The Justin Ruggiano Era is over, as the Cubs sent the outfielder to Seattle yesterday in exchange for RHP Matt Brazis.
Brazis, 25, split 2014 between Single-A and Double-A, recording a 2.36 ERA in 40 relief appearances. He walked only 18 batters in 72.1 innings.
Ruggiano was OK with the Cubs in 2014, performing about as expected. He hit .281/.337/.429 with six home runs in 81 games.
The move opens up a spot on the Cubs’ 40-man roster, which could be filled by recently-signed reliever Jason Motte. It also saves the Cubs some money and signals that they could target another outfielder or two.
Whether that’s through signing a free agent such as veteran Jonny Gomes, or through a trade, remains to be seen.
Bruce Levine throws out a familiar name, but one we haven’t heard linked to the Cubs yet this winter: Sam Fuld. Fuld played under Joe Maddon in Tampa, and obviously would be familiar with Wrigley Field. The former Cub was traded to the Rays in the Matt Garza deal.
I wouldn’t hate Fuld as a fifth outfielder, but I’d definitely like to also see an upgraded bat to serve as the fourth outfielder (or starter).
One name we can probably forget about is outfielder Colby Rasmus, writes Patrick Mooney (with lots of good quotes from Theo Epstein on a number of topics). He also mentions that infielder Luis Valbuena is drawing a lot of attention.
I hope Valbuena isn’t traded — I’d like to see him hold down third base until Kris Bryant is ready and then later make spot starts around the infield. But if the Cubs are offered a ton of talent? They probably need to pull the trigger. Wouldn’t be bad for a guy claimed off waivers a couple years ago.
Cubs announce minor league coaches, coordinators
The Cubs have named their coaching assignments for the minor leagues. Here are the managers:
* Marty Pevey, Iowa (AAA)
* Buddy Bailey, Tennessee (AA)
* Mark Johnson, Myrtle Beach (A)
* Jimmy Gonzalez, South Bend (A)
* Gary Van Tol, Eugene (Short A)
* Carmelo Martinez, Mesa (Rookie)
The Cubs also announced minor league coordinators. Notable inclusions are Dave Keller, who has been named Latin America field coordinator after years of managing in the minors, and Darnell McDonald as mental skills program coordinator. The Cubs front office clearly values McDonald, as he hasn’t left the organization since retiring as a player.
* Jed Hoyer joined Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio yesterday, and said the Cubs could make “multiple” moves to upgrade left field. He also said the Cubs plan to play Addison Russell at shortstop in Triple-A Iowa in 2015. I assume we’ll see him moved around the diamond, similar to the treatment of Javier Baez (assuming Starlin Castro is still around, of course).
* President Barack Obama’s announcement that the United States plans to normalize relations with Cuba could have a big impact on Major League Baseball. MLB released a statement on Wednesday:
“Major League Baseball is closely monitoring the White House’s announcement regarding Cuban-American relations. While there are not sufficient details to make a realistic evaluation, we will continue to track this significant issue, and we will keep our Clubs informed if this different direction may impact the manner in which they conduct business on issues related to Cuba.”
This could be a huge development, likely making it much easier for Cuban baseball players to come to the U.S. Definitely something to monitor.
* The Rays have agreed to trade outfielder Wil Myers to the Padres in a three-team deal. Tampa gets power-hitting outfield prospect Steven Souza from the Nationals and catcher Rene Rivera from the Padres. The Nationals will be getting pitching prospect Joe Ross and a player to be named later from the Padres.
According to Marc Topkin, the PTBNL is expected to be the Padres’2014 first-round pick, shortstop Trea Turner. I guess the Rays don’t believe in Myers and wanted to maximize his value while they can. He was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2013, but struggled last year while dealing with a broken wrist.
* A couple of former 2014 Cubs have found new teams. LHP Wesley Wright has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Orioles, and outfielder Ryan Kalish has signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays.
* Three teams are in on catcher David Ross: the Red Sox, Cubs and Padres, according to Rob Bradford.
* Batting third and playing second base, Javier Baez went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk for Cangrejeros de Santurce on Wednesday. He is hitting .357/.412/.714 in four games.