Report: Cubs eye Pujols
Free agent slugger’s agent is contacted
A baseball source yesterday told ESPN.com that the Cubs have contacted the agent for Albert Pujols to express interest in the free agent slugger.
The report said that although talks between team officials and agent Dan Lozano are in the early stages, the Cubs appeared poised to join the Cardinals and Marlins in pursuit of Pujols, a three-time Most Valuable Player in St. Louis.
The Cubs’ overtures to the nine-time All-Star come amid speculation that they also have interest in former Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder. Last week, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein named former Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum as manager.
Broxton, Royals agree
Reliever Jonathan Broxton and the Royals agreed yesterday to a one-year contract that guarantees the righthander $4 million, solidifying one of the big leagues’ youngest bullpens and providing a setup man for closer Joakim Soria.
The agreement, which is pending a physical, includes performance bonuses.
Kansas City was willing to take a chance on Broxton despite his being limited to just 14 games for the Dodgers last season because of elbow trouble. A two-time All-Star, the 27-year-old Broxton made $7 million last season as part of an $11 million, two-year deal.
“We are delighted to add someone as talented as Jonathan to our bullpen,’’ Royals general manager Dayton Moore said in a statement.
Several teams were interested in Broxton, despite the fact that he was just 1-2 with seven saves and a 5.68 ERA in 14 games for Los Angeles last season. Broxton was placed on the disabled list on May 6 with bone spurs in his right elbow that required surgery Sept. 19.
He’s expected to be ready to pitch by spring training.
The Royals return their promising young starting lineup largely intact, but pitching was another matter. The rotation was spotty at best, and the bullpen squandered far too many leads before it could get the ball to Soria, who also had a down season.
That’s why Moore has spent the offseason remodeling the entire staff.
He traded outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was coming off a career year, to the Giants for lefthanded starter Jonathan Sanchez and another pitching prospect. Moore then signed free agent Bruce Chen - the Royals’ best starter the past two seasons - to a $9 million, two-year deal.
Now, the Royals have added a seasoned reliever to their young bullpen.
Broxton was an All-Star in 2009 and 2010 for the Dodgers, picking up the save for the National League in the 2010 All-Star Game. Since making his debut for Los Angeles in 2005, Broxton has gone 25-20 with 84 saves and a 3.19 ERA in 386 appearances, all in relief.
Sabean, Bochy extended
Giants CEO Larry Baer yesterday gave general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy contract extensions, taking them through the 2013 season with club options for 2014.
“They work exceptionally well together. That’s a key relationship,’’ Baer said. “I strongly believe Brian and Bruce are the best at their craft in the game, and their track record shows that.’’
The 55-year-old Sabean is the longest-tenured GM in baseball and has said he would like to stay put in San Francisco for the rest of his career. He became the Giants’ GM in 1996 after three years in player personnel. He was in the Yankees organization from 1985-92 as a scout, scouting director, and player development director.
His top priority is upgrading the offense while leaving enough payroll flexibility to lock up star pitchers Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain for what Sabean hopes is the long haul.
“Anything we’re going to do has to fit into a certain price point and give us enough flexibility to do other things,’’ Sabean said. “Pitching is our gold standard and we’ll do all that we can to take care of that commodity first.’’
Sabean hired the 56-year-old Bochy away from the rival Padres in 2007 to replace Felipe Alou.
“I think we have a mutual respect. We listen to each other, Brian for me is always available,’’ Bochy said. “We communicate so much during the course of the season. We stay in the same building. There’s never any kind of distance or separation.’’
Yet there wasn’t immediate success when Bochy arrived, and both men received harsh criticism along the way for moves they made and those they didn’t.
That all changed when they led the club to an improbable World Series championship in 2010 with a band of “castoffs and misfits’’ as Bochy called them.
The Giants went 86-76 for second place in the NL West and missed the playoffs last season.
Maddux brothers reunite
Greg Maddux is leaving the Cubs to join the Rangers, reuniting him with his brother Mike.
The Rangers said Greg Maddux will become a special assistant to the general manager, the same role he held with the Cubs the last two seasons.
Mike Maddux has been the Rangers’ pitching coach for the last three seasons. He interviewed to become manager of the Cubs before Dale Sveum was hired this month.
Greg Maddux, a four-time Cy Young Award winner, will be an instructor at major and minor league spring training and will visit farm teams during the season.
Brewers prospect hurt
Brewers prospect Santo Manzanillo is recovering after he separated his right shoulder in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. The 22-year-old righthander was traveling to Milwaukee’s complex in San Pedro de Macoris at the time of yesterday morning’s accident. The team says he is currently undergoing further tests . . . Pitcher-turned-outfielder Adam Loewen agreed to a minor league contract with the Mets. The 27-year-old Loewen, who will attend major league spring training under the deal, hit .188 for Toronto last season with one home run and four RBIs. He hit .306 at Triple A Las Vegas of the Pacific Coast League with 46 doubles, 17 homers and 85 RBIs. Loewen was 8-8 with a 5.38 ERA in 29 starts and six relief appearances for the Orioles from 2006-09 . . . Righthander Scott Mathieson was released by the Phillies, allowing him to sign with a team in Asia. The 27-year-old was 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in eight starts and seven relief appearances with the Phillies in 2006, 2010, and last season.