Now that the Cubs have hired a majority of Rick Renteria’s coaching staff, the front office’s attention should turn to the big league roster.
With the Winter Meetings in Orlando just over two weeks away, the rumors surrounding the Cubs will increase. The Cubs are believed to be listening to offers for Jeff Samardzija while also trying to sign him to a long-term extension. Nate Schierholtz could also be available in the right deal.
The Cubs are looking to add pitching to the roster. The front office is believed to be looking for a lefty reliever and the Cubs are thought to be interested in free agent Phil Hughes as well as re-signing Scott Baker. As for other possible free agent additions, Kurt Suzuki and John Buck are reportedly on the Cubs’ radar to backup Welington Castillo.
The Nationals, Diamondbacks, Pirates and Orioles are among the teams thought to be interested in acquiring Jeff Samardzija this winter. If the front office decides to trade Samardzija, they will not give away their Opening Day starter from a year ago.
Jim Bowden reported earlier in the week that the Orioles have checked in with the Cubs about Samardzija’s availability. It is unclear if the Cubs and Orioles could matchup on another trade, but there is a history between the Cubs’ front office and Dan Duquette. Plus the Cubs should know the Orioles system rather well after scouting it last summer.
Bowden posted five trades he thinks should happen for Orioles’ catcher Matt Wieters this winter. The Orioles would like to sign Wieters to a contract extension this off-season. Wieters is two seasons away from free agency and Scott Boras is his agent, so an extension is likely out of the question. One of the five teams Bowden listed as a possibility to trade for Wieters this winter was the Cubs.
According to Bowden’s report, a deal for Wieters centered around Jeff Samardzija would make sense. The Cubs would likely have to include a power-hitting prospect, such as Jorge Soler, or a high-level pitching prospect such as C. J. Edwards.
Trading for a short-term asset, like Matt Wieters, is not part of the Cubs’ plan to build the organization. But if Tim Wilken would have gotten his way more than six years ago, the Cubs might be the team considering whether or not to trade Matt Wieters this winter.
As Bowden pointed out at the end of his report, while the trades he proposed may be feasible, they are somewhat unlikely.
Baseball America released their list of the ten Winter League prospects to watch in Puerto Rico and Mexico … and Cubs’ prospect, Christian Villanueva checked in at number three on BA’s ranking.
Christian Villanueva is considered the best fielding third baseman in the Cubs’ system and is ticketed to begin the 2014 season as the third baseman for the Iowa Cubs. Villanueva had an excellent season with Double-A Tennessee. Villanueva is playing for Obregon in the Mexican Pacific League this winter.
Cubs Suspends Caravan Stop in Peoria
According to a report from the Journal Star, the Cubs Caravan will not make its annual winter stop in Peoria this January.
The Cubs have changed their philosophy on their winter appearances and “instead of visiting several communities throughout the state, the Cubs will have some players and team officials involved in community projects in the Chicago area.”
News, Notes and More Rumors
According to a report from Nick Cafardo, the Angels have called Bronson Arroyo.
Heard this … The Red Sox have checked in with Dioner Navarro as a possible option if Jarrod Saltalamacchia signs elsewhere this winter.
Jeimer Candelario is called “Candy” by most but his teammates and coaches at the Cubs’ academy in the Dominican Republic nicknamed him “Baby Ruth.” Candelario has a bright future ahead of him according to a report from Cubs.com.
Click here for a “sneak peak” of the Cubs’ new Spring Training facility in Mesa. The facility in the Riverview area is being called ‘Cubs Park’ for now.
Chris Cotillo reported the Angels have signed former Cubs’ farmhand, RHP Yeiper Castillo, to a minor league contract that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
Andy Lane, the Cubs bullpen catcher for the last three seasons, announced on his Twitter account he would not be returning to the team. The Cubs informed Lane on Friday they were not renewing his contract.