The Cubs took care of a little business on Monday and created a roster spot in the process. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer tendered contracts to six of the team’s seven salary arbitration players (three-six years of service time). Geovany Soto, Ian Stewart, Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker, Randy Wells and Matt Garza were all tendered contracts for 2012. Koyie Hill was the only player non-tendered a contract and has become a free agent. The Cubs 40-man roster now stands at 36 players.
Instead of just a one-year contract, the Cubs could be talking contract extension with Matt Garza. For the second time in recent days, the Tribune reported Garza could be in line for a contract extension.
Not only did the Koyie Hill Era come to end on Monday but Aramis Ramirez’s officially came to an end as well. Aramis Ramirezagreed to terms with the Brewers on a three-year deal reportedly worth $36 million that includes a mutual option for a fourth year. The Cubs receive a sandwich pick (between first and second round) in the 2012 first year player draft when Ramirez officially inks his deal with the Brewers.
With the signing of Ramirez, Brewers’ general manager Doug Melvin said they are no longer in the Prince Fielder sweepstakes. The Cubs are seen as one of the favorites to sign Fielder, despite the Cubs public statement of not having enough room in their budget.
Here is the update … Matt Garza
Rumors over the past few weeks have indicated that the Cubs are shopping, or at least listening to offers on Matt Garza. But could the Cubs be working on an extension with him and instead of trading him, be looking to build a rotation around Garza?
Outside of the win-loss record, which is not the best way to evaluate a starter’s performance, Garza is coming off one of his best seasons at the big league level.
Garza posted a 10-10 record with a 3.32 ERA (career-low) and a 1.25 WHIP (third lowest of career). Garza struck out 197 (career-high), walked 63 (tied for second lowest of career) and served up a career-low 14 home runs. In 198 innings, Garza gave up 186 hits (third lowest total of career) and averaged a career-high 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings.
Multiple reports have suggested the Cubs would have to be blown away by an offer in order to trade Garza … but maybe Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have other plans for the 28-year old right hander.
The bidding for Yu Darvish has begun and teams have until Wednesday, December 14 at 4:00pm CT to submit their bids for the right to negotiate a contract with the young right-hander. Once the silent bids are submitted, Darvish’s Japanese team has until Tuesday, December 20 to decide whether or not to accept the bid. The team with the winning bid has 30 days to work out a contract with Darvish.
The Cubs are rumored to be interested in Darvish and are expected to submit a bid.
Jon Heyman is hearing estimates as high as $112 million for Yu Darvish … the outlandish figure includes the posting fee and contract.
Another young player with a lot of hype right now is Jorge Soler. The 19-year old outfielder has garnered a lot of attention over the last month. While teams seem to be focusing on Yoenis Cespedes, some think Soler could end up as the better player. Soler does not figure to cost as much as Cespedes but he is more of a project and is not seen as Major League ready.
Baseball America discussed Jorge Soler during a Q&A on Monday, here are the highlights.
Jorge Soler is seen as a player with five-tool potential. He is 6-foot-3, 205 pounds with explosive bat speed, power potential, plus speed, plus arm strength and profiles as a classic right fielder. Due to his youth, BA thinks he will need some time to develop but he should be worth the wait.
Soler is more talented than Leonys Martin and four years younger than the Cuban outfielder that signed with the Rangers last year. Texas paid Martin $15.6 million (Major League contract) and Soler is expected to receive a larger deal.
BA pointed out “the new CBA provides for a $2.9 million international cap for each team for the 2012-2013 signing period, but that does not begin until July 2. As long as Soler signs before then he would not be subject to the cap.”
News, Notes and Rumors
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are trying to build a younger team that can succeed at Wrigley Field. According to the Tribune, Epstein and Hoyer are looking to focus on pitching and defense with an athletic team than can win games at Wrigley in spite of the constantly changing weather conditions.
The Padres hired former Cubs’ outfielder Jacque Jones to be the hitting coach for their Low-A Fort Wayne team.
Carlos Zambrano was on the field in Venezuela on Monday night … but not on a mound. Zambrano participated in a home run derby. Zambrano is hoping to pitch again on Wednesday.
According to Jon Heyman and Jim Bowden, three teams among those that are interested in signing Carlos Pena include the Cardinals, Brewers and Indians.
Rich Hill was non-tendered by the Red Sox prior to Monday’s deadline.
Ryan Theriot was non-tendered by the Cardinals prior to Monday’s deadline.
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.
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