Raises, Rumors, the Roster … and Other Cubs News and Notes

Jed Hoyer said again Tuesday afternoon that the Cubs are not done with the roster this off-season. The Cubs made at least one addition and appear to be working on a few more deals.

The Cubs announced the signing of Paul Maholm on Tuesday after he broke the news on his Twitter account Monday night. The Cubs inked Maholm to a one-year deal worth $4.25 million that includes a club option for 2013 worth $6.5 million with a $500,000 buyout. Maholm’s contract also includes a $550,000 incentive package for each season based on innings pitched. Maholm receives an additional $50,000 for reaching 150 innings and an additional $100,000 for every ten innings after 150 (160 IP, 170 IP, 180 IP, 190 IP and 200 IP).

While Maholm is signed, the paperwork has not been completed and the southpaw has not been added to the team’s 40-man roster … yet. The Cubs are expected to designate a player for assignment in order to make room on the roster for Paul Maholm.

After a report suggested that Kerry Wood’s days in a Cubs’ uniform are all but over, Jed Hoyer acknowledged Wood’s importance to the organization and said the two sides are still negotiating a contract for next season. Wood is looking for a market value contract for a reliever, reportedly in the $4 million range. Hoyer pointed out that they have offered Wood a substantial raise from the $1.5 million he was paid last year.

Here’s the update including more on Kerry Wood and Jed Hoyer on XM Radio …

Kerry Wood
David Kaplan reported Tuesday morning that his sources indicated to him Monday night that Kerry Wood’s days as a Cub appear to be all but over. Wood and the Cubs had been discussing a deal to bring him back but not for the amount Wood feels he is worth.

“Woody wanted to be here despite the rebuilding process but while the Cubs were saying they wanted him back they were unwilling to pay him the market value for a solid set up man He has heard from a number of teams that are World Series contenders and they are all willing to pay him a very fair salary to strengthen their bullpen. The Cubs expected him to pitch for another hometown discount. He has already done that for them a couple of times before. There is no reason that he should have to do that again.”

The Tigers, Reds, Angels, Red Sox and Phillies have been connected to Wood and the former ‘Kid K‘ is expected to make a decision on where he will pitch by Friday.

Jed Hoyer addressed the report Tuesday by saying the Cubs have offered Wood a “substantial raise” in hopes of bringing Wood back. Hoyer indicated they would like to have Wood on the roster and they are hopeful a deal gets done.

Jed Hoyer said, “We come in with somewhat of a fresh set of eyes. That doesn’t diminish what people have done long before we were here. We both understand the history of the whole organization, and we understand which players mean a lot to the fans, and Kerry is one of them. Fresh eyes are one thing, but that doesn’t mean you ignore the rich past the Cubs have.”

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPNChicago.com. Here are the highlights:

  • Levine thinks the Cubs would like to move Alfonso Soriano before possibly dealing Marlon Byrd. The Cubs would like to improve their defense in left and could keep Byrd around to play center or serve as a backup. Levine said the Cubs have talked to numerous teams about Byrd.
  • Matt Garza fits into the Cubs’ long-term plans or he could bring back young talent but unless the Cubs get everything they want for him in a trade, Levine doesn’t think Epstein and Hoyer will pull the trigger on a deal. Jacob Turner would likely have to be in a deal for Garza but the Tigers do not want to include Nick Castellanos.
  • Levine still thinks the Cubs have interest in Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler. Levine also expects the White Sox to be in on Cespedes. Levine is hearing with all of the teams interested in Cespedes his contract could be larger than first thought. The Cubs are interested in spending money on international talent and Levine thinks the Cubs will be in on both players all the way.
  • The Cubs could still trade Alfonso Soriano to either Baltimore or Seattle but both teams have been burned on high-priced free agents in the past which could make either team unwilling to pick-up much of what is left on his contract.
  • Levine thinks Kerry Wood will re-sign with the Cubs by Friday.
  • There is no guarantee that Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger are going to be everyday big league catchers so the Cubs might hold onto Geovany Soto … for now.
  • The Cubs are going to have to designate a player to make room on the roster for Paul Maholm … and possibly another spot if Kerry Wood re-signs.
  • Levine has not heard a word about the compensation the Cubs still owe Boston and San Diego for Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer an Jason McLeod. Levine said no one seems to care at this point.

Jed Hoyer on MLB Network Radio
Jed Hoyer joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden during Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) on Tuesday afternoon. Bowden started the interview by congratulating him on the off-season that he and Theo have had so far … the Cubs new regime had several goals when they took over and they are slowly but surely reaching them.

The Cubs are pleased with the off-season they have had to this point. They have gotten more left handed, added depth in the starting rotation and gotten younger. Hoyer said that they still have work to do.

The conversation switched to Carlos Zambrano and Hoyer explained that he and Theo spoke with people about Zambrano and the consensus was that he had apologized one too many times and it was time for the team to move forward.

The Cubs are really excited to have Chris Volstad on the roster and under control for three seasons.

Jim Bowden is a big fan of Anthony Rizzo and really liked the Rizzo for Andrew Cashner trade from a Cubs standpoint when it was announced. Bowden asked Hoyer if he thought San Diego gave up on Rizzo too soon, Hoyer’s response, “I hope so.”

Hoyer took the blame again for rushing Rizzo to the big leagues last year. Rizzo was hitting the cover off the ball in Triple-A, the Padres were not getting any production from first base and there was noise to bring Rizzo up. Hoyer said he should have ignored the “drumbeats” and left him in the minors and allowed him to develop.

The Cubs like Andrew Cashner a lot but they could not pass up trading for six years of control on an everyday player. When asked about Cashner’s health, Hoyer stated that he is healthy and pitched in the fall league after coming back from two shoulder issues last season.

The big part of the calculus for the Cubs trading Cashner for Rizzo was no matter how dominant they feel Cashner could be as a reliever they could not pass up adding an everyday player that could have an impact down the road.

The Cubs are really happy to have signed Paul Maholm. They feel his peripheral numbers were better than his win-loss record and all of the constant change in Pittsburgh have had an impact on his development. Maholm also came to them early on in the process and wanted to be a Cub. Hoyer said it was really nice to see.

The Cubs are not looking forward to facing Sean Marshall this year but they are glad to have Travis Wood and long-term control over him. As for Ronald Torreyes, Hoyer said, “We’ve had success with small guys before.”

The signing of Paul Maholm is not a precursor to trading Matt Garza. According to Hoyer, saying you have too many starters is like saying you have too much money. A team can never have enough starting pitching.

Epstein and Hoyer consider Matt Garza a front of the rotation guy and may decide to build around him. Hoyer admitted that they have had discussions with teams about Garza but not to the level they would like. Hoyer would not discuss the specifics but he did point out that keeping a guy like Matt Garza is appealing for the Cubs as well.

Cubs Spring Training Baseball
WGN TV released their schedule for the Cubs upcoming Spring Training games. The first game WGN will televise will be on March 10 from Maryvale against the Brewers. WGN will carry a total of four of the Cubs’ Cactus League games … March 11 from Camelback Ranch in Glendale against the Dodgers, March 24 from Mesa against the Padres and March 25 from Goodyear against the Indians.

The Cubs first Cactus League game of the season is March 4 versus the Oakland A’s at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.

News, Notes and Rumors

The Cubs are going to stretch Jeff Samardzija out this spring and let him compete for a spot in the starting rotation. Samardzija could end up in the pen but Hoyer and Epstein feel that stretching out Samardzija would allow him to improve on his third pitch.

Koyie Hill inked a minor league deal with the Cardinals Tuesday that includes a non-roster invite to big league camp. Hill will compete to be Yadier Molina’s backup.

According to Jon Heyman, the Cubs will likely start the year with Alfonso Soriano in left field. The Cubs are trying to move him to an AL team but his contract (three years and $54 million) is making it very difficult.

Prior to talking with Jed Hoyer, Jim Bowden discussed the Matt Garza rumors Tuesday afternoon on Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio). Bowden thinks if the Tigers were to land Garza that would make them the favorites in the AL Central. Dave Dombrowski would have to include Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos in order to add Garza to his rotation … and if Dombrowski would include both players in a package for Garza, Epstein and Hoyer would not turn down the offer. Dombrowski has not decided what he wants to do according to Bowden.

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

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver