The Chicago Cubs made a big splash yesterday, formally introducing John Lester as their new ace and owner of a $155 million contract. While many feel that gives the Cubs not only a shot at a NL Wild Card spot, but maybe even the division, the club is still a ways off from being serious contenders.
They have young hitters who show great potential, but as a team they haven’t played a full season together. Many were mid-season call ups. They haven’t gone through a full season of ups and downs in the majors. So the jury is still out on just how well this young hitters can do over a 162 game schedule.
The biggest glaring hole in that 25-man roster is not having a dependable setup man or closer. The Cubs need help in the bullpen. They hope to address that need, by taking a chance on Jason Motte.
According to a Chicago radio station, the Cubs are set to sign the 32 year old Motte to a one year deal, pending a physical. Incentives are built in if he becomes the team’s closer.
Motte missed the 2013 season recovering from elbow surgery. He suffered a ruptured ligament during spring training, and he never really got up to 100% in 2014. Motte was 1-0 with a 4.68 ERA in 29 games (25 innings) for the Cardinals this season.
The Royals may have a right fielder. Alex Rios, a two-time All-Star who spent last season with the Texas Rangers, is close to signing a one-year, $11 million free-agent contract with the Royals, pending a physical.
Rios will turn 34 in February. He played six year for the Toronto Blue Jays, and four-plus seasons with the Chicago White Sox. His better days are behind him, but he does provide some pop, which the Royals are looking for in place of Nori Aoki. He hit 18 homers two seasons ago splitting time with Chicago and Texas, but managed just four last season, while batting .280.
The Royals also signed 30-year old pitcher Yohan Pino, who went 2-5 as a starter for the Twins last season, to a free-agent contract. He made his major-league debut in 2014 and had a 5.07 ERA in 11 starts.