What’s Next for the Cubs?

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day was quite busy in recent years under the previous regime. Due to the fact that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been playing catch-up since they took over, the final five days of 2011 could be busy for the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs announced a pair of minor signings on Monday and more figure to be on the horizon.

The Cubs agreed to terms on a non-guaranteed split contract with right-hander Andy Sonnanstine. The former Ray figures to compete for a spot in the Cubs’ rotation and pen this spring and could end up being a swingman if he makes the team out of camp.

Not only did the Cubs announce the signing of Andy Sonnanstine but they also made the signing of Manny Corpas official. The Manny Corpas deal came as no surprise, the signing leaked last week. The only difference is when the news leaked the deal was thought to be a guaranteed Major League contract. Corpas ended up signing a non-guaranteed split contract and will compete for a spot in the Cubs’ pen during Spring Training.

Reed Johnson has reportedly agreed in principal on a one-year deal with the Cubs. The Cubs have not announced Johnson has re-signed and by not making the deal official it gives the team a little roster flexibility … and the same might be happening with Kerry Wood as the new regime tries to figure out their next move.

Here’s the update …

Brad Lidge
According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs “have had at least low-level contact with Brad Lidge.” Lidge is coming off another injury plagued year and seems to fit in with the recent signings and trades of the new regime.

Lidge appeared in only 25 games last season and picked up one save. He lost his closer’s job and could be looking for a way to prove he can still close out games.

If the Cubs are trying to move Carlos Marmol, as reports have suggested, and with Sean Marshall already out of the picture, a veteran like Brad Lidge could help the young relievers with their development and in turn Lidge could show the rest of baseball he can still get the job done.

Brad Lidge’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Talkin’ Baseball with Bruce Levine
Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood talked Chicago baseball on Christmas Eve morning. The team on the North Side dominated the two hour show and here are a few of the highlights:

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs have high hopes for Ronald Torreyes, the 19-year old second baseman acquired in the Travis Wood-Sean Marshall deal. Levine said the Cubs project him as their starting second baseman in the near future and pairing him with Starlin Castro for the next 8-10 years.
Levine also said that Dave Sappelt could make the Cubs’ roster out of Spring Training this year if they are able to trade Alfonso Soriano and Marlon Byrd.
As for Matt Garza’s future with the Cubs, Levine thinks there is a 20 percent chance Matt Garza is with the Cubs on Opening Day. Levine said the Cubs are talking to Garza’s agent about a 4-5 year contract extension if they cannot find a suitable trade. The prospects the Yankees and Blue Jays are offering could be appealing to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer but they have not decided what they would like to do with Garza … trade him or build around him.
Jonathan Hood asked Levine about the compensation packages the Cubs still owe the Red Sox and Padres for Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod. Levine said the Epstein compensation could have already been settled. Levine explained there is no prescedent for a team to receive compensation for a general manager moving from a team and receiving a promotion to team president other than Andy MacPhail. The Twins received a minor league pitcher and $200,000 for MacPhail when he took over the Cubs. The Red Sox were being unreasonable at first due to Larry Lucchino making the situation personal. The Sox asked for the likes of Matt Garza, Geovany Soto and Starlin Castro at one point because he was mad at Theo Epstein. Levine thinks the two sides may have already worked out the compensation by agreeing that Theo Epstein could not hire another Red Sox’s employee for three years. The agreement between the two teams was a big deal for Boston because they do not want to lose any more of their current front office staff and scouts.

News, Notes and Rumors

According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi, the Cubs are still involved with talks for Prince Fielder. The Cubs insistence that they are rebuilding would seem to point to zero interest by the team in inking Fielder to a big money, long-term contract. The Cubs continue to deny interest but the national media keeps linking Fielder to the Cubs.

Jon Paul Morosi reiterated the Cubs interest in trading for Anthony Rizzo. But do the Cubs have anything to offer the Padres’ for Rizzo? Any possible deal for Rizzo that included Matt Garza likely would need a third team to be involved. The cash-strapped Padres do not have room for Garza under their payroll restrictions.

As for other possible first basemen … Derrek Lee, Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman are available and could be options for the Cubs as Morosi pointed out. The Cubs’ new regime never closed the door on Pena returning but if the Cubs are interested in Lee or Kotchman, it would be the first time this off-season they’ve been connected to either player.

According to Jon Paul Morosi, some in baseball believe Carlos Marmol could be had for the right price.

The Cubs are among several teams with varying degrees of interest in Joe Saunders, Paul Maholm and Jeff Francis. Saunders told MLB Radio Network/XM Radio last week that he would like to sign with a contender.

According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are not done pursuing starters and have talked with lefties Paul Maholm and Jeff Francis.

According to multiple reports from Bruce Levine, Jeff Samardzija will compete for a spot in the Cubs’ rotation this spring.

Shawon Dunston, Jr. tweeted over the holiday weekend that he will be at this year’s Cubs Convention.

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