The Cubs are Not Done Shaping the Roster

Will the Cubs announce a trade for the third day in a row? Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer pulled the trigger on a trade Friday that the previous regime would never have done. A day after announcing the trade that sent Carlos Zambrano and a bunch of cash to Miami for Chris Volstad, Epstein and Hoyer traded another former first round pick of the Cubs.

The Cubs acquired first base prospect Anthony Rizzo and a very intriguing right-handed pitching prospect, Zach Cates, from the San Diego Padres for Andrew Cashner and outfield prospect Kyung-Min Na.

Anthony Rizzo became available when Josh Byrnes acquired Yonder Alonso in the Mat Latos deal and it was assumed when that trade was announced that the Cubs would be players for Rizzo due to the fact Epstein, Hoyer and Jason McLeod drafted him.

The Cubs could have acquired their first baseman of the future if he is able to make adjustments at the Triple-A level in the upcoming season. Following the trade, Jed Hoyer announced that Rizzo would begin the year at the Triple-A level and Bryan LaHair would be the Cubs starting first baseman … but obviously that all could change depending how the roster shakes out between now and Opening Day and how Rizzo performs this spring.

The Cubs want to give Bryan LaHair a shot according to Epstein’s comments earlier in the week but during an interview on MLB Network Radio, LaHair pointed out he can also play left field.

Jed Hoyer also addressed the Cubs lack of starting pitching depth on Friday and said they are still looking to add more pitchers.

Prior to the Rizzo-Cashner trade being announced, rumors started heating up about possible destinations for Alfonso Soriano. Could Soriano be the next player traded by Epstein and Hoyer?

Here’s the update …

Anthony Rizzo
The 22-year old first baseman joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden during Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) after the trade was announced.

Anthony Rizzo said he was at the Rookie Development Program in D.C. when he received a phone call from Josh Byrnes that a trade could happen soon if the pieces fell into place. Rizzo received a call from Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer a short time later that the trade has been completed.

Josh Byrnes told Rizzo after he acquired Yonder Alonso from the Reds that he realized that Rizzo was not the kind of player that would just rot in the minors … so Rizzo knew a deal could be on the horizon. He admitted that he was ecstatic when he found out Epstein and Hoyer had acquired him and he was a Chicago Cub.

Anthony Rizzo took full responsibility for his struggles at the big league level last year. He said he was pressing and ended up being someone he’s not. Rizzo plans on going to Spring Training and working hard … and doing everything he can to prove that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were not wrong for trading for him.

From Cubs.com: Rizzo thrilled to be back with Theo & Co.

Starting Pitchers
Jed Hoyer addressed the Cubs lack of starting pitching depth on Friday. According to a report from Cubs.com, the Cubs are still in the process of gathering as many quality arms as possible. Hoyer added the pieces would then fall into place as the organization gets closer to Spring Training.

Hoyer said, “We have worked hard, and we continue to work hard, and hopefully we’ll have even more starting pitching acquisitions.”

The Cubs are looking to have seven, eight or nine starting pitching options and to replenish the bullpen.

Ken Rosenthal reported that the Cubs are one of several teams interested in Paul Maholm and in recent weeks the Cubs have also been connected to Joe Saunders.

Alfonso Soriano
The Alfonso Soriano trade rumors heated up on Friday. The day began with a report out of Baltimore that the Cubs spoke with the Orioles during the Winter Meetings about Soriano. Right now there does not appear to be a match and Jon Heyman questioned if Buck Showalter would want a reunion with Soriano. Heyman did report that the Cubs seem determined to move Soriano this off-season.

The Cubs are reportedly willing to eat as much as 80 percent of the $54 million owed to Soriano according to reports … $43.2 million, very close to the $45 million that has been reported by the CCO for several weeks.

Rumors have suggested the Orioles, Mariners are possibly interested in acquiring Alfonso Soriano and the Cubs have spoken to six other American League teams.

Arbitration Eligible Players
*Note: Players salary from 2011 in parenthesis
With the addition of Chris Volstad, the Cubs now have seven players that are arbitration eligible for the upcoming season.

Jeff Baker ($1.175 million), Blake DeWitt ($460,000, first year eligible), Matt Garza ($5.95 million), Geovany Soto ($3 million), Ian Stewart ($2.29 million), Randy Wells ($475,000, first year eligible) and Chris Volstad ($445,000, first year eligible) are all in line for salary increases.

The Cubs have not avoided the arbitration process with any of those players. The salary arbitration filing period began on Thursday (January 5) and runs through January 15. The deadline to exchange salary arbitration figures is January 18.

News, Notes and Rumors

The Cubs are still negotiating with Kerry Wood and it is the Cubs goal to bring him back. Jed Hoyer is hopeful a deal will get done with Wood. According to a report from Jerry Crasnick, Wood is talking to multiple clubs and a deal with the Cubs is far from done.

According to a report from Cubs.com, the Cubs’ new regime is prepared to deal with the growing pains of a young team and will have patience with the players.

Maybe now the mainstream media will stop trying to connect the Cubs to some big name, free agent first baseman.

The 27th Annual Cubs Convention kicks off in six days.

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

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax