Are the Cubs In or Out on Fielder?

The Cubs are interested in signing Prince Fielder. The Cubs do not have the money to sign Prince Fielder. The Cubs are the front-runner to sign Prince Fielder. The Cubs have not spoken to Prince Fielder. Industry consensus: Prince Fielder will sign with the Cubs. Dale Sveum: “We haven’t had any talks with Prince Fielder.”

Until Prince Fielder signs his new mega-deal, the conflicting reports will continue to surface … and there will be no way to avoid them. The bottom line is, the Cubs have a big hole at first base and there is a solution to their problem on the open market. The question is how much will it cost to sign him … both in terms of money and length of contract.

Depending on the report, the Cubs are believed to be interested in signing Prince Fielder. Fielder fits the long-term vision of the Cubs’ new regime. And while the Cubs do not figure to compete for a division title next season, according to Ken Rosenthal few in baseball doubt Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will turn the Cubs into a force in short order.

According to a report from Bruce Levine on Friday night, the Cubs are negotiating parameters of a contract with Paul Maholm and if the money is right, the Cubs could end up adding a much-needed starter to the mix.

Here is the update that includes more on Prince Fielder, an update on the compensation for Theo Epstein, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Dale Sveum’s coaching staff

Prince Fielder
According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs do not want to sign Prince Fielder to a long-term contract, like the 10-year deal Albert Pujols just inked. Most in the game are concerned about Fielder’s body type and would prefer to sign him to a shorter term contract with a high AAV.

As the CCO has reported over the last few weeks, the Cubs could be interested in Fielder on a five or six-year guaranteed contract with a high AAV that could include player or mutual options on the backend of the contract to protect both the player and the club. An opt-out clause would also give Fielder an opportunity to test the market again in his low 30s.

Ken Rosenthal indicated “the Cubs’ preference likely six or seven years” and Scott Boras would “love to beat Pujols’ average annual salary of $25.4 million” and Boras is looking for an opt-out clause.

Rosenthal speculated the Cubs could offer a seven-year, $178.5 million contract which would carry a $25.5 million AAV.

Despite rumored interest from the Mariners, Rangers and possibly the Nationals, Rosenthal sees Fielder as the Cubs’ player to lose.

Yu Darvish
According to multiple reports, the Blue Jays submitted the highest bid in the posting process for Yu Darvish. Reports varied on Friday as to the amount the Jays bid to acquire the rights to negotiate a contract with Darvish. Figures ranged anywhere from $50-$60 million.

The official announcement from the Commissioner’s Office will not be made until Tuesday. So while the Cubs appear to be out of the mix for Darvish, nothing is official at this point.

Sveum’s Coaching Staff
The Cubs finally announced the big league coaching staff for next season on Friday. As expected, Jamie Quirk (bench coach), Chris Bosio (pitching coach) and Dave McKay (first base coach) joined Rudy Jaramillo (hitting coach), Pat Listach (third base coach) and Lester Strode (bullpen coach) to form Sveum’s staff.

The Cubs also announced two additions to the big league coaching staff on Friday … Franklin Font and Mike Borzello.

Franklin Font has been in the Cubs organization serving as minor league infield coordinator. Font has garnered quite a reputation and has a strong relationship with Starlin Castro. Font’s technical title is special assistant to Dale Sveum but according to reports, Font will assist Rudy Jaramillo. This is a positive step forward for the organization … hiring an assistant hitting coach is slowly becoming the norm around the game.

Mike Borzello, like Font, is technically a special assistant to Sveum but his responsibilities will include working with the catchers and being involved in advance scouting.

News, Notes and Rumors
According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi, there has not been much buzz surrounding Marlon Byrd but that could change quickly. Morosi does not understand why teams have not shown much interest in Byrd. The Nationals are looking for an everyday centerfielder and could be a fit according to Morosi and the Marlins could be as well, depending on what they do with Hanley Ramirez. The Reds, Giants and Mariners could also use an upgrade in center according to Morosi.

The Cubs are maintaining a high price on Matt Garza according to Jon Paul Morosi. Earlier in the week, the CCO reported the Cubs could be working on a contract extension with Garza and could be looking at building around him instead of trading him. Morosi indicated if the Cubs sign Fielder they could look to keep Garza.

The Alfonso Soriano trade rumors surfaced again on Friday. For the second time this week a member of the mainstream media reported the Cubs would be willing to trade Soriano and eat $15 million ($45 million total) of the $18 million ($54 million total) Soriano is owed per season over the last three years of his contract. Jon Paul Morosi reported the Mariners and Indians would make the most sense for Soriano … especially if the Cubs are willing to eat that much of his contract.

Ben Cherington joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden during Inside Pitch (MLB Radio Network/XM Radio) on Friday afternoon. The Red Sox’s new GM discussed a variety of topics … and two related to the Chicago Cubs. The Red Sox have had conversations with the agent for Joe Saunders and plan on continuing the dialogue. Bowden asked Cherington how much longer before the compensation for Theo Epstein would be settled. Cherington indicated the compensation should be announced in the next 15-20 years, laughed and said it will be sometime this off-season. Cherington shrugged off the question like it was not a big deal.

Dale Sveum and his coaching staff have been meeting in Arizona preparing for Spring Training.

Chris Robinson, who came to the Cubs’ organization from the Tigers in the Neifi Perez deal back in 2006, has signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers.

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

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