Cubs

This All-Star rejected a trade to Mariners

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This All-Star rejected a trade to Mariners

From Comcast SportsNetPHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton vetoed a trade to the Seattle Mariners, a person with knowledge of the situation said Thursday.The person asked to remain anonymous because Upton's decision had not been made public. Upton's contract gave him the power to turn down a trade to a short list of cities, Seattle included.The Diamondbacks have a glut of outfielders and Upton, a former All-Star, is by far the most marketable. He is coming off a subpar season in which he was bothered by a thumb injury.Upton's rejection of the trade first was reported by FoxSports.com, which said Seattle offered four players in the deal -- relievers Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor, infield prospect Nick Franklin, and one of three pitching prospects; James Paxton, Danny Hultzen or Taijuan Walker.Even though he is just 25 years old, Upton has played five full major league seasons, so his best years could well be ahead of him. Last season he hit .280 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs but did score a career-high 107 runs. In 2011, while helping Arizona to its surprising NL West crown, Upton hit .289, with 31 home runs and 88 RBIs, the latter two categories are career bests. Overall, he's a career .278 hitter with 108 home runs.The younger brother of major leaguer B.J. Upton, Justin was the first overall pick in the 2005 amateur draft. He has three years and 38.5 million left on his contract, making him highly affordable by today's salary standards.While Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has consistently downplayed the talk, there has been speculation about Upton's possible trade throughout the offseason. That talk will only increase with word that Arizona had a deal with Seattle.The chances that someone -- most likely Upton or left fielder Jason Kubel -- would be traded grew when the Diamondbacks signed free agent outfielder Cody Ross. That gave Arizona four veteran outfielders -- Upton, Ross, Kubel and Gerardo Parra, as well as two rookies the organization feels are ready for the big leagues -- Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock. Eaton, particularly, has drawn praise from Towers as the team's leadoff batter of the future. Trading Chris Young to Florida appeared at the time to clear the way for Eaton in center.Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Scottsdale on Feb. 11. Position players report three days later.Recent activity suggests Upton, for the first time in his career, could well be elsewhere.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Checking in with Joe & Theo at the Winter Meetings

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Checking in with Joe & Theo at the Winter Meetings

Tony Andracki goes 1-on-1 with manager Joe Maddon at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. The Cubs manager touches on his efforts to put art back into the game, his biggest challenge in 2019, the Cubs' sense of urgency and his thoughts about Matt Nagy and the Bears (:30).

Plus, we catch up with Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, who discusses internal team leadership, whether or not the Cubs are close to a deal and how Maddon is changing up his coaching style (5:45).

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Where do Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo fit in Cubs leadership equation?

Where do Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo fit in Cubs leadership equation?

LAS VEGAS — All this talk about the Cubs' desire for more leadership on the roster has raised several questions and chief among them is wondering what it says about the core players already on the team.

If the Cubs have a leadership void — as Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said this month — does that mean players like Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and Javy Baez are not leaders?

Epstein confirmed Tuesday afternoon at the MLB Winter Meetings that the Cubs feel they have plenty of leadership on the roster, but they're looking more for that one guy — a veteran who has been around the block and isn't afraid to call somebody out or hold teammates accountable. The David Ross or Jon Jay mold, as Hoyer said Monday.

Rizzo is the face of the franchise and the driving force in the lineup every day, but he's still only 29 and developing as a leader. 

Heyward isn't real vocal, but when he does speak up, it carries a lot of weight — as the famous Rain Delay Speech indicates. 

Zobrist can talk hitting for hours and it's easy to see him becoming a coach whenever his playing career is done. But he isn't super vocal by nature, either.

Baez is an interesting case as he is quickly becoming an impactful leader for this team. In the process of putting up a huge breakout 2018 campaign that earned him a second-place finish in NL MVP voting, Baez became one of the most outspoken players in the dugout and clubhouse.

His instincts and baseball IQ are off the charts and he sees the game on a whole other level, which lends a different viewpoint to the squad. 

When the Cubs were handed a disappointing and abrupt early offseason, it was Baez that stood at his locker for nearly a half hour, ranting about how the team lacked urgency and an edge for most of the year.

Baez is starting to emerge as a true leader, but March 28, 2019 will only represent his third big-league Opening Day and he still has played in just 527 games at baseball's highest level.

"Javy is as respected as anyone in that clubhouse and is just starting to find his voice," Epstein said. "That's probably the next step for him — speaking up a little bit more. But by the way he plays the game, how much he cares about winning, how tough he is, he's got everyone's respect and attention."

Epstein said Rizzo is making it his personal mission to take his leadership to another level.

Epstein and Hoyer and the rest of the front office are taking responsibility for the "miscalculation" that the 2018 Cubs did not need — or have room on the roster — for one of those leaders.

Now they're trying to fix that for 2019 by attempting to add the right guy into the mix.

But what type of leader are the Cubs seeking?

"It's really certain leadership you need from the right bench guy who's not expecting a ton more playing time, who's content at where he is in his career — he's just completely invested in winning, invested in his teammates," Epstein said. "Those little difficult conversations that you have to have sometimes. Or bringing energy on a day where the everyday guys are dragging.

"That's an important role on a club, but please don't take it the wrong way that we think there's some deficiency with our position players. We have incredible guys and a lot of character there and some leaders — they're just continuing to grow into it."

What is it that Ross provided this club that they haven't been able to duplicate since he left?

Here's a perfect example:

"David was unusual, because Dave would grab guys walking off the field after a play," Joe Maddon said Tuesday. "And I would be entertained in my corner watching this whole thing unfold. I would address it afterwards. There's nothing wrong with that. I know that some of the guys were afraid to come in the dugout. And still that's OK, because they knew David was on their side.

"Yes, we want that. I would say that every team out here wants that and they're hard to find."