Cubs Searching for Solution at Third Base, Not Done Adding Pitching

The Cubs are not done with the roster and will reportedly keep looking for ways to add more talent to the mix. The Cubs added another arm to the pitching staff Tuesday with the signing of Scott Feldman … the Cubs’ fourth signing (plus a handfull of minor league deals) of the off-season. But Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein still have holes they would like to fill.

The Cubs will have to make one roster move in the near future in order to officially add Scott Feldman to the 40-man roster. The Cubs did not have an open spot on the roster after the slew of roster moves that were made last week … and with Feldman in the fold the 40-man roster currently stands at 41 players.

While the focus right now is on the roster with the tender deadline and Winter Meetings just around the corner, the Cubs will be playing on a new surface at Wrigley Field next season …

Scott Feldman
The Cubs added depth to the pitching staff on Tuesday. Scott Feldman agreed to a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $6 million. The deal includes a $1 million performance based incentive package. Feldman is coming off a bad year with the Rangers, one in which led Jed Hoyer to describe Feldman as “one of the most unlucky pitchers in the game.” The Cubs signed Feldman as a starter and he is expected to join Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Scott Baker and Travis Wood to round out the rotation. Feldman knows he has to perform in order to remain a starter next season and told MLB Network Radio that he is taking nothing for granted.

The addition of Feldman gives the Cubs starting pitching depth and according to a report from Bruce Levine, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are likely not done adding pitching to the roster.

The Cubs will begin camp on February 9 with two question marks in the rotation. Matt Garza is coming off a significant injury and while he says he is healthy and has been cleared for off-season activities, until Garza begins throwing in Mesa the Cubs will not know for sure if he will be ready to go when the season begins.

The other question mark is Scott Baker. Baker has not begun throwing off a mound yet. Baker recently told MLB Network Radio that he is on schedule with his rehab from Tommy John. Baker thinks he will be ready to pitch when the season starts but it is unlikely he will begin the season on the active roster. Baker had Tommy John surgery last April.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said on numerous occasions they would like to be 10 starters deep when Spring Training begins … and right now, they do not have 10 starters, even with Arodys Vizcaino. The Cubs have already said when Vizcaino is ready to pitch he will be on a strict innings limit.

Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
As the cliche goes, once a team thinks it has enough pitching they should add more … and the Cubs reportedly are looking for arms to add to the staff.

The Cubs targeted Scott Feldman and Scott Baker when the off-season began but according to multiple reports, it’s too early in the off-season to rule out the Cubs signing a starting pitcher to a multi-year contract. Jed Hoyer addressed signing a pitcher to a multi-year contract and said “it would have to be the right player at the right price to get that kind of commitment from the Cubs.”

Shaun Marcum and Brandon McCarthy have been linked to the Cubs all off-season and could still be on the Cubs’ radar, along with pitchers that will be non-tendered by Friday’s deadline, according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.

FanGraphs applauded the signing of Scott Feldman, along with several other outlets, and it is still possible for the Cubs to reunite the former teammates … and end up with both ‘The Poor Man’s Brandon McCarthy‘ and the ‘realBrandon McCarthy this off-season.

Ian Stewart and Jeff Keppinger
The Cubs are exploring options to fill the hole at third base for next season. The Cubs have until Friday to decide whether or not they will tender Ian Stewart a contract for next season. Stewart confirmed (via Twitter) that he is taking light batting practice and hitting off a tee.

According to Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs are talking to Ian Stewart and will continue those conversations throughout the week. From the sound of Jed Hoyer’s comments, the Cubs are still undecided on which direction they will go with Stewart … but many feel he will be non-tendered and the Cubs will try to re-sign him to a minor league contract.

The Cubs have been connected to Jeff Keppinger since the end of the season. Keppinger would fit the Cubs’ need for a stop-gap third baseman, and a player that could be flipped at the deadline … but no one was sure how much the Cubs were interested in signing Keppinger until Tuesday morning.

According to a report from Buster Olney, the Cubs are one of three teams that had been aggressive on Jeff Keppinger before he broke his leg. The Rays would like to re-sign him and the Diamondbacks are the third team. Olney also reported that team evaluators were aware of Keppinger’s leg injury and did not consider it serious enough to keep them from signing him. The Cubs appear to bidding for Keppinger, along with the Rays and D-Backs.

Keppinger recently broke his right fibula when he tripped down stairs at his house.

The Cubs could be looking to fill the hole at third base via a trade according to Bruce Levine. But if the Cubs are unwilling to trade any of their young talent right now it could be difficult to find even a one-year stop gap via the trade route.

Wrigley Field
The worst playing surface in the Major Leagues is receiving all new sod and dirt according to a report from David Kaplan. Wrigley Field received a facelift prior to the 2008 season when the crown was removed and a new drainage system was installed. But the playing surface still caused trouble, especially with all of the extra activities such as concerts and corporate events.

The Cubs decided at the end of last season that they would completely remove the current field and replace it with all new sod and dirt to bring the field up to a more acceptable level for the players. The field will consist of a blend of dirt and Kentucky Bluegrass that was brought in from Colorado. The new playing surface will cost the team $400,000.

Kaplan also reported that the number of concerts, soccer games and corporate events will be curtailed next season. Wrigley Field is the most used baseball only stadium in the game.

News, Notes and Rumors
According to a report from Jon Heyman, the Marlins are not entertaining trades for Giancarlo Stanton.

Bruce Levine was told by one of his sources that the Cubs naming a new color analyst is not imminent. The Cubs, WGN TV, Comcast SportsNet and Crane Kenney will make the decision on Bob Brenly’s replacement.

During his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago, Bruce Levine said he is not sure whether or not Shaun Marcum is still on the Cubs’ list.

A number of teams could be interested in Carlos Marmol according to Bruce Levine and he thinks the Cubs would trade Marmol in the right deal for other pitching talent.

Two top Cuban prospects near MLB free agency according to a report from Jesse Sanchez. The Cubs have not been connected to either player but based on recent history do not be surprised to see the Cubs as one of the teams interested in signing either shortstop Aledmys Diaz or outfielder Dariel Alvarez.

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