Theo and Jed Speak from the GM Meetings: Free Agents, Trades, Marmol, Samardzija

Reporters caught up to Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer over at the GM Meetings last evening, and each shared some thoughts on the kinds of things you’d expect them to be asked about this time of year. (Quotes can be found many places, including here, here, and here.)

From Theo:

  • On whether the Cubs will be involved in a number of trades: “It’s [not] the type of offseason where we have a ton of fits with 25 of the 29 other clubs. We’ll pursue everything, but, realistically, our fits might be narrower this year, [which would] give us more time to focus on the free-agent market. We’re going to have a fairly well-defined trade market early because we don’t have unlimited assets to deal and we don’t necessarily have redundancy at positions in the big leagues or upper [minor league] levels.” I suppose that makes some sense, in that trade partners dealing Major League players tend to prefer MLB-ready prospects in return, of which the Cubs have very few. But not all acquisition-type trades involve high level prospects, and the Cubs certainly do have some arguable redundancies among their lower levels. Shrug. I don’t take a whole lot away from that comment, other than the fact that trades tend to be rarer than free agent signings. Also important to keep in mind that a team starved for young talent will generally prefer to acquire players with just money (free agents) rather than having to trade away young talent.
  • So does that mean that the Cubs will be making a bunch of free agent signings? “We’ll try to be disciplined … [to] keep in mind we’re not only trying to build for 2013, but we want to make sure we have a very solid future as well. There are a lot of opportunities to get better because there were a lot of weaknesses on the club .… We have to make sure we take advantage of those.” I love that: we sucked really badly last year, so there are a lot of holes we get to fill. It’s a good thing! As for the free agent part, there’s just not much there. Theo being Theo, which is the right way to be.
  • On the possibility of going after some higher-priced free agents this year: “You never rule anything out. As a general rule, you pursue good players and see where that ends up. It’s going to be a pretty aggressive [free agent] market and we have to stay disciplined and do things that make sense in the short term and long term.” Nothing in there to change the prevailing wisdom: the Cubs will go after shorter-term, bounce-back candidate-type free agents. They’ll hope for the best in 2013, but there will be an underlying expectation that the Cubs are trying to buy up flippable pieces.

From Jed:

  • On the types of free agents the Cubs will go after: “I think the contracts we signed last winter are a good model. I think we have a chance to maybe sign more of those this year with a little bit more money to spend …. We might be able to sign more contracts like that or maybe even a little larger than last year, but I think it’s a good model of contract that really served us well.” That quote actually came from last week. I include it because it stands in slight contrast to Theo’s comment on the same issue, and also because it offers a glimmer (very slight) of hope for those of you who want the Cubs to go after some bigger/more-expensive free agents this year.
  • On the failed Dan Haren/Carlos Marmol swap, and how it blew up in the media: “It was unfortunate. It was a miscommunication. Carlos ran with it that he had been traded and the deal wasn’t complete …. We should have made it clearer to him, that this is a theoretical, ‘Hey, would you do this’ as opposed to this is a done deal. Maybe we deserve some of blame for that, too.” Eh. This is just Jed protecting his player. I highly doubt that the Cubs, who had to persuade Marmol to waive his no-trade clause, didn’t lay it out clearly to Marmol: “Now that you’ve waived your no-trade clause, you’re being traded to the Angels, pending medical examinations and some finalizations, so it’s not quite a done deal. It would be nice if you could keep this under your hat.” That kind of thing. And you can’t really blame Marmol for speaking to local friends about the deal – how often do deals fall apart once they’ve been all but consummated like that? Despite what you might think, it’s relatively rare.
  • On an extension for Jeff Samardzija, on which Hoyer refused to comment specifically: “He had a great year and we certainly hope he’s in a Cubs uniform for a long time. He’s a great competitor, the kind of guy teammates really look up to and who has the potential to be a really good leader. So far, he has had to worry about himself [getting better]. It’s hard to be a leader when you’re also [trying to build] a career. He can be that guy.” Sounds like the Cubs want to see another good year out of Samardzija before shelling out the big bucks long-term. Pretty reasonable, given how surprisingly good his transition to starting was last year (and the fact that Samardzija already has a great deal of earnings in his pocket ($10 million initial contract, another couple million last year), so it’s not like the Cubs can tempt him to sign a super below-market deal in return for getting him his first million).

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

52 responses to “Theo and Jed Speak from the GM Meetings: Free Agents, Trades, Marmol, Samardzija”

  1. CM

    Noise all over the web about the Mets shopping Dickey. What would it take from the Cubs and would they bite?

  2. CubFan Paul

    i think it would be mistake to not extend Samardzija this offseason. there’s no reason to let a core player’s salary to get out of hand to where the team is almost paying market value (i.e. Garza)

    same for Rizzo, who’ll be a Super Two arbitration guy. 30HR 80rbi firstbasemen arbitration salaries get ridiculous.

    1. abe

      I think he is not a super 2. That why they waited so long to bring him to the majors

      1. CubFan Paul

        he’ll be a super 2 after 2014.

        1. bbmoney

          I think we should wait another year on Rizzo. Let’s see it for a full year before we lock him up.

          But I do agree with locking up young talent. I just don’t think there is a rush….yet.

    2. Deez

      I like Samardzija & I’m glad to see his development as a Cub
      BUT…
      What’s the fuss!?
      He just pitched the most innings in his 5yr career! He’s had one “ok” year as a starter. He’s been an average reliever at best his career.
      The Body of Work over his career time is not there.
      I’d like to see what he does this year as pretty much a #2 or #3.

      1. Drew7

        “He’s had one “ok” year as a starter.”

        While I would like to see Shark prove himself again this year, he pitched a lot better than “ok”.

      2. ssckelley

        This is true but another good season and his price goes up drastically. You know he has the ability, so trust that and sign him to a long term deal now. It is a gamble you make, the Cubs have the money I think it is worth the risk.

      3. Jimmy james

        I’m with you, wait a year

  3. abe

    Brett,

    Was the haren Marmol deal a good showing of Marmols trade value? Did the Cubs under/over sale him. How will it effect Marmols future trade value?

  4. When the Music's Over

    ““I think the contracts we signed last winter are a good model. I think we have a chance to maybe sign more of those this year with a little bit more money to spend ….”

    I wonder what “a little bit more money to spend” means? If you look at the 2012 free agent signings and trades (Volstad), the Cubs dished out only about $17M in 2012 “acquisitions” (free agents and trades). I’m probably missing a few small ones, but directionally the numbers are correct.

    Maholm – $4.25M
    DeJesus – $4.25M
    Volstad – $2.66M
    Stewart – $2.24M
    Soler – $1.67M
    Concepcion – $1.20M
    Shawn Camp – $0.55M
    Total – $16.82M

  5. Spencer

    The Cubs are “trying to build” for 2013? Let’s get real here. The only thing in front office is interested in doing in 2013 is making sure nine people can be on the field at any given time so the Cubs don’t have to forfeit games. I’m not saying that’s the wrong approach, but “building for 2013″ is not at all what’s happening. Maybe “building trade chips for 2013 so we can trade away all the free agents we sign in July” is the better way to say it.

  6. Marcel91

    I say lock up Shark now. He’s not once of those guys who’s peripherals suggest his success can’t be sustained or improved on. He has the age, body, secondaries, control, and makeup you want from a front-end starter. he has the kind of personality and drive cubs fans love, you can build around this guy. Todays market value for guys like him are through the roof. If you want to get surplus value out of Samardzija take a chance and sign him now while you can. Even 6 or 7yrs at 75-80mil is still a bargain compared to what other high-end starters are getting these days. Even when that deal is up he’ll only be what, 33? That still young enough to get another big payday if he performs. There’s risk if he does in fact regress but that’s a risk i’d take for a potential bargain like Castro will be. Look at Longoria? Tampa Bay should be arrested grand theft auto charges for that deal. We need a few of those.

    What do you think Brett?

    1. Kyle

      The peripherals are beautiful. The fact that he has only put them up for not quite one full season of starting makes me a little hesistant to extend him.

    2. bbmoney

      I said it earlier about Rizzo, I pretty much feel the same way about Shark. We’ve really only seen it for 1 year, I’d like to see it for another before extending him. It’s tougher with Shark because he’s going to get more expensive more quickly, but as Brett mentioned above I don’t think we can extend him for that much below market value because he’s already made several million and doesn’t ‘need’ the security as badly.

      Plus I just have hard time signing pitchers to 5+ year contracts unless it’s a #1 guy and you’re looking to compete immediately. Too many injury worries. Plus Shark is still under team control for what, 3 more years? I just don’t see the rush.

  7. ottoCub

    Brett – Is there any way to turn off the “Recent Comments” sidebar? I love this site and love you and Luke’s posts. But the negativity. bickering, trolling, baiting, etc. in the comments is pushing me away from viewing this site as often as I used to. If readers could turn off the sidebar, we could avoid the comments, and only see the informative posts.

  8. Serious Cubs Fan

    Brett/Luke,

    Do you think if the Cubs eat 75% of Marmol’s contract do you think the Cubs could a prospect of the of Christian Villanueva level prospect?

  9. Fastball

    I don’t think we should extend Shark or Rizzo this year. One year doesn’t earn a long term commitment in my book. There was a stretch last season where Shark wasn’t that good. He actually got shelled and walked a bunch over about 5 or 6 consecutive outings. He had no idea where is pitches were going and they were mostly belt high fastballs that got mashed.
    He still has a lot to learn. He was real good on the Cubs staff. Not sure how that translates to other teams staff’s. I believe he will learn from last year. But let’s see if he does before we shell a ton of money before its necessary. Rizzo is a ditto. He was great a call up and then the league figured him out and he fizzled for a bit. He rebounded some but he has to prove he can overcome how the league adjusts to him. Once he demonstrates he has mastered that at the ML level we an look at an extension. Again what’s the rush.

    1. MoneyBoy

      Fastball … I don’t remember the names – but there *seem* to be some commenters who are pretty up on mechanics. Don’t know if Shark’s mechanics broke down during the year or what – but you’re right. I actually thought they might shut him down just before the All Star break to give him a rest.
      Good new is he seemed to right the proverbial ship. Don’t know if it was side sessions with Bosio or something else. But he got back on track, I thought, and seemed to finish well, even holding his velo in the complete game – a 120 pitch effort.
      True, it was his first season – but he really deserves credit for working hard on his mechanics.

  10. Fastball

    Well I watched him pitch in Cinci and after 3 or 4 innings he was getting under his fastball instead being on top of it. That makes the fastball rise actually. He drops his arm when he gets tired. His release point is close to the same but his arm height at his release point is lower. It’s a sure sign of either dead arm or shoulder fatigue. All pitchers hit a wall so to speak at different points during a season. He needed a layoff. Some of these guys just need to not pick up a baseball in between starts. They go into the bullpen and do side sessions etc and they don’t have time for the arm and shoulder to bounce back. A lot of times a kid will go down in that bullpen and start working on things and throw his arm out. By that I mean throw to damned much. What they don’t realize is there mechanics fall apart when they have a tired arm, shoulder and back. That’s when everything goes to hell in a hurry. I learned the hard way. I changed to just playing long toss for about 30 minutes a couple of times between starts and that was it. My guess is he was trying so hard to impress that he wore himself out. Somebody obviously sat his butt down and counseled him because he did bounce back.

  11. Fastball

    If Sharks arm was as sore as mine used to be I couldn’t even pick up a fork and spoon to eat the next day or so. It was ridiculous. I only threw enough to work out some soreness and that was it. I needed all the time I could get to be ready. In college I pitched the 1st game of a double header and the often 3 innings of the second game in relief. That was 35 years ago though. That was normal back then. If you couldn’t do it you weren’t around long.

  12. Fastball

    Darthhater… I didn’t know there were articles in Playboy! I thought it was just the Jokes and the Pic’s. My advice would have been to read the CT sports section but it usually sucks cuz the writers can’t spell.

  13. SVAZCUB

    Really nice article–thanks for putting this together.

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