own performance is “If you do the things out on the field, it’s going to end up taking care of itself.”  Hendricks will earn $4.175MM this season after agreeing to a deal to avoid arbitration with the Cubs, and his emergence as a front-of-the-rotation starter certainly puts him in line for more healthy salaries before he reaches the open market, unless Chicago looks to lock him up beforehand.