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.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO


  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5E23ZQDXLL2GST4WOTZVC6LUQM Steve

    Great update.  Looks like this is gonna be a long year.  This is gonna be a young, sloppy, powerless team playing for a first-year skipper.  We are not Pittsburgh or Kansas City.  We should not have to play a team full of AAA players at the major league level.  And I would not throw 30-50 million at any player who has never played MLB.  One word…fukudome.  

    • Tony_Hall

      Please list for me the AAA players that are on the 25 man roster for you right now?

      • Tony_Hall

        I’ll help you on the roster.

        C – Soto
        1B – Lahair
        2B – Barney
        SS – Castro
        3B – Stewart
        OF – Soriano, Byrd, DeJesus

        Lahair is the only player with limited MLB experience and I think he has earned his opportuntity.

        Bench
        IF – Dewitt and Baker
        OF – R Johnson and T Campana
        C – Clevenger/Castillo/Jaramillo

        Campana and the back up catcher will have the least MLB experience, but on the bench it is normal to have those type of players.  If any of the young guys beat out Dewitt or Baker, I would think that means they are better. 

        Rotation
        Garza, Dempster, Maholm, Volstad, Wood

        All with MLB experience, even though it’s a rotation of a #2, and the rest #4′s or #5′s, they are all MLB pitchers.

        Bullpen
        Marmol, Wood, Samardzija, Russell

        Most likely – Wells, Mateo, Belivaeu, Carpenter, Castillo, Dolis, Gaub, Maine

        The last 3 spots in the bullpen could have 1, 2, all 3 guys with little MLB experience, but then again, isn’t that how most teams round out their bullpens.

        So, not sure where all these AAA players are that you think are going to make this team.

        • cubs1967

          here’s the AAA players:
          Lahair…almost no MLB exp.
          Castillo/Clevenger…again..almost no MLB exp
          Mateo-Gaub-Belivaeu-Dolis-Maine-45% of the pen has almost no MLB exp
          Campana or Saffelt would not make the roster of a good team….
          Stewart…ended the year and spent most of it at AAA
          Rizzo-bombed at MLB level
          Volstad–very well could be back at AAA

          this team is loaded with them. what are you looking at…..

          100 losses……guaranteed…..much worse team than last year…..virtually NO power except Sori who everyone wants gone.

          3rd largest market in baseball, 103 yrs no World Series…….and this is the thanks to the fans.

          OUCH!

          • Tony_Hall

            You do know that most major league players played AAA and then came to the majors.

            Lahair has earned his chance.

            Backup catcher – You hated K Hill, so why would you not want the backup to be our best catching prospect from AAA

            Bullpen 4 spots – Marmol, Wood, Samardzija, Russell – 57% of the bullpen

            Wells – will be the long man if he doesn’t make the rotation 

            5 of 7 spots now up to 71.4%

            6th and 7th spots should be young guys with options.

            Stewart has 3 years of MLB experience, went back to AAA has he was injured and needed AB’s.

            Rizzo is going to AAA

            Volstad has pitched over 150 Innings each of the last 3 years.  He is a #5 rotation guy, but not a AAA player.

            So what are you looking at, not the facts obviously. 

            Majority of fans are excited about getting rid of the overpaid vets, who didn’t win us a World Series, and having the opportunity to build a team from the ground up.  

          • roguesqr09

            But it will be a hell of a lot more fun to watch then what was on display last year.

        • Anthony

          .
            Stop making them out to be more than they are, good ballplayers, some upside, and lots of questions. If any fail, then they should just keep parading system guys into the mix until a few make impacts. Its OK to have a look at the Farm under the gun while in transition, but ease up with the rose-colored glasses.

          • Tony_Hall

            Maybe you should re-read my post.  I never said they were good or going to the World Series.  This team will be lucky to be 500.  I said they are not filled with AAA players, like some people are trying to say.

          • cubs1967

            this team sucks….gonna lose alot more than the quade run team of last year……
            this is what quitting is about or is it called rebuilding….
            lower payroll; keep tix in top 3 of baseball, lose alot of games.
            2012 slogan right there!

          • Tony_Hall

            You keep saying 100 loss season, now it is down to just going to lose a lot more than Quade run team of last year….I’ll take either number and the over…

      • Ripsnorter1

        There is no current 25 man roster.

        • Tony_Hall

          In case you didn’t notice, I said list the AAA players that are on the 25 man roster “for you right now” and then below it gave a break down of what it looks like.

          We can make some pretty educated guesses on how it will look as I am sure you have done yourself.

    • Scott

      It seems that most of the time, money thrown at foreign players that have never played MLB don’t work out, but that’s not every time.  I know it wouldn’t happen this way, but I am sure that we would all be thrilled if Cespedes, Concepcion and Soler turned into Hideki Matsui, Hideo Nomo and (especially) Ichiro.

    • gocubs

      There still are people who are not getting the point of what Theo and Jed are doing….

      Its obvious, and they have been clear about it.  They are clearing payroll, increasing payroll flexibility, building the entire system from ground up.  By signing/trading for low priced players that have upside and are under team control, they are allowing themselves to clear the deck and build an organization from the ground up.  We need draft picks…if we are bad we get more of them and better ones.  If we happen to be good and some of these low priced/high upside guys realize potential, then thats cool too – gives us a young group to either build with or more valuable trade chips. 

      You have to get out of your Hendry era mentality.  These guys are doing it the right way.   

      • paulcatanese

        I get what you are saying. They have been clear about what they intend to do.

        Clearing payroll and increasing flexibilty, bringing in low priced players that are under team control, and a young group with high upside would be the correct move.

        But what would be the explanation after doing all of those things and turn around and use a lot of the money they have cleared up and then give substantial bonus dollars to players that have 0 experience not only at the MLB level but in any sort of organized ball as has been used for comparsion.

        To me, Cespedes and Solar are direct contradictions of what they started out to do, Concepcion as well.

        Every thing Theo and group has done so far could be wiped out with the signing of these guys for(as the rumor goes for Cespedes) 30 to 40 mil. And who knows what the other two would cost.

        I actually think it does borrow a bit of the Hendry mentality.

        • gocubs

          Depends on the price.  With the new CBA rules, after this off season they will not have that big of an opportunity to sign guys like these.  I trust that McLeod and his scouts know what they are looking for and those guys have a proven track record of success in scouting and development.  IF they think these guys have a shot to be good players, I defer to them.  60mil for a 6 yr deal – is not bad at all if Cespedes is a solid player.  He doesnt have to be a super star for that money.  He’d only have to be about a 2 WIN player to make that on the open market as its about 5mil per WIN on the open market on average. 

          You have to remember that its also quite possible that they are just attempting to drive up the price on Cespedes for their competition and have no intention of paying that much money…something they did with Pujols and Fielder and have been known to have done many times in the past in the AL East. 

          You have to realize that they are approaching everything with tons and tons and tons of analysis, discussion, computer modeling, successful scouting precedence, immense amounts of information to base their decisions off of, and a broad long term plan…Thats not Hendryesque in the least bit.   

          • paulcatanese

            I admit that they are doing their homework in a way that JH would not have done.

            But the key here is If they are solid players. Thats what the unknown is.
            No one knows if they are except what the system Theo uses. This will be a good test to see how much he is on the money.If they are just driving the price up, great.

            I would have preffered they didnt go any higher than they have already and use the extra money they have now for a proven player now or in the near future.

            I use the “eyeball” test and not the computer way, as I have not had the input they have. I do wear glasses so my observation may be off.

            Just a hunch after watching for over 65 years. Takes longer, but old habits are hard to break.

            May be wrong, but I think Cespedes is a bust. But if they do it, I will hope for the best, and admit I was wrong.

          • paulcatanese

            In addition Gocubs, just a few minutes ago Jim Bowden stated that a number of teams have different opinions on Cespedes bat and ability to play CF as opposed to a corner spot.

            So what makes Theo right about Cespedes?

            I guess we will see whether or not he has programed this correctly or not.

            For the Cub’s sake I hope he has.

          • John_CC

            I’ve heard lots of references to the new CBA  and how this is the “last chance” for an opportunity like this.  But I honestly do not understand what that means.

            Can someone explain, in layman version, why this is so?  I mean, if the CBA puts restrictions on money that can be spent on draftees and international players – it is across the board, right?  There will still international talent that MLB teams want to pay.  What does it stop besides the big contracts?

            In other words, what exactly is the opportunity that is going away, and what is gained this off-season by paying large sums to international players?

            Thanks.

          • Tony_Hall

            It’s the last chance to sign international free agents with out the restrictions in the new CBA.  After it goes in full force there will be limits and penalties for exceeding certain numbers, just like the draft.

            In other words, the last chance to overspend to pick up talent is pretty much these Cubans.  It’s good for them.

        • John_CC

          Paul, let’s wait to see if indeed they use a lot of money to acquire any of the mentioned players.  Remember all the rumors that have not panned out…and the couple moves they have made were pretty under-the-radar.

          • paulcatanese

            Exactly John, and would hope this one is as well. Would hate to see that money go for unproven talent.

      • John_CC

        Watch it…you’ll be accused of being on the payroll!

  • Anthony

    Maybe the Three Amigos can be had in a package deal, once they get past El Guapo and his marauders.

    All the veteran ST invite signings are interesting, especially since most are middle infielders, and the concept is a departure from the “young and athletic” Hoyer comment.

    Still makes one wonder why so many. It could be as simple as ST competition, a desire to “upgrade” the utility/backup players on the pending 25 man, veteran possible callups held at AAA Iowa instead of younger guys they don’t feel could fit that role who have been in the system for several seasons, or a huge Deal is forthcoming full of surprises, as Theo says “out of the box” and not within the plan.

    One thing is for certain. The competition should be interesting, and if any of these new guys stick, then expect a huge talent realignment.

  • cubtex

    I hope this guy is wrong!

    An AL GM who is not associated with the Red Sox or Cubs believes that Commissioner Bud Selig will give Boston a significant player in the compensation agreement:  “I don’t think MLB wants executives leaving their teams before their contracts are up and therefore he will try to deter teams from doing that again.”

    • Jason Penrod

      It would be one thing if tampering was involved…. But from what I heard Boston gave the cubs permission to interview Epstein. If Selig gives Boston one of our few talented prospects… I will be PISSED!!

      • Jason Penrod

        What ever happened to “buy out” clauses? MLB just needs to say- if you are dumb enough to write a contract without an out clause… Too bad so sad!

      • SuzyS

        Jason, the problem as I understand it…is Clown Kenney promised major compensation IF the Red Sox
        gave permission to the Cubs to interview Theo.

        If that IS the case…then “Houston, we have a problem!”

    • paulcatanese

      I agree with you, and sounds like a GM that was overlooked or snubbed. I think if he(this particular guy) were given the same opportunity would jump at it.

    • Ripsnorter1

      It’s real simple: SEND THEO BACK. 

      Solves everything.

  • Anthony

    Before you guys pencil in your 3B, keep in mind Aramis struck out in only 15% of hit at bats, and his defense was around .950 FPct.

    Stewart, a career minor league K/AB of 24%, and in MLB, a whopping near 32%, and fielding is also around .950

    Vitters may get his chance.

    • Tony_Hall

      Vitters is getting his chance, there is no maybe’s.  But he will have to have a “Colvinesque” ST and Stewart will have to show he is not able to play at a decent level.  Otherwise Vitters will be at AAA.

      • Anthony

        maybe you do work for the Cubs like some posters mentioned?

        You are saying you are giving Vitters his chance.
        You are saying Vitters needs to outperform himself.
        You are saying Stewart needs to K 32% for Vitters to arrive.
        You are saying you will send him to Iowa if he fails.

        You are funny!

        What I am saying is Stewart is probably entrenched in his ways, and will always be a K machine because at some point, the problem is physical, be it vision, lack of twitch, inability to physical alter swing path, etc.

        Trade Castro, tell them…………….lol

          

        • Tony_Hall

          You make up stuff even when the info is right in front of you.

          I never said I was giving Vitters a chance – “Vitters is getting his chance”

          I never said Vitters needs to outperform himself – “Colvinesque spring” is having a very good spring, like any player can have for a short run.  

          I never said Stewart needs to k 32% for Vitters to arrive, I said he would have to have a bad spring AND Vitters would have to have a “Covlinesque ST” for Stewart to be in AAA and Vitters to be at Wrigley.

          I never said I was sending him to Iowa if he fails – it is obvious where he will be if he has a bad spring.

          Keep making up your info.

          It is also good to know that you don’t believe a player can get better and improve their game.  Tell that to Jose Baustista, with thought like yours he wouldn’t be around out homering every player in MLB.

          • daverj

            Tony – Keep up the good work and insightful posts.  You’re dead on with Vitters and Stewart.  Just because you are more knowledgable than 99% of the posters doesn’t mean you work for the Cubs … but they will never understand it.

          • daverj

            Tony – Keep up the good work and insightful posts.  You’re dead on with Vitters and Stewart.  Just because you are more knowledgable than 99% of the posters doesn’t mean you work for the Cubs … but they will never understand it.

          • daverj

            Tony – Keep up the good work and insightful posts.  You’re dead on with Vitters and Stewart.  Just because you are more knowledgable than 99% of the posters doesn’t mean you work for the Cubs … but they will never understand it.

          • cubtex

            Thanks for calling me a 1% daverj. I tell my kids that too :)

          • paulcatanese

            Yeah, but that 1% has kept Castro at SS:)

          • daverj

            Haha :)

          • Anthony

            I didn’t make up a 32% K/AB, the player earned it all by himself.

            How many years do YOU allow for progress? Its been many for this hitter, and THEY cut folks who can’t get better. Hope he does, but it takes a huge effort to change the type of hitter you want to be, and sometimes, it isn’t possible. Granted, some power there, and his Fpct is better at 2B versus 3rd base, but it takes balls to change.

            Meaning, having to maybe forego an all or nothing from the heels guess hittin swing to a polished bat with some power.

            Whenever a hitter trys that, he gets nailed by the fake experts as NO POWER there?

            As I mentioned several times, a hitting swing is built from the ground up, in layers, and once grooved, power can be added.

            Think George Brett.

          • Tony_Hall

            235/349/408 – 13HR’s 
            Never hit more than 16 HR’s and basically hit 230/240 with 4 years of service time, 29 years old.

            Some would say that he was at the end of his career, many would cut the guy as he hasn’t shown an ability to “get better” and he is 29 years old already.

            What would you do with this player?  

            Sounds like you would tell him to start hitting like George Brett (FYI – When I think 3B, I think Brett and Schmidt) or have just cut him.

            Luckily for the Blue Jays they let him still play and he has hit 97 HR’s (18 more than 2nd place Albert Pujols) in 2 years and raised his average to 302 and OBP to 447

            Now, Stewarts chances of becoming a Top player is just above slim and none.  But he is 26 years old and could still turn into a good mlb player.

          • daverj

            The list of failed top prospects that later turn into productive major leaguers is very long.  It doesn’t mean that Stewart will be a quality major leaguer, but it does mean it’s way too early to write him off.

  • RICK B

    I would have signed Mark Derosa for a year to be a back up at several positions

  • TBarker

    Why is it we think that Stewart is a MLB player? He could not hit in Colorado or Colorado Springs, both notorious hitter parks. He also looks like Kruk vs. Johnson against lefties. Defensively good and he does have power but he cannot make adjustments at the plate, he is over matched.

    • cubs1967

      The smart fan does not think he is……only team Theo can take their arrogance and convulde themselves into thinking a dude who hit .151 with zero homers in COLORADO should actually replace the silver slugger receipent ARam at 3rd and think it’s an upgrade.
      This team is so FAR backwards from last year in the pen, actual talent in the rotation, lost majority of power in the infield, it’s gonna be a train wreck……….

      • Tony_Hall

        Maybe it’s the 25 HR’s he hit in 2009 or the 18 HR’s he in 2010, that make people think that a 26 year old left handed swinging 3B, would be a decent fit for the team this year.  But then again, I’m sure you will tell us who you would have had at 3B, instead of just complaining that the great ARam is gone…

        And who ever said Stewart was an upgrade over ARam?  Please tell me who?  I wouldn’t want ARam around for the contract he received…no way.

        The rotation is worse this year?  not a chance 

        It’s amazing you say this team will be a train wreck…I guess it proves a point, that people just can’t look away.

      • John_CC

        I had already forgotten what how much you liked watching Aramis last year…and Zambrano…

  • Marvin Ferguson

    Even with a long lists of AAA players on the 2012 Cub roster, I hope Cub fans see a lot of surprises with enough significant wins to take them into the playoffs. Although I think overlooking (http://bit.ly/wDxAe6) getting Prince Fielder on the Cub roster was a mistake. 

    • John_CC

      Prince got 9 years and $215M.  In order for the Cubs to have added him to their roster they would have had to beat that offer.  10 years?  $25M per?  That, Marvin, would have been a huge mistake.

      • Marvin Ferguson

        Sorry. Maybe I should have rethink my statement. Even Pujols isn’t worth that much money.

  • Marvin Ferguson

    Even with a long lists of AAA players on the 2012 Cub roster, I hope Cub fans see a lot of surprises this year. Although I think overlooking (http://bit.ly/wDxAe6) getting Prince Fielder on the Cub roster was a mistake. 

  • Anthony

    Castro will be traded.

    Barney will cover SS while Iglesias handles Iowa

    Stewart will battle Edgar G for 2B

    Vitters will earn 3B

    Sappelt will make the 25 man

    THEO loves Iglesias, he told Tony that in a meeting

    If/when Edgar and Ian fail, Ronald will fit the bill

    David will man RF, and in a couple years, be replaced by a mystery player not on any radar.

    Jackson will be traded

    Did I say Teheran?

    Campana will be retained

    Baez has 3 seasons to prove it

    Rizzo has two seasons to prove it

    LaHair will hit, and become valuable

    Garza will be shipped to the first AL East panic attack club

    Think outside the box

    Me baseball instincts say Castro value is at its highest, and he is a clumsy defender, at any position.

    Soler is not the mystery RF

    Szczur is not the future CF

    Carpenter will arise as a stud

    Volstad will surprise

    Blockbuster on the horizon, I asked Tony, corroborated by Theo, da man

    • Tony_Hall

      Now you are saying what WILL happen…interesting, because I know you would never be employed by the Cubs, as you keep saying Castro is not that good, which just shows you are clueless.

      This post of yours actually does prove you are Phil Rogers.  

      • Anthony

        Theo has spoken, and Theo rules.

        The greatest spender of money on plugs after inheriting a solid team.

        TRADE CASTRO

    • Brett

      Quick question here…what are your thoughts on former cub great Cesar Izturis?

  • TBarker

    You are not only outside the box, you are outside the universe. Castro at his highest? His last two years will be his least productive in his next twelve. Let me clarify, he has not even come close to touching his offensive potential.

    BTW, Stewart is a horrible 2nd baseman.

  • Tom U

    Congratulations to Tigres de Aragua, champions of the Venezuelan Winter League.