Cubs Could Be Busy at the Winter Meetings

2013 Winter Meetings – Day One

Will the Cubs be active at the Winter Meetings? Major League Baseball’s annual gathering officially begins on Monday morning. The Cubs are believed to be looking for a starting pitcher, help in the pen, an outfielder and players that can help round out the bench.

The Cubs are expected to shop Jeff Samardzija over the next four days. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will weigh the offers they receive for Samardzija against keeping him until later in the winter, or until July. The front office is on record saying they would prefer to sign Samardzija to a long-term extension but if the two sides are unable to agree to a new deal, the Cubs will look to turn a medium-term asset into several long-term, controllable impact assets.

There is a feeling the meetings will be very active throughout the game, but not in terms of free agent signings. With a lot of the big names coming off the free agent board last week, most think the Winter Meetings will be filled with trades this year.

The baseball world has setup shop at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando for the 112th Winter Meetings. There is a large amount of trade texting going on, so will the Cubs make any moves this week or continue setting the stage for future deals?

The Cubs are not looking to make any big splashes this week but they were working “on something” prior to leaving for the meetings. As for the Winter Meetings and the four-day process, Theo Epstein said, “Sometimes it can be that way, where it’s just another four days and then deals get consummated afterwards. Sometimes there’s a feeding frenzy. Deadlines are put in place at the winter meetings. You have to be prepared both ways. That said, I think it is important to have people around you reminding you that it’s important to do the right deal, not just a deal because there’s deal momentum at the winter meetings unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. So it’s important to keep your perspective.”

Masahiro Tanaka and the Posting System

Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball are expected to announce the new positing system at some point in the coming week. The two sides have agreed to several points that include capping the posting fee at $20 million.

From what has been agreed upon, all teams that meet the posting fee will be able to negotiate with the player. The 30-day window to agree to terms and sign the player will still be part of the posting system.

Joel Sherman reported Sunday night the posting system document is still not finalized and once it is approved by the NPB, the MLB executive council will have to approve.

Many think Masahiro Tanaka will be posted. There is support for Tanaka to be posted in Japan but the Rakuten Golden Eagles president still believes the $20 million posting cap is too low, especially for Tanaka.

The Golden Eagles have control over Tanaka for two more seasons after he signed a three-year contract extension last year. When Tanaka inked the new deal he indicated he was looking forward to pitching in the majors at some point. The thought was at the time he signed the contract that Tanaka expected, and wanted, to be posted this winter.

As of Sunday night, the decision to post Masahiro Tanaka appears to be up to Rakuten’s president. And according to Joel Sherman, he will make the decision on posting Tanaka based on what he feels is in the best interest of the team.

Shin-Soo Choo

Shin-Soo Choo is drawing a lot of attention and could be signed this week. The Cubs are reportedly interested in signing Choo and have talked to his representatives (Scott Boras). The Cubs are just one of many teams believed to be interested in Choo. The Tigers, Astros, Orioles, Rangers, Mariners and possibly the Red Sox are in the mix as well. But Boston’s interest could be dependent upon their ability to trade for Matt Kemp.

Joel Sherman reported Scott Boras is using seven years and $153 million as a “guidepost” in negotiations for Shin-Soo Choo and one club he spoke with thinks Choo will end up with a contract between the ones Jacoby Ellsbury and Jayson Werth signed (seven years, $153 million and seven years, $126 million).

Relievers

The Tribune and Jon Heyman confirmed the Cubs interest in RHP John Axford. Axford is reportedly interested in signing with the Cubs as well but at least 14 teams have checked in with Axford since he was non-tendered by the Cardinals. Two of the other teams are believed to be the Mariners and Orioles.

The Orioles are one of the teams interested in John Axford. Dan Duquette mentioned that Rick Peterson, the Orioles’ minor league pitching coordinator is familiar with Axford from their days together in Milwaukee.

The Cubs are also thought to be interested in Joba Chamberlain.

News, Notes and Rumors

Baltimore is going to be active at the Winter Meetings … and the Orioles are one of the teams thought to have the most interest in Jeff Samardzija. Dan Duquette indicated on MLB Network Radio that the Orioles do not believe in paying posting fees and the Orioles would not be involved in bidding for Masahiro Tanaka, if he is posted. Duquette said he would be adding “experienced pitchers” before he leaves the Winter Meetings. Dan Duquette pointed out that he “has a couple of trade partners to follow up on” this week about deals they’ve discussed.

The Nationals are one of the teams reportedly interested in Jeff Samardzija. The Nationals are also looking for a lefty reliever and have checked in on Boone Logan, Oliver Perez, Eric O’Flaherty and J.P. Howell … and as of late Sunday the Nationals were making a strong push for O’Flaherty. The Cubs have four southpaw relievers on their 40-man roster right now, and three that can be traded (Wesley Wright signed as a free agent and cannot be traded).

Arizona is one of the teams interested in acquiring David Price and their ability to land Price will obviously have an impact on where Jeff Samardzija could be traded. Jim Bowden reported on Sunday that Andrew Friedman told Kevin Towers when he is ready to include Archie Bradley in a trade for Price to give him a call. Towers is not willing to deal Bradley but could be interested in sending Patrick Corbin and Wade Miley to Tampa in a deal for Price.

CCO Reminder

To keep up with the latest from the Winter Meetings, check ChicagoCubsOnline often and follow the CCO on Twitter. We will only post news and rumors from reliable sources … and a reminder to beware of all of the fake Twitter accounts and inaccurate rumors that surface during the meetings.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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Quote of the Day

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