Cubs Focused on Pitching … and Other News, Notes and Rumors

The GM Meetings have come and gone and while the Cubs did not make any moves or signings this week, they reportedly had multiple conversations with teams and agents and tried to lay the groundwork for the rest of the off-season. The Cubs are looking to add pitching, pitching and more pitching this winter.

One of the Cubs’ off-season targets appears to be off the table. The Cubs were among several teams to submit a bid for the negotiating rights to Hyun-jin Ryu prior to Thursday’s deadline. The Cubs were reportedly aggressive with their bid but did not win the right to negotiate a contract with the 25-year old Korean southpaw. The Hanwha Eagles accepted the winning bid of $25.7 million ($25,737,737) but the winning team is unknown at this time (reports suggested late Friday night the Dodgers were the winning team). The team that posted the highest bid has 30 days to work out a contract with Ryu and his agent Scott Boras. Updated 10:04am CST MLB confirms that Dodgers have won rights to Hyun-jin Ryu. The Dodgers have 30 days to sign him.

The Cubs are looking to lockup Jeff Samardzija with a long-term deal … and according to a report from ESPN Chicago, the Cubs have made an offer to free agent lefty Francisco Liriano.

Jeff Samardzija
According to multiple reports, the Cubs would like to sign Jeff Samardzija to a long-term deal. The Cubs have discussed the possibility internally and have reached out to Samardzija’s camp.

The talks have been reported as preliminary at this point.

Jeff Samardzija is clearly coming off his best season and could end up being a top of the rotation starter the Cubs are missing. Samardzija is arbitration eligible for the next three seasons and remains under the Cubs control through the 2015 season.

Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
If the first two weeks of baseball’s off-season are any indication every free agent starting pitcher not asking for $80-plus million deals will be linked to the Cubs until they sign a contract … and it is a long list that includes: Ryan Dempster, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Dan Haren, Francisco Liriano, Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker, Scott Feldman and Joe Saunders.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, don’t rule out Ryan Dempster returning to the Cubs. Dempster has been linked to several teams already this off-season. The Brewers seem to be a good fit and are reportedly trying to sign Dempster.

As previously reported, Dempster randomly bumped into a top Cubs executive last week. Jed Hoyer confirmed that the Cubs formally contacted Dempster and his agent since then but he would not comment on the extent of the conversation.

One team that does not appear to be interested in Ryan Dempster is the White Sox. The Sox tried to trade for Dempster twice last season according to Levine and Dempster rejected both deals that would have landed him on the South Side of Chicago. The Dodgers may have moved on from Dempster as well. Dempster wanted to be traded to Los Angeles last year and there appeared to be mutual interest. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers are “reluctant to award a multi-year contract” to a pitcher that will turn 36 during the season.

According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs “are mulling over free agent starters, seeking the same types of bargains that they found last off-season with outfielder David DeJesus.” That is where the connection to pitchers like Brandon McCarthy and Shaun Marcum comes from.

As for Dan Haren, many think he will sign with the Padres due to his relationship with Josh Byrnes from the days together in Arizona … and the fact that Byrnes has already traded for him once. Dan Haren says he is healthy and it frustrated Haren when he found out that health concerns was the reason the Cubs backed out of the deal for him last week. Haren has not been told what exactly happened and he is adamant that his arm is in great shape.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs have made an offer to free-agent Francisco Liriano. Levine reported news he obtained from Jim Bowden of ESPN and the MLB Network Radio.

The Cubs reportedly had a lot of conversations with agents and teams but Jed Hoyer told ESPN Chicago that he would not say anything is close.

P.J. Mainville and Mark O’Neal
The Cubs have hired a new head athletic trainer according to a report from ESPN Chicago. P.J. Mainville replaces the Cubs’ longtime head trainer Mark O’Neal. Mainville has been the assistant athletic trainer for the Arizona Diamondbacks since 2010 and worked in the Orioles minor league system for 13 years prior to taking the position with Arizona.

Mark O’Neal has been with the Cubs since 2004 after being in the St. Louis Cardinals organization from 1998 to 2003. O’Neal is now the Cubs Director of Medical Administration, a new position within the organization, and will work with all of the organization’s medical and training staff.

News, Notes and Other Rumors
Justin Germano signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays that includes a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.

According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are making a big push to re-sign Shawn Camp.

The Cubs are interested in signing Kevin Youkilis but so are the White Sox, Phillies, Indians and Dodgers according to a report from Ken Rosenthal.

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth