Cubs Bid on Yu Darvish … and Other News, Notes and Rumors

The Chicago Cubs continue making headlines … from bidding on Yu Darvish to buying the McDonald’s property across the street from Wrigley to Prince Fielder and Coco Crisp, there doesn’t seem to be a dull moment this off-season. The last few weeks of the calendar year could be very interesting as the new front office tries to build a roster for the 2012 season.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs submitted a blind bid for Yu Darvish prior to Wednesday’s deadline. Reportedly the bids for the posting fee on Darvish were sky-high and could end up north of $50 million. One executive told Jeff Passan that he believes the Cubs posted the highest bid.

The announcement of the winning bid for Yu Darvish could come as early as Thursday but has to be made by Tuesday, December 20.

The Cubs could be interested in acquiring another Japanese player. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are one of the teams that like infielder Hiroyuki Nakajima. The Yankees won the exclusive negotiating rights to Nakajima in the posting process on December 7 with a $2.5 million bid. Nakajima is not interested in being a bench player in New York. According to Rosenthal, the Yankees could work a sign and trade for the 29-year old infielder … and the Cubs were mentioned as one of the teams that could be interested.

Here is the update that includes more info on Jason Varitek, Prince Fielder, Yu Darvish and Carlos Zambrano …

The Cubs Deserve a Break …
All bad jokes aside, the Chicago Cubs took the first step toward making improvements around Wrigley Field.

According to multiple reports, the Ricketts family purchased the parcel of land across from Wrigley Field that is currently occupied by McDonald’s. The family bought the land located at 3620 North Clark for $20 million to develop a mixed use entertainment project.

The specific plans for the one-acre were not discussed but the land is located across the street from the triangle-shaped parcel of land next to the stadium and will not affect that long-stalled development.

Yu Darvish
The Cubs are believed to be one of as many as ten teams that submitted a bid on Yu Darvish prior to Wednesday’s deadline. The Nippon-Ham Fighters, Darvish’s Japanese team, has until Tuesday, December 20 to accept the winning bid. According to multiple reports on Wednesday night, the bid was so high that there is little doubt the Nippon-Ham Fighters will accept the winning team’s posting fee.

Once the winning team is announced, the team has 30 days to negotiate a contract with Yu Darvish. If the two sides cannot reach an agreement on a contract, Darvish is returned to his Japanese team and the MLB team’s posting fee is returned.

Darvish comes with a lot of uncertainty. While the numbers he put up in Japan look good, how his skills will transfer to Major League Baseball is the $100-plus million question.

Yu Darvish’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Prince Fielder
Prince Fielder and Scott Boras are looking for an eight-ten year contract at roughly $25 million a year according to Dave Kaplan. Most do not think that Fielder will receive an eight-year deal much less a ten-year contract.

Kaplan reported that the Cubs have interest in signing Fielder but they are not prepared to go as long as eight to ten years.

The Cubs have been connected to Fielder on a daily basis by the mainstream media and many in baseball think Fielder will end up signing with the Cubs. Kaplan pointed out that Fielder fits the Cubs and he should take charge of his negotiations so he can end up in the best place for him as well.

Kaplan thinks a five-year deal worth $25 million per season with a sixth year option should get a deal with Fielder done.

Jason Varitek
The Cubs possible interest in Jason Varitek resurfaced on Wednesday. The Cubs have been connected to Varitek frequently over the past month and these rumors should gain more steam in the coming weeks.

Rumors have suggested the Cubs are listening to offers for Geovany Soto and if they are able to trade Soto, the Cubs would need a veteran back-up to mentor either Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger.

The Cubs’ brass is obviously familiar with Varitek and what he could bring to the Cubs’ clubhouse … plus, the Cubs could have a productive back-up catcher for the first time in years.

Jason Varitek posted a .221/.300/.423/.723 line in 250 plate appearances (68 games) last year with 10 doubles, triple and 11 home runs.

Jason Varitek’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Keep in mind, Oneri Fleita has sung Welington Castillo’s praises for a long time. Fleita has often compared him to Yadier Molina. Castillo can hit and has a very strong arm but struggles with game calling and consistency. The addition of a catcher like Jason Varitek that knows his role and is willing to mentor a young catcher, like he did last season, could help Welington Castillo to take his game to the next level.

News, Notes and Rumors
According to Peter Gammons, the Cubs are willing to eat $15 million of the $18 million per season owed to Alfonso Soriano over the final three years of his contract in order to move him … Soriano for $3 million per year would have to be appealing for an AL team looking for a designated hitter/part-time outfielder.

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Coco Crisp could be drawing interest from the Chicago Cubs … to play left field.

Peter Gammons also reported that a Carlos Zambrano trade might happen in the next couple of weeks … with Miami being a possible destination.

Speaking of Carlos Zambrano, Z returned to the mound on Wednesday night in Venezuela. Zambrano tossed four hitless innings, struck out one and walked a batter in his first action since being hit with a comebacker in November.

The mainstream media finally added the Cubs lack of starting pitching to Tim Wakefield’s availability and came up with the Cubs could be interested in signing the veteran knuckleballer.

Bobby Scales and Micah Hoffpauir discussed teammate Yu Darvish with Patrick Mooney of Comcast SportsNet.

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

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