Cubs closing the deal with Fujikawa


Cubs closing the deal with Fujikawa

The Cubs appear to have a new option for the ninth inning: Kyuji Fujikawa.

The Japanese closer is on the verge of signing with the Cubs, as multiple reports on Saturday said hes agreed to a two-year deal worth 9.5 million. Fox Sports reported the deal contains a vesting option for 2015 based on games finished 5.5 million or 6 million as well as a 5.5 million club option if it doesnt vest.

The Cubs declined to comment, but they also didnt deny that there was a lot of momentum heading in this direction. General manager Jed Hoyer confirmed on Friday that the Cubs had recently met with Fujikawa and came away impressed.

One door appeared to close for Fujikawa when Ryan Madson signed with the Los Angeles Angels and became their likely ninth-inning guy. The Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles were also said to be in the mix for the 32-year-old right-hander.

At this point, its unclear how aggressive the Cubs will be trying to move Carlos Marmol when the winter meetings begin on Monday in Nashville, Tenn. But his name will almost certainly be mentioned in the Gaylord Opryland lobby.

Marmols days seemed to be numbered anyway, as a short-term asset in an organization with a long-range vision. The Cubs had already gotten Marmol to waive his no-trade rights last month, before a deal with the Angels fell apart over concerns about Dan Haren.

Marmol is owed 9.8 million in the final year of his contract. He briefly lost his job last season, and frustrated the coaching staff with his insistence on throwing his slider. But he eventually bought in and regained their trust with a strong second half (1.52 ERA). He found confidence in his fastball and converted 19 straight save chances during one stretch.

Fujikawa wants to close and should get that opportunity in a Cubs uniform, whether or not it happens right away in 2013. He has experience from competing in the World Baseball Classic (2006 and 2009) as well as the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He has notched 220 career saves for the Hanshin Tigers.

Hoyer said the Cubs are looking to collect as many relievers as possible to pitch in high-leverage situations, in part to relieve the stress on Shawn Camp and James Russell. Also remember that Marmol was an All-Star setup guy in 2008.

Even if its not quite a closer controversy, you dont think the Cubs are done dealing yet.

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Whether the Cubs trade a member of their position player core this winter — i.e. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras — is to be determined. Both have been fixtures in rumors this offseason, and the Cubs may make a deal to replenish their barren farm system and retool their roster with the organization’s long-term stability in mind.

Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is a different story.

No, the Cubs won’t be trading Darvish this winter, despite the inquiries they received at the Winter Meetings this week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

A year ago, this would be an entirely different conversation. Darvish was coming off a disappointing debut season on the North Side in which he made eight starts and posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings. He didn’t throw a single big-league pitch after May 20 due to a lingering arm issue that led to surgery last November.

2019 was only Year 2 of the lucrative six-year contract Darvish signed in February 2018. But between the injury and his struggles before it that season, the narrative entering 2019 was shifting towards Darvish being a potential bust.

The narrative around Darvish is obviously much different now, thanks to the stellar second half performance he put together last season. In 13 starts, the 33-year-old delivered a 2.76 ERA, striking out 118 batters compared to a mere seven walks in 81 2/3 innings.

Not only was Darvish walking the walk, but he was talking the talk. He was determined to turn things around after posting a 5.01 ERA in the first half, asking then manager Joe Maddon to start the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break. The result? Six innings of two-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. Darvish's comeback was officially on.

Bust? Darvish is far from it now. He opted in to the remaining four years of his contract earlier this offseason, calling the Cubs "perfect" for him.

If the Cubs were entering a rebuild, fielding Darvish trade offers would make plenty of sense. He's owed $81 million through 2023, a bargain compared to the deals Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million — Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million — Nationals) earned this offseason. Darvish's contract is desirable, and trading him would help alleviate the Cubs' notoriously tight payroll situation, freeing up money for them to put towards other needs.

But the Cubs aren’t rebuilding, and trading Darvish would create a tremendous hole in a rotation with plenty of uncertainty after next season. José Quintana is set to hit free agency after 2020 and Jon Lester could join him, if his 2021 option doesn’t vest (he must pitch 200 innings next season for that to occur). Heck, even Tyler Chatwood's deal is up after 2020.

In one season, Darvish has elevated himself to the No. 1 pitcher in the Cubs rotation. The Cubs won't be better next season if they trade Bryant or Contreras, but they'd still be competitive and acquire assets for the future.

One player doesn't make a team in baseball, but the Cubs need Darvish in their rotation, not someone else's. Unless they're absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Darvish isn't going anywhere.

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB 2019 Winter Meetings come to an end

NBC Sports Chicago

Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB 2019 Winter Meetings come to an end

SportsTalk Live is on location in San Diego for the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings.

0:00- Chuck Garfien, Tony Andracki and Vinnie Duber join Kap to recap the Winter Meetings. Tony was right-- the Cubs didn't make a move. Plus, should the White Sox have done more in San Diego?

12:00- Legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons joins Kap and Chuck. The talk about the price for pitching and what the Cubs might do with Kris Bryant. Plus, Gammons talks about a text he received saying the White Sox were talking with the Red Sox about Andrew Benintendi and David Price. Would that make sense for the Southsiders?

20:00- White Sox World Series winning closer Bobby Jenks joins Kap to discuss his emotional article in The Players Tribune. They discuss his injuries with the Red Sox, the back surgery that almost cost him his life and then his downward spiral into addiction.

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast