Is Jonny Gomes the Cubs First Choice?

Two of the Cubs rumored options have come off the “big board” in the last 48 hours. Rick Ankiel agreed to terms with the Royals and Jose Contreras will pitch for Charlie Manuel in Philly this season.

Jim Hendry has two spots he would like to fill before Spring Training … a right-handed outfielder and a reliever. According to Dave Kaplan, the Cubs are in negotiations with Jonny Gomes. Lou Piniella’s former outfielder is the Cubs first choice to fill one of their two needs.

Here’s the latest … including additions to the mill and two minor league signings.

Sports Central Rumors

Dave Kaplan talked Cubs briefly during Friday night’s Sports Central. Kaplan said the Cubs are in negotiations with Jonny Gomes, their first choice to be the team’s fourth outfielder.

Reed Johnson is still on their radar but Jermaine Dye could be pricing himself out of a job with the Cubs. According to Kaplan, Dye is too expensive for the Cubs and their limited budget.

As for Ben Sheets, the Cubs are interested in Sheets but only on a one-year incentive laden deal with a low base. Kaplan said the one-year the Cubs are interested in giving Sheets could include an option for a second year. But Sheets is looking for a contract worth between $6 and $8 million.

Kiko Calero is still in the mix. Kaplan mentioned possible negotiations with Calero but only on a one-year contract … they are concerned about his injury history.

Relievers, Outfielders and Ben Sheets

According to a report from Jayson Stark, add the names of Fernando Tatis and Chan Ho Park to a long list of players the Cubs have contacted this winter. Stark mentioned Fernando Tatis’ name in a list of possible fourth outfielders that includes Xavier Nady, Jermaine Dye, Reed Johnson and Jonny Gomes on Friday.

Between Jermaine Dye and Jonny Gomes, Keith Law would take Gomes … but he’s not too thrilled about either player. Gomes is not a total nightmare in the outfield according to Law.

As for Chan Ho Park, the former Phillies’ swingman was on Stark’s list along with Kiko Calero.

Ben Sheets has been put on the Cubs’ backburner according to Stark.

Minor League Signings

The Cubs signed two familiar faces earlier in the week … catcher Mark Johnson and third baseman Scott McClain.

Both players received minor league deals without invitations to big league camp according to Bruce Miles.

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

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