Cubs open to locking up Garza with extension


Cubs open to locking up Garza with extension

MESA, Ariz. The Cubs insist that all the Matt Garza speculation has been driven by the media, that its not a reflection of a team actively shopping its best pitcher.

Its just that Theo Epstein is looking at a five- to 10-year window to build an annual contender, and Garza is only under club control for the next two seasons. Short-term assets wont do much for this front office.

Garzas name has been all over the trade rumors, but hes used to that by now after being shipped from Minnesota to Tampa Bay to Chicago, which he liked enough to make his offseason home.

Garza, 28, recently avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, 9.5 million deal. Soon general manager Jed Hoyer expects to begin talking about a possible extension with Garzas agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports.

We focused really hard on getting the one-year number done a few weeks ago, Hoyer said Saturday. We didnt have any kind of long-term discussions before that. But certainly there was some dialogue about possibly having some long-term discussions at some point, maybe this spring.

Thats a long way of saying theres mutual interest in an extension at the right price.

Garzas reference point figures to be John Danks, who agreed to a five-year, 65 million extension with the White Sox this winter. The left-hander, who will turn 27 in April, will get 8 million this season, then 14.25 million annually through 2016.

The circumstances arent identical, but the career profiles for Garza (52-54, 3.83 ERA, 1.303 WHIP, 923.1 innings) and Danks (54-56, 4.03 ERA, 1.304 WHIP, 917.2 innings) match up well.

Garza has said that he doesnt want to talk about his contract situation and wont make demands through the media. But the Cubs are willing to listen.

When we do it, well keep it quiet, Hoyer said, and hopefully their side will, too, because I think contracts are better negotiated that way. But I think we will probably sit down and talk. Weve said many times hes the kind of guy we need. We need more Matt Garzas, not less. We need a rotation full of those guys. So if we can work something out, that would be wonderful.

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio


Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

"Of course," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in the middle of the National League Championship Series — he would like his coaches back in 2018. Pitching coach Chris Bosio told the team's flagship radio station this week that the staff expected to return next year. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn't go that far during Friday afternoon's end-of-season news conference at Wrigley Field, but he did say: "Rest assured, Joe will have every coach back that he wants back."

That's Cub: USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale first reported Saturday morning that Bosio had been fired, a source confirming the team declined a club contract option for next year and made a major influence on the Wrigleyville rebuild a free agent. Epstein and Bosio did not immediately respond to text messages and the club has not officially outlined the shape of the 2018 coaching staff.

Those exit meetings on Friday at Wrigley Field are just the beginning of an offseason that could lead to sweeping changes, with the Cubs looking to replace 40 percent of their rotation, identify an established closer (whether or not that's Wade Davis), find another leadoff option and maybe break up their World Series core of hitters to acquire pitching. 

The obvious candidate to replace Bosio is Jim Hickey, Maddon's longtime pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays who has Chicago roots and recently parted ways with the small-market franchise that stayed competitive by consistently developing young arms like David Price and Chris Archer.

Of course, Maddon denied that speculation during an NLCS where the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs in every phase of the game and the manager's bullpen decisions kept getting second-guessed.

Bosio has a big personality and strong opinions that rocked the boat at times, but he brought instant credibility as an accomplished big-league pitcher who helped implement the team's sophisticated game-planning system.

Originally a Dale Sveum hire for the 2012 season/Epstein regime Year 1 where the Cubs lost 101 games, Bosio helped coach up and market short-term assets like Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija. 

Those win-later trades combined with Bosio's expertise led to a 2016 major-league ERA leader (Kyle Hendricks) and a 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner (Jake Arrieta) plus setup guys Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. and All-Star shortstop Addison Russell.

Bosio helped set the foundation for the group that won last year's World Series and has made three consecutive trips to the NLCS. But as the Cubs are going to find out this winter, there is a shelf life to everything, even for those who made their mark during a golden age of baseball on the North Side.

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team


Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

In Theo Epstein's end of season press conference on Friday he said that any coach Joe Maddon wants back will return in 2018.

Evidently, there's one coach Maddon didn't want back.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Cubs have fired longtime pitching coach Chris Bosio.

Bosio served as the Cubs pitching coach from 2012-17. He was the team's pitching coach under former managers' Dale Sveum (2012-13) and Rick Renteria (2014), and was retained when Maddon was hired as manager of the Cubs in 2015.

Bosio, who is one of the most respected pitching coaches in baseball, was instrumental in the career resurgence of Jake Arrieta who captured the Cy Young award in 2015, and the development of 27-year-old starter Kyle Hendricks (MLB's ERA leader in 2016).

One reason that could've led to Bosio's firing was the pitching staff's control issues during both the regular season and postseason, which Epstein mentioned during Friday's press conference. The Cubs issued the fifth-most walks (554) in the National League during the regular season and the highest total (53) during the postseason.

As the Cubs hit the market for a new pitching coach, Nightengale mentioned that one name that could be on the radar is former Tampa Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, who parted ways with the organization following the 2017 season.

Hickey served as Maddon's pitching coach in Tampa Bay from 2006-2014.