Weekend Update … Thirteen Days Until Cubs Camp Officially Begins

The countdown to pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Spring Training has begun. It is only 13 days before the first workout for Cubs’ pitchers and catchers at Fitch Park. The first full squad workout is on February 24 and the Cubs’ first Cactus League game against the A’s is less than a month away (March 4) … Cubs baseball is just around the corner.

The Cubs have more roster decisions to make in the near future. According to multiple reports, the contract Gerardo Concepcion agreed to is a Major League deal. Concepcion would have to be added to the 40-man roster once the deal is official. The Cubs will have to open a spot to add the southpaw to the big league roster.

The next seven to ten days should also see Yoenis Cespedes sign with a team. The Cubs are considered one of the front-runners to sign Cespedes as well as Jorge Soler, once Soler establishes residency in the Dominican Republic and MLB makes him eligible to begin negotiating with teams.

Here is the update on ‘big game’ Sunday …

Matt Garza
The Cubs and Matt Garza avoided the arbitration process Friday when the two sides agreed to a deal but both parties ended up in St. Petersburg for the hearing … that never took place.

According to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball, ESPN 1000), the Cubs sent six-seven people to Florida for Garza’s arbitration hearing and the two sides agreed to the contract just prior to the start of the hearing.

The Cubs have two years of control on Matt Garza, counting the upcoming season, and he should make somewhere between $12 and $14 million in the final year of arbitration eligibility (Garza was a Super Two). Levine thinks if the Cubs cannot sign Garza to a long-term deal between now and Opening Day that he will be traded. A long-term contract for Garza could end up being in the five-year and $60 to $70 million range according to Levine.

The Cubs cannot afford [not in terms of money] for him to go into the last year of club control still on his current deal. Garza becomes a lot less valuable on the market with just one year remaining under team control and would hurt the Cubs process of building for the future.

According to Levine, teams the Cubs have talked to this off-season about Garza includes the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Red Sox but they could not agree on a package of players the Cubs feel Garza is worth. The Cubs feel they should receive three to four top prospects for Matt Garza.

Gerardo Concepcion
The Cubs have not announced the signing of Gerardo Concepcion but are expected to very soon. The hold-up is apparently him passing his physical … there have not been any indications there will be any issues with Concepcion passing his physical.

The contract Concepcion signed is for a guaranteed $7 million according to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball, ESPN 1000) and will be for at least four years … plus it will be a Major League deal.

The Cubs will have to add Concepcion to the 40-man roster, which will require another roster move to create a spot for the young southpaw.

Gerardo Concepcion is expected to start the season in low Class-A, either with full season Peoria or short-season Boise.

Yoenis Cespedes
According to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball, ESPN 1000), the Cubs are going to do everything they can to make sure they sign Yoenis Cespedes. The Miami media thinks it is a foregone conclusion that he will end up signing with the Marlins. Levine thinks Ozzie Guillen’s new team will be in a big battle with the Cubs and White Sox over Cespedes … and the outfielder could end up inking a six-year contract worth between $50 to $60 million.

Yoenis Cespedes should sign with a team in the next week to ten days so he can be in camp to compete for a job out of Spring Training.

Jim Hendry on Talkin’ Baseball
The former general manager of the Chicago Cubs joined Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner at the top of the second hour of Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) Saturday morning. Hendry sounded refreshed and ready to begin his new position with the New York Yankees … and had nothing but good things to say about his former team.

Hendry is excited about joining the Yankees organization. He said he was ready to get back into the game and feels this is the right opportunity for him. The decision to take the job with the Yankees actually happened two weeks ago.

Several organizations were interested in hiring Jim Hendry but he feels the job with the Yankees is the best fit. Hendry explained that it was important for him to be in what he felt was the right environment and his good relationship with Brian Cashman helped lead to the decision.

Hendry said anyone that has ever been in baseball or grew up watching the game would want to be a part of the Yankees organization. Hendry and Larry Rothschild actually had a similar talk last year before Hendry let Rothschild out of his contract to take the pitching coach job with New York.

Hendry explained he feels Cashman really wanted him as a part of his team and the good relationship over the years helped with the decision.

Bruce Levine asked Hendry how he thinks the Cubs off-season has gone so far. Earlier in the interview Hendry said he had a good relationship with Theo Epstein while Epstein was in Boston. He thinks Theo has a long-term plan and the Cubs will be good down the road. The plans that Tom Ricketts has for the facilities in the Dominican Republic and in Mesa will help with the development of the players. Hendry also alluded to the planned changes for Wrigley Field will help the Cubs in the long run as well.

Over time the Cubs will be very good according to Hendry. Theo Epstein is doing the best he can to get younger and cut payroll to try to save a little money. Hendry added, “Certainly down the road, the moves that are being made will be good for the Cubs.”

Hendry does not think he would have done things much differently during his time with the Cubs. He might have stepped away a little better when the job called for him to take a breathier. Hendry pointed out it is hard to think how the job is affecting you [health wise] in the moment. Hendry feels he did the best he could with not the deepest staff.

Jim Hendry has no animosity toward anyone with the Cubs. Hendry acknowledged there was a lot of change toward the end of his tenure [ownership changes] but he wishes them [the entire organization] well.

News, Notes and Rumors
Bruce Levine is expecting Bud Selig to make his decision on the compensation for Theo Epstein in the upcoming week … next week at the latest.

According to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball, ESPN 1000), the Cubs are still very interested in signing Jorge Soler.

And for those that were concerned about Brett Jackson’s appearance at the Cubs Convention, apparently he has cut his hair and shaved his beard.

WGN Radio Contest

WGN Radio has asked the CCO to help promote their latest contest … write the official WGN Radio Cubs Song for the 2012 season. For those baseball fans that are also musicians this could end up being your bring break.

All entries must be submitted by February 29, 2012.

Click here for more information and the official rules from WGN Radio.

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

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney