Are the Cubs Shopping Prior?

A day after resigning Kerry Wood, rumors began to surface the Cubs are willing to trade Mark Prior. The two pitchers that are constantly linked to one another, continue to make headlines together over four seasons since they were both dominating pitchers for the Cubs.

The Cubs reportedly would like to sign Prior to a 2-year contract with incentives instead of allowing him to possibly walk away after 2008 and sign with another team for 2009 and beyond. Another report mentioned the Cubs would like to sign Prior to a 1-year contract with a club option for 2009. Prior being on the trading block was a topic of conversation by several talking heads on Tuesday.

A lackluster performance in Spring Training led to him being sent down to Triple-A Iowa to start the 2007 season. Prior made several comments after his demotion, most notably calling himself an “employee”. Prior’s stint with the I-Cubs did not last long, he had season ending shoulder surgery on April 27th.

Prior is arbitration eligible once again this season after making $3.575 millon last year and the Cubs have until December 12th to tender him a new contract. Prior took a pay cut last year, and if the Cubs cut his salary the maximum 20 percent, Prior would be paid $2.86 million in 2008.

Here is the rest from the mill, more on Mark Prior and other news from around the league…. Mark Prior….

Mark Prior has pitched in 57 games since his magical season of 2003. He appeared in only 9 games in 2006 (1-6 with a 7.21 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP) after posting an 11-7 record in 27 starts in 2005 with a 3.67 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. Prior’s career year seems like an eternity ago….18-6 in 30 starts with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in 2003.

Prior will not turn 28 until September 7th.

Larry Rothschild was on XM Radio with Billy Ripken and Rob Dibble on Tuesday afternoon. Rothschild said Prior’s rehab has gone well but he has hit a “few bumps in the road.” Rothschild said Prior still has a long way to go before he can say he will pitch in Spring Training. Rothschild would not give a timetable on Prior’s return.

Mike Downey from the Tribune was on the Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner on Tuesday. Downey said Prior still has value and trading for Prior would be a good gamble. He mentioned this is the type of trade that Ned Colletti would be interested in. Downey thinks trading for Prior would be worth a shot for several teams depending on what the Cubs’ asking price is.

The Cubs….

According to Bruce Miles, Jim Hendry’s “number one target still appears to be Japanese star Kosuke Fukudome.Miles said Kaz Matsui is “weighing options” from the Rockies, Cubs and Astros….Matsui is on vacation according to Miles.

Jim Hendry let the news slip on Monday night while talking to Dave Kaplan, but this writer was unsure of what was said….but according to Bruce Miles, “expect Sam Fuld to be named MVP of the Arizona Fall League” at next week’s Winter Meetings. Miles said “Fuld could push Felix Pie” for the starting job in centerfield next season, or end up as a backup player.

According to a report from Japan Ball.com, the Hanshin Tigers have withdrawn their contract offer to Kosuke Fukudome. The Tokyo Giants are the only other team in Japan that has reportedly offered Fukudome a contract. Fukudome is scheduled to meet with his U.S. agents at Octagon on Thursday.

From Around the League….

Dayn Perry’s Top 10 Under-the-Radar Free Agents list includes Michael Barrett.

Speaking of former Cubs, the Pirates are interested in Matt Clement according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Damon Berryhill was named the manager of the Bakersfield Blaze, Texas Rangers’ Class A affiliate, on Monday. Berryhill was the Cubs’ catcher from 1987-1991.

The Reds needed to sign Francisco Cordero according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The team had to earn credibility in the eyes of their fan base. John Fay said adding Cordero made a statement.

The Rays are interested in Cesar Izturis according to the St. Petersburg Times.

The Astros resigned relief pitcher Doug Brocail to a 1-year deal worth $2.5 million plus incentives. Brocail last pitched for Houston in 1996 when the Astros still played at the Astrodome.

The Diamondbacks have made an offer to Hiroki Kuroda according to the Associated Press.

Jason Kendall will make $4.25 million next season catching games for the Brewers. The contract Kendall agreed to last week should be finalized on Wednesday….the Brewers have scheduled a press conference. The deal also includes $1 million dollars in incentives. Kendall can earn $100,000 for playing in 110 games, $150,000 for 120 and 130 games, $150,000 for 100 starts, $200,000 for 115 starts and $250,000 for 130 starts. The deal includes an option for 2009 that would be guaranteed at $4.25 million if he starts 110 games in 2008, $4.35 million with 120 starts and $4.6 million with 130 starts.

The Washington Nationals signed two former Cubs to Minor League contracts on Tuesday…. Jason Dubois and Bobby Brownlie were among 19 players signed by the Nationals to minor league contract.

The Brewers are looking at Troy Percival, Eric Gagne and Octavio Dotel as possible bullpen replacements. Doug Melvin has talked with the agents for Percival and Dotel and is expected to talk with Gagne’s agent. Melvin said all three relievers are looking for 3-4 year contracts and he might have to pass on all three based on their injury history and the length of contracts they are looking for.

Ned Colletti will not trade his prospects for proven talent “just to make a dealaccording to the OC Register. Colletti is looking for the Dodgers to improve with the young talent they already possess.

Finally…. The Cardinals are looking to add a veteran starting pitcher according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals are exploring the possibility of adding either Carlos Silva or Kyle Lohse but have talked to the Dodgers, Indians, Pirates and Brewers about possible trades.

2008 Hall of Fame Ballot….

The ballot for the 2008 Hall of Fame was released on Monday. Five former Cubs are on the list and a current coach.

  • Rod Beck
  • Andre Dawson
  • Shawon Dunston
  • Rich “Goose” Gossage
  • Lee Smith
  • Alan Trammell
  • Brady Anderson
  • Harold Baines
  • Bert Blyleven
  • Dave Concepcion
  • Chuck Finley
  • Travis Fryman
  • Tommy John
  • David Justice
  • Chuck Knoblauch
  • Don Mattingly
  • Mark McGwire
  • Jack Morris
  • Dale Murphy
  • Robb Nen
  • Dave Parker
  • Tim Raines
  • Jim Rice
  • Jose Rijo
  • Todd Stottlemyre

The results will be announced on January 8th.

The ‘Black Sox’ Scandal….

Everyone has seen ‘Eight Men Out’ and know the story of the 1919 Chicago White Sox….the team that threw away the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. ‘Shoeless’ Joe Jackson was idolized in ‘Field of Dreams’ but the real story of what happened could be revealed very soon. “A mysterious box of letters, memos and legal documents pertaining to the White Sox team accused of throwing the 1919 World Series” has been found and will be auctioned off in Chicago. Copies have been made of the documents and sent to the Hall of Fame. Maybe ‘Shoeless’ Joe and Buck Weaver will finally be cleared….