The Field of Six, Darvish, Cespedes, Wood, Buehrle … and Other Cubs Notes and Rumors

The Cubs list of managerial candidates went from five to six on Tuesday after the Cubs’ brass “officially” added Terry Francona to the mix. Many thought Francona had been a candidate since Mike Quade was relieved of his duties a couple of weeks back … Theo Epstein has been talking to Francona during the process to hire the Cubs’ new manager. The Cubs’ front office has done follow ups with each of the candidates since their formal interviews.

Jed Hoyer said a favorite has not emerged among the six candidates. The Cubs are expected to meet with Dale Sveum again while Sveum is in Milwaukee meeting with the Red Sox. Sveum is considered to be the front-runner to land the job in Boston … Larry Lucchino and John Henry are expected to join Ben Cherington for the Red Sox’s second interview with Sveum on Wednesday.

The feeling at the GM Meetings is that Mike Maddux is the favorite to land the Cubs’ job but Maddux is still weighing family concerns according to Jed Hoyer.

The Cubs field is now set according to Epstein and Hoyer and the Cubs’ brass has moved into the evaluation and decision phrase of the process. The Cubs have not set a deadline to name a manager. Epstein said this is an important week before adding they could conduct more follow-up interviews. Once Epstein and Hoyer make a decision, the candidate will meet with the Ricketts family before an official announcement is made.

Outside of a manager, a coaching staff and the front office, the Cubs’ other off-season priorities are pitching, defense and left-handed bats according to the information Jim Bowden has been given from other GMs this week.

According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Cubs have had multiple conversations with Mark Buehrle’s agent. Could the former South Sider and lifelong Cardinals’ fan end up on the North Side of Chicago?

Kerry Wood has spoken with Theo Epstein and it seems to be just a formality before Wood re-signs with the Cubs … plus, could the Cubs’ be changing switch-hitting backup catchers and bring in a player that has a history with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer? Here’s the update …

Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes
According to Bruce Levine, the biggest rumor surrounding the Cubs at the GM Meetings is the team will be moving strongly into the international market and will be going after Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes.

The Cubs will be one of several teams bidding for both players. Yu Darvish has not been posted yet and if he is, he would not be posted until after the conclusion of the Japan Series. The Cubs would have to pay a posting fee and many think the fee will be between what the Mariners’ paid to negotiate a contract with Ichiro Suzuki ($13.125M) and what Boston paid Seibu for the right to talk to Daisuke Matsuzaka ($51,111,111) and Scott Boras back in 2006. Levine thinks Darvish would be the number two starter in the Cubs’ rotation.

Jason McLeod will be in the Dominican Republic later this week to watch Yoenis Cespedes. Many think the best player to come out of Cuba in a generation will sign a contract north of the six-year, $30.25 million contract the Reds gave Aroldis Chapman.

Kerry Wood
According to a report from Bruce Levine, it appears to a question of when will Kerry Wood re-sign with the Cubs, not if. Wood spoke with Theo Epstein last week and Jed Hoyer sung Wood’s praises on Tuesday.

“Theo has met with him and I’ve begun to talk to Pat Rooney [Wood’s agent]. So we are going to consider bringing him back. My view of him is he’s a guy who brings toughness. He doesn’t shy away from big moments and big games. I think that’s something really important. Chicago is a big stage and it’s a mistake to take that for granted. Not every guy comes in from the outside can necessarily handle it. I think it’s monumental sentiment that he expressed last year toward the city when he came back. It’s important to the club and the fans. It was a very meaningful gesture.”

Wood had successful arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee on the last day of September … the recovery time was six weeks. Theo Epstein tried to sign Wood last off-season to a multi-year deal before Wood agreed to take less money to return to the organization that drafted him in 1995.

Mark Buehrle
According to reports from Jon Paul Morosi and Phil Rogers, the Cubs are interested in signing Mark Buehrle. XM Radio’s Jim Bowden is predicting Buehrle will receive a four-year, $56 million deal this off-season.

This rumor has “some juice” according to the Daily Herald and the Cubs make sense for Buehrle “because family is vital for the left-hander and he has lived in Chicago during the season for the past 12 years.”

According to the Daily Herald, the Cubs “would be interested in signing Buehrle is the price tag and years aren’t astronomical.” The Herald mentioned a similar price tag that Bowden predicted.

Tidbits from Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPNChicago.com, here are a few highlights:

  • Levine thinks that Terry Francona could be the favorite to land the Cubs’ job … but Mike Maddux and Sandy Alomar, Jr. may be the front-runners with Francona being a wild card.
  • Jason Varitek “is presumed to be a future backup catcher with the Cubs due to the fact that he brings a solid culture with him and would be a steady influence to the young players.”
  • Levine added to the Varitek speculation that it is time to get one of those young catchers (Welington Castillo, Steve Clevenger) to the big leagues … and if Jed Hoyer was to bring in the former Sox backstop that would probably mean that Geovany Soto was traded.
  • There are still rumblings that Bryan LaHair could sign a contract to play in Japan next season.
  • Teams will talk to the Cubs about Carlos Marmol, despite his 10 blown saves last season. Andrew Cashner or Jeff Samardzija could step into the closer’s role.
  • Levine thinks Andrew Cashner will end up back in the bullpen.

Rumors, News and Notes

  • According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are focused on another Cuban defector … Jorge Soler, a 6-foot-3, 19-year old outfielder. The Nationals and Yankees are also interested in signing the athletic, hard-hitting outfielder that one scout said has a “plus-arm” and “plus-bat speed.”
  • The Cubs could be looking at Aaron Harang, Livan Hernandez and Chris Capuano according to the Sun-Times. Keep in mind with Harang, Jed Hoyer signed the former Reds’ pitcher to a contract last off-season.
  • The Cubs have not decided if Andrew Cashner will be a reliever or a starter next season.
  • Starlin Castro will meet with Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein this weekend in Chicago. But a long-term contract will not be discussed at that time according to Castro’s agent, Paul Kinzer. Kinzer is not in a hurry to get Castro signed to a long-term contract but said Castro will be paid well soon.
  • According to the Sun-Times, it appears Sandy Alomar, Jr. is ‘Plan C’ in the Cubs’ managerial search.
  • Ryne Sandberg is likely to return to the Phillies’ organization according to a report from Comcast SportsNet. Rumors have suggested that Sandberg could end up on Charlie Manuel’s staff if Pete Mackanin ends up with either the Cubs or Red Sox. The other scenario has Sandberg managing the Leigh High Valley Iron Pigs (Triple-A) again.
  • Kenny Williams is amused at the length of time it is taking for the Red Sox and Cubs to workout the compensation package for Theo Epstein.

Jed Hoyer on the talking trades with other teams at the GM Meetings … from Cubs.com

“We’re still very much in the information gathering mode on all of that stuff [re: free agents]. We’re not really in a position to rule out much at this point. We’re going to listen on a lot of things and think about a lot of things. I’d be misleading if I started to dice up the free agent pool too much.”

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

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon