Cubs Expected to be Active but Limited During Winter Meetings

Jim Hendry and company are at the Happiest Place on Earth … but will the Cubs make any moves over the next week in Lake Buena Vista?

Reportedly the Cubs are looking to fill three needs during Baseball’s Winter Meetings, which officially begin Monday: a left-handed first baseman, a starting pitcher and a right-handed setup man. Jim Hendry has “ample cash and player resources” according to Bruce Levine, but unless they are able to get back into the Adrian Gonzalez sweepstakes, the players seemingly available appear to be stopgaps and reclamation projects and not the impact players the Cubs need to compete in the NL Central.

Here’s the update as the meetings get underway in Orlando …

Updated – 6:51pm CT – According to a tweet from Jon Heyman, the Adrian Gonzalez deal to the Red Sox is done … a press conference is expected on Monday.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, Jim Hendry will “be active but somewhat limited during these meetings due to little payroll flexibility.”

Kosuke Fukudome is expected to be shopped “extensively” over the next four days and a small trade or two “might have to take place before the Cubs sign a free-agent.” The Cubs are hoping there is a team out there that will take Fukudome and at least half of his $13.5 million contract for 2011.

Pitching Coach
According to a report from the Sun-Times, Mark Riggins or Lester Strode will be announced as the Cubs pitching coach this week. It has been a given that Mark Riggins would be handed the job but Lester Strode could swing the gig.

First Base
The Cubs are not officially done in the bid to land Adrian Gonzalez. The Cubs were in the mix as late as Friday but the Red Sox appeared to swing a deal with the Padres early Saturday morning. That appears to be dead due to the fact Boston could not work out an eight-year extension with the slugger … but nothing is official and the Red Sox remain the favorite to land Gonzalez.

The Cubs offered Lance Berkman a $8 million contract according to Levine, that included deferred payments, but Berkman took the Cardinals offer to play left field. With Berkman out of the picture and with Boston still a favorite to land Gonzalez; the Cubs have turned their attention to Lyle Overbay and Carlos Pena.

If the Cubs can’t sign either Overbay or Pena, they might try to trade for Chris Davis according to Bruce Levine. The Rangers are looking for a catcher in return and have asked about Robinson Chirinos and Welington Castillo.

Starting Pitcher
If the Cubs sign a free agent, all signs (and rumors) are pointing toward a reclamation project. The Cubs have been linked heavily to Brandon Webb and Jeff Francis and Hendry appears to be looking for his next Ryan Dempster … and not Wade Miller.

If the Cubs miss out on Webb and Francis they could move Andrew Cashner back to a starting role. The Cubs are uncertain what they will get out of Carlos Silva next season and Tom Gorzelanny, Casey Coleman and Jeff Samardzija are the early names being bantered around for the fifth spot in the rotation … with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Randy Wells filling the first three slots. The Cubs expect Jay Jackson, Chris Archer and Chris Carpenter to be a part of the 2011 staff at some point according to Bruce Levine.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs will look at adding Kerry Wood. Wood fits the Cubs needs (on and off the field) but money constraints might keep a return of Kid K from happening.

With the contract signed by Joaquin Benoit and all of the money flowing in Orlando, “the price for an above-average middle reliever is around $5 million a year on the free agent market.”

Just a reminder, check back in often during the Winter Meetings … the CCO will update as the news and rumors become available, both on the site and on Twitter.

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Stay tuned … it could be a very interesting week.

Quote of the Day

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein