Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo began his acceptance speech Tuesday night at the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association’s 16th annual Legends for Youth Dinner by acknowledging the loss of pitcher Tommy Hanson. Rizzo said he didn’t know Hanson personally but said “losing anyone at 29, losing anyone in general, but 29 years of age … I want to wish him to rest in peace and gratitude for his family.”
Rizzo was named the winner of the Heart and Hustle Award at the dinner, held in New York. He talked about playing the game the right way.
“We have a very young team in Chicago, and I don’t know how I got old,” Rizzo said. “I’m the older one on the team now with a lot of younger players. I tell them every day, there’s some little kid who’s been waiting to come to this game for probably four, five or six months, he got Christmas presents to come to Wrigley Field on July 21, dog days of summer, and they’re looking forward to seeing me play, you play, him play, anyone play with a Cubs jersey on.
“With the platform we’re on, it doesn’t matter what the name is on the back, we represent a lot more than that,” he said. “That’s what I try to do every day. There’s a little kid coming to the field and if I have an 0-for-4 game, if I’m 0-for-21, that little kid doesn’t know that. Maybe his dad does and doesn’t like me very much at the time. But that little kid, when you pop up a ball and his coach tells him to run it out every time, and he sees one of the guys in the Major Leagues not running the ball out, that’s not going to set the right example.”
Kris Bryant’s breakout rookie season with the Cubs was recognized by his peers as the third baseman was named the Major League Baseball Players Association National League Outstanding Rookie for 2015 on Monday night. Bryant, 23, was voted the award by his peers, winning over the Giants’ Matt Duffy and the Pirates’ Jung-ho Kang. The winner was announced on MLB Network.
Bryant led all rookies in RBIs (99), doubles (31), and runs (87), and was second in walks (77) while batting .275. The only player in Major League history to reach 26 homers, 99 RBIs, 31 doubles, 87 runs and 77 walks in his rookie season was Boston’s Ted Williams in 1939.
The Players Trust will donate $20,000 to the charity of Bryant’s choice, and he picked the Wounded Warriors Project.
“They’re fighting for our freedom,” Bryant said Monday. “Baseball puts you in a position to give back, and to be able to do that means a lot.”
Bryant will find out on Nov. 16 whether he’ll be honored by the Baseball Writers Association of America as the top rookie. Monday’s prize came courtesy of his peers.
“It’s a huge honor for guys you play against day in day out, to vote for you,” Bryant said. “My goal was just to play and help the team win, and I wound up being Rookie of the Year. It was a lot of fun.”
In his rookie season, Bryant was named a National League All-Star, and his 26 homers set a Cubs rookie record, topping Billy Williams’ mark of 25 set in 1961. Bryant also now holds the franchise record in RBIs, extra-base hits, and total bases.
— Carrie Muskat
Cubs prospect Jeimer Candelario hit an RBI double in the seventh inning Saturday night for the East in the AFL Fall Stars Game, played at Talking Stick in Scottsdale. Candelario, 21, was batting .333 with three homers, six doubles and 11 RBIs in 12 games with the Mesa Solar Sox in the AFL. The West team beat the East, 8-3. Cubs prospect Corey Black had a tough outing, giving up three runs on three hits and one walk. After the game, Black posted on Twitter:
@CblackCHC: “I’ve had a rough time adjusting to the bullpen but you learn stuff everyday and do your best to incorporate what you’ve learned. #determined”
Willson Contreras was named to the East team but the Cubs catching prospect did not play because of a hamstring strain suffered Thursday. Contreras will be shut down for the rest of the AFL season.
— Carrie Muskat
Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez was expected to interview next week for the Dodgers’ managerial opening with someone he knows well. Martinez, 51, worked with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman when the two were together in Tampa Bay. Friedman was the Rays’ director of baseball development, and then moved up in the front office, eventually becoming general manager in 2005. Friedman joined the Dodgers in October 2014. Martinez played for Tampa Bay from 1998-2000, and was named the bench coach in October 2007.
Martinez was the only coach Joe Maddon added when he was named the Cubs manager last November. Martinez has interviewed for managerial openings before, including the Cubs, where he began his playing career. A third round pick in 1983, Martinez played for Chicago from 1986-88, and again in 2000.
The rest of Maddon’s coaching staff will return for 2016.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Ryan Cook off waivers from the Red Sox. With the addition, the 40-man roster now stands at 30 players.
Cook, 28, is 13-12 with 17 saves and a 3.43 ERA in 217 Major League relief appearances in all or part of five seasons with the D-backs (2011), Athletics (2012-15) and Red Sox (2015). He has struck out 210 batters over 207 innings while walking 89 and allowing 13 home runs. Cook has limited opponents to a .217 batting average against, and has held right-handed hitters to a .190 batting average, .262 on-base percentage and .272 slugging percentage.
In his first full Major League season in 2012, Cook made the American League All-Star Team, and went 6-2 with 14 saves and a 2.09 ERA in 71 outings with the A’s. He was slowed by injuries in 2014 but still posted a 3.42 ERA over 54 games.
Cubs prospect Willson Contreras will miss the rest of the Arizona Fall League season after suffering a mild left hamstring strain running to first base on Thursday.
Contreras, ranked 10th among the Cubs’ top 30 prospects, was batting .283 with three homers, five doubles and eight RBIs in 14 games with the Mesa Solar Sox. He was named to the AFL Fall Stars Game, which will be played on Saturday, but will not participate.
The catcher felt his left hamstring pop as he ran down the line to first on Thursday, and an MRI revealed a mild strain. The Cubs have decided to take a conservative approach and shut Contreras down.
Contreras, named the Cubs’ Minor League Player of the Year, is coming off a stellar season in which he hit .333 with eight homers, 34 doubles, four triples and 75 RBIs in 126 games at Double-A Tennessee.
— Carrie Muskat
The Cubs extended a qualifying offer of a one-year, $15.8 million contract to free agent Dexter Fowler on Friday. The deadline for teams to do so was 4 p.m. CT.
By making the offer, the Cubs guaranteed themselves a compensation Draft pick should Fowler sign elsewhere this offseason. No player has accepted a qualifying offer since the system was established three years ago.
Teams can extend the qualifying offer to free agents who spent the entire season with the team, and the player then has one week to decide whether to accept or decline the offer. The amount was determined by averaging the top 125 player salaries from the previous season.
Fowler made $9.5 million in his first season with the Cubs when he set career highs in runs (102), hits (149), home runs (17), walks (84) and games played (156).
— Carrie Muskat
The 2016 season will mark the 100th year the Cubs will play at Wrigley Field, and they will wear a commemorative logo on their uniforms as part of the celebration. The Cubs released an image of the logo on Thursday that will be used during the 2016 season. The design features a version of the team’s 1916 logo in modern colors. It will be on a patch on the Cubs’ home uniforms throughout the upcoming season. Fans will be able to purchase officially licensed memorabilia with the logo beginning this offseason. Additional plans to celebrate a century of the Cubs at Wrigley Field will be released prior to the 2016 season.
Cubs prospect Jeimer Candelario was added to the Arizona Fall League’s Fall Stars Game roster after winning one of the spots via the Final Two Vote. Candelario carried 27.8 percent of the votes. Ranked 20th among the Cubs’ top prospects, the infielder was batting .341 with six doubles, three homers and 11 RBIs in 11 games for the Mesa Solar Sox. Nine of his 15 hits have been for extra bases. He’ll join Corey Black and Willson Contreras on the East Division roster for the game, which will be played Saturday, starting at 7 p.m. CT, and be streamed on MLB.com and shown live on MLB Network.
The Cubs’ Class A South Bend franchise was honored Wednesday as the 2015 recipient of the 42nd annual John H. Johnson President’s Award, presented to the top Minor League organization. The South Bend team will receive the award on Dec. 6 during the Winter Meetings in Nashville.
The award bases its criteria on a Minor League baseball franchise’s financial stability, contributions to league stability, contributions to baseball in the community and promotion of the baseball industry. This is the first time South Bend has won the award.
“To be selected for this prestigious award over some of the best franchises across the nation is extremely humbling,” South Bend Cubs president Joe Hart said.
This is South Bend’s first season as a Cubs affiliate, and the team set franchise records for largest single-season attendance (347,678) and average attendance (5,039) at Four Winds Field.
“This is an award we have to share with every fan in every city, town and village from a hundred miles around. Without them, we wouldn’t be receiving it,” South Bend owner Andrew T. Berlin said.
Since 2012, the South Bend Cubs have spent more than $7 million in renovations and improvements to their city-owned facility. The team used $3 million from that investment to update the playing surface and training facilities.
The South Bend Cubs also host “Home Run for Life,” a charitable event that each month recognizes a different child suffering from a devastating disease. In 2015, more than $15,000 was raised to benefit the local children’s hospital. The club also participates in charity concerts, reading programs, charity walks and youth events to make South Bend a better place.