Wednesday Evening Winter Meetings Update: Samardzija, Choo, Boggs, Tanaka, Kemp, Nationals, Axford

winter meetings 2013Tomorrow is getaway day at the Winter Meetings, which means the clock is ticking on getting moves done by the totally artificial deadline …

  • The Cubs are among the teams interested in reliever Mitchell Boggs, according to Jayson Stark. This didn’t get its own post because Boggs had an exceptionally awful season last year after an exceptional season in 2012 after a bunch of meh the years before. In other words, I don’t know whether this is a legit bullpen piece, or a guy you grab on a minor league deal. Losing a mile and a half to two miles off of your formerly mid-90s fastball could bring you down, as it did for Boggs, who turns 30 in February. Guaranteeing Boggs money seems like a risk not worth taking. A minor league deal with a nice split contract, if he wants it? Sure.
  • No real surprise, but Ken Rosenthal confirms that the Blue Jays have checked in on Jeff Samardzija, but found the asking price to be too high. Apparently they don’t like it when names like “Sanchez” and “Stroman” come up.
  • The Mariners are probably out on Shin-Soo Choo after picking up both Corey Hart and Logan Morrison today. That could leave them plenty of money to go after someone like Masahiro Tanaka, though.
  • Speaking of Choo, Jeff Passan hears that he’s already got at least one seven year offer, and Jeff Wilson hears he’s asking for $22 million per year. That’s essentially Jacoby Ellsbury’s contract, if you pair those two things up, which is nuts. I could justify a seven year, $105 million ($15 million AAV) deal for Choo if he’s dead set on seven years, but it’s a mistake beyond that. (UPDATING as I type, the Rangers reportedly have a seven year offer out to Choo, but for less than the $153 million that Ellsbury got. If it’s nine figures, you should take it, Shin-Soo.)
  • Will the Cubs make that mistake? Jed Hoyer wouldn’t say yes or no when asked by Jim Bowden whether the Cubs are in on Choo. As I surmised today based on Scott Boras’s comments, I think the Cubs probably are in on Choo … but at a much lower price point than he wants/other teams are offering. If Choo really does have a seven year offer on the table, I can’t fathom it’s from the Cubs – nor could I fathom everyone saying the things they said today if the Cubs were putting themselves out there like that.
  • Hooray: the Diamondbacks’ number one target is Masahiro Tanaka. Wasn’t it Matt Garza just this morning? Pretty much every big pitcher out there not named Jeff Samardzija. I’m sure there’s no public negotiating going on here. None at all. “Dear Cubs, if you do not trade us Jeff Samardzija at a reasonable price, we will not only not pay you a premium for Samardzija, we’ll also take Tanaka from you or anyone else. Sincerely, Bluffer McBluffington III.” To be sure, I don’t think everything the Diamondbacks do is geared toward trying to get Samardzija from the Cubs. Hell, I think it’s possible that that ship has already sailed. But I think it’s odd than an organization that just last week was very publicly indicating that it had just enough money to add one inexpensive player or two has suddenly found the resources to add Mark Trumbo and be in on the biggest names on the market. Or maybe it’s just the rumor I saw that had the Diamondbacks totally feigning their interest in Shin-Soo Choo in order to get the Angels to pull the trigger on that Trumbo deal.
  • Speaking of Tanaka, Bruce Levine once again says, for realsies, the Cubs will be in on him. I like Tanaka very much for the Cubs’ position and rebuild, but it’s unfortunate that the narrative on the offseason has gotten to the point where a Tanaka signing would almost feel like a placatory kind of thing, rather than a good move for the long-term. It would clearly be the latter, but it would also be nice to shut some people up (and maybe sell a ticket or two).
  • Justin Masterson was briefly on the market, but, thankfully, the solid righty has been told he won’t be traded.
  • The Dodgers have apparently told Matt Kemp’s agent, definitively, that they will not be trading him. If true, the Dodgers will probably continue working to move either Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford. If they ate enough salary, I still think either could be interesting for the Cubs, but that’s a long-shot, to say the least. More likely, the impact here is the rest of the outfield market, such as it exists.
  • The Orioles are in discussions with John Axford, in whom the Cubs are also believed to have interest. The Cubs’ primary negotiating advantage with a guy like Axford is the ability to offer him the opportunity to close. The Orioles can offer that as well.
  • The Mets signed Bartolo Colon to a two-year, $20 million deal. That’s a couple years on a rebuilding club for a 40-year-old. Maybe they’ll try to flip him, or maybe they’re going to try and win as many games as possible over the next two years. They have already added Curtis Granderson, and their performance will be an interesting test case for the Cubs, given the similarities in their situations. The nice aside about Colon to the Mets is that it didn’t knock a team out of the running for Jeff Samardzija since the Mets were not likely involved in any Samardzija talks.
  • Don’t worry about Edinson Volquez becoming a flip candidate for the Cubs – the Pirates have agreed to sign him for $5 million for 2014.
  • The Nationals got their lefty reliever from the A’s in the form of Jerry Blevins (a Cubs farm-hand from many moons ago), so those already-dead talks with the Cubs about James Russell are now doubly-dead. Like a decapitated zombie.

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

133 responses to “Wednesday Evening Winter Meetings Update: Samardzija, Choo, Boggs, Tanaka, Kemp, Nationals, Axford”

  1. jmc

    here is to hoping the Cubs give us something to hope about.

  2. WilliamGlass

    Everyone wants a pitcher like Shark, but doesn’t want to give us anything in return.

    1. Luke

      If the Cubs had a couple Top 50 pitching prospects in the system, I doubt I would want to give them up for a guy like Samardzija either. Really good pitching talent is hard to come by, and the smart play is generally to keep it.

      I suspect the Blue Jays aren’t hanging on to Strohman as tightly, though. He may yet wind up in a deal.

      1. WilliamGlass

        I know, that’s my point. It’s so hard to work out trades.

        1. WilliamGlass

          Why even call if you do not have a legitimate offer to put on the table? It’s not like Epstein is going to accept being low balled.

          1. Luke

            I think Toronto could put together a good offer without Sanchez, and probably even without Strohman.

            But the Cubs can land a pitching prospect of that calibre from elsewhere, they probably won’t be interested in the Toronto package.

            But other teams won’t be dealing prospects of that rank until Price is off the market, the Tanaka question is settled, and the other more major free agents start to come off the table.

            Brett isn’t blowing smoke when he talks about the nested weave of dependencies here.

      2. TK

        I know you were refering to other teams, but when you say ” . . . the smart play is to keep it,” that applies to the Cubs too. Top flight SP are hard to come by . . . hard to “replace” as well. The SMART thing to do is PAY the man, have a potential ace, possibly #2 SP, locked up, then add to him, Wood, and whoever may emerge over the next 2 seasons. Letting him go over what in MLB terms is the equivalent of lunch money, and therefor having to spend MORE money, or give up top prospects (creating other holes), to replace his is foolish and wasteful. Its also an unnecessary gamble. Like you said, the smart play is to keep it . . . Just pay the man what he’s really worth. Set the team up for success.

        1. Luke

          I’m sure the Cubs would love to extend Samardzija, but they aren’t just going to hand him a blank contract and have him fill in the blanks. If they can’t get Samardzija to agree to something that works for both parties, trading him might be a good idea.

          Keep in mind that Samardzija isn’t going to ask for what he’s worth. He’s going to ask for much more than he’s worth – as much as he can get, in fact.

          1. TK

            C’mon Luke, we all know the Cubs are playing the “control” discount game. You know that and so do I. Its foolish of them to play that game with a guy who looks so much like he truly could dominate for the next 5+ years. The priority needs to be on winning. When they play the stupid control game, it clearly isn’t. I find it hard to believe that, knowing the risk of injury or failure, he wouldn’t accept a contract around 5/80. Heck, even 5/85. I know, we control him, so . . . Bleh, bleh. Thats the point . . . for his caliber, that deal is GREAT for the team, and it greatly increases the odds for success over the next few 5 yrs. The difference, to us is enormous, is chump change to the Cubs. and where else are we gonna spend that money? On the 33 y/o “used-to-be-an-ace” FA? When will Halladay be a FA again? Have we just completely dismissed the notion of winning in Chicago? If we were to extend Shark, and land Tanaka, holy crap . . . How close are we to competing? And its not a short-term band aid thing. We’re talking a GREAT rotation for years. What if we don’t get Tanaka? I think he wants LA. And we trade Shark. EJax will never be what Cubs fans want him to be. Wood likely will not stay the same. When our stud bats start coming up, we’ll be “wasting” our “control” time of them because we wont have quality SP. You really were right about keeping it. Even if it costs a little more to do it.

            1. Luke

              I think you got a little off topic with a ton of rhetorical questions in there, and it made your main argument a little hard to follow.

              You seem to think the Cubs are deliberately trying to lowball Samardzija under the belief that doing so will allow them to keep him longer?

              Brett has written about the Samardzija situation a great deal, so rather than just reiterate what he’s already said, I’ll just suggest you look those up. He’s summarized the situation as well as anyone I’ve read.

              1. TK

                Ive read his stuff. My point is this . . . You need good SP to win. Our system is weak in that dept. SP is the hardest thing to predict, rely upon (development-wise), and obtain. An org has to determine if it truly wants to win. If it does, it needs SP. We have possibly an ace, that we are willing to rid ourselves of over what is likely, in actuality, a rather reasonable price for maybe 5-ish yrs, simply because we “control” him for 2 yrs. Thats just not wise . . . IF YOUR OBJECTIVE IS TO WIN. I guarantee they don’t have a plan of how to replace him. And unless anyone hasn’t noticed, nobody is willing to trade young stud SP for anything less than 2 limbs and your next born.

                1. TK

                  . . . In summary, is our club in the penny pincher business, or are they trying to win a stinking WS? Thats what it all boils down to.

                  I really support the plan, but I feel that not extending Shark acts contrary to the plan, even sabotages it to a degree. The whole point of what we’re doing is to have home-grown talent, and keep it. Its cheaper and more reliable to extend than to sign FA. And not extending Shark will actually end up costing more in the long run, “if” we are even able to replace him. There is no Bradley, Walker, or Taillon coming to us for Shark . . . It just ain’t happening.

                  1. Mike W

                    If Shark is what you say “possibly an ace” then the Cubs wouldnt be trying to trade him. He will never be an Ace. He is at best a # 3 starter, maybe just maybe a #2 starter. But come on now if Shark was so amazing I am sure the Cubs would be able to get top pitching prospects like Archie Bradley but the fact is Shark is just not as good as everyone thinks he is. Why would the Cubs pay him what he wants to be, whether than what he actually is worth? Shark isnt worth Ace type money.

                    Trade him around the Deadline when teams are desperate for SP.

        2. TK

          . . . and when you try to buy FA aces, you run a great risk of falling victim to the SUPERalbatross. Big big big gigantic contract for an old, heavily worked arm, heading into decline . . . ace type SP don’t become FA until they are 30-ish at least. Or unless they came outta the Cubs organization, apparently.

          1. Luke

            Who was the last ace pitcher to hit FA out of the Cubs organization? Maddux?

            I’m pretty sure that was under a very different ownership group and front office compared to now. I’m not sure how the situations are relevant to each other.

            1. TK

              That was referring to Shark in 2 yrs.

    2. Kyle

      Sometimes it seems like we’re in prospect acquisition mode in a very bad market to be in prospect acquisition mode.

      1. TK

        MLB is a league of hoarders right now. When you get good SP, YOU KEEP IT. We aren’t the only team thinking we control things / we have the power. Almost all MLB teams have wizened up to the point of only letting good SP go if 1) they TRULY cant afford to keep it (like the Rays) or 2) you get your doors totally blown off (trade-wise). Thats why the Cubs need to wizen up and do what is necessary to keep Shark . . . Its gonna be awfully hard and expensive, or awfully long to replace him. It will prove to be a foolish move.

        1. TK

          If we had those waves upon waves of SP prospects it might be different. But we aren’t TB.

  3. Diamondrock

    Thanks for the great rundown, Brett. The site has been a real godsend for me, considering that “winter meetings” dovetails exactly with “frantic grad school seminar paper writing season.” I’d go insane if I didn’t have the opportunity to bring up the site constantly throughout the day and allow myself to be distracted from my writing for a few precious minutes.

  4. swaz46

    Next Halloween, I’m going as Bluffer McBluffington III.

  5. Frank

    I’ve already resigned myself to two more sucky years so I’m not going to fall for all the teases. So don’t even talk about getting Tanaka or anyone else. I’m covering my ears now.lalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalalala

  6. TheGuy

    Let’s just all assume that Samardzjia isn’t getting traded until MAYBE next July (if healthy). So with that off the table, it looks like the 2014 season is going to absolutely suck to be a Cubs fan. Not a single move to signal some sort of improvement of the big league club and our “stars” are either coming off of extremely down seasons (Rizzo, Castro) or they won’t be contributing until maybe 2050. NICE!

    How on earth does this organization sell tickets right now? “Well fans..we plan on sucking for the next 20 seasons, but we MIGHT trade Samardzjia by next July for more prospects, but ONLY if the other team is willing to give us 8 or 9 top prospects.”

  7. TheGuy

    Is 57 outside of Theo’s “quality years” age range?

    Sorry…just about the posts, just the reaction of a fan who is losing his patience. I’m just looking for some type of improvement on this team. Maybe instead of losing 100+ games, we could cut the losses down to, oh say, 80?

    Obviously this team lacks talent and quality hitters. Why not make some sort of move to improve that to keep fan interests high?

    1. Luke

      I still expect them to pick up some sort of a bat, probably an OF guy, this winter. This team needs OBP, and I think at least some of that will have to come from outside the organization.

      1. Blublud

        Luke, this is why I don’t understand their reasoning for not going out on Choo. This team needs Choo just as bad as anyone in the league. I understand the Cubs not doing 7/140, either I feel he worth it, but if he can some how be had for 6/110, they should be all over that.

        1. Luke

          I’d like to know how many of the rumors on teams being in on Choo are planted by Boras and come as complete news to the teams involved.

          I’d also be curious what the last conversation between Boras and the Cubs was before he ripped on the Cubs, and how many times Choo’s name came up.

          1. Blublud

            I understand Boras being upset with the Cubs. He needs big market teams to push up the value of his players. I feel he’s more interested in using the Cubs, than signing his players to the Cubs. Choo seems like the perfect fit for the Cubs. Offensively, I feel he would be this FO’s prototypical players. This Fo dreams of players like this. High OBP, and can do everything above average. Above average power, Speed, BA(still is pretty decent there). He’s not great at any one aspect, but decent to pretty good at everything offensively. This is also why I feel he’s less likely to digress, because he doesn’t rely on one single stat to be good.

  8. TheGuy

    2050 was obviously an exageration.

  9. macpete22

    Now I’m hearing the Rangers don’t have a 7 year offer out to Choo. Hmm…

  10. Blublud

    If I were Choo and someone offered me 105 million or 15 per, I would laugh at them. Getting Choo for 15 mil in this market is like getting Kershaw for 20 mil, it aint happening.

  11. Blublud

    Brett, Why are you taking it personal. Also, why in the world would you want to shut people up. You run a blog site(media site), people talking only help your cause, especially if it’s Boras or somebody famous.

  12. Tommy

    Brett – for the record, decapitating a zombie will not kill it. You must destroy the brain. pfft, amateurs.

  13. Aaron

    Cubs = red headed stepchild = a child who is treated worse than other children in the family.

    Nobody seems to be giving the Cubs much love these days…include decent free agents and clubs that don’t want to trade anything good for Cubs players, even a young starter with 2 years left of control at below marketing pricing. What a shame for this major city team.

    1. bbmoney

      Good thing I have a thing for red heads.

  14. Joey

    I’ve pretty much given up on the Cubs making a big “splash” in the FA market and have very slim hope for a big trade. I just hope they don’t trot out exceptionally bad players next year. I can take watching the young guys struggle but not retreads from other teams like Volstad and Stewart. I’d like to see Olt start at 3B, Valbuena at 2B, and for Vitters and Jackson to at least get a look.

    1. Blublud

      Jackson is probably a long shot, at best. If they start 2 youngsters in the OF, it will more than likely be Vitters and Lake.

  15. Stu

    Just remember to always wink when “the plan” is spoken.

  16. Bluffer McBluffington JR.

    Leave my son’s name out of this or you shall hear from my lawyers! I will take you for all that you are worth!

    1. Kyle


    2. Luke

      And with a picture too! Well played!

      For a minute I thought there was a Bluffer McBluffington on myspace, but turned out to be the infinitely less cool Buffer McBuffington.

      1. Blublud

        Myspace is still around?

        1. Luke

          Still pops up in google searches for Bluffer McBluffington, at least.

          Below Bleacher Nation, of course.

  17. Bret Epic
    1. Luke

      I cover the minors and even I’m kind of meh on that one. Nice emergency reserve to have in the minors just in case, I suppose.

      1. MichiganGoat

        That’s all it is- filler. But I’m sure there will be like 100 comments of overacting and bile over this.

        1. Bret Epic

          That’s always how it is. Obligatory World Series 2014 comments and what not. I personally don’t really understand the signing, even as depth. I’m sure we could have given about a dozen other guys with more potential and less mileage on their arms a minor league contract, but hey, I’m not a GM. Maybe they see something I don’t.

          1. Luke

            They can still sign that dozen, if they are out there. Signing one guy to a minor league deal doesn’t block them from signing as many more minor league deals as they like.

            1. Bret Epic

              Might as well keep what sticks, right? No loss in minor league fillers and spring training invitees. I’m pretty okay with anyone except Justin Germano, Kameron Lowe, Carlos Zambrano, Koyie Hill and Joe Mather.

    2. Kramden


      1. Luke

        Minor league veteran depth is a good thing. You hope you never need it, but it is nice to have it if you do.

        1. THEOlogical

          Sorda like Aflac….

  18. TSB

    Cubs sign Tommy Hottovy, a 32 year old relief pitcher with 17 big league games to his credit; WS in 2014, here we come!

    1. Bret Epic

      I wonder if he ends up a lady killer, if they’ll call him “Tommy Hotbody.”

      1. MichiganGoat

        Geez while he’s sitting in Iowa? I wonder if anybody besides the overacting rabble really gives a shit.

  19. MichiganGoat

    Relax everyone it’s just minor league signing lets not go all crazy with the rabble rabble for a simple organizational filler.

  20. Matthew
  21. Greg

    Wow they actually made a move? Start printing the ws tickets now.

    1. MichiganGoat

      There one only 99 more to go

      1. Bret Epic

        I’ve got 99 problems but Tommy Hottovy ain’t one.

        1. Jason Powers

          Funny…He sounds like a Cub. We’re HOT for Hottovy! will be some fans sign down near the bleachers…as the camera pans over..I’ll bet that happens.

          1. Jason Powers

            After his call up.

            1. Bret Epic

              I’m trying to recall the last guy the Cubs had that we had a pretty good nickname for. Theriot was good, but obviously, “The Riot” was in his name.

  22. Chuyz

    I’ve been waiting all day for this!!!!!

    1. Cheese Chad

      I’ve been wasted all day for this too.

  23. Theo/Jed's Embarrassing Offseason of nothing

    Oh joy…another nobody….hooray… @ChrisCotillo Source: #Cubs agree to sign LHP Tommy Hottovy to minor league deal with an invite to MLB Spring Training.

  24. Die hard

    It’s like the Wizard of Oz– Mets get a new Colon and Mariners a new Hart

    1. Jason Powers

      And people here dream up Strawman arguments.

      Where’s Brains?

      HA HA.

  25. rockin' dawg

    If the price tag on Choo is 7 years $20+ million, I hope we’re out….that’s Soriano-esque.

  26. Jason Powers

    Even Houston, with there cable market woes (and the lawsuit from Jim Crane against Drayton McLane) has seen fit to make some MLB moves. Goody for them…they might get to 65-70 wins. Yeah buddy!

    Mets: spent cash. Invested two years in a 40 year old guy. Lets me know as insane as I could sound, some one can always best me in the “you gotta be CRAZY!!!!”

    But, if the Cubs are truly committed to this total REBUILD plan, the team should be to be AS BAD as possible in 2014, without exception.

    Else, don’t put any lipstick on a pig and call it MLB baseball. You might insult the intelligence of some, and even give some others the arduous task of writing happy-happy joy-joy articles while in the 106 year desert of destitute, but for many, they know a train wreck when its coming, and will do what is necessary and get off the F-ing track.

    How many BS bullpen arms does it take to make a thoroughly mediocre product? Zero.

    If you don’t have the talent acquired from recent trades, or down in AAA Rossup or Hendricks or whomever else you got as a warm body, then you aren’t getting it done.

    Sure it’s nice to have these castaways on Gilligan’s Island, gotta have episodic material, but don’t EVER spin them as essential to the plan. Ever. If by the mysterious forces of God/Yahweh/Budda or whatever, deems these men, still with a pulse, active on the roster in 2016 – female President, boys and girls? – then we can harken back to 2013 as the quintessential moment when we added Tommy Hottovy (sounds like a Cub castoff) as the crucial piece to winning it all.

    A bottle of Scotch and linoleum floor – time to drink! I’m 5 brewskis in, looking for 3 or 5 more as I watch holiday movies or classics.

    Happy Happy Joy Joy!Happy-Happy-Joy-Joy-ren-and-stimpy-30567735-593-289.jpg

    1. Professional High A


  27. Die hard

    Castro Valbuena Rizzo Sweeney Brown could be formidable top 5 — Phillies need starter – Jackson?

  28. LER

    So Hottovy wins a trip to Des Moines. It’s a nice park, he’ll like it, and we’ll never see him with the big club.

  29. Ferris

    Cubs setting up to trade russell in a deal?

    1. Luke

      More likely the Cubs are just making sure they have enough arms to stock the Iowa bullpen and the major league roster. If not, they risk overworking some of the young pitchers in the Iowa rotation.

  30. Stogie

    The Cubs are officially the dullest team in baseball. Even the Astros are trying. For all those hopeful hearing they’ve had discussions about a hitter, that hitter was Logan Morrison, who is now a Mariner.

    1. Luke

      So adopt another team for a few years. Nothing wrong with being a fan of two teams.

      1. Luke

        Unless one of them is the Mets. That’s just plain wrong.

      2. Bret Epic

        My 2nd team is the Mariners. I’ve got a favorite AL and NL team, which makes it okay, at least in my opinion. Pretty excited about the moves the Mariners have been making.

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