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.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln

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  • Dorasaga

    It’s interesting, if we read the UT article via Hardball that Neil links, then from where GM Hoyer came, the Padres also said the same thing: We need to add two healthy pitchers. I think “adding two to the rotation” is an optimistic view, because we’ve seen how bad this Cubbie thing was. What this management meant: We are willing to PAY A LOT for two more pitchers, whether via trade or FA. There’s no guarantee any of the farm pitching will pan out–contribute for two or three years on the Cubs roster.

  • Tony_Hall

    Looking at Jon Heyman’s Top 40 list.

    5 years for Sanchez is too rich for me…..I pass.

    But there are plenty that match up.

    Pagan – 3 years $30M….front load it and that can work.

    E Jackson – 3 years $36M….that is very much on the high side

    Dempster – 2 years $25M…next

    McCarthy – 2 years $20M….I’m taken that

    Youkilis – 2 years $20M…no thanks

    Broxton – 2 years $15M…if Marmol is traded….maybe

    Blanton – 3 years $24M….could work if others don’t

    Guthrie – 3 years $27M….same as Blanton

    Marcum – 2 years $20M….if McCarthy goes elsewhere

    Haren – 2 years $20M…yes (if medicals weren’t the reason)

    Madson – 1 year $7.5M….if Marmol is traded

    Baker – 1 year $6.5M…..Yes

    Obviously this is just the Top 40, there are plenty of players who fit below this and for less money.. But I was actually surprised that there were so many option on this list that could work.

    My picks have been, in order: Sanchez, Haren, McCarthy, Baker, Marcum, E Jackson, Guthrie, Blanton, Dempster

    • cc002600

      I’ll take Jackson and Marcum.

      I like Haren, but bad backs don’t go away. I know first hand.

      • Tony_Hall

        I hear ya, but I don’t think he is done, that last year was just his back, and that after a full off season, he will be fine. His upside is that of a solid #2.

        • Dorasaga

          As far as I’m concerned, Haren has been an ace since 2007. What I’m not sure is what we don’t know, what hampered his performance so bad last season, other than a gradual loss of velocity the last two or three years, that made the Angels rather buy out (paid millions of extra for no-service), than keeping him one last year.

          Another thing I’m concerned is if the general rule of past age-32 applies on most right-handed pitchers. Haren relies on mixing pitches, not pure stuff. When things go south, their “mileage” expires, there’s a limit of control they have to reduce damage.

    • Aaron

      Jackson, McCarthy, and Liriano are my choices, with the Cubs trading Travis Wood and/or Garza.

      As for position players, I could see the Cubs going after:
      Morgan
      McLouth
      Victorino
      Eric Chavez
      Sizemore

      Here’s who I wish they’d go after though:
      BJ Upton
      Swisher
      Delmon Young……but none of those will happen, with money/years likely involved.

      • Tony_Hall

        Forgot about Liriano, but he wasn’t in Heyman’s Top 40 that I was referencing. He would be on my list for other guys. There really are quite a few that would work.

        For position players those are all options. But not sure Upton and his 298 OBP is going to fly with the FO. Lots of upside, but for the cost you would sure like it to be a little higher. Swisher could work, but I would bet the Cubs are a fall back option for him. Young I just don’t see.

        • Aaron

          I don’t know about Liriano…I have read a few articles that say Liriano very well might be in play for the Cubs. If coached well, he’s a great pitcher, and still has a lot of promise.

          As for Upton, as I referenced, he is highly unlikely, due to years/money he’d require…..same could be said for Swisher (who reportedly wants a Werth-like contract of 7 years, $100+million. I would really like Young, as he still has youth on his side, plus he has power potential. What are the Cubs going to count on for that once Soriano retires or is traded? DeJesus certainly isn’t going to supply that. Jackson is probably never going to live up to the hype, and Soler is probably 2 years away.

          I think it might be wise to invest in one of those guys (provided they’ll take it), in a deal for 3 years, $30 million or so…and only Young is likely to even contemplate taking that. Upton and Swisher won’t even look at a deal like that for a losing team.

          Keppinger, Chavez, Kelly Johnson, Sizemore, and Morgan are all more likely.

          That, to me, is extremely disappointing, considering their main position player prospects are 2-3 years away. If Upton, Young, etc. would take 2-3 year deals, then they’d be foolish not to pick them up.

          • Dorasaga

            Wasn’t Liriano a slider-heavy guy? If his wrist is healthy, which I believe was what kept the slider alive, then what you say is his potential on a Cubs rotation? Ace?

          • Tony_Hall

            Good point. I would lean towards, for the right price, going with guys like Haren and Liriano who have been top of the rotation guys being solid mid rotation guys, with the chance of a return to their prior status over guys who have been #4/#5’s who you are hoping can become mid rotation guys.

          • Dorasaga

            Indeed. I can’t be sure how the market reacts to a once-ace like Haren, but that comes to how good of a bargaining power the Cubs have. As they progress through the winter, we’ll see if what Epstein claimed as “top players want to play for Chicago” is true. If that’s true, then they should ink Haren to a 2-year deal of perhaps 30M total (include bonus and buy-out), which is slightly less than what we expect teams to accrue pay per year for his past performance.

            Now, a lot of “if-s,” won’t you say?

    • cc002600

      don’t know why, but Pagan reminds me of Gary Mathews, Jr. Remember that one ? he was pretty much of a journeyman throughout most of his career, then has real good year in his walk year (gee, imagine that ?) and then Angels gave him that ridiculous contract, that everyone knew was a waste of money…..and of course, he was a total bust.

      Just sayin’

      • Ripsnorter1

        Just agreein’.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Forget Pagan. Sign Melky Cabrera instead. Better bat.

      • Tony_Hall

        Absolutely, his bat is better, the juice he takes helps a lot. I believe in 2nd chances, but think he blew it trying to cover it up. Just don’t think the Cubs need this distraction in their clubhouse or on the field with the negative reaction from fans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

    I believe the Angels would have had to include cash with Haren to even out the salaries in a Marmol trade, no?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Actually, it is the other way around. There are reports that the Angels wanted the Cubs to include money with Marmol. There is a lot of speculation right now about what went down.

      • Aaron

        we’ll never know what really went down. Unlike the prior regime, Team Theo keeps everything fairly close to the vest. It seemed like every week during the offseason with Hendry, we were reading about him telegraphing his moves very openly, thus reducing negotiating power.

        • nick_ss

          Hey Aaron, I was just informed I got the head coach job for our Varsity baseball team. I have a few questions, regarding pitching regiments and training if you have time.

          • Aaron

            Sure….shoot me an email at ADFpitching60_6@yahoo.com

          • Steven Petty

            Aaron, I have a 14 yr old lefty. Can we please talk as well? Need advice if you are willing to help?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

        Why would the Cubs include money when they’d also have to pay Haren’s full 15.5 million dollar salary?

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          The Angels were looking for ways to free up money to re-sign Greinke. There were rumblings that the Angels wanted the Cubs to include the $3.5 million they ended up paying Haren on the opt out.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil
  • RynoTiger

    hey everybody…I just saw our can’t miss prospects Felix Pie and Corey Patterson are free agents again. I wonder if their careers would have turned out any different if there had been an actual player development philosophy in place under Hendry.

  • WidespreadHispanic

    Thanks for all the helpful information.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    According to Baseball America, the Cubs re-signed RHP
    Marcos Mateo and signed SS Edwin Maysonet to minor league
    contracts http://tinyurl.com/c96fxzh

  • paulcatanese

    Stewart was not my first choice for the Cubs when they signed him, but if he does recover from injury I would like to see him succeed at third base as he seems to be the best defensive force
    and had shown some signs of hitting the ball.
    A lot of money could be saved by the Cubs if he were to come back and handle third, and would be a good stop gap until someone else comes along.
    I would rather him than going all out on a free agent (slim pickings) and an older player that would cost too much.