Cubs Continue Tweaking the Roster … and Other News and Notes

There are only 11 days before pitchers and catchers officially report to Fitch Park and the Cubs’ new regime is not finished tweaking the roster.

After avoiding arbitration in January by agreeing to a one-year, $1.1 million contract for 2012, the Cubs designated Blake DeWitt for assignment Monday to make room on the 40-man roster for Adrian Cardenas. The offensive oriented utility man was a sandwich pick of the Phillies in 2006 and one of the top prospects in Oakland’s organization after Billy Beane acquired him in the Joe Blanton deal in 2008. Cardenas has two minor league options left and is expected to compete for a spot on the Cubs’ 25-man roster this spring.

The Cubs have not announced the signing of 19-year old lefty Gerardo Concepcion. Concepcion and the Cubs reportedly came to terms on a contract last week that could end up being worth as much as $8 million. If the reports are accurate and Concepcion agreed to a Major League deal, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Concepcion.

Here is the update …

Adrian Cardenas
Baseball America ranked the newest Chicago Cub the 12th best prospect in the A’s system prior to the Gio Gonzalez trade. Cardenas can hit to all fields but lacks the power to play third at the big league level … which suits his defensive ability.

Adrian Cardenas has not developed the power that most thought he would when he was named Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year in 2006. Without the power to play third, Cardenas projects as a middle infielder but he cannot field either position enough for him to be an everyday big leaguer.

Cardenas has a fluid, effortless swing and can spray the ball to all fields. According to Baseball America, he has “an innate understanding of how pitchers are trying to attack him” and he makes consistent contact but “doesn’t drive the ball very often.”

Defensively, Cardenas lacks true middle infield actions with fringy speed, quickness and range. He did show improvement in the field last year but played more left field than at second base or shortstop. Cardenas has an average arm and is learning out to play the outfield … if he can get to the ball he can catch it.

Adrian Cardenas is 6-foot-0, 205 pounds and the lefty hitter, righty thrower projects more as a line-hitting utility man in the majors due to a lack of position and power.

Adrian Cardenas’ Page on Baseball-Reference

Yoenis Cespedes
The agent for Yoenis Cespedes, Adam Katz, joined Holden Kushner and Jim Duquette Sunday morning during Baseball Today (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) to discuss the latest with his client.

Adam Katz indicated at the top of the interview that Yoenis Cespedes (pronounced Yo-Ennis Sess-Puh-dess) is still blocked from signing with a team. Cespedes has not acquired an OFAC (U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control) unblocking license and Cespedes must obtain that license in order to be able to execute a contract. Katz said that Cespedes can come to terms with a team but cannot sign or play until the license is acquired.

Katz is optimistic they can get Cespedes under contract in order to get him into camp on time.

Cespedes had a rough time statistically in his brief playing time in the Dominican Republic. Katz admitted that the numbers indicated he struggled but he was told that the plate appearances were better than the results considering Cespedes was seeing game action for the first time since March (10 months).

There have been five or six teams consistently showing interest in Cespedes. Some teams have come and gone but according to Adam Katz, at no point this winter has less than five to six teams been looking at Cespedes at the same time. Katz would not comment on which teams have shown interest or might be the most interested. Katz did say that there is a strong market for him and “the kid is going to do extremely well.”

Katz described Cespedes as a hard-worker with an exceptional skill set that has the right character to be very successful in the game.

Katz said his job is to get the best package [contract] he can for Cespedes. Once the teams have made their offers, he will sit down with Cespedes and go over the options. It will be up to Cespedes to determine which team he thinks fits best with him. Katz admitted it would be reasonable to think Miami might have an edge because of the Cuban community but he’s not sure what Cespedes is thinking at this point.

Most of the teams that have scouted Cespedes thinks he is a first rate centerfielder but some would prefer him in a corner outfield spot. Katz was asked about comps for Cespedes. Katz said he’s heard comparisons made to Sammy Sosa (by Dan Duquette), Vladimir Guerrero, Bo Jackson and Jimmy Wynn.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, the next step for Cespedes is coming to the United States to meet face-to-face with the interested teams. The plan is to have Cespedes in camp by the third week of February. Cespedes has not obtained a travel visa in order to come to the States.

According to Bruce Levine’s sources, a contract for Yoenis Cespedes could end up as high as six years, $60 million.

News and Notes
FanGraphs took a look at Overspending on the Cuban Market and how the cap on international spending that begins in July might have an impact on the contracts Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler end up signing.

Blake DeWitt’s days in a Cubs’ uniform may not be over. If DeWitt clears waivers he could end up being outrighted to Iowa and receiving a non-roster invite to big league camp this spring.

Carrie Muskat confirmed the report from Bruce Levine that Esmailin Caridad received a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times found out 10 things he didn’t know about one-hitters … and the list includes several former Cubs.

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.

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Quote of the Day

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