Weekend Update … The Week That Was and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

It was a busy week for the Chicago Cubs as Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer continued working on the big league roster as well as making additions to minor league system.

The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms with two pitchers that will add depth to the big league staff. The deals for Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva are not official yet and might not be announced until after the holidays but both players should officially become Cubs in the coming days.

The front office still has to clear a spot on the roster to add both pitchers … the Cubs’ 40-man officially stands at 39 players.

The signing of Cody Ross by the Diamondbacks to a three-year deal could open a spot for the Cubs to trade Alfonso Soriano. Jason Kubel is rumored to be on the block with Ross now in Arizona but the Phillies are looking to add a right-handed hitting corner outfielder, not another lefty. The Rangers, Yankees and Orioles have also been connected to the Cubs and Soriano in recent days.

News also surfaced over the last seven days about several minor league signings and the Cubs gambled and lost a reliever on the waiver wire …

Alfonso Soriano

The contracts being handed out to free agent outfielders this off-season could actually end up benefitting the Cubs, that is, if they can find the right trade for Alfonso Soriano and if he waives his no-trade clause.

Soriano is coming off a .262/.322/.499/.821 season with 33 doubles and 32 home runs and on a bad team he set a career-high in RBI (108). Soriano is owed $36 million over the final two years of his contract ($18 million per season). Soriano will play next season at 37 years old (January 7, 1976) which could be an issue. But when teams are signing players like Melky Cabrera (two years, $16 million), Jonny Gomes (two years, $10 million), Angel Pagan (four years, $40 million), Cody Ross (three years, $26 million) and Shane Victorino (three years, $39 million) for big money, the Cubs should receive a couple of very good prospects in return for Soriano if the reports are correct and they are willing to pay all but $10 million left owed to Soriano.

The Phillies losing out on Cody Ross could force Ruben Amaro Jr. to rekindle the talks with the Cubs over Soriano. The teams reportedly discussed two different deals for Soriano … one included Domonic Brown and the other centered on the Cubs receiving pitching back in return, but one of those arms reportedly went to the Twins in the Ben Revere deal.

Cubs Back with StubHub

The Cubs renewed their agreement with StubHub on Friday. The Cubs were reportedly one of three teams that opted out of Major League Baseball’s agreement with the ticket seller. The timeframe fans can buy tickets through Stub Hub has changed. Previously, fans could purchase tickets for that day’s game up to two hours before first pitch. Under the new agreement, fans must purchase their tickets through StubHub six hours prior to first pitch.

Minor League Moves

According to Baseball America, the Cubs released three minor league players over the last week … RHP Pete Levitt, RHP Bryce Shafer and LHP Willengton Cruz.

The Cubs selected Pete Levitt in the 32 round of the 2011 draft and he was a combined 1-3 in 24 relief appearances for the Hawks and Chiefs last season with a 4.46 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. Bryce Shafer was selected in the 49th round of the 2010 draft out of Valparaiso. The 24-year old right-hander was 2-3 in 33 games out of the pen for Boise and Peoria last season (3.66 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP). Willengton Cruz posted a combined 3-8 record in 24 games, eight starts, for Boise and Peoria last season. The 22-year old lefty struggled throwing strikes and finished the year with a 6.62 ERA and a 1.68 WHIP.

Several former Cubs signed minor league contracts with new teams:  Jeff Gray (White Sox), Justin Berg (Rockies), Mark Reed (Diamondbacks), Xavier Nady (Royals) and Dave Bush (Blue Jays)

Week in Review

It was a busy seven days and in case you missed any of the news, rumors and roster moves, here is a quick rundown with links to all of the reports.

Cubs Ink Jensen Lewis to Minor League Contract – The Cubs added a reliever to the mix on a minor league deal that includes an invite to big league camp. Lewis’ pitching coach from Vanderbilt, Derek Johnson, is now the Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator

Cubs Sign Chang-Yong Lim to Minor League Contract – The Cubs announced the two-year, minor league contract with Korean reliever Chang-Yong Lim. The Cubs paid him a $100,000 signing bonus and once he is ready to pitch in the majors in late 2013/2014, Lim will get a raise and hopefully help the backend of the pen.

Cubs Sign RHP Cory Wade to Minor League Contract – The third minor league signing of the week … and the third reliever. Wade received a non-roster invite to Spring Training and gives the Cubs another option arm in the pen.

The Cubs agreed to terms with Carlos Villanueva and Edwin Jackson. The Cubs appear to have added Villanueva on a two-year, $10 million contract and he will give the Cubs insurance in the rotation and depth in the pen. Edwin Jackson agreed to a four-year, $52 million contract and provides some much-needed depth to the rotation. Jackson’s deal includes an $8 million signing bonus and it appears Jackson will be paid $11 million per season (Keith Law reported the terms on Friday and Bruce Levine confirmed them during his show on Saturday).

The Rangers claimed Jeff Beliveau off waivers and the Giants claimed Sandy Rosario off waivers. The Cubs designated Beliveau for assignment on December 13 to make room on the roster for Ian Stewart. The Cubs have paid a lot for Stewart, in terms of players, and it is beyond time for him to play up to expectations. Sandy Rosario was claimed off waivers from the Red Sox on December 12 and is on his fifth different team of the off-season.

The Cubs finally announced the one-year contract with Nate Schierholtz and outrighted Gerardo Concepcion off the 40-man roster and assigned him to the Kane County Cougars. The three roster moves the Cubs made on Friday opened up a spot on the roster for either Carlos Villanueva or Edwin Jackson.

The Cubs 40-man roster officially stands at 39 players with two contracts pending. Click here for the CCO’s 40-man roster that includes service time, contract information and minor league options.

Darwin Barney discussed the Cubs off-season, his Gold Glove and teammates Alfonso Soriano and Starlin Castro on MLB Network Radio.

The Cubs added Brad Nelson on a minor league contract. Nelson figures to man first base in Iowa next season … and on a side note, it will be interesting to see if Greg Rohan receives a non-roster invite to big league camp.

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Quote of the Day

"When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all." – Theodore Roosevelt