Winter Meetings Day One: Talk, Talk and More Rumors for the Cubs

Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and the Cubs’ contingent spent the first official day of the Winter Meetings talking to agents and teams trying to gauge the market … but according to Epstein, they are not close on any deals right now. As Epstein has said, the Cubs keep everything close to the vest. And while moves have not happened, the Cubs appear to be in the middle of the action in Dallas.

Here is the update from day one at the Winter Meetings …

Who’s on Third?
One of the many holes the Cubs have to fill this off-season is third base. The Cubs and Aramis Ramirez have parted ways. Ramirez is receiving a lot of interest … with the Phillies stepping up on Monday and may have become the front-runner to sign Ramirez.

The Phillies are now trying to move Placido Polanco and the Cubs could be interested. Polanco is under contract for one more season ($6.25 million in 2012) and the three-year deal he signed in December of 2009 has a mutual option for 2013 worth $5.5 million that includes a $1 million buyout.

The Cubs continue to be connected to Ian Stewart and Chase Headley. The Rockies are looking for more than a utility player (Blake DeWitt) in return for Stewart. According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Rockies are more interested in Scott Maine or D.J. LeMahieu than they are in Blake DeWitt in a trade for Stewart.

A report from the Denver Post indicated that Stewart’s wrist is healing. Stewart is swinging lightly off a tee and he is in California working with a hitting coach. Stewart injured his wrist during the first game of the Rockies’ Cactus League schedule and battled the injury all season. Stewart does have minor league options left which would give the Cubs a little flexibility if they end up trading for him.

According to the North County Times, the Padres are asking a ton for Chase Headley due to the lack of quality third basemen on the market this winter. According to the NCTimes’ sources the Padres “asking price could scare some potential trade partners off.”

According to Bruce Levine, the Padres are looking for bullpen help in return for Chase Headley and are hoping the Cubs might part with a couple of pitchers, including left-hander James Russell.

Carrie Muskat reported the Cubs’ options at third base include Jeff Baker, D.J. LeMahieu, Josh Vitters and Junior Lake … and the Cubs are not thinking about moving Starlin Castro from shortstop to third base.

Pitching, Pitching and Pitching
The Cubs are trying to find starting pitchers. Right now they have four big league starters on their 40-man roster and two of those pitchers are Matt Garza and Carlos Zambrano.

The Cubs met with C.J. Wilson’s agent on Monday according to Ken Rosenthal but Wilson is asking for too much money and too many years. The Nationals made a six-year offer to the southpaw according to XM Radio’s Jim Duquette … or did they? Mike Rizzo denied making the offer to Wilson … then a late report from Jon Paul Morosi indicated the Angels were making a push to sign Wilson.

As for Mark Buehrle, the Cubs are rumored to still be in the mix … but so is most of baseball. The Nationals and Marlins appear to be the most interested but Buehrle is looking for a no-trade clause … and the Marlins’ will hand out no-trade clauses.

According to Joe Cowley, if the Marlins lose out on Buehrle they could turn to plan B which might include Carlos Zambrano. Cowley reported Monday night that the Marlins and Cubs met to discuss what the Cubs are looking for in return for Zambrano.

Another one of the Cubs rumored targets, Aaron Harang, appears to have a two-year deal in place with the Dodgers worth more than $12 million. The Cubs were rumored to be interested in Harang and Chris Capuano but both have signed two-year contracts with the Dodgers.

Could the Cubs be interested in bringing back Rodrigo Lopez?

Theo Epstein said he met with the agent for Albert Pujols, Dan Lozano, on Monday. But Lozano also represents Rodrigo Lopez. Epstein mentioned the discussion with Lozano about Lopez on the MLB Network but at the time his comments appeared to be of the sarcastic nature.

According to both Carrie Muskat and the Sun-Times, the Cubs are interested in bringing back Lopez to give them starting pitching depth.

Who’s on First?
The Cubs are interested in Albert Pujols according to Ken Rosenthal but right now the extent of the interest is unknown.

The Cubs are expected to sit down with Scott Boras to discuss Prince Fielder … and possibly Carlos Pena. Many think the Cubs are very interested in Fielder because of his age and he fits the profile of the type of player the Cubs are looking to have on their roster. According to Jim Bowden, the Cubs could make Prince Fielder a short-term offer with a high AAV (similar to the rumor that surfaced Sunday about Albert Pujols).

Bryan LaHair could end up being an option at first base next season. LaHair met with Epstein and Hoyer while at the Winter Meetings accepting his minor league MVP award. LaHair discussed his future with the Cubs and was told they would like to give him an opportunity while at the same time not making any promises.

Sveum’s Coaching Staff
The Cubs are expected to announce Dale Sveum’s coaching staff at some point this week … and the hold up in the announcement does appear to be Craig Counsell.

Chris Bosio (pitching coach), Rudy Jaramillo (hitting coach), Jamie Quirk (bench coach), Pat Listach (base coach) and Lester Strode (bullpen coach) are reportedly on his staff and Sveum has talked to Craig Counsell about a coaching job as well.

Counsell is trying to decide if he’s ready to retire and his agent, Barry Meister, is in Dallas trying to determine possible interest in his client. Meister confirmed that Counsell has spoken with Sveum but according to Doug Melvin, the position with the Cubs is not there anymore … stay tuned.

According to the Tribune, Dale Sveum is looking to bring in longtime Dave McKay as a coach.

News, Notes and More Rumors

The Brewers’ GM, Doug Melvin, does not have plans right now to meet with Scott Boras concerning Prince Fielder. According to Buster Olney, the Brewers are telling people they are pretty much out on Fielder and are moving on.

Multiple reports are indicating teams are showing interest in Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs would have to eat a lot of the remaining $54 million owed over the next three years. Could the Cubs’ new front office end up swinging a bad contract for a bad contract and fill a need?

Carlos Zambrano might return to the mound this weekend according to Carrie Muskat.

The Cubs are still looking to add to their front office. Theo Epstein is interviewing candidates while in Dallas to fill scouting and player development positions.

According to the Tribune, former Cubs’ southpaw John Koronka has be rehired by the organization. Koronka will serve as a regional scout in charge of Florida

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

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Quote of the Day

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