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.

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Quote of the Day

"There are places I remember. All my life though some have changed. Some forever not for better. Some have gone and some remain. All these places have their moments ... " John Lennon/Paul McCartney