Rizzo to Play in the WBC … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

Monday ended up being a relatively quiet day for the Chicago Cubs … and that figures to change as the week progresses. The caravan kicks off Wednesday with a stop at Montini Catholic High School in Lombard then the Cubs will serve lunch to several hundred active military members at the 2nd Battalion, 24th U.S. Marine Corps base.

The Cubs have three arbitration eligible players that they must exchange salary figures with prior to Friday’s deadline … Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and James Russell. Teams can avoid arbitration with the player anytime prior to their salary arbitration hearing (hearings scheduled between February 4 – February 20). The rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic will be announced on Thursday and at least one of the Cubs’ starting infielders will be participating in the tournament.

Anthony Rizzo has committed to play for Team Italy in the WBC and it appears Starlin Castro will suit up for Team Dominican Republic. Castro has told the media in the Dominican that he is going to play for his country in the WBC, but the Cubs have not confirmed the report.

Another day and still nothing official from the Cubs on signing Carlos Villanueva … the Cubs must clear a roster spot before announcing the reported two-year deal with Villanueva.

Rick Porcello

The Rick Porcello trade rumors heated up on Monday. According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi, the Tigers have discussed a deal for Porcello with the Diamondbacks, Mariners and perhaps other teams. The Tigers would “likely ask for a shortstop, a late-inning reliever or right-handed hitting outfielder in return.” Morosi did not mention the Cubs as one of the teams interested in Porcello but he’s rumored to have been on the Cubs radar since Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer took over baseball operations.

The Cubs have two players that would fit with what the Tigers are looking for in return for Porcello, but Carlos Marmol ($9.8 million) and Alfonso Soriano ($36 million) are owed a lot of money and the Cubs are not willing to give either player away.

Reports last week indicated that the Cubs and Tigers could not find a match on a two-team trade for Porcello … and Morosi reported that the Padres and Orioles have also expressed interest in Porcello.

If the rumored three-way deal that was being discussed between the Cubs, Tigers and Orioles was to take place, don’t look for J.J. Hardy to be in the rumored trade. Buck Showalter was asked if the Orioles would have to be overwhelmed in order to trade the former Brewers’ shortstop. Showalter’s response, “What’s the word above overwhelmed?” The Orioles’ skipper thinks Hardy is going to have a big year at the plate for the Birds … and if the report from Rock Kubatko is any indication, Hardy is not going to be traded this winter.

If the Cubs are trying to pry Porcello from the Tigers, it seems likely it would take a third team to get into the mix.

Dillon Maples

Dillon Maples learned a lot from his first season of pro ball according to a report from Cubs.com. The highly touted prospect admitted that his year “did not go exactly” how he drew it up.

As it turns out, Maples did not follow the off-season program the Cubs gave him last year and he took full responsibility for not being prepared for the season. Maples said he has followed the off-season program he was given this winter “religiously.”

Full Report from Cubs.com

Polling the CCO

The latest polls on the CCO will close on Tuesday night … so if you haven’t voted on the amount of home runs you think Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo will hit during the upcoming season make sure you cast your vote today.

How many home runs will Starlin Castro hit in 2013?

  • 16 – 20 (59%, 283 Votes)
  • 10 – 15 (25%, 119 Votes)
  • 21 – 25 (13%, 64 Votes)
  • More than 25 (3%, 12 Votes)

Total Voters: 478

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How many home runs will Anthony Rizzo hit in 2013?

  • 26 – 30 (47%, 230 Votes)
  • 21 – 25 (29%, 141 Votes)
  • 31 – 35 (17%, 82 Votes)
  • 16 – 20 (4%, 20 Votes)
  • More than 35 (3%, 13 Votes)
  • 10 – 15 (1%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 489

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News, Notes and Rumors

According to a report from Bruce Miles, the Cubs will hold a rookie development program at Northwestern on Thursday. A dozen minor leaguers who have reached Double-A or Triple-A are expected to attend along with Jason McLeod.

The Cubs were thought to be in the mix to sign Shaun Marcum when the off-season began. But Marcum wanted to pitch for a contender and according to Jon Paul Morosi he might get his wish. The Rangers are among three teams (Padres and Pirates) that are pursuing Marcum. The Pirates are looking for insurance in case the deal with Francisco Liriano cannot be finalized. The Pirates signed Jeff Karstens to a one-year deal on Monday so that could have taken them out of the Marcum market.

For those following where Francisco Liriano ends up this winter, the Pirates and Liriano are still discussing a deal. According to Jon Paul Morosi, after the injury arose with Liriano’s right arm, the two-year agreement was put on hold.

Fredi Gonzalez spent time on MLB Network Radio on Monday afternoon and told Jim Bowden that he spoke with Frank Wren on Monday about the ways they are trying to improve the Braves … and both Justin Upton and Michael Bourn were discussed in their conversation. But according to David O’Brien, the Braves and D-Backs have not re-started negotiations for Upton since he rejected the trade to Seattle.

And speaking of Justin Upton and Michael Bourn … the Rangers are keeping lines of communication open between Bourn and Upton and are prepared to act if the price is right according to Jon Paul Morosi.

There is a MLB Prospect Showcase this week in the Dominican Republic. At least 200 scouts and Joe Torre will be on hand to watch players that will be signed on or after July 2.

According to a report from John Shea, the Athletics signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the City of Mesa to move their Spring Training home from Phoenix to Mesa. Oakland is expected to move into Fitch Park and HoHoKam Park in the Spring of 2015.

According to a report from Jeff Passan, MLB payrolls will exceed $3 billion for the first time in 2013 … more than a seven-percent increase from 2012.

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Quote of the Day

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