The Rundown: Cubs Miss Out on Pitching Target, Cobb Down to Two Teams, Rumors from Around MLB

Mike Minor signed a contract with the Texas Rangers, who were willing to commit to letting the left-hander start. It would have been nice to see Minor in the Cubs’ bullpen, but as a starter I’d have to pass. Minor will be 30 this month and pitched exclusively out of the bullpen last year for the Royals, compiling a 2.55 ERA/176 ERA+ with a 4:1 K/BB ratio. He saw a serious uptick in velocity as a reliever — 94 mph vs 90 as a starter — and had plus grades on his heater and slider. But he’s a two-pitch starter, and without a third pitch he may not be quite as effective as he was out of the ‘pen.

if the Rangers’ plan, however, is to try to woo Shohei Ohtani with a six-man rotation, so the Minor signing dovetails nicely for them. Terms of the deal will be released once Minor completes a physical.

Cubs News & Notes

I’ve been thinking a bit about Ohtani (shocker) — Evan has a great piece that lists the odds of each remaining team to sign the two-way star — and I drool over the thought of him as a member of the Cubs rotation. Check out his slider at 0:32 of this video. Wow.

I’m not buying all the current speculation. The West Coast/small market bias came from Brian Cashman after the Yankees missed the cut. It could be sour grapes and, unless I am missing something, we’ve never actually heard anybody who reps the Japanese phenom indicate that that bias exists. Yes, five of the seven remaining teams play west of the Rocky Mountains and that could be an indicator, but it’s certainly not the determining factor or the Cubs and Rangers would have already been eliminated.

We know money is not a factor. I am not even going to link that because it is tiresome to rehash that point. Honestly, Ohtani is as big in Japan as Michael Jordan was here in his prime. He will make more in endorsements than any other player in the major leagues and he will do it across two continents. His off-field earnings and exposure may rival Jordan and Bo Jackson.

The seven remaining teams do have one thing in common: all seven train in Arizona each spring, as did Ohtani the last two springs as part of an agreement between the Padres and the Nippon-Ham Fighters. That Peoria, AZ, facility is shared by the Padres and Mariners, so familiarity may help those two franchises.

What will be the determining factor then? Well, Ohtani is going to sit down with each of the remaining teams and make a decision based on each presentation. So the front office that is most prepared will sign him. There’s really no mystery to it. I like Chicago’s chances on a level playing field and I truly believe Ohtani’s camp is 100 percent open-minded in considering the seven remaining teams.

Daily Dish indicated that the race to sign free-agent pitcher Alex Cobb will likely come down to the Cubs and Yankees. The report originally came from Peter Gammons over the weekend but DD breaks it down pretty well. If anything, the Cubs have a bigger need than do the Yankees for Cobb’s services. I read yesterday that Evan indicated that the former Rays starter could sign with some team in the next 2-3 days. Maybe we’ll see something today. It’s also nice to know I am not the only person writing at 3am.

The Cubs could look internally in their quest to find a pitcher to close games in 2018.

Monday Stove

If the Cubs are looking at the trade market to acquire a starter, Michael Fulmer, Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd of the Tigers are pretty clearly available in trade.

SportsNaut, the Ultimate Sports Juggernaut, lists a number of bold predictions for this year’s Winter Meetings, including Bryce Harper trade rumors and a reuniting of Greg Holland and Wade Davis in Chicago.

Recently non-tendered SP Mike Fiers may be a perfect fit for the Orioles.

New Phillies manager Gabe Kapler was impressed with SS JP Crawford and 1B Rhys Hoskins and feels the team’s young leaders expect to win.

Giancarlo Stanton is still a member of the Miami Marlins. The alleged offers thus far are incredibly underwhelming. The Marlins want SP Michael Wacha and OF Jose Martinez from the Cardinals along with the cash offset. The Giants’ offer includes absorbing a large portion of the outfielder’s salary and apparently centers on SS Christian Arroyo and could include RHP Tyler Beede, LF Chris Shaw, OF Heliot Ramos and/or C Aramis Garcia. Stanton wants to go to the Dodgers, but they won’t eat the majority of that contract. It’s entirely possible that the reigning NL MVP may reject a trade to anybody but Los Angeles, so Miami may be forced to keep Stanton and slash salaries with a series of other moves.

After hitting only 168 home runs in 2017, the Red Sox need an influx of power and J.D. Martinez may be in their sights.

As more teams subscribe to the theory of a scorched-earth rebuild, the Rays may need to only retool. They have a number of traceable pitching assets on the major league roster but the team is stacked with young pitching prospects, including Brent Honeywell, Blake Snell and Jake Faria. They could make a number of trades and feasibly remain competitive.They also have six of the top 100 picks in the 2018 Draft and could add a seventh once Alex Cobb signs.

Omar Vizquel is fired up to manage White Sox’s high-A Winston-Salem farm team. This feels like he is being groomed to one day manage the big league squad.

The Rockies are in talks with the Orioles for closer Zach Britton and remain interested in 2017 Cubs closer Wade Davis.

The Blue Jays may have interest in Yu Darvish. In other Jays news, Marcus Stroman is getting some backlash for his Twitter activity.

Despite not being in the running for either, the Nationals’ offseason plan hinges on Ohtani and Stanton.

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Take The Money and Run by Steve Miller. Dedicated to Marlins GM Derek Jeter.

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