Dan Vogelbach hit a RBI double in the fifth inning Thursday but it wasn’t enough as the Mesa Solar Sox ended their season with a 4-4, 11-inning tie with Glendale at Cubs Park. Vogelbach ended the game when he lined out in the 11th, leaving the bases loaded. He finished with a .261 average. Jacob Hannemann also started, and went 0-for-5 and finished with a .279 average. The Solar Sox finished 15-14-2 in the East division. Salt River and Peoria will square off Saturday for the AFL championship.
According to reports, free agent pitcher Jon Lester will meet with Cubs officials next week. Lester’s agents have prepared a 200-plus page full color portfolio on the pitcher, along with a three-minute video. It features his charity work as well as his efforts on the field. Lester’s agent, Seth Levinson, met with Cubs officials as well as others, including Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, during the GM meetings in Phoenix. That’s standard procedure — agents touch base with all teams interested in their clients. But the bidding for Lester most likely will come down to the Cubs vs. Red Sox, who would like Lester to come back.
Just don’t expect the Cubs to sign Lester and Max Scherzer and James Shields to mega deals.
“It’s hard to acquire pitching. Period,” Theo Epstein said Wednesday in Phoenix. “It’s hard to acquire top-of-the-rotation pitching. I’ve seen us linked. People predict that we’re going to sign two top-of-the-rotation starters who both require nine-figure contracts. That’s not happening.
“Look at the history of nine-figure starting pitching contracts, and it’s a huge risk,” Epstein said. “So, to put an organization in the position to have two such deals immediately in the course of the same offseason, I couldn’t imagine something like that occurring.”
Super agent Scott Boras held court in Phoenix on Wednesday during the GM meetings. Here are a couple of his Cub-related comments, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune and Comcast SportsNet Chicago reporters on site.
* On new Cubs manager Joe Maddon:
“I told Joe Maddon I want him to be my financial advisor,” Boras said. “He’s the only guy I know that goes on a vacation and while in his RV [he] makes $20 million. Yeah, they are making moves that are designed to help the team be competitive.”
* On his client, Kris Bryant, the Minor League player of the year after hitting 43 home runs in the Cubs Minor Leagues.
“Certainly [the Cubs] have made the statement,” Boras said. “‘We’re going to win a division’ is what I heard. And I know a guy that has 42 reasons why he can help you do that.”
* On the Cubs:
“If any fan base in Chicago deserves a ‘now’ and not a ‘tomorrow,’ I’d say it’s the Chicago Cubs,” Boras said.
Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta received three fifth-place votes in National League Cy Young voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Arrieta was tied with the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel and the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg for ninth place. The Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw was a unanimous winner.
You can join Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on Sunday at his third annual “Walk Off for Cancer” in Parkland, Fla. The event will take place at Pine Trails Park, and consists of a 5K walk, entertainment, refreshments, raffle prizes and guest appearances. The event, which begins at 8:30 a.m. ET, is family friendly. Registration is $30 per person until Saturday, and limited to 1,000 people. The event has raised more than $100,000 each of its first two years.
Can’t make it? You can still participate by making a donation at http://www.rizzo44.com
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs continued to stockpile pitchers, and claimed right-hander Donn Roach off waivers from the Padres on Wednesday. With the move, the Cubs’ 40-man roster is now at 38 players. Roach, who turns 25 on Dec. 14, was 1-0 with a 4.75 ERA in 16 appearances with the Padres last season, his first year in the big leagues. He was the Angels’ third-round pick in the 2010 First Year Player Draft, and traded to the Padres in May 2012 along with Alexi Amarista for Ernesto Frieri.
Roach was on the Padres’ Opening Day roster this year after making 28 starts at Double-A San Antonio in 2013, but was optioned to Triple-A El Paso on June 3. He went 4-6 with a 5.24 ERA in 19 games (13 starts) in the Minors this year. Overall, Roach is 32-26 with two saves and a 3.73 ERA in 126 Minor League appearances, including 67 starts, covering five professional seasons.
– Carrie Muskat
Dan Vogelbach had two hits but it wasn’t enough as Mesa lost, 5-1, to Surprise Tuesday in Arizona Fall League play. Jacob Hannemann went 0-for-4. On Wednesday, the Solar Sox play host to the Javelinas with C.J. Edwards making his final start. Mesa then closes the AFL season Thursday with a game at Cubs Park against the Desert Dogs.
Cubs officials denied a report they were in contact with the Nationals regarding a potential trade for right-hander Jordan Zimmermann. On Tuesday night, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the two teams had mutual interest in making a deal, with the Cubs sending at least one of their middle infielders to the Nationals for the pitcher. However, a Cubs official told MLB.com later Tuesday that the report was not true. FOX Sports Ken Rosenthal also reported Cubs officials denying the Sun-Times report.
The Cubs are in the market for starting pitching, but are more likely to be exploring the free agent pitchers on the market, including Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields. If the price for those players is too high, they could wait for next year’s free agent market that will include Zimmermann, David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija. Theo Epstein has said repeatedly that they are looking at players over the next 15 months, not just this offseason.
Zimmermann, who turns 29 in May, is due to make $16.5 million in 2015, the last year of his contract. He was 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA in 32 starts in 2014.
An update: On Wednesday, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo denied the Cubs and Nats were in talks regarding Zimmermann. Speaking in Phoenix at the GM meetings, Rizzo said the report “was somebody’s conjecture that had no basis to it and no facts. There was no interaction whatsoever on the subject. How do I react to it? What can you do about it, other than talk to the guy who wrote it and say, ‘What are you doing?'”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs have reached their season ticket sale capacity for the 2015 season. Julian Green, vice president of communications and community affairs, said the renewal rate for season tickets was 91 percent. The waiting list for season tickets has more than 50,000 names and is growing, Green said.
The renewal rate was close to 90 percent prior to the announcement on Nov. 3 that the Cubs had hired Joe Maddon as manager. Green said the excitement about the prospects, the improved play at the end of the 2014 season, and the start of the renovation work at Wrigley Field all contributed to the surge in sales.
– Carrie Muskat
Cubs pitcher Kyle Hendricks received two third place votes in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom won the award, followed by the Reds’ Billy Hamilton and the Cardinals’ Kolton Wong. Hendricks was 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA in 13 starts for the Cubs this season.
– Carrie Muskat