Cubs Exploring Pitching Options and Other News, Notes and Rumors

The Cubs took care of a little business on Friday when the team avoided arbitration with Travis Wood and agreed to a one-year contract worth $3.9 million with the lefty All-Star. The Cubs have avoided arbitration with seven of the 10 arbitration eligible players for the upcoming season. The Cubs exchanged numbers with Jeff Samardzija, Darwin Barney and Justin Ruggiano last Friday and still have to agree to contracts with all three players to avoid the dreaded arbitration hearing.

Spring Training should be both entertaining and interesting to watch this year. The Cubs announced the list of 24 players that will be in Major League camp as non-roster invitees on Friday. Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Kyle Hendricks and Eric Jokisch highlight the list of NRI’s that also includes Marcus Hatley, Jonathan Sanchez and Chris Coghlan.

The Cubs are looking to sign at least one veteran starter before Spring Training begins on Feb. 13. Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel have been connected to the Cubs and Scott Baker could still be on the radar as well. The Cubs will not be going after the big name free agent starters left on the market. Matt Garza was not an option for the Cubs and something is holding up the reported agreement between Garza and the Brewers. Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are attached to draft pick compensation which means signing either starter would go against the Cubs’ long-term plans.

Chris Cotillo reported five teams are interested in Jason Hammel and he should make a decision next week.

Jed Hoyer said the Cubs are looking to add innings over the next couple of weeks. With Spring Training just around the corner and a full 40-man roster, the Cubs could ink a starter or two to a minor league contract and invite him to Spring Training.

Greg Maddux

The Baseball Hall of Fame announced Thursday that Greg Maddux would be inducted into the Hall of Fame without a logo on his cap. Maddux had input in the decision and did not want a Cubs or Braves logo on his plaque. Tony LaRussa made the same decision as Maddux. Jim “Catfish” Hunter and Yogi Berra do not have a logo on their Hall of Fame plaques.

Greg Maddux is glad the Hall did not force him to put a logo on his Hall plaque. Chicago and Atlanta meant a lot to Maddux and he did not want either organization to be singled out.

Maddux issued the following statement, “My wife Kathy and I grew up in baseball in Chicago, and then we just had an amazing experience in Atlanta with the Braves. It is impossible for me to choose one of those teams for my Hall of Fame plaque, as the fans of both clubs in each of those cities were so wonderful. I can’t think of having my Hall of Fame induction without the support of both of those fan bases, so, for that reason, the cap on my Hall of Fame plaque will not feature a logo.”

Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson addressed Maddux’s decision. “For those whose careers were built significantly among multiple teams, not having a logo is equally acceptable.”

Lars Anderson

According to a report from Baseball America, the Cubs signed 1B/OF Lars Anderson to a minor league contract. It is unknown at this point if the deal includes a non-roster invite to big league camp because the team has not acknowledged the signing.

Lars Anderson spent half of last season in the White Sox system and hit .194/.302/.251 with seven doubles and two home runs in 66 games at the Triple-A level. The Sox released Anderson on July 18.

Lars Anderson was selected by the Red Sox in the 18th round of the 2006 draft. Boston traded Anderson to the Indians in July of 2012 for Steven Wright. Anderson was then involved in the three-team trade (Indians, Diamondbacks, Reds) in December of 2012 that landed Shin-Soo Choo in Cincinnati.

The 26-year old has played in only 30 big league games over three seasons.

Updated 1:40pm CSTThe Cubs confirmed signing Lars Anderson to a minor league contract. Anderson has not been added to the list of non-roster invitees.

Yenier Bello

The Cubs’ system is rather thin in the catching department, one of the areas of the organization that’s concerning the front office. But the team could be interested in signing Cuban catching prospect Yenier Bello.

According to a report from Jesse Sanchez, the Cubs are one of three teams (Dodgers and Blue Jays) that have been linked to the 28-year old catcher. Yenier Bello “has been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and can now enter into an agreement with a Major League team.”

Bello defected from Cuba early in 2013 and established residency in Mexico. MLB declared Bello a free agent “late last year but was unable to enter a contract with a Major League club until he was cleared by OFAC earlier this week.”

Yenier Bello hit .274 with 13 home runs in 2011.

Jesse Sanchez reported Yenier Bello could sign with a Major League team before Spring Training begins.

WGN Radio Cubs Song

720 WGN is “calling all musicians to write the next great Chicago Cubs song. And the winner could become the WGN Radio Cubs song of the 2014 season.”

WGN is conducting another search and those so inclined have until Feb. 28, 2014 to submit their song. The song cannot mention current players, coaches or Cubs management and must mention the Cubs and WGN.

News and Notes

Cubs Park and Riverview Park will open to the public on Saturday (Jan. 25). The City of Mesa is marking the occasion with a Grand Opening they have dubbed “Double Play at the Park.”

Tyler Colvin agreed to a one-year deal, pending a physical, with the Orioles. But Baltimore discovered Colvin still has a back issue that hampered him a year ago. Colvin did not pass the O’s physical and had to settle for a minor league contract with Baltimore. Colvin has not signed yet according to Jon Heyman and remains a free agent.

Speaking of former Cubs, the Softbank Hawks announced they released Bryan LaHair on Wednesday.

Baseball Prospectus’ list of the top prospects in the Cubs’ system ended up being BP’s most clicked on team list ever.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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  • Ripsnorter1

    The Cubs should not sign any FA pitchers. Just pitch the farm kids and be done with it. And don’t sign any FA/NRI scrap heap players, either. Play the farm kids. Get Brett Jackson up here. Josh Vitters. A few farm arms and let them start. Give Grimm a job. (I am not suggesting calling up real prospects prematurely, like Bryant and Baez, et al. Just the prospects like Jackson and Vitters).

    Why? It would be more fun to watch than a bunch of players that we already know cannot play MLB. At least there would be the interest factor of trying to find out what this kid can do.

    And that’s how I think Team Theo should salvage 2014.

    • TinTin

      Best post in 2014 so far.

    • Tom U

      Amen

    • GaryLeeT

      I hear what you are saying, but there are zero diamonds in the rough, yet to be uncovered. It is incredibly rare for a player to not stand out in the farm system, but excel at the ML level. In other words, I could care less what place holders they stick out there. This season, it’s all about a high draft pick…….again.

      • Shaun Samples

        What about former Cub Josh Donaldson, former Cub Casey McGhee to name a couple. They were overlooked in our system and Donaldson received MVP votes last year. McGhee has since fell on harder times, but had a couple really good seasons. I agree to go young and let them play. I just wouldn’t rule out a guy or two in our farm that the scouts missed on. They miss on guys all the time. If were going to succeed, we are going to have to find a couple diamonds in the rough.

        Go Cubs!!

        • GaryLeeT

          Come on, you can’t count Donaldson. He was traded while he was still in Peoria.

          • Tom U

            Donaldson was a first round draft pick. You never let those go unless you’re getting a sure thing or they have totally tanked.

          • cubtex

            He was part of the Rich Harden trade so that was a pretty sure thing.

          • Tom U

            I respectfully disagree. While from a talent perspective, you can call Harden a sure thing, he did not deliver in two reasons he was brought to the team.

            1. The Cubs did not win a World Series.

            2. The Cubs failed to re-sign him.

            When you gamble with your future, you have to reach your goals in order to make it worth the gamble. The Cubs didn’t reach their goals and as a result lost out on a future C/3B.

            If the Cubs already had Donaldson, would they have picked Bryant in the draft? Or Baez? Or would they have gone in a different direction?

            As to the comparisons to LaHair, I don’t see the connection. LaHair was 28 years old and had an MVP season at Triple-A. Donaldson is was 27 years old, in his third major league season, and had improved his numbers ever year.

          • cubtex

            see my reply

          • cubtex

            When you have an opportunity for postseason…you want to give the team the best chance to win a WS. No…they didn’t win a WS…but they had a better chance by adding Harden than sitting on their hands and doing nothing. Just like the Rangers adding Garza. It didn’t work but they wanted to give the team a better chance to win and its costs prospects. I hope Theo does the same thing when this team is ready for postseason. You need to go for it when you have a chance.

          • cubtex

            And looking at what Harden did after he left the Cubs, it was wise not to re-sign him. He only lasted 2 more injury riddled seasons. 92 IP in 2010 and 82 in 2011 and out of baseball.

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            I was thrilled when we got Harden. He was really good and had some great starts in Chicago. Hindsight is always 20/20 but that trade gave both teams what they needed at the time.

            I really liked Gallagher at the time. He was looking like he had potential.

          • Eugene Debs

            Trading Donaldson was in no way “gambling the future.”

          • Eugene Debs

            Let’s see how Donaldson does this year, but I’ve got money on .250/14/47. He’s not getting any slimmer and Oakland has had a lot of 1.5 year wonders over the years. It’s kinda their business model. Don’t get me wrong, I’d rather have him than 75% of our starting lineup, but that’s because we are horrible..outright horrible.

          • Eugene Debs

            Donaldson had a breakout 2013, a season which has “Bryan LaHair” written all over it.

          • cubtex

            You know what Tom. The Cubs got a young Rich Harden at age 26 and Chad Gaudin at 25 on July 8,2008. The Cubs went on to win 97 games that year. The other players sent over to Oakland..Sean Gallagher(the centerpiece) Matt Murton, Eric Patterson and Donaldson(who was hitting .217 in A ball at the time. It was a good trade for where the Cubs were at. They needed an impact arm like Harden and Gaudin(although was a failure as a Cub) had a decent mlb career.

          • Tom U

            Donaldson was hitting .217 at Daytona after playing only 49 games (roughly half a season) at low-A Boise the previous year. Is it possible that a mistake was made to include him in the deal by a front office that had a documented history of mishandling and misreading prospects?

          • cubtex

            You gotta give up players to get. If they had won a WS in 2008….would it not have been worth it? Of course.

          • Tom U

            Precisely my point. You have to win it for the deal to be successful. The Cubs did not, and they did not re-sign Harden. In those terms, the Cubs got nothing for what they gave up.

            (Incidentally, I made an error above. Donaldson was at Peoria in 2007, not Daytona)

          • cubtex

            So you think that you shouldn’t give up prospects to give the team a “better” chance to succeed when the team is going to postseason? Only 1 team wins Tom. You can’t always say next year. I believe you need to go all in when you have the opportunity.

          • Tom U

            Which is why a team needs to have “position redundancy before considering making a move.

            The Rangers were able to give up 3B prospects Christian Villanueva and Mike Olt the past two seasons even though their major league 3B Adrian Beltre is 34 years old. The reason is that Rangers have a decent prospect at AA in Alex Buchholz and a super prospect at A in Joey Gallo.

            When the Cubs made the deal for Harden, they did not have “position redundancy”, and therefore hurt the future of the club at either 3B or C (which Donaldson originally played).

            Given that, a hypothetical to ponder would be is that whether the Harden deal could have been completed if someone like Welington Castillo was included instead of Donaldson? Castillo was 21 years old in 2008 and played at three levels (A+, AA, AAA) and was a combined .287/4/37.

            Which player would you rather have now, Donaldson or Castillo?

          • cubtex

            I agree it is better to have depth in the minors….but if you don’t? IMO…you still have to go for it. They had a great shot in 2008. 97 wins. Home field advantage. Obviously it didn’t work out but I believe that you still should give the team the absolute best shot regardless of depth in the minors. I think that is where we disagree. I am like Theo’s quote. “Every year to win is sacred” If you have a chance that year…Maximize your chances by giving your team the best players to make that happen.

          • Tom U

            Well, you are entitled to believe that, but remember, the devil is in the details. It is not much consolation to acknowledge that your team “went for it” and came up short when you have to deal with the aftermath for years.

          • cubtex

            There are no guarantees for next year. Look at the Nats as an example. Shut down Strassburg in what could be the “best” opportunity they would have had to win a WS this decade. They thought they would be back. No promises or guarantees.

          • Dorasaga

            It was a win-win, regardless of how good the first-round draft became. The Cubs made it to October with a strong Harden. Giving up long-term asset for a short-term goal is business as usual. I’m not saying that I agree with such conduct, but there were legitimate argument to like that trade. Donaldson was in single A, hard to project; the management must consider a trade off between uncertainty and good pitching, which they didn’t have much before July of 2008.

          • cubtex

            I just looked up Harden’s stats with the Cubs in 08. Wow! Are you ready for this?

            5-1 1.77ERA 71 IP 39 Hits(no that is not a misprint) 39 hits in 71 innings with 89 K’s and a 0.972 Whip.

            He also pitched for the Cubs in 09

          • GaryLeeT

            Got to a couple games that he pitched in. One of the best change-ups I have ever seen.

          • cubtex

            those hits per innings pitched that half season was ridiculous.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Right on, Shaun!

      • SuzyS

        GaryLeeT, I disagree. This season is about developing the prospects. While we may garner a high draft pick this season…I see the Cubs actually being better towards the end of the season with the arrival of actual prospects.
        Trades made this year should have a different flavor to them…looking for talent that can contribute in the shorter term.

        • Eugene Debs

          “May garner” a high draft pick? Even an eternal optimist has to put us as one of the 3 worst MLB rosters. Some infusion of talent from the minors might elevate us to bottom 7. That’s a good pick.

        • cubtex

          I agree that some prospects will be brought up. Baez,Alcantara,Olt,maybe Hendricks…but to think that these players will hit the ground running and the Cubs will be better towards the end of the season is a little optimistic. Look at the last 2 seasons. When you take mlb players off the roster and replace them with kids or lesser players…they will not win many games. 2 years ago, delete Maholm and Dempster…tank. Last year delete Garza and Soriano…tank even worse. This year shouldn’t be as bad but it will not get better.

          • SuzyS

            Look at the energy Lake brought in last season.
            I’m not saying we will be world beaters…just vastly more optimistic with real talent arriving.
            Sprinkle in a few of the farm pitchers getting a look see…and yes, we will be better.

          • cubtex

            yes but what was there record from that point forward? They will be easier to watch and more tolerable than this current bunch of misfits but better? Depends what your definition of better is.

          • cubtex

            I did this for my own doing because I was curious. Soriano was traded 7/26. The Cubs were 46-55 on that date. They finished the season 66-96. So after the Soriano trade the team was 20-41.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Now that’s a good record! 20-41! Sing of it!

            LOL

            But we didn’t miss that old has-been’s bat at all. No sirree!

            LOL

            Play the kids.

        • GaryLeeT

          Did you see where I said my statement was cynically made?

          • SuzyS

            Gary LeeT…just rechecked and saw that. You know…after this past week…(and few years)…it’s too easy to be a cynic…and tough to be an optimist.
            This is not a jab at you…I feel it also. I’m on board with the basic rebuild…but the bumps…and sometimes they seem to be mountains are tough to take at times.

    • cubtex

      Agreed Rip. Signing Maholm or Hammels won’t bring back any prospects at the deadline. See what the Grimms,Cabrera’s, and others can do.
      We already saw how little value the David DeJesus’s of the world have. Play Lake everyday in CF. These players like Bogusevic,Sweeney,Schierholtz will only bring back Ruggiano type returns. AAAA players. They don’t need that at this point.
      This is another poorly constructed mlb roster that has zero chance to compete.
      In the words from Bad News Bears…” Let them play”

    • Eugene Debs

      Brett Jackson does not deserve a spot. As bad as our OF is (and it has some potential), they will not strike out 65% of the time and hit below .100, which is what Jackson will do.

      Dude struggled in AA last year!

      • CubbyDenCritic

        that was last year…..2014 is a new year….
        But if we went your way…we then can be said about almost every other Cub who had a bad year……especially with Rizzo & Castro.

        • Eugene Debs

          Rizzo and Castro had bad years. Jackson had one of the worst years in all of professional baseball. Rizzo and Castro have some history of success above AA to include at the MLB level. Jackson has not.

          Jackson had a high strikeout rate in tee ball.

    • SuzyS

      Good post, Rip. However, I view this year as the “tryout year” for the direction the team will take next year.
      If you bring up pitchers and kids from the farm…somebody has to take their place on the farm…so I don’t mind additional pitching inventory to cover the inevitable injuries/failures etc….at least for the beginning of the year.
      It will be interesting to see what they do with Cabrerer (he’s out of options).
      In addition, minor league depth has almost too many options in the infield almost major league-ready…Bryant/Villanueva/Olt/Alcantra/Baez. I look for a package trade late this season for either pitching or catcher talent.
      If Jackson shows anything at all with the bat in ST….bring him up. If they can find Vitters enough AB between OF/3rd base backup…then bring him up…But he needs to play regularly to have any success.

    • The Dude Abides

      Theo’s best move in Boston may have been getting Big Papi off the scrap pile in Minnesota, one of his downfalls is he is still looking to reproduce such a move in Chicago.

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        That was a great move but he made many in Boston. Bill Mueller, Foulke, Drew, Lowell. Shoot, Dice-K fizzled quickly but without him they don’t win that 2nd WS.

  • JasonPen

    Something has to be done with this whole idea of ‘draft pick compensation’… I can see it for your superstar players… But Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are not those types of players. Basically, if the idea of giving up a draft pick stops you from signing the player… Then he’s not the type of player that should be attached to a draft pick. It’s only hurting the player.

    • Carmen Fanzone

      Jimenez and Santana had the chance to receive 14 million dollars from their former clubs on a 1 year deal and they turned it down.How is that unfair to the players? Some players just get bad advice from their agents.

      • JasonPen

        Its a bad deal because starting pitchers need more than just one year contracts. Any agent that tells a 30 year old pitcher to take a 1 year deal should be fired… That 14 million dollars won’t be nearly as much as a multi-year deal of maybe 75 million or more… Especially knowing the injury risk at that position.

        • SuzyS

          I’m pretty sure the next cba will
          address the draft pick compensation item…because
          teams perception of the value of draft picks has increased dramatically from earlier times.
          It can be argued that it hasn’t changed that much since all players attached to draft pick compensation were signed last year…and should be this year.
          However, it definitely affects how teams address their needs.

  • Eugene Debs

    $3.9 million for Wood. Time to trade him? That’s kinda rich. Maybe get some inventory and “roll forward” the savings.

    • JasonOfTheBurbs

      is that sarcasm? Wood is a solid 3-4 right now, and that is dirt-cheap for a starting pitcher, and he is a lefty and young. Seems like a keeper. If he proves last year was a fluke and flops this year, then cut him loose.

      • Eugene Debs

        It’s all about inventory and “rolling forward” the savings.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Hey, let’s “roll out the barrell of savings!” Saving big money for Tom Ricketts! Sing of it!

          LOL

          At this rate, we are putting off the final rebuild until infinity, and beyond!

          • Eugene Debs

            But think of the inventory!

    • BigJonLilJon

      Could be time to trade him… I’m willing to bet he doesn’t match last years wins, era

  • CubbyDenCritic

    According to the contract the Cubs signed with the Roof Top owners, in Section 6, the Cubs have the right to build billboards as part of expansion of Wrigley Field, if those billboards are approved by the city council, which they were…..an arbitration meeting has to occur to settle if the billboards should be part of the Wrigley expansion…..either side don’t like the arbitration ruling, civil court is next.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Cubs starting Four Pitchers……

    Samardzija
    Wood
    Jackson
    Arietta

    Option #5……take your pick…….and give them a chance….

    Rusin
    Grimm
    Beeler
    Hendricks
    Vizcaino
    Cabrera
    Villanueva
    Vizcaino
    Ramirez
    P. Johnson
    Hartley
    Sanchez

    • Eugene Debs

      I just got heartburn looking at 3 – 5. That list for the #5 spot…ugh. I guess if I had to choose, I hope Vizcaino turns out? I doubt it.

      Can Grimm get it together? Is Arietta even close to a real deal? And Jackson….sigh.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Vizcaino will start of as a reliever to build up innings…..maybe a Sept start….but I think Cubs need to hand the ball over to Cabrera……Marshall is AAA bound…..”Dark Horse” will be Hartley. who might sneak in the rotation at some point.

    • cubtex

      I wonder if Brett Marshall will be in the mix if they don’t pick anyone else up. He did start 25 games in AAA last year and is on 40 man roster.

      11. Brett Marshall – RHP (NR)

      Marshall doesn’t have a sexy profile as a pitching prospect, sitting
      in the 89-91 range and touching 93 at times. His fastball and change-up
      are both solid-average pitches with good sink and deception. Neither
      his curveball or slider overly impressed scouts but they are useable
      pitches that he can mix in throughout his starts. Marshall throws
      strikes but struggles to consistently move the ball to both sides of the
      plate. His long term profile sits in the number four or five starter
      realm and he could be ready to fulfill that role in 2014.

    • Pawpawone

      I think a really good option as a starter would be Rondon. All but four of his minor league appearances was as a starter.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        He was once groomed as a starter for the Indians……but right now, there are many others ahead of him on the Cubs starting pitching chart.

      • cubtex

        With all the young options like Grimm,Cabrera,Rusin etc….I would rather see one of these kids get the 5th spot. If one fails, move in another. They have options.

        • Ripsnorter1

          You are right. Again.

          Forget Maholm. Pitch Cabrera. If he fails, pitch Grimm.

  • Dorasaga

    I had my opinion on Greg Maddux, what he had done for the Cubs since retirement. You know what, those don’t matter now. Maddux did a great favor for the Cubs in this speech, and I think fans like me appreciate what he said. Thank you.

    • SuzyS

      Agreed.

  • cubtex

    And as predicted by Tom U. Cubs signed Lars Anderson to minor league deal.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      For more details, as mentioned yesterday, see above.

      • cubtex

        Lol.

  • triple

    Neil- didn’t the HFA used to make the decision for the player about what team hat they wear on their plaque? I seem to remember Dawson saying he wanted to go into the Hall as a Cub, but they made him wear the Expos hat? How come now they are accepting input from the new class as far as which team to represent? Seems that maybe the HoF should have either put Dawson in as a Cub, or with the same blank hat as Maddux will now have.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      The Hall of Fame took the full decision away from the player after the Wade Boggs debacle. The players still have a say in the cap that goes on their plaque. Prior to Boggs the player had full control from the way I understand it.

      The Hall explained that when players who have excellent careers with two different organizations may choose to not have a logo on their cap. With free agency and the names coming up, I think there will be more of this. Maddux could be the first of many.

      As for Dawson, I think that had to do more with the Expos than anything. With that said, I do not know why he was not given the option.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Because it is all about “Bud Selig” and trying to preserve the Expos History in baseball.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Wasn’t Lars Anderson a top prospect not long ago? Could have upside.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Yes, he was a top rated prospect and he could have upside. I cannot get confirmation yet, but he appears to have signed a minor league deal without an invite to camp.

      • SuzyS

        Neil, check the cubs.com transaction section….says Lars was signed Jan. 20th.

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Thank you Suzy. It was not there yesterday and I could not get confirmation on the signing. I posted an update on my report.

    • Eugene Debs

      His minor league stats have been horrible the last few years. Has he been hurt?

      I think this is AAA depth at best.

      • Ripsnorter1

        He can hit in A ball, but has not BA above A ball. It’s a fact: he can’t hit.

  • SuzyS

    I posted this earlier…but it disappeared in the ether:
    I’m sure the Cubs will do due diligence on this guy…and he might be worth a look…but it doesn’t seem much more than that.

    http://www.amazinavenue.com/2013/11/1/5049362/international-free-agent-profile-2014-odrisamer-despaigne

    • Dorasaga

      Good story, but doesn’t seem like a good pitcher for Major League.

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