Two Minor Signings, A Front Office Hiring … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

Three announcements came out of the offices of 1060 West Addison on the final Friday of Twenty-Eleven … and more rumors on what the Cubs next move, or moves, might be.

According to a report from Baseball America, the Cubs signed two Cuban prospects … but not the ones that have been in the headlines of late.

The Cubs inked 18-year old (turns 19 on January 9) outfielder Yasiel Balaguert and 20-year old right-hander Carlos Martinez. Both players are represented by Jamie Torres, the same representative Rubi Silva and Yaniel Cabeza had when they signed with the Cubs last December.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer also added to their front office staff. The Cubs hired Kyle Evans, a former Major League scout for the Red Sox, to run their video and advance scouting department according to a report from Jon Paul Morosi.

On the rumor front, the Matt Garza talk continued to make headlines. As the CCO reported earlier in the week, the Tigers have shown interest in Matt Garza according to a report from Jon Paul Morosi. The Cubs are looking for a big return in exchange for Garza and reportedly asked the Tigers for a package of prospects that included Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos. According to Jim Bowden, Dave Dombrowski thought that price was a little too high to pay for Matt Garza.

With the 27th Annual Cubs Convention less than two weeks away, here’s the update …

Yasiel Balaguert and Carlos Martinez
The Cubs added two young players to their minor league system according to Baseball America.

Yasiel Balaguert, the soon-to-be-19-year old outfielder is 6 feet, 190 pounds and according to BA he has modest tools and a strong, thick-bodied frame. Balaguert shows occasional power with a quick bat and good extension. Balaguert has a long, upper-cut swing and the right-hander is aggressive at the plate with a pull-oriented approach.

Balaguert shows solid defensive instincts and route running with 40-45 (on the 20-80 scouting scale) speed. His near average arm might end up playing better in left than it has in centerfield.

Carlos Martinez, a 6-foot-4, 215 pound right hander throws a fastball consistently in the low 90s and a breaking ball that needs work.

Both players are young and appear to have upside … but also figure to be long-term projects.

Kyle Evans
The hiring of Kyle Evans comes as no real surprise. A report from WEEI ten days ago said Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were planning on hiring Evans to their staff.

Evans could (and should) have an impact on the way the big league team performs on a daily basis. The Cubs have needed the right advanced scouts for years and Evans should help Dale Sveum prepare his team.

The Cubs plan to utilize scouting reports, analytical data and video to produce easy-to-digest information that is most applicable on the field.

Evans worked with Epstein and Hoyer in Boston but the hiring does not break the agreement the Sox and Cubs made that Epstein would not hire another current Red Sox employee for three years (after the 2014 season)

Matt Garza
According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi, interest in Matt Garza has picked up and multiple teams are aggressively pursuing the Cubs’ right-hander.

The Tigers have been linked to Garza in recent weeks, along with the Blue Jays, Yankees and Red Sox.

According to Morosi, the Yankees are interested in Garza but are not currently engaged in talks with the Cubs due to what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are asking for in return.

As for the Jays interest in Garza, according to Morosi there has been no recent momentum toward a deal … and as the CCO has reported, Boston is interested but do not appear to have a suitable package for Garza after using their better prospects to acquire Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon.

The Cubs are listening to offers for Matt Garza, but will they find a package they deem suitable for a pitcher with two years of team control left?

News, Notes and Rumors

The Marlon Byrd rumors have started to heat up. According to a report from ESPN.com, Byrd could be a fit in either Washington or Boston. Buster Olney reported that Byrd could be a nice one-year solution for the Nationals next season. This is not the first time Byrd has been linked to either the Nationals or the Red Sox this off-season.

The Cubs finally made the hiring of Bill Buckner official … the former Cub will serve as the hitting coach for the Boise Hawks next season.

According to a report from Jon Heyman, a current player on the Nationals roster said his team is shooting to sign Prince Fielder.

For those that have yet to check it out, one of the best baseball resources on the net has finally switched to its new home. Cot’s Contracts has moved to Baseball Prospectus … click here to see how Jeff has improved his great site.

And last, but not least, Jed and Merill Hoyer welcomed their son, Beckett, into the world on Thursday … the same day Theo Epstein turned 38 years old.

Well, there’s the update … and Happy New Year!

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