The annual Winter Meetings took place this week and
we had you covered here on Obstructed View we were lazy bastards and kept you uninformed. I'd apologize for this. It is the first of the meetings that I have not covered thoroughly in 10 years. I'm just tired of apologizing so let's just get to it.
The biggest news is that the Cubs traded Brian Bogusevic to the Marlins for 31-year old Justin Ruggiano. Ruggiano is first-year arbitration eligible while Bogusevic would have earned roughly the league minimum. No worries. Ruggiano won't cost much to sign and offers the ability to play the same position and hit lefties rather well. Bogusevic could hit righties decently and had a good 2013, but was not by any means necessary to the Cubs rebuilding.
It's maybe worth pointing out that with Ruggiano now on the roster, the Cubs could definitely afford to give free agent Shin-Soo Choo 15-20 off days vs. lefties. Choo does not hit lefties very well and if you could add Ruggiano's bat in his place, you'd be doing well. I'm not sure I'd take Choo at his cost, but I don't see him getting 7-years and $140 million either.
Oliver is projecting a .331 wOBA (109 wRC+) out of Ruggiano in 2014 to go along with excellent defense (+7.2). If he can do that, he'll earn a starter's job in the Cubs outfield, which isn't exaclty stacked with talent right now. I'm a bit skeptical.
The Cubs also picked up right-handed starting pitcher Liam Hendriks off of waivers today. Hendricks hasn't made much of himself at the big league level, but has shown he can pitch in the minors. He doesn't strike a lot of batters out, but throws a lot of strikes. The Cubs could also move him to the bullpen if he doesn't work out as a starter and are under no obligation to have him on their 25-man roster. Hendricks was twice rated by Baseball America in the Twins top 10 prospects.
Hendriks fits Minnesota's mold as a command-oriented starter. His fastball often sits at 86-92 mph and peaks at 94. He uses both two- and four-seamers, complementing his sinker with a solid slider. When he's in rhythm, Hendriks peppers the bottom of the zone and commands his fastball to his arm side, allowing him to induce weak contact with his slider and above-average changeup to his glove side. He mixes in a curveball as a fourth pitch. He's a strong competitor and good athlete, both owing in part to his family's Australian rules football background. — Baseball America, prior to 2012
I'll take that.
They signed Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal today. While with the Diamondbacks in 2009 and 2010, Roberts put together two fine seasons and looked like he might finally be putting it together. He then struggled in 2012, was traded to the Rays that year, and struggled again in 2013. He can hit for some power and will probably see some action with the Cubs, but I don't expect him to return to where he was in 2009 and 2010. Worth a shot, though.
Not yet done, the Cubs signed former top 100 prospect Ryan Kalish. Kalish was ranked just inside the top 100 back in 2008 and spent his career with Boston. He has not done anything at the big league level, but it was a waiver pick and you have to fill out the spring training roster. All 3 of these guys were given invites to spring training.
The Cubs didn't trade Jeff Samardzija and I'm still going to be surprised to see it done, but probably not as surprised as I'd have been several weeks ago. Word on the street is that the Cubs are asking for two of the Blue Jays top pitching prospects, along with another prospect, in return for Samardzija. Why not? Probably won't get it, but the Cubs don't have to act so may as well dream big.
That ends our marathon coverage of the Winter Meetings.