Catching Up the Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

There was quite a bit of news and rumors that surfaced over the weekend. The Cubs avoided arbitration with Matt Garza, James Russell and Jeff Samardzija. Each player signed a one-year deal but according to the Tribune, Jeff Samardzija turned down a five-year contract extension.

The Cubs are close to making the Carlos Villanueva signing official. There were mixed reports at the convention on how close the deal actually was to being completed but there appears to be two hold ups. The Cubs are finalizing details with his contract and are working on clearing a spot on the 40-man roster.

Comcast SportsNet reported that there is mutual interest between the Cubs and Scott Hairston while the team reportedly cut off talks with Arizona for Justin Upton

Matt Garza

The Cubs avoided arbitration with Matt Garza on Thursday night and agreed to a one-year, $10.25 million contract. Garza looked like a kid on Christmas Eve during the convention and said on multiple occasions that he is ready for Spring Training to start.

Garza said he will be in Mesa on February 1 and is anxious to get going “after feeling like he’s been locked in a cage for six months.”

Matt Garza is open to signing an extension with the Cubs but he knows he has to stay healthy in order to receive a multi-year contract. Garza also realizes that if the Cubs do not win games early in the season that if he is healthy he will be traded by July.

Jed Hoyer said that it is not the right time to enter discussions with Garza on an extension because he has not pitched since last July.

Jeff Samardzija

The Cubs avoided arbitration with Jeff Samardzija on Friday and signed him to a one-year, $2.64 million contract that includes a $125,000 incentives package. The $2.64 million is what Samardzija earned last season. The Cubs discussed a multi-year deal with Samardzija and according to the Tribune, he turned down a five-year deal. Samardzija told the Trib that he and the Cubs have three more years to “figure out what we want to do.”

Jeff Samardzija would like to be the Cubs Opening Day starter. Samardzija has not spoken with Dale Sveum about the possibility according to Carrie Muskat. Samardzija is looking to have a very strong Spring Training and he said during the convention that he has already been throwing off a mound.

Alfonso Soriano

Alfonso Soriano attended the convention and told Bruce Levine that he would like to finish out the last two years of his contract with the Cubs. The team’s management team praised the job that Soriano did last year all weekend and Dale Sveum said that the Cubs need him in the lineup during the upcoming season. Soriano is coming off his best year in a Cubs’ uniform and even set a career-mark in RBI for a 101-loss team

The Cubs have reportedly been listening to deals for Soriano this off-season but he has a full no-trade clause and invoked it last year when he rejected a trade to the Giants.

Soriano said he has not spoken with the Cubs since the final game of last season but he is ready to play hard for the Cubs or somewhere else because that it his job.

Jim Bowden listed Soriano as one the five outfielders in the game that is most likely to be traded before Opening Day. According to Bowden, Soriano has “told his friends that he would be amendable to a trade to a contender, and Philadelphia could use his bat.” Bowden pointed out that the Cubs would be willing “to absorb that salary for decent prospects in return.” Bowden thinks Soriano would fit in well in the Phillies lineup. Bowden also sees the Orioles as a fit for Soriano. For the record, the other four outfielders that Bowden thinks will be dealt before Opening Day are Justin Upton, Vernon Wells, Coco Crisp and Chris Young.

Justin Upton

According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs cut off talks with the Diamondbacks for Justin Upton when Kevin Towers asked for Starlin Castro in return. The Cubs are one of four teams (Red Sox, Blue Jays and Mariners) on Upton’s no trade list and the outfielder has already rejected one deal to the Mariners this off-season.

Scott Hairston

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, there is mutual interest between the Cubs and Scott Hairston. The Mets balked at the two-year, $8 million contract that Hairston is seeking and Hairston has ties to Chicago, plus a relationship with Jed Hoyer from their days together in San Diego.

Jon Heyman reported last week that the Cubs were talking to Scott Hairston and his brother, Jerry, would not rule out Scott signing with the Cubs.

Brett Jackson

Brett Jackson told the Tribune that he cannot make any excuses for the way he played last year. Jackson took full responsibility for his poor performance but was “happy for an opportunity” to play in the majors last season. Jackson admitted that making adjustments has been a challenge but it has gone well.

Brett Jackson has every intention of making the team out of Spring Training and not starting the year with the I-Cubs.

The Cubs view him the same way they did Anthony Rizzo a year ago … and they are hoping that Jackson can make similar adjustments with his swing that Rizzo did.

James Russell

The Cubs avoided arbitration with James Russell on Friday by agreeing to a one-year, $1.075 million contract. Russell more than doubled his 2012 salary ($512,500) in his first year of arbitration eligibility.

Theo Epstein Disputes Quotes in Francona’s Book

News surfaced last week that quotes from Theo Epstein in Terry Francona’s book did not paint a pretty picture about the Red Sox ownership and front office. Excerpts from the book, “Francona: The Red Sox Years”, were released to Sports Illustrated and Epstein’s comments seemed to point a finger to Boston’s front office for player moves that were made toward the end of his tenure as the Red Sox’s GM.

According to a report from ESPN Boston, Epstein took exception to the assertions made in the book. Epstein told Gordon Edes that he takes full responsibility for the signing of Carl Crawford and trading for Adrian Gonzalez.

Full Report from ESPN Boston

Tweet, Tweet

The Cubs are closely monitoring player’s use of Twitter. Jed Hoyer addressed the issue during the Cubs Convention and he said that he reads just about all of the tweets sent out by players in the organization. The Cubs understand that social media is here to stay but they want the players to be cautious when using Twitter.

Ian Stewart is happy to receive tweets from the fanbase … and anyone that follows him knows that is the case.

News, Notes and Rumors

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs are not interested in signing Michael Bourn. As if anyone needed any more proof, Patrick Mooney reported there is “a strong opposition to signing free agent Michael Bourn because it would mean losing a second-round draft pick and sacrificing part of their signing-bonus pool.”

The Cubs’ new facilities in the Dominican Republic and Mesa will open this year. During the Cubs Convention, Crane Kenney announced that the ribbon will be cut on the Dominican facility in May while the ribbon on the Cubs’ new spring training home will be cut in November.

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs have not determined whether Trey McNutt will be a starter or reliever.

Junior Lake will get most of his playing time at shortstop or third base, but will also play outfield this spring according to a report from Carrie Muskat. The Cubs like the fact he has moved around the field in winter ball and Jason McLeod said the team plans to “maximize his ability and versatility.”

Mark Prior was fired up when Jason McLeod asked him to speak at the Cubs Rookie Development Program last week. McLeod has a history with Prior from their days together in the Padres organization. Prior was not able to stay in town for the convention because of his daughter’s birthday.

Several former Cubs signed minor league contracts with new teams … Nate Samson (Reds), Cesar Izturis (Reds), Manny Corpas (Rockies), Chris Volstad (Rockies) and Michael Wuertz (Marlins).

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Quote of the Day

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