The next seven days will be anything but boring for the Chicago Cubs. Not only does the Cubs Caravan and the 28th Annual Cubs Convention take place this week but the deadline to exchange arbitration figures with players is Friday (January 18) and the rosters for the upcoming World Baseball Classic will be announced on Thursday (January 17).
The Cubs have three arbitration eligible players remaining on the list after agreeing to terms on a one-year, $930,000 contract with Luis Valbuena on Thursday. Matt Garza (around $10 million), James Russell (around $1 million) and Jeff Samardzija ($5-$6 million) will receive nice raises through the process.
As for the WBC rosters, reports have suggested Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro could end up participating in the World Baseball Classic. Sheldon McDonald (Team Canada) and Yao-Lin Wang (Team Chinese Taipei) are the only Cubs’ prospects on preliminary rosters.
And, will this be the week that the Cubs finally announce signing Carlos Villanueva?
The Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations is in Boston this weekend for his annual charity event, Hot Stove/Cool Music. Theo Epstein told the media he understands the Cubs’ culture a lot better than he did a year ago.
Epstein recognized that the Cubs’ reputation as “loveable losers” helps with attendance at the ballpark but it “makes it difficult to turn things around.” Epstein said he has addressed the “loveable losers” tag with the players and has asked them what they want to stand for moving forward. Epstein said he can guarantee that players do not want to be known as losers.
As has been said before, there is nothing lovable about being losers and it is past time for the organization to shake that moniker.
Alfonso Soriano, Justin Upton and the Outfielders on the Block
There is nothing new to report on the Alfonso Soriano trade rumors. From all indications the Cubs are still listening to offers for Soriano and they are not willing to give him. The Phillies are rumored to have an offer on the table for Soriano but they are waiting to find out where Michael Bourn signs. One of the outfielders connected to Philadelphia this off-season, Michael Cuddyer, is not going anywhere according to Jon Paul Morosi. The Mariners have asked about Cuddyer but was told that the Rockies do not have plans to move him.
Another option for the Phillies, Scott Hairston, has not made a decision on where he will play next season. Hairston is reportedly asking for too much for the Phillies (two years, $8 million) and was reportedly deciding between the Mets and Yankees. Jerry Hairston Jr. joined Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner during Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) on Saturday morning and he confirmed that his brother has spoken with the Mets, Phillies and Yankees but the former Cubs’ utilityman did not rule out his brother signing with the Cubs. Hairston Jr. brought up the relationship between Scott and Jed Hoyer from their days together in San Diego. Jerry said that Scott will land somewhere.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the Rangers may not be out of the Justin Upton talks. It was reported on Thursday that Texas had moved on but according to Evan Grant, the Rangers could have “all of the leverage in the world.” The Rangers made an offer to Arizona before Seattle got in the mix last week and the deal, built around Mike Olt, would have sent four players from Texas to Arizona … but the Rangers “wouldn’t go there.”
While the Cubs are not in the talks for Justin Upton, plus they are one of four teams on his no-trade list, where Justin Upton ends up could impact the Cubs moving forward.
According to the rumor mill, Mike Olt was one of the players the Cubs would have received for Matt Garza last July. The Rangers finished second in the Matt Garza bidding with the Rays two years ago and figures to be in the mix once Garza proves he is healthy this spring.
Where Justin Upton will be traded appears to be holding up where players like Michael Bourn will sign and Michael Morse will be dealt … and in turn which teams may be interested in trading for Alfonso Soriano.
Alfonso Soriano is expected to attend the Cubs Convention.
Polling the CCO
The CCO’s newest polls focus on the home runs that Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo will hit in 2013 … don’t forget to cast your vote before the polls close.
News, Notes and Rumors
The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms with Carlos Villanueva on December 20 but the Cubs have not made a corresponding roster move to add the right-handed pitcher to the roster. The Cubs’ 40-man currently stands at 40 players. Could rumored talks for Alfonso Soriano and Rick Porcello be holding up the announcement?
Former Cubs’ starter, Rodrigo Lopez, signed a minor league contract with the Phillies that includes a non-roster invite to big league camp. Lopez could make $1 million, plus incentives, if he is added to Philly’s roster. Lopez pitched for the Cubs in 2011, had a cup of coffee with the team last year (four games) but spent a majority of the season with the I-Cubs.
Henry Blanco signed a one-year, $750,000 contract with the Blue Jays.
Chris Jaffe posted a reminder on The Hardball Times of the day that the Rockies scored a run in every inning against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 5, 1999 … and the Cubs traded Rick Monday and Mike Garman to the Dodgers for Bill Buckner, Ivan DeJesus and Jeff Albert in 1977.