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

"Whatever you think, be sure it is what you think; whatever you want, be sure that is what you want." – T.S. Eliot

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  • Neil

    From Jon Heyman: Cubs, Athletics, Rays and Yankees have checked in on yunel escobar, who is available. Marlins

  • Larry Schwimmer

    I’ve been a big fan of this blog for many years and thought that my fellow Cub fans would enjoy this article:


    In it I discuss how the Cubs foolishly signed Soriano to such a bad long-term contract. Please enjoy.

    • Neil

      Thank you and thanks for posting

    • BosephHeyden

      I still can’t get on board with thinking Soriano was a bad signing. In hindsight, yeah, you can say it was. But at the time of the signing he was coming off a 40/40 season, and in his seasons before that he was regularly either getting or coming close to 30/30 seasons. The Cubs only had one consistent power bat at the time (Derek Lee…Ramirez was and still is a late season bat) and no stolen base threats.

      I’d go so far as to say they would have been justified to spend more if the bidding war for him was aggressive enough. And maybe if he was put in a better position (ie not thrown into center, where he had all of one year of experience for an awful team that required a lot of running), we would have gotten a better return on our investment. But at the time, he was the best player available and the Cubs got him at a price that also allowed them to get two starting pitchers and a pretty good utility guy.

      • John_CC

        He was the best player available at the time…and I don’t care about the money, but the years. Eight freaking years for a guy in his prime! All that means is eight freaking years of watching his decline, whether gradual or rapid, you know it is going to happen. $20M (or more even) per, for 5 years would have been better than $18/8.

        Anyway, who cares. I can’t believe I am even have this conversation anymore.

        • Dorasaga

          He was a star player from a winning organization (Yankees for 3 years), so most fans were excited (me included). Even if the contract wasn’t eight but five years, we would be crying with frustration with the way he played (and injured and declined).

          The Soriano signing shouldn’t have stopped the Cubs to spend on similar players in the future since 2007, and play among the big boys. The former regime instead cried mommy and said money became an issue. Well, well, quite some plan to start with.

          The Tribune, the Zell, then two years of Rickettiers, just a bunch of jokers who let the Cubs go down with shame. I’m glad at least some change was done.

          Now they have a real plan, a short-term goal, a long-term goal, a principle on spending wisely, and why they spend on anything baseball-related. I don’t want to see one World Series. I want a continuous winner that gets to more World Series-s than the past 67 years.

          Rest in Peace, Phil Cavarretta.

  • Neil

    Multiple reports have the Cubs being one of the teams very interested in Yunel Escobar this morning

    • Jason Penrod

      Could we be looking at a bigger deal involving Castro and Giancarlo (Mike) Stanton? I don’t think Escobar would be a great fit for 3B.

      • daverj

        While I’d love to see a Stanton deal and I’m sure Theo is asking, I actually think Escobar would be a solid at third for now if the price were right.

        • Jason Penrod

          I was just saying “not the right fit” for a long-term solution, which he would have to be if the Cubs were going to trade any prospects for him. Why trade talent for a 3B if he is just going to be a stop-gap? I see 3B as more of a power position on the offensive side and Escobar doesn’t fit that role.

  • Neil

    From Ken Rosenthal: Sources: Dan Haren in agreement with Nationals, one year, $13M. Pending physical.

    Angels declined Haren’s $15.5M option. He received $3.5M in the buyout. With $13M salary from Nationals, would come out ahead.

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      Wow! I thought Haren would have to sign a contract with incentive clauses due to his injuries. Here’s hoping the Nats don’t get burned.

      • John_CC

        So Levine says the Cubs “could” sign Bourn (duh, anyone “could”) while Mooney states in the column Neil linked: “Sources indicated that the Cubs are not after Michael Bourn, whose
        options could be shrinking…”

        We have to believe that more bullpen arms will be acquired. If Marmol gets traded the pen is only marginally better than last year. They really need a strong set-up man.

        • J Daniel

          Would agree with you in regards to the pen getting weaker if Marmol is traded and that a good set up man is needed.

          But, we would have to look at a couple of things if he is dealt. Who do they get back? What is done with the $10 million they save? What might they get back at the deadline for Marmol? He is not in the plans so they should maximize returns.

          As far as Bourn, he might be a good signing depending on the length and dollars. There is nobody in the system that is/will be ready for a couple of years. BJax is not the long term answer, I don’t think. At some point pieces do need to be added and Bourn would solidify some things for them until others are ready or he is dealt.

          The must improve defensively.

      • Dorasaga

        The Lerner family are building the Yankees of the Potomac. Nothing will stop them until the Nats become a continuous World Series contender.

  • daverj

    The Cubs will be in on Bourn and everyone else if they see an opportunity. With the Braves signing Upton and the Nats acquiring Span, Bourn’s options are getting limited. It’s still unlikely that he ends up a Cub, but I expect the Cubs have made or will make a 3-4 year offer as I believe they did last year with Pujols, Fielder and the other big free agents.

    • JimBo_C

      Victorino might fit in just as well as Bourn and would likely cost less. Perhaps the Cubs are the “mystery team” that MLB Rumors is referencing.

      • MikeT_2008

        Man maybe I just didn’t watch as much baseball late in the year since the Cubs were long out of it, but $13 million/year for Victorino seems like a lot. Maybe I’m wrong but seems like a lot for a guy who seemed to be declining as of last year.

        • John_CC

          He is certainly on the decline.

          • Raymond Robert Koenig

            That 13 mil’ is also more than he was projected to sign for.

          • Theboardrider

            I was shocked

        • Tony_Hall

          Maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t just Theo that wanted to overpay FA in Boston….

        • TheWrongGuy

          I will agree Boston very much overpaid! And as for Theo being the one that overpaid in Boston… They are covering that on MLB Network saying that the BoSOX have been previously bitten by longer contracts.

  • Nick Baird

    How about Marmol to Washington for Morse if LaRoche re-signs with them?

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      Marmol’s not nearly enough for Morse and the Nats don’t need an expensive set-up man.

    • daverj

      Rizzo laughs and hangs up on Epstein after that offer.

      • John_CC

        Morse played LF last year.

        • calicub

          and has some experience at 3B…

    • John_CC

      The Nats want Morse, not LaRoche. LaRoche will be traded and Morse moved to 1B.

      • Cubbieblue

        LaRoche is a free agent.

  • paulcatanese

    I sit and watch the winter meetings and ponder to myself, how far are the Cubs away from a consistant winner?

    Came to the conclusion they are light years away. How can they compete with the Cards, Nats, Dodgers?

    They need too much too quickly, so it’s not within the realm of several years to even begin to compete.

    Other teams have money as well as the Cubs, but are in better shape to begin with, one or two playes for these teams and they will compete.

    The Cubs have very little to trade for others of value, but have the

    money to go after free agents, but that may not be the right avenue.

    I am not upset with the effort of Epstein, as he has had very little choice with trying to get players into Chicago.

    Of course free agents would like to come to the Cubs, but lets look at theat. Why would any player with a winning attitude want to come here and go thru a “rebuilding process”?

    I would venture to say (free agents) only the old weak and injured really want to be here. What better place to come and heal thyself, or hope to get that career back on track, for a few million to boot.

    The only real players that are on board right now with credit to Epstein IMO would be Rizzo,Fujikawa, and half heartedly,. DeJesus.

    The rest have been here, but are likely to be traded, with the exception of Castro, and I have my doubts that he wont be traded.

    Cub fans are going to have to be realistic and know that it will take more than three more years to get on the winning track.

    Oh, they may squeeze in a wild card here and there, but just don’t have the horses yet to go further.

    Too many issues, Ballpark, players, weather, training facilities,

    just my opinion over watching these guys for the last 65 years or so.(been so long I may not remember a few extra years.)

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      The Cubs have had, have and always will have more revenue than any other team in their division. Used wisely, I believe they’ll be yearly contenders sooner rather than later.

      • daverj

        How do they use the money wisely? What free agents can they sign who would turn them into contenders? It’s a big problem and the organization is a mess. The organization is better than last offseason with the additions of Rizzo, Soler, Almora, Pierce Johnson and Underwood, but there is still a very long way to go.

        • Raymond Robert Koenig

          I believe in the new front office and expect the Cubs to win at least 1 World Series within the next 4 years.

          • Theboardrider

            I believe in the front office as well. I think by 2016 we should be in the discussion. I think they are moving us in the right direction faster than anyone would have predicted. The “buy low, sell high,” strategy has worked well so far. A few more moves like Maholm and things will continue to get better quicker than expexted. I think things will continue to get better ahead of schedule, if moves like Baker and Feldman turn into prospects and they keep getting solid trades done. I honestly feel, given what was here, Team Theo is pushing all the right buttons.

      • Ripsnorter1

        However, they have never used the money wisely in the last 100 years.

    • SuzyS


      Yup, lots of issues in the way of winning. But I don’t see things as bleak as you do. It’s no longer rebuilding…it’s plain old building at this stage.
      Reasons to come to the Cubs:
      -Great City…3rd largest after New York and LA.
      -Opportunity to play in front of a normally full crowd of rabid fan base…with national exposure on both coasts.

      -Financially solvent club….not afraid to spend money in the right circumstance.
      -Highly respected FO…(except Crane Kenney) and an owner that has stated his goal is to win the World Series.
      -The opportunity to be in on the ground floor of turning a moribund organization into a winning tradition.

      Compare that to the Florida Marlins or playing in 100 degree heat with Texas. The Cubs may have to overpay a little on the FA market just now and for 2013…But I don’t see any problems attracting talent after that.

      2013 I envision another difficult season after that it should all be an upwards and onward process.

      Castro might very well be traded…but I don’t see that until his replacement is ready…and the return would have to be extremely impressive.

      You might add Wellington Castillo/Shark/Garza as “real players on board right now”. If traded I would expect any of these to be replaced with equal or better talent.

      I don’t see it as more than 3 years to get on the winning track….Winning track by 2014. Going to town by 2015/16.

      • coolpdxcubsfan

        -Highly respected FO…(except Crane Kenney)

        Oh Suzy, you made me laugh.

      • Dorasaga

        On a light note, Shark and Garza kind’a rhyme. If possible, let’s trade two.

        … As a realist, I see the Cubs have few choices for big-league pitching. They might as well keep’em all.

      • DWalker

        Just the thought of being, say the starting pitcher for the potentially winning game of the world series for the cubs is enough to make most any competitive personality drool. Once it starts looking like the pieces are there that it COULD happen, there will be players who do want to come just for the shot at it. Its getting over that hump though that will be tough. The new reality is there aren’t very many short cuts left, the FA market is always going to be thin as teams lock up talent, and the money that will be thrown at FA’s will be mind boggling because more teams have TV deals and no where else to spend it.

      • paulcatanese

        You make some great points.
        I agree that Chicago is one of the great cities in the nation,
        After all they do have the most White Castle franchises in America:)
        But the park does need an upgrade, and it’s been said before that the lack of workout facilities hinder them.
        The free agents(for this year ) are disapearing at a fast pace.
        I dont worry about that too much as its pretty thin .
        I find very little fault with what they are trying to do, but simply put, its a very difficult task with the amount of players that they must bring in.
        I also feel that their system may do better for them(right now, that is) but that also will take some time.
        Don’t care for Dempster’s name showing up here and there, and extended contract for him would not work.
        Also Farnsworth? MgGee? No thanks.
        I like you’re optimism Suzy, and hope you are right,
        but 2015/16 is still four years from the time this all started.
        However if the Cubs had been left alone, and still with the FO before Epstein, who knows how long it would have even been thought about(a winning team).

  • TheWrongGuy

    Something to think about and watch for the next several weeks Cub’s Fans… Philadelphia needs a corner outfielder and a center fielder, yet have 2 good young outfielders (Dominic Brown and John Mayberry Jr.) and Boston is listening to trade talk on Jacoby Ellsbury. I think we can jump in on this by sending Sori to Philly for one of the outfielders and a minor pitcher.
    Also of note Arizona says they are looking for a 3 team deal for Upton???? maybe we can jump in on this????

    Just some thoughts from today’s meeting reports. What does everyone else think?

    • daverj

      I don’t think Philly would deal Brown for Soriano straight up even if the Cubs ate all of Soriano’s contract. I could see Mayberry as a possibility if the Cubs ate 90% of Soriano’s contract. Not sure either team would make that deal though.

      I think the Cubs will keep Soriano for the 2013.