Weekend Update … Cubs Still Have Work to Do This Off-Season

What was expected to be another busy week for the Chicago Cubs turned out to be rather quiet. Many think the Cubs are focused on the three Cuban players that they’ve been linked to for a majority of the off-season.

Another one of their reported targets established residency in the Dominican Republic this past week and a day later was able to start negotiating with teams. Yoenis Cespedes cannot sign yet but it has been reported the Cubs are believed to have an offer on the table for the 26-year old outfielder.

Gerardo Concepcion established residency in Mexico and according to his agent the 18-year old southpaw could sign with an organization as early as this weekend. As for Jorge Soler, the 19-year old outfielder has not established residency in the Dominican Republic.

The Cubs officially added Kerry Wood to their 40-man roster and outrighted Manny Corpas to Triple-A Iowa. Corpas will still compete for a spot in Dale Sveum’s bullpen as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training.

The Cubs were expected to announce their list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training last week. The team announced the signing of Bobby Scales (January 20) but did not release the list of players that will be competing for a spot on the big league team this spring. According to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball, ESPN 1000), the Cubs are expected to announce a 15-player NRI list in the coming week.

Here is the update on the last Sunday in January with just 20 days before pitchers and catchers officially report to Spring Training …

Non-Roster Invitations
The Cubs added a couple of players to the list of non-roster invites to big league camp. Manny Corpas will compete for a spot in the pen as a NRI after the Cubs outrighted him off the 40-man roster last week. Corpas signed a split-contract in December.

The Cubs announced the signing of Bobby Scales. Scales spent last year playing ball in Japan on the same team as Micah Hoffpauir. Scales signed a minor league deal on January 20 that included a NRI to Spring Training.

The signing of Scales could be as a recommendation from Randy Bush. The previous regime thought Scales had a future as a coach and bringing him back to the organization could be the first step in that direction.

Other players that have received non-roster invitations to Spring Training include: Justin Berg, Rodrigo Lopez and Jason Jaramillo. The Cubs have also signed Joe Mather, Edgar Gonzalez, Alfredo Amezaga and Matt Tolbert to minor league deals that are expected to include invites to big league camp.

With eight players (Justin Berg is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is not expected to be ready to pitch in a month) likely receiving invitations to camp plus Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt (both should receive invites) there could be around five players that are unknown at this point that will be in camp with the Cubs this spring.

The Cubs are still looking for a veteran middle infielder to back-up Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney according to Bruce Levine … that is if Barney is not the back-up at short and second when the season starts. Levine also mentioned Saturday morning that the Cubs still must add a back-up for first base and decide if they are going to have either Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger back-up Geovany Soto … or go the veteran route for the back-up catcher’s job.

Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler
The Cubs are expected to be in the middle of the bidding process for both Cuban outfielders and could end up signing both according to multiple reports. The Cubs are seen as the front-runner to sign Yoenis Cespedes because they could just out bid every other team.

According to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball, ESPN 1000), it will likely end up as a battle between the Cubs and White Sox to sign Cespedes and Miami is expected to be in on Cespedes until the end. Levine thinks Cespedes will end up with a contract in the $40-$60 million range.

Jorge Soler is considered more of a long-term project due to his age and experience compared to Cespedes. Soler will still end up signing a deal in the $20 million range but the 19-year old outfielder is a couple of seasons away from the majors … not a couple of months like Cespedes.

Soler is expected to establish residency in the Dominican Republic soon which is the first step in the process of being able to sign with a team.

Gerardo Concepcion
Gerardo Concepcion became a free agent week before last and at least 10 teams are interested in signing the 18-year old southpaw according to a report from Enrique Rojas.

Concepcion established residency in Mexico and has been working out in the Dominican Republic. Concepcion has had private workouts for several teams including the Cubs as well as Nolan Ryan and the Texas Rangers.

Concepcion’s agent, Jaime Torres, recently said the young left-hander has several offers on the table and could sign a contract very soon. Torres thought a deal could be made signed as early as this weekend but a more realistic timeframe would be during the upcoming week.

As for what Concepcion might sign for, the thought is that his contract will be less than the one Aroldis Chapman inked with the Reds in January of 2010 (six years, $30.25 million).

Kevin Goldstein (Baseball Prospectus) thinks Gerardo Concepcion could end up as fourth starter in a big league rotation.

Off-Season Calendar

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
  • 18 – Cubs Pitchers and Catchers Report to Fitch Park
  • 23 – Cubs Position Players Report to Fitch Park
  • 24 – First Full Squad Workout

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
  • 9 – Single-Game Tickets for the 81 game of the 2012 Season at Wrigley go on Sale
  • 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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