Off the Field News … On the Field Cubs Rumors

As the baseball world descends on Indianapolis ahead of the Winter Meetings that begin on Monday, the Chicago Cubs made a few off the field headlines on Friday.

From Spring Training to ticket prices to a facelift for the old scoreboard, there were several tidbits to come out of the offices at Clark and Addison … and of course there was a fare share of rumors to make the rounds as well.

The Cubs will look at Ben Sheets, J.J. Putz and a left-handed hitting centerfielder. Here is the latest before the annual gathering …

Milton Bradley

The Cubs are still involved with the Mets and Rays (and possibly a third team) on deal that would net them Luis Castillo for Milton Bradley. According to a report from Bruce Levine, the “main clubs appear to be the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Mets.” The Cubs would send Bradley to the Rays, the Mets would receive Pat Burrell and Castillo would end up on the North Side … somewhere a long the way all of the money would be sorted out.

The Cubs could be getting close to trading Milton Bradley … and are expected to move him before the end of the winter meetings.

Jayson Stark reported Milton Bradley was the “runaway winner” of the player most likely to be traded during the winter meetings. According to Stark, “Cubs officials have told other clubs they are confident Bradley will be an ex-Cubbie by the time they hit the on-ramp to I-65 on Thursday.

According to a report from Cubs.com, as “many as three teams are interested in Milton Bradley” and Jim Hendry will spend next week trying to find the right deal to trade him.

From the Hot Stove

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are targeting a left-handed centerfielder and a right-handed platoon outfielder … like Reed Johnson. The right-handed outfielder would platoon with Kosuke Fukudome in right field.

If the Cubs have room in the payroll, Levine indicated they would like to sign a free agent outfielder. Levine mentioned Marlon Byrd, Mike Cameron, Rick Ankiel and Coco Crisp as players the Cubs “might look at.

According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs are looking for at least one more veteran for the bullpen.

Bruce Levine mentioned the Cubs “will look at players like rehab projects Ben Sheets and J.J. Putz down the line” … and will look to improve the team further after all of the non-tenders hit the open market on December 12. Jim Hendry must clear payroll in order to have any flexibility to make additional changes.

Ken Rosenthal broke the news and it appears Chone Figgins is on the verge of signing a huge contract with the Seattle Mariners … and the deal could impact the Cubs off-season. Rumors have suggested the Cubs are interested in Curtis Granderson but if Figgins signs the deal with the M’s, as expected, the Angels are expected to turn up their pursuit of Curtis Granderson. Apparently the M’s are waiting to see if Adrian Beltre will accept the salary arbitration Seattle offered him. The deadline for players to accept is Monday …

Off the Field News

  • The Cubs will make the announcement by early January on whether they will be staying in Arizona or moving their spring training home to Florida.
  • The Cubs are “close to naming a permanent sponsor for the new 60-foot-high sign that will go up on a billboard attached to the left centerfield bleachers” according to a report from Bruce Levine. Budweiser and Bud Light are two of the possibilities.
  • The Cubs raised ticket prices in some areas … and will make the Tribune Seats available to season ticket holders. Seven hundred names of the 120,000 waiting to buy season tickets at Wrigley will be given a chance to purchase the seats … or other locations vacated by current season ticket holders that decided to upgrade.
  • Skyboxes 1-6 have been turned into a new Wrigley Field Club and the Ricketts family will reconfigure luxury boxes 6-8 into their personal boxes and Wrigley office.
  • The back of the old centerfield scoreboard will be refaced according to a report from the Tribune. The familiar neon “Chicago Cubs” will remain and the back of the scoreboard will be free of ads for now … the Cubs are looking into marketing possibilities that would generate more revenue.

Jake Fox on XM Radio

The former Cubs’ slugger joined Casey Stern and Kevin Kennedy during Inside Pitch on Friday afternoon. The always positive and upbeat Jake Fox talked about being traded to the A’s and playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.

Jake Fox found out about the trade on his way to Welington Castillo’s house for dinner. Fox said he and Castillo are very good friends and were in the car when he received the call from Jim Hendry.

Fox said he respected the way Jim Hendry handled the situation. Hendry told Fox he was not a fit with the Chicago Cubs and said he could not live with himself if he did not find a place for Fox to play in order to further his career.

Fox admitted he will miss Chicago and the Cubs’ fans but feels it is best for his career to go to another team and play everyday.

Billy Beane called Fox about 30 minutes after he got off the phone with Hendry and the two discussed Fox’s future with the A’s. Fox said he’s been working hard on his defense … but realizes what will keep him in a lineup is his offense.

Kevin Kennedy raved about Fox’s attitude at the conclusion of the segment. Kennedy called the trade a great move for the A’s and Billy Beane and wondered how someone could trade a player with Fox’s attitude and enthusiasm. Kennedy said you find a place for someone to play with an attitude like that … you don’t trade it.

Jake Fox told Waddle and Silvy that the Cubs underestimated his ability.

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ChicagoCubsOnline will have full recaps and updates during the winter meetings. If the Cubs make a move, the CCO will post it. If the Cubs are rumored to be making a move, the CCO will post it … so check back early and often to discuss all of the moves at Baseball’s Winter Meetings here at the CCO.

Well, that’s the latest … and I’m sticking to it!

Quote of the Day

"Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value." - Albert Einstein
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