A Creative Off-Season Ahead for Hendry?

As the baseball world converged on the Happiest Place on Earth, the rumor mill picked up a little steam Monday as Jim Hendry prepared for the GM Meetings. In recent years, Hendry has laid the groundwork on free agent signings and trades during this week.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, Jim Hendry “will have to be creative” in order to find a way to add a starting pitcher, a reliever and a first baseman. Hendry “may have as little as $5 million in payroll flexibility going into this off-season.”

Hendry has spoken to Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney about the payroll for 2011. “It’s not a final number yet, but we’ve known for the last couple of months where we’re going. The volume payroll is not a negative or a detriment to winning. Other teams are winning with less.”

Here’s the update … including more on Jake Westbrook, Javier Vazquez, Jon Garland, Adam Dunn, Kerry Wood, Jason Frasor, Starlin Castro, Mitch Atkins and the 26th annual Cubs Convention.

The Rumor Mill
According to Bruce Levine, Jim Hendry’s “creativity will be tested this off-season.”

The Cubs are looking to trade Kosuke Fukudome and sign a Kerry Wood-type setup man and either trade for, or sign, a starting pitcher. Another option, according to Levine, is for the Cubs to move Andrew Cashner back to the rotation.

Levine mentioned “Hendry will have to be quick on his feet, possibly offering some of his minor league talent to acquire a first baseman in a deal rather than spend the money on a free agent first baseman … or trade Major League starting pitching for other teams’ starting pitching.”

Money “now prohibits” the Cubs from signing Adam Dunn. The Cubs original off-season target was the one-dimensional player, and Dunn wanted to sign with the Cubs, but payroll limitations have apparently taken Adam Dunn off the Cubs radar.

Kerry Wood remains a possibility … if they can make Wood “a decent offer”. Wood would likely return as a setup man to Carlos Marmol. If Wood is out of the Cubs price range, Jason Frasor, Grant Balfour, Chad Durbin or Jesse Crain could fill the role.

As for Jake Westbrook, the Cubs “like” the veteran right-hander according to Levine. But Westbrook “will be looking for a minimum of two years with an option.” Javier Vazquez, Jon Garland and Kevin Millwood could also be an option.

In Other News
Starlin Castro finished tied for fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year vote Monday. Buster Posey took the award with Jason Heyward finishing second. Castro tied with the Pirates’ Neil Walker, for fifth … both players received three points. The Cubs shortstop received three third place votes.

Mitch Atkins signed a minor league deal with the Orioles according to a report from the Baltimore Sun.

The 26th Annual Cubs Convention
This is not a paid advertisement or an advertisement of any kind … this is just an observation.

Tickets for the annual Cubs Convention went on sale back on November 3 and passes are still available.

Is this the economy or the Faithful showing their disgust?

Quote of the Day
“Payroll-wise we got ourselves into a spot where it went real high real fast. Sometimes those things lead to not being able to do everything you want in an off-season. But it won’t be negative on us.” – Jim Hendry (from ESPNChicago.com)

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Well, there is the update … and I’m sticking to it.

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe