Back to Work for the Cubs’ Front Office

With the holidays in the review mirror, it should be a rather busy couple of weeks for the Chicago Cubs leading up to the caravan and Cubs Convention. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer still have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster to officially add Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva to the team … the 40-man roster currently stands at 39 players. Both players reportedly agreed to terms on contracts with the team but have yet to be announced.

The Cubs are still looking to add an outfielder to the mix and if reports are correct, are still listening to offers for Alfonso Soriano. And while the Cubs may not be interested in signing Michael Bourn where the former Astro and Brave ends up could have an impact on the Cubs’ plans moving forward.

Alfonso Soriano

If the reports are correct, the Cubs are listening to offers for Alfonso Soriano … and they could have an offer on the table from the Philadelphia Phillies.

Alfonso Soriano has been connected to the Phillies, Rangers, Yankees and Orioles this off-season as possible places the Cubs could send the outfielder. Some feel the Rays would also make sense as a landing spot for Soriano but Tampa has not been linked to Soriano by the mainstream media, other than speculation, this winter.

Again, if the rumors and reports are correct, the Cubs have discussed two different trades with the Phillies. One would include Domonic Brown and the other would include pitching prospects in return for Soriano … and at least one of those pitchers reportedly went to the Twins in the Ben Revere deal. The quality of the prospects the Cubs would receive depends on how much of the remaining $36 million the Cubs are willing to eat.

According to Jim Bowden, there is a deal on the table between the Cubs and Phillies for Soriano. Bowden reported during his show (Inside Pitch, MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) last Friday that the Phillies are waiting to pull the trigger on the Soriano deal until Michael Bourn decides on where he is going to sign. The Phillies view Soriano as a much-needed right-handed power bat to hit between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Bowden clarified that the information he received did not come from Ruben Amaro Jr. or anyone with the Phillies.

The Cubs were once again listed as a possible destination for Michael Bourn … but it is highly unlikely that the Cubs would sign Bourn due to the fact he is tied to draft pick compensation. With the new restrictions in regards to spending in the draft, the Cubs would lose a very valuable pick in June’s draft. While the Cubs’ first round pick is protected, the Cubs figure to pick in the mid to high 30 range in the second round … and signing Bourn would cost them their second round pick.

Alfonso Soriano is scheduled to attend the Cubs Convention … which kicks off in just over two weeks.

Tribune Company Out of Bankruptcy

According to a report from the Tribune, after spending more than four years embroiled in a contentious Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, the reorganized Chicago-based media company emerged Monday under new owners and a newly appointed board, freed from it massive debt and facing uncertain future.

Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo, Gordon & Co. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are set to take control of Tribune Co. publishing and broadcasting portfolio. Tribune Co. owns 23 television stations including WGN, WGN America and CLTV plus WGN-AM 720.

Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy protection in December of 2008 and in November the Federal Communications Commission signed off on waivers needed to transfer Tribune Co.’s broadcast properties to new ownership, clearing the last hurdle to its emergence from Chapter 11

Sam Zell is among the outgoing board members.

The Tribune Co. still owns five percent of the Chicago Cubs and remains on the team’s Board of Directors.

Full Report from Chicago Tribune

News, Notes and Rumors

The Cubs appear to be looking to add a lefty to the bullpen and have been connected to J.P. Howell in recent weeks. The Nationals are thought to be targeting Howell after losing out on Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Burnett and Mike Gonzalez.

The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms on a minor league contract with Hisanori Takahashi that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

Edwin Jackson’s contract (four years, $52 million) reportedly includes a $8 million signing bonus which would reduce his yearly payout to $11 million per season over the four-year deal.


Keep an eye on Cuban free agents Dariel Alvarez and Aledmys Diaz. Both players were recently granted free agency by Major League Baseball and neither one of the players are subject to the international spending cap under the new CBA due to their age and service time. Alvarez and Diaz have workouts with MLB scouts scheduled for January 5. Once again, the Cubs have not been connected to either player but that could change in the coming days.

Matt Garza guaranteed that he will be ready to pitch on Opening Day.

The Top 10 prospects in the Cubs’ system are expected to attend the upcoming Cubs Convention.

Ryan Freel’s family is donating his brain to science for study of head trauma.

According to a report from Hardball Talk, citing an SB Nation report as its source, the Cubs are no longer interested in signing Yuniesky Betancourt.

Patrick Mooney nailed it again … a must read from Comcast SportsNet, Cubs from A-Z: What to Watch for in 2013.

Construction is underway and moving right along at the Cubs’ new Spring Training facility.

Polls

The ever-popular reader polls are back at the CCO … and the first one centers on the Cubs best move of the off-season to date.

What has been the Cubs best move of the off-season so far?

  • Signing Edwin Jackson (47%, 285 Votes)
  • Hiring Derek Johnson as Minor League Pitching Coordinator (16%, 94 Votes)
  • Signing Scott Baker (10%, 63 Votes)
  • Signing Kyuji Fujikawa (10%, 58 Votes)
  • None of the Above (8%, 46 Votes)
  • Agreeing to terms with Carlos Villanueva (3%, 18 Votes)
  • Signing Nate Schierholtz (2%, 12 Votes)
  • Re-Signing Shawn Camp (1%, 8 Votes)
  • Signing Dioner Navarro (1%, 5 Votes)
  • Signing Scott Feldman (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Minor league signings (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Hiring James Rowson as Hitting Coach (0%, 3 Votes)
  • Hiring David Bell as Third Base Coach (2%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 601

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Additions to Chicago Cubs Online

As Tom reported in his latest Down on the Farm Report on Monday, we have added depth charts to the CCO for five top teams in the Cubs’ system. The depth charts will be updated regularly throughout the season and can be found in the navigation bar at the top of the site next to the Cubs 40-Man Roster-Contracts tab.

We have also added a Twitter account to the site dedicated to the minor leagues … so now there are two ways to receive your Cubs’ coverage via Twitter from the CCO.

The site’s Facebook page has been updated and will be maintained properly moving forward and the site now has two channels on YouTube. We can also be contacted through email at neil@chicagocubsonline.com and thecco@chicagocubsonline.com.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous Two Thousand Thirteen … and Eamus Catuli!

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

  • Ripsnorter1

    I voted for the Scott Baker signing. His skill set is superior to Edwin Jackson’s (thus far, anyway). And Jackson is superior to Villenueva, et al.

    • P-Town Town

      I voted for the Kyuji Fujikawa signing.

      Looking at the past history of solid veteran closers from Japan (Takashi Saito & Kazuhiro Sasaki) during their first two years in the MLB. Sasaki and Saito put up solid, if not above average numbers. Granted, Sasaki was slightly above average (1.2 WAR) while Saito was excellent (2.6 WAR).

      Depending who you talk to, 1 win above replacement level is seen as $4 to $5 million. Fujikawa is scheduled to make about $10 million during his first two years (without knowing the exact figures on the incentives in his deal).

      If he pitches like Sasaki, he’ll more than likely meet/exceed the value of his contract. If he performs like Saito, he’ll be an absolute steal!

      Plus, throw in the added bonus that he makes Marmol that much more tradeable at the deadline.

      Bottom line: He’ll be a bargain that allows the Cubs to trade from a position of strength.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I agree with your assessment. I like the signing. But I chose Baker because he’ll pitch more innings (we hope) and win more games.

        Baker has won 15 before. Jackson has won 15 before. Garza has won 15 before. And Samardzija could win 15 IF…IF….he pitches like he did last year.

        Now if our #5 starter(s) can win 10–you have yourself a competitive team. And Fujikawa should be a big part of that.

        As for Stewart hitting 20 taters…FORGETABOUTIT! I think his wrist has robbed him of his power.

  • coolpdxcubsfan

    Imho signing Derek Johnson is far and away more important in the long run than signing any player. It is better to develop many players and give good prospects a solid base and chance to become stars.

    • John_CC

      Agreed. He has developed some of the best power arms in college and now let’s hope he can do it for the Cubs.

  • paulcatanese

    Been around long enough to know that all signings are
    suspect until they prove thier worth. Even coaches, managers etc. I believe in results and would pass judgement on all of the above until they take the field.
    While some of the signings look good on paper they don’t always turn out that way, so I “don’t rush to judgement”
    quite yet.