The Last Big Day of 2006?

Tuesday is the last day for teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players. If a player is not offered arbitration by the Tuesday deadline that player becomes a free agent and can sign with any team he so desires. The Cubs have 4 players eligible for arbitration: Carlos Zambrano, Mark Prior, Neal Cotts and Will Ohman and all are expected to be tendered contracts for the 2007 season. Some have questioned if the Cubs would offer arbitration to Will Ohman but letting a left-handed trading chip go by the wayside should not be an option for Jim Hendry.

There are quality players that could be available after Tuesday’s deadline. Some think the Braves may not tender Marcus Giles and many think the Rangers might not tender Brad Wilkerson. The Cubs might be able to find a valuable piece of the puzzle by the end of the day.

Here is the rest of the news from around the league and the latest from the rumor mill….

More on the Non-Tender Deadline…. A report Monday night on indicated the Rangers plan to offer arbitration to Brad Wilkerson. A report on and Rotoworld indicated Marcus Giles might be allowed to leave and XM Radio speculated the same on Monday. A team looking for a hard-nosed scrappy player, like Giles, will sign him quickly regardless of the fact he is coming off of a down year. There are not many openings throughout the league at 2nd base but the Padres have been rumored to be interested in Giles this entire off-season. If the Braves do let Giles walk, a comparison to the situation David Eckstein was in with the Angels, a few years back, has to be made.

Some have thought Will Ohman might not be offered arbitration and many think he will be tendered and then traded at some point this off-season. With Scott Eyre and Neal Cotts in the pen and Clay Rapada waiting in the wings, Ohman’s days in Chicago could be numbered. Ohman has been effective the past couple of seasons, especially against lefties, and would look good in a package deal later in the off-season if Jim Hendry needs another player to make a deal happen.

Ted Lilly, Daryle Ward and Jason Marquis…. The Cubs are expected to make the signing of all three official this week. There were not any updates on the contract status of Jason Marquis on Monday but most think it is just a matter of time before the deal becomes official. Bruce Miles mentioned again on Monday the contract should be in the $20 to $21 million-dollar range for 3 years.

The Center of Attention…. With the Cubs losing out to the Rangers in the pursuit of Kenny Lofton, where do they go from here? Buster Olney mentioned Alfonso Soriano would probably be given a shot at centerfield next season. Ken Rosenthal mentioned the Cubs could revisit their talks with the Nationals about Ryan Church. Church received a phone call from his new manager, Manny Acta, over the weekend and he reassured Church he would not be traded. The question that comes to mind about the Cubs trading for Church….is he a short-term solution? Every report has stated the Cubs are looking for a 1-year stopgap in center to give Felix Pie more time to develop but trading a top-pitching prospect, like Sean Marshall, for Ryan Church would seem to put more emphasis on Church being a Cub for the foreseeable future, not just one season. Ken Rosenthal also mentioned the name Steve Finley in relation to the Cubs vacancy in center but stated the Cubs are more likely to go after Church, as mentioned, instead.

The Off-Season Spending Spree…. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was the latest to try to examine the Cubs off-season budget.

Jason Jennings…. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are likely done with their pursuit of Jennings with the soon-to-be-announced addition of Jason Marquis. The Astros remain interested but are unlikely to part with the talent the Rockies are seeking in return.

Jeff Suppan and Miguel Batista…. Batista is close to signing a 3-year deal with the Seattle Mariners. believed to be worth more than the $24 million offered by the Royals, and the Pirates have an offer on the table to Jeff Suppan according to XM Radio. Whether or not the offer is there for Suppan or not is unknown but the fact the Cardinals appear not to be willing to go 4 years on a contract for Suppan is very interesting considering there are not that many options left. The defending champs may have to go into the season with a very questionable rotation.

The Cubs have made waves but the real test begins in just over 2 months at Fitch Park….there are still several holes to fill and the reporting date for Spring Training is closer than anyone realizes.

Well, that’s the news and notes and I’m sticking to them!!!

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax