The PF Flyer, Matt Garza … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

Baseball’s off-season is beginning its stretch run. With the holiday season in the rearview mirror, teams have a lot of work to do over the next six weeks leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. It should be a very interesting first month of Twenty-Twelve around the game as well as for the Chicago Cubs.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer appear to be working on several deals that could have a big impact on the roster they begin Spring Training with … much less the regular season. Rumors have suggested Epstein and Hoyer are shopping Matt Garza, Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Marmol and Geovany Soto. Plus, the Cubs are still linked to Prince Fielder on a daily basis.

The Cubs still have to work out contracts for their six arbitration eligible players for next season and announce their non-roster invites to Spring Training. The Cubs’ annual organization meetings, which typically take place in early November, are expected to take place in Mesa a week prior to the start of Spring Training. The Cubs have not announced their reporting dates for pitchers and catchers and position players but under the previous regime pitchers and catchers reported around February 13 with position players five or so days later.

Here are a few important numbers for the Chicago Cubs: 10, 41, 61 and 93 … as in 10 days until the 27th Annual Cubs Convention, 41 days until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, 61 days until the Cubs’ Cactus League opener against the Athletics and 93 days until Opening Day at Wrigley against the Washington Nationals.

Here’s the update …

Prince Fielder
The Cubs continue to be connected to Prince Fielder despite the fact the Cubs’ appear to be in rebuilding mode and not ready to sign free agents to long-term contracts.

Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday morning the Nationals have emerged as a favorite to sign Prince Fielder … then joined Jody McDonald and Mel Antonen during Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) later in the day to discuss his report.

In his report, Haudricourt stated he was told by an MLB official that “word is spreading in the industry that the Washington Nationals have emerged as a favorite” to sign Fielder. The market was slow on Fielder but with the calendar flipping to 2012, Haudricourt expects Scott Boras to try to get a deal for Fielder done soon.

The official Haudricourt spoke to does not know if the Nationals would sign Fielder to the eight-ten year deal Boras is seeking for his client.

Haudricourt explained during his time on Inside Pitch that the Nationals have always been in the mix for Fielder and have ramped up their preparation for the season over the last 10 days … and Fielder could be the next piece they add. The Nationals and Mike Rizzo have a history of doing a lot of business with Scott Boras and it would not surprise Haudricourt if that is where Fielder ends up signing.

When the off-season began, Haudricourt thought the Cubs, Rangers and Mariners were the favorites to sign Fielder and he is not going to count out the Cubs signing Fielder until a deal is actually signed with another team.

Mel Antonen asked Haudricourt what he thought the pros and cons were for Fielder signing with the Cubs. Haudricourt, like just about everyone else, has heard the Cubs’ new regime is not ready to make any long-term commitments right now because they do not see the team competing for two-three years. And he feels that is the only con for Fielder signing with the Cubs.

Haudricourt thinks the Cubs signing Fielder to a long-term deal makes sense for the Cubs because when they are ready to compete, Fielder will be in place and would likely be under contract for another five seasons.

Haudricourt thinks Fielder would like to sign with the Cubs (several reports throughout the off-season have mentioned Fielder’s desire to sign with the Cubs, including one from Ken Davidoff on Monday morning) and pointed out how much he loves hitting at Wrigley, plus there is the Dale Sveum connection. Haudricourt is not convinced Fielder will sign with any team other than the Chicago Cubs.

Scott Boras addressed the market for Prince Fielder and said it is still developing. Boras explained, “As I’ve told many, there’s a lot of passengers on the PF Flyer. I keep having discussions with teams, and they keep coming back after those discussions. We are having a very robust and constant communication with many teams. We’ve had an opportunity over the last 10 days to certainly get more definition, I would say. Normally in free agency, after a period of time you have teams that move to the background. When we think that’s happened, those teams have called back and they’ve changed their position.

Matt Garza
The Cubs are receiving significant interest in Matt Garza according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday. Davidoff joined Jeff Joyce and Todd Hollandsworth during Power Alley (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) on Monday morning and discussed a variety of baseball topics … among them, Matt Garza and Prince Fielder.

Davidoff has heard, like most, the Cubs are asking a lot in return for Matt Garza and have not been able to find a match. The Yankees are very interested and Davidoff thinks there is a decent chance Garza ends up in the Bronx. But it would likely not be for the package of players the Cubs are asking for in return. According to a report from ESPN New York, the Cubs are demanding at least two, if not all three, of the Yankees top prospects (Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances) for Matt Garza … and according to Jon Heyman, the Yankees are trying to decide between trading for Garza or signing Edwin Jackson.

The Blue Jays have been linked to Garza in recent weeks but their interest appears to be fleeting at this point. According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Jays are unlikely to acquire Matt Garza because they are not willing to give up top prospects for a pitcher that would only be under team control for two seasons.

The Tigers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Red Sox and Marlins are the five teams that appear to have the most interest in trading for Matt Garza … and there is no real favorite at this time.

News, Notes and Rumors
According to Ken Davidoff (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio), the amount of years Prince Fielder is seeking is the reason he has not signed yet.

According to a report out of Venezuela, Carlos Zambrano did not make his last Winter League start on Monday night due to a leg injury. The Cubs have not announced Zambrano is injury, so if he is, the extent of the injury is unknown.

Coco Crisp has decided which team he is going to play for in 2012 … the Cubs have been linked to Crisp this off-season and are considered the front-runner to sign him.

Off-Season Calendar
Will update the calendar throughout the off-season

January

  • 5 – Individual game tickets for 2012 Cubs Spring Training home games go on sale
  • 5 – 15 – Salary arbitration filing period
  • 9 – Hall of Fame Class of 2012 announced
  • 13 – 15 – 27th Annual Cubs Convention
  • 18 – Exchange of salary arbitration figures

February

  • 1 – 21 – Salary arbitration hearings
  • 13 – Voluntary reporting date to Spring Training for pitchers, catchers and injured players
  • 15 – End of Waiver Period
  • 16 – Beginning of New Waiver Period
  • 18 – Voluntary reporting date to Spring Training for other players

March

  • 2 – Mandatory reporting date to Spring Training for all players
  • 2 – 11 – Teams may renew contracts of unsigned players
  • 4 – Cubs Spring Training Opening Day – Cubs versus A’s at HoHoKam Park
  • 19 – Last day to place a player on unconditional release waivers and pay 30 days termination pay instead of 45 days
  • 28-29 – Japan Opening Series – Seattle vs. Oakland, Tokyo

April

  • 2 – Last day to request unconditional release waivers on a player without having to pay his full 2011 salary (Only 45 days termination pay is due)
  • 4 – All Clubs must reduce active roster to 25 players
  • 4 – Opening Day for MLB
  • 5 – Opening Day for Chicago Cubs – Cubs vs. Nationals at Wrigley Field

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

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