Winter Meetings Day One: Cubs Listening on Marmol and Soriano, Talking to Other Options

According to multiple reports, Carlos Marmol and Alfonso Soriano are on the block. The Cubs have told Carlos Marmol that he is a trade candidate but they will not give him away. The Cubs view Marmol as a short-term asset that could be turned into long-term pieces.

Theo Epstein addressed the Alfonso Soriano rumors on Monday and said he would work with Soriano in a “respectful way to help determine if a move elsewhere would benefit the team” and Soriano according to a report from ESPN Chicago. The Cubs value Soriano but have told him that they will listen to offers for him and keep him informed. Soriano has a full no trade clause and is owed $18 million per season over the last two years of his contract. The Cubs have no plans of giving Soriano away and eating a majority of his contract without receiving something significant in return.

The Cubs are looking to add to the rotation but do not view adding a starter as a necessity right now. The Cubs are trying to find a solution for third base (free agents, trades) and could end up using a platoon at the hot corner next season. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are looking to upgrade the backend of the bullpen and have shifted their focus from adding a centerfielder to adding a right fielder. The Cubs view David DeJesus as an option in center, for now.

ESPN Chicago reported that is sounds like the Cubs will make a move or two and could be close on a deal. The Cubs could be looking at a lefty reliever and or a non-tendered player from another team.

According to multiple reports, a number of free agents have expressed interest in signing with the Cubs this off-season … even with the team coming off a horrible year.

There will be a new voice on the Cubs’ broadcasts next season. WGN TV announced Monday that Len Kasper will have a new partner, Jim Deshaies. JD will replace Bob Brenly in the Cubs booth after signing a four-year contract with WGN. Deshaies and Kasper are both signed through the 2016 season.

Jim Deshaies left the Astros broadcast team after 16 seasons in the booth and is expected to be formally introduced at a press conference on Wednesday at Wrigley Field.

Kyuji Fujikawa
The Cubs’ newest addition was expected to land at LAX on a flight from Japan on Monday night. Kyuji Fujikawa is expected to in Chicago by Wednesday to take his physical and the Cubs could officially announce the signing as early as Friday.

From all indications the only “hurdle” that is left is for Fujikawa to pass his physical. As for when the Cubs will make the official announcement, the reports vary … anytime from Friday on into next week.

Fujikawa’s contract is expected to be two-years and $9.5 million with a vesting option or a club option for a third year that could be worth $5.5 million or $6 million. The contract reportedly includes $2 million in performances for both guaranteed years (2013, 2014) and has a $500,000 buyout attached to the third season.

Carlos Marmol and the Bullpen
With Kyuji Fujikawa all but done, the Cubs have told Carlos Marmol that he in on the trading block. According to a report from Gordon Wittenmyer, the Cubs have spoken with Marmol and told him that he is a trade candidate but they will not give him away.

The Cubs are reportedly talking the agents of several free agent relievers. Bruce Levine reported that the Cubs have spoken with Jason Grilli’s agent and they could be looking to add a lefty to the bullpen mix according to Jesse Rogers.

Big Name Free Agents
There has been quite a bit of rumbling since Bruce Levine’s report on Friday that the Cubs could sign free agent Michael Bourn this winter. Bourn is looking for a big money, long term contract and Jim Bowden thinks he could be a fit for the Cubs … but he is a player that depends on his legs and turns 30 on December 27.

Theo Epstein addressed the possibility of the Cubs adding a ‘big name free agent’ on Monday. According to a report from Jesse Rogers, those signings are still off in the distance.

Who’s on Third?
One of the many holes the Cubs are looking to fill this off-season is third base. The Cubs are not opposed to a platoon at third as a short term solution. Theo Epstein addressed the thin third base market and said they are still interested in bringing back Ian Stewart.

The Cubs could fill third base from within but they are checking free agent options and the trade market for solutions at third base.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs were one of three teams very interested in signing free-agent Jeff Keppinger … even in the wake of him breaking his right fibula. But that could have all changed on Monday with the news that Alex Rodriguez will be out until at least June recovering from his second hip surgery.

The Yankees were rumored to be in on Keppinger as well and could step up their efforts to sign him. Teams are “showing to hesitation whatsoever” according to Ken Rosenthal. Keppinger is recovering from surgery to repair two millimeter fracture in his right fibula. Keppinger is in a walking boot that is expected to be removed on December 11 … rehab time is four to five weeks.

News, Notes and Rumors
Anthony Rizzo could end up playing for Team Italy in the WBC and Starlin Castro for Team Dominican Republic.

Kyuji Fujikawa is not expected to participate in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Cubs’ longtime Travel Secretary Jimmy Banks was named Travel Secretary of the Year on Monday at the Winter Meetings. Banks was let go shortly after the end of the season and was replaced by Vijay Tekchandani.

The contract extension talks took a toll on Starlin Castro last summer according to his agent Paul Kinzer. With last year behind him (both on and off the field) Paul Kinzer told ESPN Chicago that Castro should be ready to mature into the star the Cubs expect him to become. Castro is debating whether or not he will play winter ball and Kinzer would rather he took a break because he feels he could use the rest.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs are expected to add a player in the Rule 5 Draft. The Cubs have the second pick in Thursday’s draft. Other teams have contacted the Cubs about possibly acquiring their spot in the draft order.

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Quote of the Day

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