Weekend Update … It’s Just the Beginning of the Cubs Off-Season

With free agency underway and the General Managers meetings in California during the coming week (November 6-9, Palm Springs), there figures to be a lot of news and even more rumors throughout the game over the next seven days. While activity might be at a minimum, the GM Meetings have historically set the tone for future trades.

The Cubs are looking to add at least two starting pitchers, an outfielder and possibly a third baseman and backup catcher. It also appears that the Cubs are trying to move Carlos Marmol and his $9.8 million salary for next season. Several teams are rumored to be interested in Marmol.

The AFL Rising Stars Game took place on Saturday night. The Cubs lone representative, Tony Zych, picked up the win. Zych allowed a run and an inherited run to score on three hits with a strikeout and no walks in two-thirds of an inning. Zych threw the ball well (23 pitches, 17 for strikes) and it was a bunt single by Billy Hamilton and a throwing error by Jonathan Singleton that led to the two runs scored while Zych was on the hill. The East squad beat the West squad 9-4.

Marmol, Haren and More Cubs Rumors
The majority of Saturday morning was spent trying to figure out what exactly happened between the Cubs and Angels that forced the Cubs to pull the deal off the table. Bruce Levine indicated that the main reason for the trade being called off was the money that would have been exchanged in the deal. It appears that Carlos Marmol jumped the gun on Friday night and misunderstood the conversation that took place with the front office. According to Levine when Marmol was asked if he would waive his limited no-trade clause to go to the Angels (Angels are one of the teams on his no-trade list) that Marmol took it that the trade was done. The two teams had not worked out the financial end at the time the trade was leaked. Parameters of a deal were in place but not finalized.

The Cubs are still interested in Dan Haren and would like to sign him according to Levine. Dan Haren and his wife warmed up to the idea of spending a year in Chicago after it appeared that Haren would be traded to the Cubs on Friday.

As for Marmol, several teams are interested in trading for the Cubs’ closer. One of those teams is the Yankees according to Bruce Levine. The Yankees are looking for bullpen help and their pitching coach, as well as Jim Hendry, is very familiar with Carlos Marmol. Brian Cashman figures to approach Larry Rothschild and Hendry on how they think Marmol would perform in the New York market.

Bruce Levine thinks there is a 10 percent chance of Ryan Dempster returning to the Cubs. Levine reported during his show on Saturday morning that a member of the Cubs’ front office bumped into Dempster and asked if he would be interested in returning. According to Levine, Jed Hoyer did not speak with Dempster or Dempster’s agent. Levine said the reports of Dempster and the Cubs having a conversation were false.

Casey McGehee could be an option at third base for the Cubs according to Levine. McGehee is the type of stop-gap player the Cubs could sign to play third next season, depending on what they decide to do with Ian Stewart. Stewart is arbitration eligible and has said he’s not sure how he figures into the Cubs’ pans. Stewart could be non-tendered and re-signed at a lower cost or the Cubs could move on and sign another player or give Luis Valbuena another shot at the hot corner for next season. The Cubs see Valbuena as more of a utility infielder than a starter.

Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod recently said how much they like the depth at third base in the system when they spoke with season ticket holders last week. The Cubs’ brass mentioned players such as Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, Christian Villanueva, Jeimer Candelario and Javier Baez as possible options for the big league club at third down the road.

News and Notes
According to Bruce Levine, both Dan Plesac and Eric Karros will receive interviews this week for the vacated spot in the Cubs’ booth. Plesac will be in Chicago to talk with WGN, Comcast SportsNet and the team and Karros is expected to be in after Plesac.

The Cubs finally posted that Matt Garza, Ian Stewart and Arodys Vizcaino were activated from the 60-day DL. The Cubs 40-man roster officially stands at 36 players.

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