Cubs Talking to Scott Hairston? And Other News, Notes and Rumors

Teams are beginning to scramble to fill out their rosters with pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training in just over three weeks … the Cubs report to Fitch Park in 25 days.

While the Cubs may or may not be looking to add players to the roster before camp begins, they have spoken with Scott Hairston according to a report from Jon Heyman. As reported on Sunday, Jerry Hairston Jr. confirmed his brother had spoken with the Mets, Phillies and Yankees this off-season during an interview on Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) but he would not rule out his brother signing with the Cubs due to Scott’s relationship with Jed Hoyer. Hairston has spent the last two years with the Mets and put together a .286/.317/.550/.867 slash line against lefties last season with 17 doubles and 11 home runs.

Scott Hairston is reportedly looking for a two-year, $8 million contract and is expected to make his decision this week.

Jed Hoyer discussed the Cubs’ off-season Tuesday on Comcast SportsNet and said they will “probably go forward with what they have now” unless they are able to find a bargain on a player they feel is an incredible price, then they might make an addition to the roster. Hoyer did not mention when they would announce the Carlos Villanueva signing but said, “We really do like the way our bullpen and our rotation fit together now.”

The Cubs Caravan begins on Wednesday but they still have decisions to make as the off-season begins to wind down …

One of the big free agent dominos fell on Tuesday when Rafael Soriano signed a two-year, $28 million contract with the Nationals. Soriano’s deal includes a $14 million vesting option for 2015 and includes $14 million in deferred payments. Soriano will make $7 million in 2013 and 2014 with the other $14 million paid out from 2018-2025. With Soriano off the market, teams looking for help in the backend of the pen will go in other directions.

While the Cubs were not interested in signing Rafael Soriano, now that he is off the market, it could open up a spot or two for Carlos Marmol. Dave Dombrowski said the Tigers did not seriously pursue Rafael Soriano and are prepared to begin camp with rookie, flamethrower Bruce Rondon as the team’s closer. Rondon has not pitched above Single-A.

Carlos Marmol is owed $9.8 million for the third and final year of his three-year deal.

Jed Hoyer

Report from Comcast SportsNet

Matt Garza

Matt Garza’s rehab from the stress reaction in his right elbow is going well. According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Garza is throwing from about 150 feet and working toward throwing off the mound. Jed Hoyer said that Garza is progressing well and they do not think he will be restricted when Spring Training begins.

Alfonso Soriano

Alfonso Soriano is expected to attend the Cubs Convention this weekend and chances are he will bombarded with questions about his future with the team. The Cubs have reportedly been listening to offers for Soriano this winter. Jed Hoyer said they have been in communication with Soriano this winter and will continue communicating with him. A report from Comcast SportsNet mentioned that Soriano “should get an audience with the front office” this weekend.

Soriano reportedly would like to stay on the East Coast, if he waives his no-trade clause, and according to Patrick Mooney, Soriano “likes the idea of playing in a big market for a contender on the East Coast.” Soriano has been linked to the Phillies this off-season but Philly’s plans might have changed.

According to a report from the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Phillies are likely to stand pat on the corner outfield spots and will start the season with the players currently on their roster … Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Darin Ruf and Laynce Nix.

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine

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

  • Levine believes that Theo Epstein thinks Alfonso Soriano was better than advertised last year but the Cubs would trade Soriano in a minute if they felt they were receiving the right player in return or a team would take on the right portion of the money left on Soriano’s contract.
  • The Cubs will continue to look for third basemen if and when they deal Matt Garza. According to Levine, they would love to get Mike Olt or Lonnie Chisenhall.
  • An Arizona source told Levine that it would take Starlin Castro in order to get a player of Justin Upton’s quality. The Cubs are not in a position to trade their good, young players like Javier Baez or Starlin Castro to land a player like Justin Upton. The two sides have talked according to Levine … Kevin Towers and Theo Epstein are good friends dating back to their days together in San Diego.
  • The Cubs number one priority appears to be moving Carlos Marmol before they look at signing any other relief pitchers.
  • When asked about possible surprises at the upcoming Cubs Convention, Levine said the only surprises for the Cubs right now would be trading Alfonso Soriano and/or Carlos Marmol. The Cubs are hoping to receive some good, young players in return for Soriano and Marmol and at the same time, free up positions for their younger talent. The Cubs would like to get back a young pitcher or outfielder that is ready to compete at the big league level for Soriano.

News, Notes and Rumors

The Rays are looking for another bat according to a report from the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays are likely to fill the need through free agency and not a trade.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the market for Kyle Farnsworth heated up on Tuesday in the aftermath of Rafael Soriano signing with the Nationals. The Cubs were rumored to be interested in Farnsworth, who has narrowed his choices from six to three teams … but it is unlikely that the Cubs will add a former closer to their bullpen mix.

According to a report from the Sun-Times, Starlin Castro will not play for the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Speaking of the WBC, there will be tighter pitch counts for the upcoming tournament than in previous years. Pitchers will be limited to 65 pitches in the first round, 80 in the second and 95 in the semi-finals and finals. In 2009, pitchers could throw 70 in the first round, 85 in the second and 100 in the semi-finals and finals. Click here for a report on the rules changes for the World Baseball Classic.

Tim Wilken will be one of the many scouts in the Dominican Republic this week for the second annual MLB Prospect League international showcase for players eligible to sign on July 2.

The Cubs eliminated service charges on six and nine game plans that go on sale January 23. The Cubs also worked with Topps to create a brand-new set of 82 cards with Cubs players in a year they did not exist. Season-ticket holders will receive the entire set and the Cubs are the only team that had a set made.

ESPN released their 2013 Sunday Night Baseball Schedule on Tuesday … the Cubs will be on the Worldwide Leader on July 14 hosting the Cardinals to close out the first half of the season.

The Kane County Cougars and Tennessee Smokies will be on hand at the Cubs Convention this weekend … and Comcast SportsNet will televise the Opening Ceremonies of the 2013 Cubs Convention.

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