Garza’s Arbitration Hearing Set … and Other Cubs News and Notes

Matt Garza is the only arbitration eligible player that remains unsigned for the upcoming season. Garza filed a $12.5 million figure and the Cubs countered with a $7.95 million salary for 2012 … and the sides appear to have two days to work out a deal to avoid an arbitration hearing.

According to a report from Phil Rogers, Matt Garza’s hearing is set for Friday. The Cubs are hopeful a deal can be reached before going in front of an independent arbiter. The Cubs and Garza can still find a middle ground but if the two sides go to arbitration Garza will make either $12.5 million or $7.95 million for the upcoming season.

Matt Garza earned $5.95 million last season.

Matt Garza’s house in Fresno County was broken into recently and one of the items that were stolen was Garza’s 2008 American League Championship ring. The burglary happened between the afternoon of January 26 and late Tuesday morning.

Here’s the update that includes the Cubs possible interest in signing Todd Coffey

Cubs’ Facility in the Dominican Republic
The Cubs academy in the Dominican Republic is still 12 to 18 months away from completion but according to a report from the Tribune, the Ricketts family and key staff members will travel to the site of the new facility this week.

Tom Ricketts is holding a quarterly board meeting on the island.

The Cubs purchased the 50-acre area outside of Santo Domingo last year and Louie Eljauna, special assistant to Jed Hoyer, is designing the complex that will include baseball diamonds, indoor workout space, dormitories and offices. Eljauna has overseen such projects for the Red Sox and Pirates.

Jose Serra and Carmelo Martinez will use the facility as their base.

Backups
According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs are looking for a utility infielder and a backup catcher. Levine mentioned as much during his Saturday show (Talkin’ Baseball, ESPN 1000).

The Cubs’ needs center around a utility middle infielder and a backup catcher with big league experience. Alfredo Amezaga can play three infield spots and all three positions in the outfield. According to Levine, Amezaga could be a solid backup to Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney.

Of the other non-roster invitees, Edgar Gonzalez could fill the need as well. The former Padre can play all four infield positions as well as left and right field. Matt Tolbert and Bobby Scales will also compete for the spot in Spring Training.

As for the backup catcher’s role, the Cubs have to decide if they want to have Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger backing up Geovany Soto instead of playing regularly in the minors. Jason Jaramillo will be in camp and could step into the role previously held by Koyie Hill.

The Cubs 40-man roster is currently full so any additions to the big league roster would require creating a spot. Right now, the Cubs will have 61 players in big league camp when the first full squad workout begins on February 24.

Jim Hendry
Jim Hendry is no longer unemployed. The Yankees have hired the Cubs’ former GM to be a special assistant to general manager Brian Cashman.

Hendry will officially be a ‘special assignment scout’ and his duties will include Major League coverage, work within the minor league system grading the players and assisting with the draft.

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

  • Levine does not expect Alfonso Soriano to be a part-time player for any team, including the Cubs. According to Levine, he will either be in the field or someone has written him a check to give him his outright release. Levine thinks Soriano should be attractive to another team.
  • The Cubs could wait to try to move Alfonso Soriano during the season or before the deadline in July. The problem with waiting is if Soriano has a poor three or four months the Cubs might not ever be able to move him.
  • Levine has not heard that Jorge Soler has established residency in the Dominican Republic (consistent with other reports). Soler must establish residency in the Dominican before he can apply to be a Major League free agent.
  • It is highly unlikely that the Cubs will have to give up a big prospect as compensation for Theo Epstein. According to Levine’s sources he does not understand where the information is coming from that Boston will receive a highly rated prospect for Epstein. Levine reiterated a lower level prospect and money should be the proper compensation for Theo Epstein.
  • Major League catchers are hard to find and if the Cubs trade Geovany Soto they would have to get quality back. Soto is not perfect but having a rookie catcher (Welington Castillo or Steve Clevenger) is a very precarious position to be put in.
  • The Cubs are counting on John Gaub to vie for a spot in the pen this spring. The signing of Trever Miller is not a precursor to a trade … Miller is another security blanket for the staff.
  • The Cubs are concentrating on signing Yoenis Cespedes and/or Jorge Soler … but Soler might fit into the Cubs’ plans better than Cespedes.
  • Levine’s theory on Matt Garza is that if they cannot sign him to a long-term contract then they will trade him before the July 31 trade deadline. A long-term deal for Garza could be in the five-year, $60 million range.
  • For now, the Cubs backup first baseman is Jeff Baker.
  • Most scouts Levine has spoken to believe Ian Stewart could be the biggest surprise for the Cubs this season. The scouts he’s talked to think if Stewart is 100 percent healthy he will get his confidence and swing back.

Todd Coffey
According to a report from Hardball Talk (NBC Sports) that cited Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com in Minnesota as the source, the Cubs and A’s are interested in signing Todd Coffey. The report did not indicate if a possible deal would be a major or minor league contract … but without a spot on the 40-man roster, if the Cubs were to sign Coffey it would figure to be a minor league deal.

The veteran reliever posted a 5-1 record in 69 games for the Nationals last season with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. The 31-year old right-hander has pitched for three different organizations (Reds, Brewers and Nationals) during his seven-year career (24-18 in 438 games, all in relief, with a 4.08 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP)

Todd Coffey’s Page on Baseball-Reference

News, Notes and Rumors
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs had interest in signing Chad Qualls before the Phillies inked him to a deal.

According to Ken Rosenthal, Yoenis Cespedes will likely visit the Marlins in Miami within the next week. The Cubs are remain “deeply involved” in Cespedes. Tuesday night on MLB Roundtrip (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio), Cliff Floyd said he thinks Cespedes will sign with the Marlins … especially after he sees Little Havana and South Beach.

The Cubs’ plan to add a 75-foot LED board and bleacher patio is getting a green light, with some conditions, from the city’s landmarks commission.

Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman are happy they can now do business together.

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