The Rumor Mill, a Minor Signing and Other Cubs News and Notes

The rumor mill heated up on Thursday as the discussion around the game focused on where the remaining free agents will sign. There are several players on the market tied to draft pick compensation looking for jobs as end of the year draws near … and one of those players was linked to the Cubs again.

The Cubs reportedly signed free agent Hisanori Takahashi to a minor league contract that includes an invite to big league camp and have yet to announce the signings of Carlos Villanueva and Edwin Jackson … or the move needed to clear space on the 40-man roster.

Michael Bourn

The Cubs were listed as one of three teams (Mariners and Rangers) that would be able to afford and would benefit by signing Michael Bourn. Ben Lindbergh’s report outlined why Bourn would make sense for the Cubs.

David DeJesus is currently listed as the Cubs’ centerfielder and Brett Jackson will start the season in Iowa and is not a sure thing. Lindbergh pointed out that with signing Nate Schierholtz, the Cubs might need to trade Alfonso Soriano first and he referenced the report from earlier in the off-season that the Cubs spoke to Scott Boras about his client. Despite the fact they are a couple of years away from contending and it could be a longshot for the Cubs to sign Bourn, they have been aggressive in the free agent market this off-season and if Bourn’s asking price drops he could be an option for the Cubs.

Michael Bourn turned 30 on Thursday and could be looking at a five-year, $75 million contract. Bourn turned down the Braves qualifying offer and while the Cubs’ first round pick in the draft is protected, the Cubs would lose their second round pick if they were to sign Michael Bourn.

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine

Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat Thursday on ESPN Chicago, here are the highlights:

  • Levine has not heard any new rumblings about Carlos Marmol or Alfonso Soriano. Levine thinks some teams might have a different perspective on both players as Spring Training approaches.
  • The Blue Jays and Rangers are the two teams that have always had the most interest in Matt Garza. Levine thinks both teams would still be very interested in Garza … if he is healthy in Spring Training. The Cubs could go as far as to have a private workout during the spring for teams interested in Garza. Levine is sure the Cubs would insist on Mike Olt from the Rangers in any deal for Matt Garza.
  • The Cubs are projecting Travis Wood as a starter right now and they feel Carlos Villanueva has a huge upside and could be a sleeper as a starter.
  • Shaun Marcum may still be on the Cubs radar, it depends on whether or not they feel comfortable about Matt Garza’s situation. The Cubs are preparing rotations with and without Matt Garza.
  • Levine was told the Cubs initially asked the Angels for Peter Bourjos and an infielder for Carlos Marmol and were rejected.

Non-Roster Invites to Spring Training

The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms on a minor league contract with Hisanori Takahashi that includes a non-roster invite to big league camp. If the report is accurate, the Cubs will have several interesting relievers in camp this spring on non-roster invites.

Takahashi would join relievers Cory Wade and Jensen Lewis in Cubs’ camp on non-roster invitations along with Andrew Carpenter, Edwin Maysonet, Brad Nelson, J.C. Boscan, Brian Bogusevic, Alberto Gonzalez and Johermyn Chavez. Blake Parker also received a NRI but he is recovering from the same injury as Matt Garza (stress reaction of right elbow) and his progress this winter is unknown.

The full list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training should be released in early January.

The Outfield Rumor Mill

Justin Upton appears to be back on the block according to Jon Heyman. While the Cubs have not been linked to Upton this off-season, if Upton is indeed available for the right package of players, the Cubs could be losing a team or two that might be interested in Alfonso Soriano. According to Heyman, the Phillies, Rangers, Yankees and Rays are among the teams that could be in the market for an outfielder.

Justin Upton or Jason Kubel figure to be traded at some point this off-season … despite the bad numbers Kubel put up on the road last season.

Alfonso Soriano has been connected to the Phillies, Orioles, Rangers and Yankees this off-season and some think the Rays should be interested as well.

Cubs New Batting Practice Caps

The Cubs batting practice cap will have a new design this year according to a report from ESPN. All 30 teams received a new look, which should be unveiled in Spring Training.

CubsSpringHats2013

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Quote of the Day

"Don’t ever permit the pressure to exceed the pleasure." - Joe Maddon