Arbitration, Compensation, Cespedes … and Other Cubs News and Notes

The Chicago Cubs avoided arbitration with six players on Tuesday. Jeff Baker ($1.375 million), Blake DeWitt ($1.1 million), Geovany Soto ($4.3 million), Ian Stewart ($2.3755 million), Chris Volstad ($2.655 million) and Randy Wells ($2.705 million) received pay increases from their 2011 salary. The Cubs exchanged salary arbitration figures with Matt Garza but did not agree to a contract. Garza submitted a $10.255 million arbitration number and the Cubs countered with $7.95 million. Garza was paid $5.95 million last season.

With Volstad’s salary figure for 2012 settled, the Cubs can complete the trade for Carlos Zambrano. The Cubs will end up paying $15.345 million of Zambrano’s $18 million salary for the upcoming season.

Speaking of compensation … according to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs and Red Sox have asked Bud Selig to set compensation for Theo Epstein. The Red Sox have asked for the nearly three-month stalemate to be resolved by the commissioner. The request for the compensation to be settled was apparently made last month by the Red Sox’s President and CEO Larry Lacchino.

The Cubs have not announced the corresponding roster move in order to officially add Kerry Wood to the 40-man roster. The Cubs and Wood agreed to a one-year contract for $3 million that includes a club option for 2013 worth $3 million last week … and announced the deal at the convention.

Pitchers and Catchers officially report to Fitch Park in one month … February 18.

Here’s the update …

Yoenis Cespedes
Multiple reports have the Cubs being extremely interested in Yoenis Cespedes, even one in Spanish with the details coming from the Cuban outfielder.

Cespedes is in the process of establishing residency in the Dominican Republic. Once he does he will be able to apply for free agency and sign with a Major League team.

Jason McLeod told ESPNChicago.com that he is impressed with Cespedes and compared him to a younger, faster Marlon Byrd.

“It’s funny, because we have a guy on the Cubs now that compares to him when he was younger,” McLeod said. “He reminds me somewhat of Marlon Byrd. Cespedes is a better runner than Marlon was when he was younger, but he’s a stocky, strong right-handed hitter who can play center field. He has power and he can throw. He’s built like an NFL running back. He’s really put together well. He has a chance to play center field in the major leagues, to hit and to hit for power..”

According to McLeod in an ideal world Yoenis Cespedes would play in the minors before joining a big league team but that would depend how he performs in Spring Training … if he’s signed and in camp in time.

Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein ranked the Cubs as the team most likely to sign Yoenis Cespedes … and FanGraphs asked the question, is Yoenis Cespedes a good fit for the Chicago Cubs?

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

  • If the Cubs are able to trade Alfonso Soriano and if Brett Jackson is ready out of Spring Training, Marlon Byrd can be moved around the Cubs outfield … that is, if Byrd is not traded.
  • Jason McLeod told Bruce Levine that he thinks Jorge Soler has a chance to be a big-time power hitter.
  • According to Levine, Theo Epstein has said they are in the stage of exploring the possibility of signing Matt Garza to a long-term deal … but a long-term deal would not necessarily mean they will not trade him.
  • Levine is not sure that Darwin Barney will be the Cubs’ starting second baseman on Opening Day. Levine thinks the consensus may be that Barney could be a terrific backup at short and second. The Cubs might have another idea for second base with a possible trade before Opening Day.
  • The Cubs have been shopping Marlon Byrd all winter.
  • As for trading Alfonso Soriano for another bad contract, Levine does not think that will happen. The Cubs’ new regime does not want to do that … a bad contract for a bad contract. So the Brian Roberts and Adam Dunn rumors are mostly fan driven.
  • The Cubs have seven options for their starting staff … Levine does not think they are looking at acquiring another veteran starting pitcher.

Compensation for Theo Epstein
The Red Sox have asked for Bud Selig to settle the three-month old issue, after Theo Epstein seemed to downplay his own compensation again last week on WEEI.

What is at issue is how much the Cubs should give the Red Sox for hiring Epstein away from Boston. According to the Sun-Times, it is unclear how long Selig will take and it is unclear whether the solution will involve sending a player or players to the Red Sox.

“Longtime baseball officials say they can’t recall a similar case of compensation for the hiring of a manager or front-office official being disputed to this degree for so long, particularly one involving such a high-profile exec as Epstein.”

2012 Cubs Convention
For those that missed the CCO’s coverage of the 2012 Cubs Convention, here are the links …

I also spent a little time with Tim Sheridan at the convention. Sheridan is the PA Announcer at HoHoKam Park and runs his own site, ‘Boys of Spring‘. Sheridan always has excellent coverage of Spring Training and provides the first info and photos from Mesa when pitchers and catchers report. For another view of the convention, visit ‘Boys of Spring‘.

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

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Edited 6:22am CT

Quote of the Day

"What scares me is what scares you. We're all afraid of the same things." - John Carpenter

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  • Vivid_Reality

    A younger, faster Marlon Byrd. That statement is sure to get the blood pumping of a few people on here.

    • Jason Douglas

      my thoughts exactly on the Byrd comparison…

      How about a “stockier, but more cerebral, Mark Bellhorn”.  Does that get anyone excited?

  • Brp921

    How much is Cespedes wanting, 50 to 60 million? A younger faster Marlon Byrd? Why would we even consider him if that is the case?

    • Tony_Hall

      I believe the comparison was to his body type, not his skill level.  His talent level is far superior to Byrd. How that translates to MLB is the $40, $50M dollar question?

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Tony, I edited the update and included the quote from Jason McLeod.

        I also encourage those to read the FanGraphs link I provided.

        • Tony_Hall

          Not sure if you posted this the other day, but here is another fangraphs article on Cespedes, that includes his Cuban stats.

          http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/can-yoenis-cespedes-showcase-talents-in-mlb/ 

          Here is the ESPN Insider article that showed his projected MLB stats, from December 2nd

          http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7298446/mlb-statistical-projections-yoenis-cespedes?eleven=twelve 

          • paulcatanese

            Thanks for posting those Tony.
            That being said, reading the Cuban stats are flattering to Cespedes, it was still the Cuban league, and there were a lot of other guys very close to his numbers over the same period .

            How he projects in the Majors, I have to admit, is anyone’s guess, and a lot is based on potential.

            Then again, all prospects are based on that. So it is a risky move for the money involved. I would add that at 26 years old is a pretty late time to become a prospect in the States.

            It’s a 50-50 proposition, but will cost a lot to find out what side of the ledger he falls into, but then I guess thats why Theo is paid the big bucks, to make those decisions.

          • Dorasaga

            Please read what I wrote above. I know MLB is quite ignorant when it comes to scouting the Cuban league (not international tournaments, but THEIR LEAGUE). I hope the political embargo may be relieved, relationship between the two countries be normalized, and American baseball start interacting with Cuba like Venezuela and Japan have done in Cuba.

          • paulcatanese

            I would respond to you saying that back in the early 50’s in Port Arthur Texas we had a couple of pitchers from Cuba.
            I thought they were very good. Mean, hard throwers and would throw at their own mother if they had to.
            And this is when they threw batting practice.
            The explanation, they had to practice too.

          • Dorasaga

            I see. Cuba has the oldest and most vibrant baseball culture other than USA. Those talents you witnessed would be from a pro-league since 1878. Latin American baseball could not grow without the effort of various Cuban pioneers in baseball.

          • Dorasaga

            Tony, I don’t know if you had read what I posted from Bjarkman, a long time observer of Cuban baseball. Even with the Davenport translation the fangraphs shown here, I know Davenport rated the Cuban league as high-A back in 2002 or ’03 (using stats from international competitions of players compared to their performance throughout the MLB system). And that was back in the Glory Days!

            With the Cuban league ripped of pitching talent (it’s apparent to me, if you want know why*), the result’s what the fangraphs listed… It’s just how it is: Their stars would be AA but hardly more. This means Cespedes is AA-ready, but it’ll be a long shot for him to adjust to the Big. Realistically, he should need at least two years of minor seasoning, like Morales.

            *For the last four years, the Cuban national teams had not sent enough young pitchers. We’ve been seeing old pitchers, legends like Lazo who’ve been worn out. It’s not like they picked players for politics or in afraid of defection. They have a long-tradition of a “Super League” where the stars play, and the best of best would enter the national team.

          • Tony_Hall

            Yes I did.  

            I am not for or against Cespedes, if we get him that is fine, and if we don’t, no biggie.  I would like them to get Soler and Concepcion, as they are young and are worth the gamble.

          • Dorasaga

            I guess it comes down with what the Cubs want. I’ll be appalled if the Cubs sign Cespedes a MLB contract (as J.Hendry did with Shark), because they expect, or I say, “imagined” he is Major League-ready or will move up the system fast.

          • Tony_Hall

            For the reported $40,$50M, it will be a major league contract, by what ever team signs him.

        • John_CC

          Good column, Neil. Thanks.

  • jw

    I don’t know but if the Cubs were truly competing to sign either of these guys why is McLeod out there hyping them…I just don’t see Theo putting out 50mil for Cespedes

    • Cory

      Well, Theory and Jed won’t be paying for past performance in this case. The guy doesn’t have any.

    • John_CC

      From the Fan Graphs column Neil mentioned…this is the writers idea of a possible contract:
      2012: $4M2013: $4M2014: $6M2015: $7M2016: $9M (player option)

      …With a signing bonus of $8M, plus or minus $3M.

      So that’s 40M$ over 5 years. Who knows if it’s really worth yet, it’s a gamble, but it’s not really that big, in the overall big picture. 

      It’s a good read: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/is-yoenis-cespedes-a-good-fit-for-the-chicago-cubs/

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Carrie Muskat: Source says Cubs, Red Sox have asked Selig to settle Theo compensation, confirming Sun-Times story

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil
    • paulcatanese

      Good article Neil, and the post as well. It reminds me of a large corporation that I had worked for, a real pep talk.

  • Anthony

    To repeat, repeat,once again,

    The Garza rumor mill is up and running again, and its TOR this time in the forefront

    Whether traded now with 2 years under contract, or extended first, then traded, or kept, the Cubs are currently a team on the outside looking in these days.

    After Yu makes his splash with the Rangers to keep up with Anaheim, and the recent NYY/SEA deal, TB being touted as a strong club, BOS seeking a SP, and maybe DET also, TOR also has to keep up with the Joneses’

    Theo holding out for front of the rotation young Aces under control, and currently cheap(club of origin paid the draft bonus’), it makes sense to set the stage and trade Matt. Even if these Aces end up back of the rotation guys, still not a bad thing i.e young depth at the position.

    After the Yu announcement, Prince becomes news once again. I still think SEA makes a run there because they need to keep pace with Texas and LA, and the Mariners are now what the Cubs will become very soon if Garza returns young pitchers to fill the void in our AAA/AA near-ready deficiency of SP.

    The Mariners got a potential bopper in Montero, and have two potential LHP starters ready in Hultzen and Paxton. If you are/were a fan of college baseball, these two are legit. Prince will sign at halftime of the Super Bowl according to rumors, like Lebron, making an indiot of himself on a fabbed TV special.

    As much as having Garza for maybe 5 seasons if extended, if this ONE player can return 3 players of probable MLB effectiveness, then it needs to get done.

    Just say NO………….to Cespedes, aka Centipede

    Kindly develop what we have under the Theo Handbook of how to play baseball, then re-evaluate all the minor leaguers after a full season 2012 and move on from there.

  • Anthony

    A Superball and the equivalent of college weekday starting pitchers equal the link below:

    http://www.baseballdecuba.com/NewsContainer.asp?id=2434

  • Anthony

    the H&P sandwich the Cubs may be really after is LHP Gerardo Concepcion, at age 18(high school senior age), won rook of the year in the same Cuban league Centipede hit all his bombs.

    Now, if an 18 year old pitcher, at the time, had huge success so young playing against older players, was better than most of the other pitchers, what does that say about the overall quality of Cuban pitching, or lackthereof?

    This kid did what he did hurling a lively baseball against older guys, and Cespedes did what he did against substandard pitching with a extra-lively ball in use?

    3.36 ERA in the season 2010-11, kid got his Mexican residency cleared, and he should pop up in the news soon enough.

    This type of signing are the interesting ones.

  • Chipguy2030

    Has anyone seen or heard about this LHP Gereardo Concepcion from Cuba?  I see he won the Rookie of the Year in Cuba 2010-11.  But what about his stuff?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Yes, rumors have suggested the Cubs are interested in signing him. Those rumblings are a month or so old and I have not heard/read possible interest since.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Sorry, no supposed to be a flame thrower like Chapman. Good command.

      BA is supposed to have a full write up on him tomorrow

  • paulcatanese

    With Darvish signing with Texas today I would think it opens the door for more foolish contracts for Fielder and Cespedes.
    His signing raises the bar for teams thinking the two remaining players are not so out of line.
    As far as the Cubs and their interest in these two, they would be better served going after Jorge Soler, who seems to have more upside with his age going for him.
    I don’t care for any of the amounts of dollars Fielder and Cespedes are demanding, but Darvish again makes the two of them seem realistic and it probably will happen soon.

  • Jeff in AZ

    If the Cubs do not sign Cespedes I will be curious to see how many people (and who) continue to complain about the horrible off season. I’m willing to bet a good dollar that it will be the same people who will complain if we do sign him; citing a waist of money on an unproven talent.

    I also question all of the love for Soler. He may be younger and cheaper but he is just as much a risk not to succeed as Cespedes. Don’t throw any numbers at me because I will just use your own argument that he was hitting inferior “third world” pitching.

    I think both of these kids are worth a shot, and I could care less what it costs. If we can throw money around to ship Zambarano off to Miami (which I agree with) then we can take a shot at this Cespedes guy being the real deal. I’d much rather have Cesepedes fail for the Cubs then succeed for another team if we let him get away.

    • Tony_Hall

      I am mixed on signing the Cuban players, and am sure it is a tough call to decide what is a good offer for all the teams in play for him.

      If we sign any of them, we will be given a front row seat on their development.

    • paulcatanese

      Jeff, I dont know whether you posted for me or not.
      I have complained about the terrible off season and I probably will complain about it if we do sign Cespedes.
      I certainly will complain if he signs with another team and is the coming of another Willie Mays and we missed the boat.
      But thats the beauty of the posts. and in my case I flip flop back and forth depending on the weather.
      And to top it off, it makes no difference what I think, but totaly enjoy the site and the people that post, keeps me coming back the next day, and at my age, I cherish that. Good post.

      • Jeff in Az

        Wasn’t intended for any one person, Paul. Just chiming in my two cents on the whole Cuban player thing. I see the cepedes situation as very risky for the cubs, but at this point id like the new guys to take some risks.

        I never mind someone having a different opinion. It’s what makes life interesting.

  • Jeff in Az

    Two off season situations have me a little perplexed, and quite frankly upset:

    -Almost lost Wood over “communication” ( whatever )

    -Want pitching but are looking to trade Garza instead of extending him  (supposedly they are looking at extending him now that they couldn’t get what they wanted)

    While I think the money is being committed to the front office (which is needed), pennies seem to be pinched when it comes to paying the proven talent that can still contribute to the success of the team. Woody became a necessity in my eyes when we traded Marshall (which I thought was a smart play). We need some experience in the back end of the bullpen.

    • Anthony

      Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

      Just for kicks, we have a prospect named Rebel Ridling, who will turn 26 during the 2012 season, and he has solid minor league numbers.

      Now, if you sent Ridling back to high school for a season on Varsity now, then add in the lively Mizuno 150 baseball they use(now the 200 model), what results do you think would happen?

      • Tony_Hall

        What does that have anything to do with Jeff’s post?

        And why do you care if they spend money on Cespedes…as you said, it’s not your money.

        • Anthony

          Lighten up Francis………..lol

          many dynamics took place that caused inflated stats

          1. Mizuno 150 baseball
          2. low-quality pitching and Velo
          3. players purported age
          4. pompous marketing video

          then, as soon as a little winter QP is introduced, the velo and movement, and command increase, and the excuses start flowing

          This is self-created sham

          • Tony_Hall

            Talk about lighten up…self-created sham.

            So Cespedes is behind how Cuban baseball is organized.  I’m sure he would love to know that.

            There have been Cuban players who have made it in MLB, and without even going to the minors.  

            He hasn’t signed with anyone yet, so before you call it a sham, because of speculation about what it will cost to sign him, give it a break.

            Plus if the Cuban league is equivalent of single A or maybe AA, then he should be fine, as you say the players there are just as good as major league players, they just haven’t had the opportunity yet.  

    • Tony_Hall

      It goes both ways with Woody, he was willing to sign elsewhere, and his phone has all the right numbers on speed dial.

      Even if they extend Garza (which they should do ASAP) they will still listen to offers on Garza, when a team approaches them.  They are not actively shopping Garza, but they would not be doing their jobs, if they didn’t listen to offers on him.

      There really is no reason to spend money on FA’s, just for the sake of being able to say you spent it.

  • SuzyS

    Just my two cents, Unless Theo & Co are convinced that Cespedes
    is an Andre Dawson type talent…I really do not understand signing him to a big money contract…At age 26…there would be huge pressure on him to produce immediately…and that might bring its
    own negative outcome.
    Soler seems to me like the guy I’d go after…at age 19…with more time to develope his skills.

    But I am not paid to make the big money decisions…still, it just seems like more common sense…for this particular team…at this particular time.

    • paulcatanese

      None of us are Suzy, (paid for decisions) but thats what the site is for, our opinions, and I agree with you. Younger is better.

      • paulcatanese

        Suzy, on younger is better, you have to be a Cougar.

  • SuzyS

    The one thing I really enjoy….is not really knowing what Theo & Co.
    are going to do…it’s not really in the recent Cub-like mold that JH
    conditioned us to expect.
    JH would identify one or 2 needs….and early in the Hot Stove season
    settle on one or 2 candidates…then hold on like a pitbull to get those candidates…(Even Uncle Milty).
    Those JH offseasons were like grinding teeth with sand…while listening to a piece of chalk screeching against a blackboard.

    I’m not really sure where Theo and Co. are really taking us….but it is definitely entertaining.

    • jw

      To the promised land SuzyS :)

      I think they have a plan at least  have the exposure to a top organization and they have youthful energy and optimism…If they pay their ounce of flesh and catch a few breaks we will be very pleased in the years ahead… Ups and downs along the way should be expected as there are some pretty good organizations out there that have to catch up to surpass

      LOL on your comments on JH’s offseasons…totally outclassed in the league. (Being a great guy means little at this level)

  • matthew8510

    Home run Yoenis Cespedes. Just crushed one over the left field wall. about a minute ago

    • paulcatanese

      Also read that,a 98mph fastball. I am not putting him down, but a lot of us crushed  fastballs, it was the curve ball that brought us back to earth.
      Good for him though, maybe he is on a roll now.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Paul, the ball he hit was on a 3-2 pitch.

        • paulcatanese

          Thats cool Neil, instant recognition on his part, or he just didn’t want to walk.
          Marshall would have thrown him a slider towards his rear foot.
          He did good to pull it though.

      • Jeff in AZ

        Funny, Paul. He hits a home run and all you can say is it was a fastball. If it was a curve ball i’m sure the question would have been does he have the bat speed to hit a 98 MPH fastball. Lol

        • paulcatanese

          Not really Jeff, all I did was respond to what was posted. I looked at the video and it was out and over the plate, he hit it well. If it was a 98mph fastball he did well to pull it.
          There have been many good hitters who have trouble with a good curve or slider, but I never had the thought that he couldn’t hit a fastball.
          If I were to make one criticism about the home run it would be that the pitch was out and over the plate and he could have gone with it and hit it to right center or straight away.
          But he looks strong and pulled it.
          I am not against this guy at all, just think I would not like to see him a Cub.

  • matthew8510

     Cespedes’ home run was on a 98 MPH fastball. His first as a professional player with

    • Anthony

      sign the guy who can hurl it 98mph, and teach him a runner

      • Aaron

        What’s really funny is I was thinking the EXACT same thing

        • Anthony

          In MLB, 3-2 isn’t an AUTO fastball

          94mph and a little cut would have been a RF flare

          98 and straight, another story

  • brent carmona
    • Anthony

      Crown him King

      Pure guess hitter

    • Aaron

      Brent. Thanks for posting that. Here’s the direct link for everyone….I want everyone to pay attention to this though, because….

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i_xDVWfTkuc

      =

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DqIvHQ0eer4

      After review of Cespedes’ swing, he reminds me of Uribe…almost identical type of max effort swings.

      Is that a good thing?

      If you ask me, NO, it’s NOT….

      I’ve wavered a bunch on Cespedes this offseason after seeing the scouting video, reading reports, etc. There are 3 main problems I see with him, and they are as follows:

      1) He’ll take a 5-6 year, $40 million contract, which averages to about $8 million per year…and it could be even higher at $50 million to sign him. The main problem with that contract is listed below on merit, but there’s also this issue….IS HE REALLY 26 years old (believe he might’ve just “turned” 27 actually)?!? Better yet…Do you believe Soriano is the age he says he is…..or do you believe he’s more like 38 years old?!? Personally, I now believe Cespedes is 29 or 30, which means you’re looking at yet another Soriano-esque contract

      2) ….back to merit….if you’re paying that much per season, you’d probably expect that the guy would be hitting at least AA quality (if better) pitching, and by all accounts, he’s been hitting high school to Division 3 type of pitching at best in Cuba. At least when the White Sox signed Viciedo, there was more impactful pitching arms in Cuba that have since defected. Plus, he was 18 or 19 when he signed too, which afforded him more time in the minors.

      3) Furthermore, his swing mechanics are ugly, and EXTREMELY reminiscent of Juan Uribe. I guess if you’re okay with a low OBP (think sub-.300 OBP), and high K guy….and, if you’re okay with paying about $10 million/year, then Cespedes is your guy…but that’s what happens with max effort swings…it really is