“It appears as though we’re looking at the all-day sucker, so maybe next year,” Boras said Wednesday at the winter meetings.
“It (a lollipop) takes a long time to dissolve,” Boras said. “The idea is it's going to take some time for them to reach the resolve to say they are going to compete on all fronts.”
In other words, the Cubs' rebuilding process is moving very slowly and isn’t at the point of spending what it would take to bring Boras’ free-agent client Shin-Soo Choo to Chicago, for example.
“It’s not the first time an agent has used the media to try and compel a team into spending huge amounts of money without knowledge of that club’s financial situation,” Cubs president Theo Epstein responded. “We’re not going to get into a war of words with Scott other than to say the folks who work at the Cubs probably have a better understanding of the situation than he does.”
For the record, Epstein and Boras have a very good relationship. Top prospects Kris Bryant and Albert Almora are both Boras clients and Epstein has every intention of signing others -- just not right now.
“It has nothing to do with the baseball people or how the organization is run, it’s just that you have a major market team that has dramatically more revenue than most clubs who take this type of approach,” Boras stated.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Scott Boras had a message for Jay Z.
Robinson Cano, a prized Boras client, switched agents this year to the hip-hop mogul and CAA Sports. The All-Star second baseman left the New York Yankees and agreed last week to a contract with Seattle said to be worth $240 million over 10 years.
"It's very different to be the creator of the umbrella versus those who stand under it," Boras said Wednesday at the winter meetings.
Boras maintained the talent of the player led to the agreement, not the player's representation.
"When you're bringing the prettiest girl to the prom, you don't really pay attention to who he's dancing with, unless it's a very unusual step," he said.
During a question-and-answer session that lasted about an hour, Boras touched on many of baseball's topical issues:
• On Oakland's general manager finding a way for the low-budget team to compete: "Remember that Billy Beane is the master of goulash. You never know what's in it. You just know it's good at the end of the year. ... The way Billy works is that he adds different things to his goulash every year."
“We have offers out for a starting pitcher in free agency, we have offers out for a relief pitcher, we have a trade offer out for a position player,” team President Theo Epstein said Wednesday afternoon. “We’re doing a lot. We’re not just hanging out at the ‘ole Dolphin (hotel). Teams that have less currency often times execute things later in the winter.
“We’ll probably be active later than earlier.”
It’s believed that the trade offer involves an outfielder.
The Cubs have inquired about many available second tier players both in free agency and through the trade market. They’ve also fielded a lot of calls.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Chicago Cubs front office met with the agent of Jeff Samardzija on Wednesday and while there was no resolution to his long-term situation, team president Theo Epstein said Samardzija isn't going anywhere right now.
"There is no trade imminent," Epstein said. "We'll see what happens. We hope he's here for a long time."
Samardijza has been linked to several teams throughout the offseason as the Cubs haven't been able to strike a long-term deal for the arbitration-eligible pitcher. He's attractive because he made only $2.6 million last season and is still under team control for two more seasons before he becomes a free agent.
"We met," Epstein said. "It went well. It was a great meeting. Every time we meet with (agent) Mark (Rodgers) I feel great about the relationship and the relationship with Jeff, too."
Rodgers said in a text message the meeting was "very amicable."
Sources close to the situation indicate Samardzija is looking for a deal that would pay him "as if he's a free agent now," in order to endure the long rebuilding process the team is undertaking. The Cubs have been unwilling to accommodate anything close to that request, which would likely cost between $12-17 million per year.
"We continue to try and move the ball forward as much as we can on one, two or three possible outcomes," Epstein said.
Sources also indicated the Cubs haven't liked the return they would be getting in a trade of Samardzija right now and would revisit the market sometime before the 2014 trade deadline on July 31.
Out of respect to Samardzija, Epstein said he's done commenting on it, at least for the time being.
"We'll put it to bed, publicly," Epstein stated. "Jeff is our Opening Day starter unless something changes."
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- On a day where there was a major three-team trade in baseball -- one involving the Chicago White Sox -- the Chicago Cubs were mostly quiet as they mull over their possibilities.
"I know we'll be productive [in meetings], but I'm not sure if it will lead to a move or not," general manager Jed Hoyer said Tuesday.
The Cubs met with agents and opposing teams, but unless Jeff Samardzija is given a contract extension or Shin-Soo Choo signs to play the outfield, the White Sox will have stolen all the headlines. It's not how Hoyer wants to operate.
"When you aren't a significant part of the deal flow and you're not making super impactful moves that impact next year, I think it is frustrating because you want to be part of that," he said. "I think there is a day in the near future where we'll be here and be really active in making those moves."
That day just isn't here yet. With another upcoming season of acquiring and developing talent, the Cubs are less apt to make a bold move like the Sox did in trading for center fielder Adam Eaton of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Incidentally, the Cubs could have used Eaton as well as pitcher Tyler Skaggs, who went to the Los Angeles Angels in the deal.
Ironically, the three-team trade also figures to have an effect on the Cubs. It's widely known the Cubs have been talking to the Diamondbacks on a myriad fronts, including about Samardzija. Now that Skaggs is off the board and the Angles have acquired pitcher Hector Santiago from the White Sox, the landscape for a trade for Samardzija has changed.
The Cubs did have an update on one of their own free agents, pitcher Scott Baker.
"We met with his agent," Hoyer said. "It's still a possibility."
Renteria was hired in part for his ability to communicate, and the Cubs are committed to getting their message across at the big-league level as well as they believe they did in the minors over the last couple years. Renteria's ability to speak Spanish and English will only help deliver it.
"The reality is, beyond speaking a different language, the message has to be clean and concise, clear," Renteria said Tuesday at the winter meetings. "I can speak both languages but if I don't articulate an idea or concept the right way it doesn't matter how many languages I speak."
Mark Prior has decided to call it a career, the oft-injured pitcher told reporters at the winter meetings Tuesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
The 33-year-old right-hander went on the disabled list in April with a shoulder injury while attempting a comeback with the Cincinnati Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville. He was released in June.
Prior told multiple media outlets Tuesday that he's interested in a front-office job.
Prior, who grew up near San Diego and lives there now, identified the Padres as a possible destination, according to U-T San Diego.
"I've had some ongoing conversations with Josh [Byrnes, the Padres' general manager], A.J. [Hinch, assistant GM] and Josh Stein (director of baseball operations) over the past couple months," Prior told the newspaper. "Hopefully, next week we can get something finalized. But they've already been gracious to me as far as giving me the opportunity to learn."
Prior told U-T San Diego that the parties have been discussing a "catch-all, do-everything" role in which he'd be introduced to many aspects of the organization.
He also said he is comfortable with his decision to move on.
"I have no regrets. I did everything I could. I left it on the field, gave everything I could to it and came up short. Now I'm on to my second career," he told the newspaper.
Prior, who was taken with the second overall pick in the 2001 draft by the Chicago Cubs, finishes his career with a 42-29 record, a 3.51 ERA and 757 strikeouts in the majors. He finished third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2003 after going 18-6 with a 2.43 ERA and 245 strikeouts with the Cubs.
Two National League observers said Monday that they believe the Braves could emerge as the favorite, either during this offseason or closer to the July trade deadline. The Braves potentially match up well as a trade partner because their top prospects come from their pitching ranks, although some of that pitching is very young and not major league ready. Additionally, the Braves already have a young staff which used Julio Teheran and Alex Wood in the rotation in 2013. A veteran like Samardzija would help. It remains to be seen if the Braves' package is enough for a Cubs front office more interested in quality than quantity to pull the trigger on a deal.
The Samardzija story could take a new turn as his agent, Mark Rodgers, arrives in Orlando on Tuesday for a 36-hour stay. There's no "summit" meeting scheduled between the Cubs and Rodgers, although the sides will undoubtedly talk. Trading Samardzija is still much more likely than extending his stay in Chicago via a new contract. It's still a matter of when and to whom, not if.
While the Cubs try to figure out what to do with Samardzija, they're also waiting to see if Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will be made available this offseason. General manager Jed Hoyer was asked Monday if the Cubs could only spend on one of the two players.
"They're not attached," Hoyer said. "It's not an either/or type thing. ... What people are speculating about isn't based on any kind of facts. There are very few people who know exactly what we have the resources to do. We'll keep that internal."
Meetings changing: Hoyer lamented the fact that the winter meetings have become less and less about face-to-face meetings between teams. With communication just a touch away on a smartphone, teams don't need the long sitdowns as in previous years or decades. The week before the meetings easily saw more flurry of activity than there likely will be this week.
"When it comes to deal-making and contact, both at the GM meetings and winter meetings, they lack a little bit of what they did in the past because we're on the phone and text," Hoyer said. "You know so much more on the Internet and Twitter. We comment all the time. It used to be you'd sort of have team road trips (in the hotel) to other teams. You have three to four people go to another team and talk a half an hour and 45 minutes."
Big year for Barney: Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney is coming off a season in which he hit .208. There are several infield prospects who could push him in 2014, making it a big year for the veteran.
"It's a big year for him no matter what," Hoyer said. "It doesn't have to do with competition among young players. I think he simply wants to bounce back and get back to where he was."
Barney hit .276 in 2011 and .254 in 2012 while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. Hoyer says the Cubs' plan is for him is to be the starter, but his numbers need to improve.
"With him, mechanically and approach-wise, he got caught in between some things last year," Hoyer said. "He brings aspects [defense] to our club that are pretty much impossible to find."
And while these kids have been marketed as the future of the team, is there a scenario in which the Cubs might consider moving some of their top prospects for a major piece?
“I think it would have to make a lot of sense for the future,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. “If it did make sense for the future, we’d certainly consider it. I think one of the great things about having a good farm system and building it up is that it’s a currency.
“We ultimately want those players to be really good Chicago Cubs. But if a couple of those players led to another player that helped our future, we would do that.”
“That was one of our biggest regrets from last year,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer bluntly stated on Monday.
The Cubs' bullpen imploded right from the start of the season. It ranked third to last in the National League with a 4.04 ERA and blew 26 saves -- third most in the league. Only two pitchers, James Russell and Hector Rondon, lasted the entire season on the roster. And Rondon was forced to be there due to Rule 5 draft status, though he threw well as the season progressed. The same can’t be said of the rest of the group.
“We have spent a lot of time thinking about the bullpen, thinking of ways to get better,” Hoyer said.
Reports on Monday indicated the Cubs might be interested in relievers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard of the Washington Nationals. And there are several free agents with closing experience, including John Axford and Kevin Gregg, who saved 33 for the Cubs last season. He’s not expected back. The team already agreed to terms with left-handed pitcher Wesley Wright, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays. The Cubs will look from within, as well.
“We should have been a lot closer to .500 at the beginning of the season,” Hoyer said. “A lot of the trades over the last year will help that bullpen.”