Cool story from Corey Brock of MLB.com about new Cubs manager Rick Renteria, who has had a pretty wild ride over the past six weeks. He required hip replacement surgery on October 4 which prevented him from flying, so the Cubs, Mariners, and Tigers all visited him at his home in Temecula, California to discuss their vacant manager positions.
“The funny thing is, I didn’t actually know,” Renteria said. “I got a call the day I was going into surgery. I spoke with [Padres general manager Josh Byrnes] and he said the Cubs were interested in interviewing me for the position.
“I then talked to Jed and I told him I couldn’t travel for six weeks. And he said maybe they could come out to see me.”
That ignited a whirlwind month for Renteria, as the Cubs came for the first of three meetings. Then, it was the Tigers and Mariners. Team presidents, general managers and other front-office folks, all in his home while Renteria hobbled around with the use of his trusty walker.
Renteria was first visited by Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer just 10 days after surgery and did the interview while wearing sweatpants. My kind of guy. Renteria’s wife, Iline, proved quite hospitable during the visit by picking up lunch for the trio. The Cubs paid two more visits before offering him the job right in his home, which was obviously a very special moment for the Renteria family. Great stuff.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.
ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.
Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.
The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.
Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.