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.

Joe Girardi steps down as manager for Olympic qualifying team to pursue MLB openings

Joe Girardi steps down as manager for Olympic qualifying team to pursue MLB openings

Joe Girardi’s name has come up for just about every managerial opening in Major League Baseball and it sounds like he is all in on pursuing that opportunity.

Girardi was set to manage USA Baseball’s Olympic qualifying team. He was named the manager of Team USA in August. His first tournament was going to be the upcoming Premier12 tournament, which is the first chance to qualify for the Olympics. Camp was set to begin on Oct. 21 and the U.S.’s first game is Nov. 2.

Instead, Girardi has stepped down. USA Baseball broke the news with a press release that announced Scott Brosius, a former teammate of Girardi’s on the Yankees, will take over.

The reason is the interesting part. He stepped down “as he pursues open managerial opportunities in Major League Baseball.”

At the very least, it sounds like Girardi is interested in at least one of the openings in MLB. He interviewed with the Cubs last week so this won't quell any speculation that he would come back to the North Side as a manager.

David Ross may still be the odds on favorite to fill the Cubs’ vacancy, but Girardi’s apparent interest in rejoining the ranks of MLB managers is certainly noteworthy. One would think if Girardi wants to get back into managing in MLB, at this indicates, he will get a job. Now the question is where he will land.

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Joe Maddon already has a new job, signs on with Angels

Joe Maddon already has a new job, signs on with Angels

Barring a Cubs-Angels World Series, the Wrigley Field faithful might not have much of an opportunity to welcome Joe Maddon back to The Friendly Confines.

It didn't take long for Maddon to find a job, as he reportedly agreed this week to join the Los Angeles Angels as their next manager. This was a widely speculated move after the Angels let go of manager Brad Ausmus just one year into a three-year contract immediately after the Cubs announced they were parting ways with Maddon. 

According to ESPN's Jesse Rogers, Maddon's deal will likely be for three years at $4-5 million a season:

Maddon came up as a coach in the Angels system, referencing his three decades there often during the course of his five years in Chicago.

Once the Cubs got rid of Maddon, it was obvious he would have plenty of suitors, as just about any team with a managerial vacancy would be interested in the future Hall of Famer. But instead of going to an up-and-coming team like the Padres or a squad on the cusp of the playoffs like the Phillies, Maddon opted to return to his baseball home.

That means he will most likely not face off against the Cubs over the next couple of seasons, as the Cubs hosted the Angels in 2019 and are not slated to play each other again until 2021 (which will take place in L.A.). Barring the aforementioned World Series meeting, Maddon and the Cubs likely won’t cross paths in Chicago for the next few seasons.

It also means Maddon will get to team up with the best player in the game (Mike Trout) and an exciting young two-way star (Shohei Ohtani) while inheriting a roster that otherwise has some major flaws. The Angels have struggled to build up a roster around Trout over his nine seasons, making the playoffs just once in 2014 and getting bounced from the ALDS by the Kansas City Royals that season.

But the Angels do have some intriguing prospects coming up the system — led by outfielder Jo Adell — and Maddon has experience taking a team and elevating them to contender status immediately. He also carries immediate clout that will help draw free agents to L.A., as he did in Chicago with Jon Lester.

Maddon will be reunited with former Cubs fan favorite Tommy La Stella, who was starring for the Angels earlier this season before a leg injury sent him to the shelf for several months.

In many ways, this is an ideal fit for Maddon, who will get to stay in a big market with a team willing to spend and a roster that at least has some incredible talent from Day 1. It would obviously be a difficult task to try to overtake the juggernaut Houston Astros in the AL West, but he accomplished a similar feat in Chicago when he led the Cubs past the Cardinals in Year 1 (and kept the Cards out of the playoffs for the next three years until their return to October baseball this fall).

The Cubs, meanwhile, have not yet announced a new manager, though David Ross still looms as the favorite to take over Maddon's former gig. Theo Epstein's front office interviewed Mark Loretta, Will Venable, Joe Girardi and Ross earlier this month and also planned to talk to Joe Espada and Gabe Kapler this week.

Epstein said the Cubs are "full speed ahead" to hire a new manager, so expect them to move quickly to finalize Maddon's heir.