Cubs

Cubs will keep shopping after signing Feldman

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Cubs will keep shopping after signing Feldman

In an industry flooded with new money, the Cubs continue to make smaller, safer bets on the free-agent market.

The Cubs are taking a shot with right-hander Scott Feldman, who on Tuesday agreed to a one-year deal worth 6 million, plus 1 million in possible incentives, and they arent done shopping yet.

The Cubs think Feldman can throw strikes, follow the game plan and get groundballs for a potential Gold Glove infield. They expect him to pitch with confidence after switching back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation with the Texas Rangers. They hope he will benefit from getting out of the American League and the Ballpark in Arlington.

The Cubs were like a dream scenario for me, Feldman said, getting to play for an organization with that type of history, in a city like Chicago with the great fans.

Two weeks ago, the Cubs made a similar investment in Scott Baker, who didnt even throw a pitch last season for the Minnesota Twins. Building his strength back up from Tommy John surgery, Baker will get 5.5 million, with built-in incentives that could be worth an additional 1.5 million.

The Cubs knew heading into this offseason they would need to add at least two legitimate pieces to their rotation. With two already signed before agents and executives even check into the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tenn., for next weeks winter meetings are they just looking to add depth, or are they prepared to make bigger guaranteed commitments?

Its so early in the offseason, its hard to really assess that kind of question, general manager Jed Hoyer said. Two of the main guys we targeted going into the winter were Baker and Feldman. We felt like both guys were very similar in that we thought they could benefit coming to the National League. We thought they both have some upside left. Theyre both still young. They were the two guys we really focused on (with) one-year deals.

Whether we would add a guy on a multiyear commitment, I think that depends on the player and the opportunity for us.

Stay tuned to see whether Shaun Marcum or Brandon McCarthy or someone non-tendered by Friday becomes the right player at the right price. But the stress reaction in Matt Garzas right elbow is still healing. Baker and Arodys Vizcaino are recovering from Tommy John procedures. And there will be attrition. All together now: You cant have too much pitching.

Were still going to continue to look for talent, Hoyer said. If that talent is in the rotation, then we wouldnt consider ourselves done. We would certainly add someone else. But were excited about the two guys weve added so far and we think theyll provide a lot of quality innings for us.

As far as where the rotation stands right now, were still looking to get better, still looking to add talent all over the team.

Feldman will be 30 years old next season and to this point had spent his entire career in the Rangers organization, going 39-44 with a 4.81 ERA in 204 games (101 starts). He went 6-11 with a 5.09 ERA in 29 games (21 starts) last season.

Feldman won 17 games for the Rangers in 2009, and earned the Opening Day start in 2010. But he hasnt come close to that level since, in part because knee surgery wiped out part of his 2011 season. Team president Nolan Ryan and pitching coach Mike Maddux also developed a surplus of elite arms.

(Feldman) did sort of have one foot in, one foot out, Hoyer said. I think he felt like he was looking over his shoulder a lot. If he made a bad start, he might not necessarily make another one or might be in the bullpen. We certainly gave him the reassurance here: Youre going to be a starting pitcher. Youre going to be in the rotation.

(That) means a lot. Its hard to perform when youre always constantly worried about (your) job.

Six minutes into his introductory conference call with the Chicago media, Feldman was asked about the possibility of being flipped at the trade deadline. Five days after Thanksgiving, his response sounded like this was the middle of July.

Thats out of my control, Feldman said. I hope that I can pitch here this year and do well and stay here for a long time. But that kind of stuffs out of my control. Theyre going to do whats best for the team, not only this year, but for the long-term. Im just glad that Im here and consider myself lucky to be a part of this organization.

The question was legitimate because people are skeptical about the front offices motives for 2013. After losing 101 games, Hoyer was asked how you sell these signings to Cubs fans.

Were certainly not done with our offseason, Hoyer said. Whether were coming off a 101-loss season or coming off a 90-plus-win season, youre always trying to find value on the free-agent market, and we feel like both Baker and Feldman provide (that). Our approach is not going to change based on the previous year. Youre always looking to find guys that you feel can outperform their contract.

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

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USA TODAY

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 — 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

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USA TODAY

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.