Cubs Rumors Heating Up as GM Meetings Begin

The Cubs’ brass will continue laying the groundwork for the off-season this week at the GM Meetings in Palm Springs. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod and assistant GMs Randy Bush and Shiraz Rehman will represent the Cubs at the general manager meetings that officially begin Wednesday and run through Friday.

Jed Hoyer said last week they’ve had dialogue with other teams about possible trades and they have also checked in with agents of free agent players they are interested in signing. The Cubs are looking to further those discussions over the next four days with face-to-face meetings.

It is no secret that the Cubs are looking to add at least two starters to the roster but they are also looking for an outfielder, help in the pen and a veteran backup catcher and possibly a third baseman, depending on the health of Ian Stewart.

Brandon McCarthy
Brandon McCarthy is drawing heavy interest according to Baseball Prospectus and the Cubs are one of the teams showing “immediate interest” in McCarthy according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Cubs are known to be interested in signing McCarthy (according to Jon Heyman’s predictions, McCarthy will sign a two-year, $20 million contract) and are one of three teams named by Susan Slusser. Slusser reported that “numerous teams” are interested in McCarthy despite two stints on the DL last season with shoulder issues. McCarthy finished the season on the DL after being struck in the head with a line drove on September 5.

Jed Hoyer would not confirm the Cubs’ interest in McCarthy but Hoyer did say that McCarthy has “done a remarkable job the past two seasons.”

Dan Haren
The Cubs are still interested in Dan Haren despite not being able to acquire him from the Angels last Friday. There is still a lot of speculation on what actually happened that caused the Cubs to pull out of the trade with the Angels that would have netted them Haren for Carlos Marmol. Some have pointed to health concerns while others have said it was the money the Cubs would have had to include with Marmol. Whatever the case, the Cubs would like to sign Haren … but so would the Padres and Red Sox.

According to a report from Hardball Talk, Josh Byrnes was very happy when the deal fell through between the Cubs and Angels. Byrnes said Haren is among the eight to 10 starting pitchers the Padres would like to sign this winter.

The Red Sox were talking to the Angels about a possible deal for Haren before the Cubs moved ahead of Boston in the Haren trade talks last Friday. The Red Sox are still interested in Haren according to the Boson Herald.

Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
The Cubs are looking to add at least two starting pitchers this off-season. According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs are planning on selling an opportunity to pitch to available free agents. The Cubs are pointing to the success Paul Maholm had last year when the Cubs gave him a chance to pitch coming off injury and a down season.

According to the report, several pitchers fit the same profile as Paul Maholm did a year ago: Brandon McCarthy, Scott Baker, Shaun Marcum, Francisco Liriano and Jeremy Guthrie.

Theo Epstein thinks word has gotten around the league that Dale Sveum is a player’s manager and he runs a professional clubhouse. That will help the Cubs sign free agents despite the fact it is obvious that the Cubs are building toward the future.

Darwin Barney
Darwin Barney has already taken home the NL Gold Glove and the Fielding Bible Award for the best defensive second baseman in the Senor Circuit. Barney will have another trophy to add to his mantle. Barney won the inaugural Wilson Defensive Award for being the best defensive player on the Cubs’ roster.

The Braves were named the best defensive team in baseball with Michael Bourn and Mike Trout the best defensive players in each league.

Complete List of The Wilson Defensive Awards for 2012

The Cubs and Free Agent Frenzy
Jon Heyman released his list of what he thinks the top 40 free agents in the game will sign for this winter. Several players that the Cubs are rumored to be interested in made the cut. Jon Heyman thinks Edwin Jackson will sign a three-year, $36 million contract while Ryan Dempster will ink a new two-year, $25 million deal. Joe Saunders (two years, $15 million), Brandon McCarthy (two years, $20 million), Shaun Marcum (two years, $20 million) and Dan Haren (two years, $20 million) are all in the same price range and could be flipped at the deadline. Heyman thinks Scott Baker will sign a one-year deal for $6.5 million.

Jon Heyman’s Top 40 Free-Agent Hit List

The Len and ? Show
The Cubs will start interviewing candidates to replace Bob Brenly in the booth this week. As reported, Eric Karros and Dan Plesac will receive their interviews this week. Plesac is sceduled to meet with WGN officials and Len Kasper on Thursday then with Tom Ricketts on Friday. Comcast SportsNet reported Monday afternoon there are five contenders for the Cubs’ TV job: Dan Plesac, Rick Sutcliffe, Eric Karros, Todd Hollandsworth and Gary Matthews Sr.

The Cubs’ color commentator is actually employed by WGN, who is expected to take the lead in the interview process.

News and Notes
Jairo Asencio signed a minor league contract with the Brewers that included an invite to big league camp in the spring. The Cubs claimed Asencio off waivers from the Indians last June and posted a 3.07 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP in 12 games, 14 2/3 innings. Asencio struggled with throwing strikes (11 walks, eight strikeouts) and was designated for assignment. Asencio finished the year with the I-Cubs and was a 0-1 with five saves in 13 games (1.35 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP).

According to a report from KTAR, Mesa Mayor, Scott Smith, said he backed out of talks between the Cubs and Arizona State University to share the new baseball facility in Mesa. Smith also indicated that there is little chance that ASU will move into HoHoKam once the Cubs leave and the city is in negotiations with the Oakland A’s to move their Cactus League games from Phoenix Memorial Stadium to HoHoKam.

Former Cub Micah Hoffpauir has decided to stay in Japan. Hoffpauir inked a new one-year deal with the Nippon-Ham Fighters for the 2013 season.

The Cubs are awaiting arrival of big bucks from TV deals according to the Sun-Times.

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