Tag: Chicago Cubs

Jake Arrieta Contract: Latest News, Rumors on SP’s Negotiations with Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are hoping to sign starting pitcher Jake Arrieta to a long-term deal before he hits free agency. 

Continue for updates.

Latest on Extension Negotiations

Thursday, Dec. 8

According to Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago, the 30-year-old’s agent, Scott Boras, believes this is the time to come to an agreement with the team, and a contract will be discussed in January.

Arrieta is in his third year of arbitration and is set to be a free agent after the 2017 season.

The Cubs acquired Arrieta in a trade from the Baltimore Orioles during the 2013 season. Since then, the right-hander has blossomed into one of the top pitchers in the game.

After a breakout 2014 season during which he had a 2.53 ERA in 25 starts, Arrieta took home his first Cy Young Award in 2015, when he posted a 22-6 record, 1.77 ERA and 236 strikeouts in 229 innings.

He followed that up with a strong 2016, as he won 18 games with a 3.10 ERA, finishing in the top 10 of the Cy Young Award voting for the third year in a row. He was also instrumental toward helping the Cubs bring home their first World Series title since 1908.

Just for good measure, Arrieta also won a Silver Slugger Award in 2016 after posting a .262 batting average with two home runs.

This is especially impressive considering how well he shut down all opposing hitters, per Jayson Stark of ESPN.com:

While Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester also put together outstanding seasons for Chicago, Arrieta is still a valued member of the pitching staff, and the Cubs will likely want him around for as long as possible.

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Cubs’ Wade Davis Splash Turns Spare Piece into Elite Chapman Replacement

Not even the defending champs can rest on their laurels.

The Chicago Cubs aren’t, clearly, as they made their first big splash of the offseason Wednesday, acquiring All-Star closer Wade Davis from the Kansas City Royals, per Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com.

It’s a simple, straight-up swap, with 24-year-old outfielder Jorge Soler going to Kansas City. That’s no small sacrifice for the Cubs, as we’ll delve into shortly.     

For now, though, let’s focus on what Chicago got: a replacement for free-agent flamethrower Aroldis Chapman and a nice dose of security at the back end of the bullpen.

Davis has been nothing short of elite since moving into a full-time relief role in 2014. During that span, he’s posted a 1.18 ERA with 11.53 strikeouts per nine innings next to just 2.91 walks per nine.

His 6.3 WAR from 2014 to 2016 ranks fifth among relief pitchers, behind only Dellin Betances, Chapman, Andrew Miller and Kenley Jansen, according to FanGraphs’ measure.

Then there’s Davis’ postseason pedigree. During the Royals’ deep runs of 2014 and 2015, Davis logged 25 mostly high-leverage innings, yielding just one earned run with 38 strikeouts and five walks. Here, check out some highlights of his six-out save in Game 4 of the 2015 Fall Classic:

If that reminds you of the work guys such as Miller, Chapman and Jansen did in the 2016 playoffs, well, it should. Davis is cut from the same cloth. He’s got the stuff and the fortitude to play the role of super-reliever.

He’s also got familiarity with Chicago skipper Joe Maddon, who was his manager from 2009 to 2012 with the Tampa Bay Rays, when Davis was mostly a starter.

As the Cubs edged close to acquiring Davis on Tuesday night, the Washington Nationals swooped in with a “late push,” per ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark

Chicago ultimately won out by cashing in Soler. That stings. The young Cuban is under team control for four more years and is loaded with raw tools. His production has declined since an eye-opening debut in 2014, when he posted a .903 OPS in 24 games, but he has the potential to develop into a high-caliber offensive player.

The Cubs could afford to jettison him because of an outfield depth chart that features Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr., Matt Szczur and newly signed Jon Jay, plus reigning National League MVP Kris Bryant.

For all his talent, Soler was a spare part, as ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers spelled out:

The trade really comes down to the multiple years of control with Soler versus the one year for Davis. If you’re a Cubs fan, ask yourself this: Who’s likely to have a bigger impact on the team in 2017 — a part-time outfielder or the closer on the reigning world champions? We know Davis is going to see a lot of action; we can’t say the same about Soler…

Davis comes with some risk and downside. He’ll be a free agent after next season, so he’s something of a rental, though the Cubs could try to hammer out an extension. He battled injuries last season and landed on the disabled list twice with a strained forearm. His average fastball velocity dipped slightly, from 95.8 in 2015 to 95.0.

He finished the season on a high note, however, tallying six saves and fanning 15 in his final 9.2 innings.

Assuming the health issues are behind him, the $10 million he’s owed in 2017 could be a relative bargain. Mark Melancon already broke the record for a relief-pitcher contract when he got four years and $62 million with the San Francisco Giants. Chapman and Jansen will surely blow past that total when they find homes.

The Cubs have other solid arms in the pen, including Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Carl Edwards Jr. With Chapman out the door, though, this was one of the few areas where Chicago could upgrade.

“You’re always looking to augment bullpens,” Maddon said, per MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. “I think every organization, after this past postseason, is looking to re-invent their bullpens in different ways based on how we utilized ours.”

Added general manager Jed Hoyer, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, “The more relievers you can add, the more we can add that late and have multiple weapons, the better.”

Davis is a weapon. Now, he’s in the Cubs’ holster. 

The champs, in other words, aren’t resting on their laurels. 


All statistics and contract information courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.

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Wade Davis to Cubs for Jorge Soler: Latest Trade Details, Comments and Reaction

The Kansas City Royals shook up their bullpen Wednesday after trading All-Star closer Wade Davis to the Chicago Cubs for Jorge Soler.  

The Cubs announced the deal after Bob Nightengale of USA Today first reported the agreement. Soler took to Twitter after the announcement to thank Chicago’s fans for his time with the club before commenting on his move to Kansas City:

Davis had been an instrumental part of Kansas City’s recent resurgence. He was a middling starter after coming up with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009 and during his first year with the Royals in 2013, but a move to the bullpen turned his career around. 

In 2014 to 2015, Davis put up numbers that were as good as any reliever in Major League Baseball over that span. 

He remained strong in 2016 with a 1.87 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 43.1 innings, but his walk rate (3.3 per nine innings) was his highest since 2013. He also had two stints on the disabled list with a flexor strain in his right forearm.

The Royals are in a difficult spot heading into 2017. Several core members from the 2015 championship team are entering the final year of their contracts, including Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas. 

Davis was also in that group, but now that he’s gone, it creates financial flexibility for the upcoming season in Kansas City. His contract will pay him $10 million in 2017, per Spotrac.

The Royals still have Kelvin Herrera to close games. 

Its two-year playoff run in 2014 and 2015 briefly altered the way Kansas City does business, with Cot’s Baseball Contracts estimating its payroll last season at $131.5 million. That’s not a level this franchise can consistently operate on, so trading a reliever and adding an impact asset it controls through 2020 is the right move. 

The Cubs will happily take advantage of the Royals’ transition phase. They have a solid bullpen, even with the possible loss of Aroldis Chapman to free agency, as Hector Rondon has 77 saves since 2014. 

However, adding an impact arm to the team’s crop of relievers gives Cubs manager Joe Maddon depth and versatility—areas in which the defending World Series champions were lacking. 

In return, the Cubs deal from a crowded position group. The potential loss of free agent Dexter Fowler takes away one option, but they can still use some combination of Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr., Jon Jay and Kris Bryant in the outfield. 

Soler has never been able to put it all together since signing with Chicago in 2012, due to injuries and inconsistent performance. He started to look like a future star in the second half last season with a .258/.348/.515 line in 36 games. 

That’s a small sample size; though, at 24 years old, Soler is still young enough to develop into a star right fielder.

Moving Davis now, while painful for Kansas City fans, represents the Royals’ best opportunity to have financial flexibility in the offseason and keep adding young, cost-controlled talent who can help them return to glory next season. 

Davis comes with risk after his injuries last year, but the Cubs are a franchise with the financial resources and depth to take on his contract with the hopes he can return to his 2014-15 levels when he was the best reliever in baseball. 

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Jorge Soler Reportedly Traded to Royals for Wade Davis

Chicago Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler has had trouble getting on the field over his first three MLB seasons, but he will now reportedly get a new opportunity with the Kansas City Royals.

According to USA Today‘s Bob Nightengale, the Royals and Cubs have struck a deal that will send Soler to the Royals for closer Wade Davis, pending physicals. Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball confirmed the report.

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal noted the deal would be a one-for-one swap with no other players involved. 

The 24-year-old Soler has been lost in the shuffle with the Cubs. Once the No. 12-rated prospect in all of the minors by Baseball America before the 2015 season (via Baseball-Reference.com), Soler has appeared in just 211 MLB games in three years. 

Though he has a large frame and a lot of potential, the Cuban defector didn’t make his road to the majors any easier with some of his antics. According to Fox Sports’ Mauricio Rubio, “He was benched for not hustling, and in a separate incident he ran toward an opposing dugout with a bat.”

After a limited debut in 2014 that included 97 plate appearances, he yielded underwhelming numbers in 2015 with 10 home runs and 47 RBI in 101 games.

Still, he had an opportunity to gain regular starting time in 2016 when Kyle Schwarber went down with a torn ACL and LCL and did just that from April to June as the Cubs’ go-to left fielder. 

But in 50 games, he batted just .223 with five home runs and 13 RBI before a hamstring injury sidelined him for almost two months. 

To make the timing worse, Soler was batting .318 in the 17 games prior to the injury, per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick.

With a rotation of contributors to pick up the slack in left while fellow youngsters Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Javier Baez became household names during the Cubs’ first World Series title since 1908, Soler remained stagnant upon his return. He finished the season with a .238 batting average with 12 home runs and 31 RBI. 

However, he still made some solid contributions to the Cubs’ run toward the postseason:

Though he still has the potential to become a star in the big leagues, the Cubs decided to take the opportunity to sell high on Soler in order to land a top-tier closer. 

Davis has been an All-Star the past two seasons and could be a nice replacement for Aroldis Chapman if he does in fact walk in free agency this winter. 


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

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Is Aroldis Chapman or Dexter Fowler More Critical to Cubs’ 2017 Repeat Push?

Let’s pretend for just a moment that Theo Epstein isn’t some sort of divine power, which, if you polled those in Chicago, is the pervasive feeling since baseball underwent its version of an apocalypse: a Chicago Cubs World Series win.

We’ll then acknowledge that the Cubs president of baseball operations cannot possibly lure every free agent to his club. That would mean free-agent closer Aroldis Chapman and center fielder Dexter Fowler, key components to the 2016 squad, may not return.

Truth is it’s unlikely that either will rejoin the Cubs in 2017 because, well, Epstein really isn’t superhuman. Though after being the architect of the two teams—the Boston Red Sox and Cubs—that broke professional sports’ longest championship droughts, we can agree he’s the closest baseball has to it.

Each player will be offered lucrative contracts from several teams. No reports, thus far, have indicated the Cubs have made a long-term offer to either player.

But in the event that Epstein is able to wave a magic wand—or more likely team owner Tom Ricketts’ checkbook—and convince only one of the two to return to Chicago’s north side, he should use it to focus on bringing Fowler back.

He is the more critical player to a Cubs repeat.

Forget that Chapman was brought to Chicago via a midseason trade with the New York Yankees and was somewhat of a disappointment in the playoffs. The left-handed flamethrower’s influence on the Cubs bullpen was overwhelmingly positive.

But even if he were with the team for the entirety of the 2017 season, his impact would be far less than that of Fowler, who served as Chicago’s leadoff hitter in 2016.

The easiest way to compare a position player to a pitcher is by using Wins Above Replacement (WAR), an all-inclusive statistic that seeks to measure a player’s total value to his team. According to FanGraphs, Fowler’s was 4.7 in 2016 compared to Chapman’s 2.7, a difference that indicates the former contributed more heavily to Chicago’s championship run.

It’s too difficult to debate whether Fowler’s 84 runs scored is more notable than Chapman’s 36 saves in 2016. There’s no way to differentiate which is better: Fowler’s career-best .393 on-base percentage or Chapman’s 0.825 WHIP last season.

As a fielder, Fowler’s defensive runs above average was 2.7, according to FanGraphs. That ranked 13th among all MLB outfielders. He brought value to the team with his bat and glove.

But nonetheless, definitively, we can conclude that both players were good in 2016. Arguing who had the better stat line is a futile exercise because pitching is measured much differently than hitting.

Fowler’s superior value amounts to this: He plays more games.

Watching a relief pitcher play in the postseason is like reading with a magnifying glass. Everything looks bigger.

Many baseball games—during both the regular season and playoffs—are determined in the late innings with a reliever on the mound. In the playoffs, however, one game means so much more.

The value of a shutdown inning, therefore, is higher in the postseason.

But the San Francisco Giants led MLB in blown saves but still made the playoffs. And once the postseason began, the game’s best reliever, Andrew Miller, didn’t pitch the ninth inning. Hard-line sabermetricians will argue that a team’s best reliever should pitch the eighth inning, not the ninth. So, it stands to reason that the closer position isn’t as crucial as during the regular season.

So, a reliever has less influence on a team over the course of a 162-game regular season. One inning pitched just matters less, even if it is in the ninth inning.

As a leadoff hitter, Fowler is virtually guaranteed four plate appearances. His ability to score runs far outweighs Chapman’s ability to hold a team scoreless in one inning. Reality is that a closer like Chapman is useless without the lead anyway.

This means he needs players like Fowler to score in order to be called out of the bullpen.

And that’s probably the reason why manager Joe Maddon tagged the mantra “you go, we go” to Fowler’s performance on a given day.

As the leadoff hitter, if Fowler gets on base, it has a residual effect on the rest of the lineup. That equals run production.

And though this may be obvious, it’s worth stating: Teams have to score to win.

No matter how well Chapman or any pitcher plays, he can’t be the difference in a game when his offense is shut out. But an offensive player can carry a team on a day when his pitching staff is playing poorly.

At this stage in the offseason, though, we are really unsure of what might happen with either player. A dream scenario could be one in which both return, though it’s more likely that neither plays for the Cubs in 2017. There are closer options in free agency like Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. The Cubs have internal options as a replacement for Fowler in center field such as Albert Almora and Jason Heyward. If Heyward moved from right to center field, Ben Zorbist could take his place in the outfield.

Then again, Fowler was a free agent last offseason too. Chicago didn’t think it had a chance to bring him back, but Epstein pulled it off.

He surprised the team at the beginning of spring training when Fowler walked into the clubhouse. He kept it quiet within the organization and was able to keep the move out of the press. It was an executive’s version of a magic trick.

Cubs fans should be hoping for a second act.


Seth Gruen is a national baseball columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @SethGruen.

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Kris Bryant Joins Dustin Pedroia, Cal Ripken in Elite Category After Winning MVP

Kris Bryant won the NL MVP on Thursday, joining Dustin Pedroia and Cal Ripken as the only players in MLB history to win Rookie of the Year, MVP and a World Series within their first two seasons.

Bleacher Report will be bringing sports fans the most interesting and engaging Cold Hard Fact of the day, presented by Coors Light.

Source: B/R Insights

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Cubs Owner Tom Ricketts Comments on Winning World Series, Steve Bartman, More

Few championships have meant more to a franchise than the Chicago Cubs‘ 2016 World Series title.

After 108 years without a title and 61 years since its last pennant, the team finally broke through with a Game 7 victory over the Cleveland Indians to win the title Nov. 2.

As owner Tom Ricketts told Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the meaning wasn’t lost on him:

It was just so important for this organization, to put this lovable loser crap to bed.

Despite all of the successes of the year, had that game gotten away from us, the next morning’s stories were going to be all about the Cubs losing again. … That’s why it’s so important to get this behind us. We had to get past that and put that in the history of the Cubs, and not the future. We changed that dialogue, and now, it’s all a thing in the past.

The lovable-loser label has defined the Cubs for the past century, with the team usually either well out of contention or falling just short of success for one reason or another.

Fans have blamed the Billy Goat Curse from 1945, a black cat running on the field in 1969 and fan Steve Bartman in 2003—the last of whom might finally get his chance at redemption in the coming year.

Bartman is known for reaching out for a foul ball during Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, preventing outfielder Moises Alou from catching it. The Cubs were five outs away from reaching the World Series at the time. However, a collapse ensued, and the team lost to the Florida Marlins.

While Bartman has been harassed for years following the incident, this year’s championship could be a chance for fans to finally let it go.

“I’m sure we’ll reach out to him at the right time, and I’m sure we’ll figure something out that provides closure for everybody. Hopefully, we can make it work,” Ricketts said.

Meanwhile, Cubs fans are happy to focus on the team that just won the title. According to WGN Radio, an estimated five million people were in attendance at the victory parade. If the numbers are correct, it ranks as the seventh-largest gathering in recorded history and the biggest in the Western Hemisphere.

“I feel like I’m still not sure it ever happened,” Ricketts said. “It’s still sinking in. Still, slowly sinking in.”

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Cubs Fan Mabel Ball Dies at Age 108

Mabel Ballthe 108-year-old Chicago Cubs fan who lived for the full length of the team’s World Series drought before it was snapped earlier this month—died Tuesday. 

According to the Chicago Tribune‘s Irv Leavitt, Ball’s son Rich confirmed the news. 

“The cruel irony, the almost unbelievable irony, is that the person who waits and waits and waits, after it happens, says, ‘I’ve done what I’ve got to do, and I’m out of here,'” he said. “It ain’t funny, but it’s funny.”

According to ABC7’s Sarah Schulte, Ball was born two months before the Cubs defeated the Detroit Tigers in the 1908 World Series. 

“As time goes and they begin to make an impression, you keep hoping they’ll do well and get to the top,” Ball told Schulte before the Cubs defeated the Cleveland Indians in a thrilling seven-game series. 

Ball didn’t attend a game at Wrigley Field until she was 90 years old, per Schulte, but she was a lifelong fan who raised her kids with the sounds of the game emanating through the house. 

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Complete Offseason Guide, Predictions for the Chicago Cubs

Billy Goats and Bartman be damned. The curse over Wrigley Field has been lifted, and the Chicago Cubs are the kings of baseball for the first time in more than a century.

While fans continue to pinch each other, making sure this isn’t all some beautiful dream, the Cubs have little time to rest of their laurels. For the MLB offseason is officially underway, and team president Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer and their staffs have work to do.

It’d be nice to keep the World Series-winning roster intact, but change is inevitable—even for the reigning champs. What follows is an overview of some of the decisions the team will have to make and how the roster might look when Opening Day rolls around roughly five months from now.

Begin Slideshow

Cubs Parade 2016: Twitter Reaction, Photos, Videos and More

The city of Chicago threw a party 108 years in the making Friday.

Long-suffering fans of the Chicago Cubs packed the streets of the Windy City to watch the World Series parade that celebrated the team’s first championship since 1908. According to Chicago Bulls announcer Chuck Swirsky, television reports estimated that six million people attended the parade.

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein said of the party, “It exceeded my expectations by about tenfold. It was way bigger than Boston,” per Daniel Kramer of MLB.com.

The celebration started in Wrigley Field on the city’s north side and wound its way to Michigan Avenue downtown before culminating in Grant Park for a rally, as the Chicago Tribune highlighted:

Fans wasted little time filing into Grant Park, per NBC Chicago:

SportsCenter shared a look at the massive crowds hours before the team arrived for the rally:

The city prepared for the parade by dying the Chicago River a shade of Cubs blue, as the Chicago Tribune and Justin Breen of DNAinfo Chicago shared:

As players started boarding the bus, Wrigley Field was still flying the “W” flag that will likely remain above the scoreboard for the offseason:

Catcher David Ross provided a glimpse of his bus, while battery-mate Jon Lester had to look out for his head as the caravan made its way toward downtown:

The Cubs shared a look at a handful of the buses:

It was pure, cathartic bedlam by the time the parade reached Michigan Avenue, as Fox Sports MLB passed along:

Anthony Rizzo shared his exuberance with the crowd, per Dionne Miller of ABC Chicago:

Brad Edwards of CBS Chicago and Fox Sports MLB shared overviews of the scene:

The parade eventually reached Grant Park, where Cubs broadcaster Pat Hughes played the role of emcee. Team owner Tom Ricketts talked about the chance to finally tell desperate fans they won the World Series, per Fox Sports MLB:

Epstein discussed the rebuilding process and joked about this year’s slogan, per CBS Sports MLB: “Let’s be honest, for a while there, we forgot the ‘not’ in ‘try not to suck.'”

Epstein gave way to manager Joe Maddon, who called the massive crowds “Cubstock 2016,” per Sarah Spain of ESPN. Maddon also had another task, as Tony Andracki of CSN Chicago described: “Maddon immediately thanks wife after getting to podium. Theo runs over to have Maddon thank Mrs. Epstein too, because Theo forgot that part.”

The Cubs shared a look at that Cubstock crowd in Grant Park:

Hughes then introduced the players after Maddon. Dexter Fowler was the first player to speak, but Lester was the first one to swear, as Brett Taylor of Bleacher Nation described:

Miguel Montero, Kyle Schwarber and World Series MVP Ben Zobrist also spoke, and Zobrist said, “This is a team full of MVPs, and we’re in a city of MVPs,” per 670 The Score in Chicago.

Rizzo took the stage after Zobrist and broke into tears when he introduced Ross and talked about how the veteran mentored him and the rest of the young players. Ross also got choked up and lifted the World Series trophy, as Fox Sports MLB documented:

Rizzo gave the ball from the final out of the World Series to Ricketts before the team and singer Brett Eldredge belted out “Go Cubs Go” with the crowd.

It was the party of a lifetime for generations of Cubs fans, but it may be the first of many if Epstein continues to operate his well-oiled machine on the city’s north side.

Chicago won an MLB-best 103 games this year and features a young core of position players. Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, Schwarber, Javier Baez, Jason Heyward, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora Jr. and Willson Contreras are all 27 years old or younger.

It is not a stretch to suggest they could add to the 2016 title, especially after proving they can deliver on the biggest of stages in the clutch moments.

Game 7 appeared to slip from the Cubs’ grasp when Rajai Davis drilled a game-tying home run off Aroldis Chapman in the eighth inning. However, the Cubs rallied following a rain delay and received critical run-scoring hits from Zobrist and Montero in the 10th.

Thanks to the 2016 team, future Cubs squads will no longer be under the burden of history and an extensive World Series drought.

Now the talented players who Epstein and the front office brought to Chicago will turn their attention toward the 2017 season, where they are already listed as championship favorites on Odds Shark.

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