Cubs Pitching Search Continues

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are looking to add at least one veteran starting pitcher to the mix before Spring Training begins. And the Cubs and Blue Jays could be talking again about a deal that would send Jeff Samardzija to Florida for Spring Training.

While the Cubs will not be signing Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, the front office is believed to be interested in Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel. If the Cubs sign Maholm and he is effective again under Chris Bosio, the front office would be able to flip him at the deadline. Maholm recently said he is not holding out to sign with a contender. Maholm understands how the business side of baseball works and is open to spending the first half of the season with one team and finishing the year with another.

At least five teams are interested in Jason Hammel and he could sign with a team this week. Scott Baker is drawing interest as well. The Twins, Indians and Mariners are three of the teams that have checked in with Baker of late.

And with A.J. Burnett back in the mix, the free agent starting pitcher market changed slightly throughout the league. Burnett lives in Monkton, Maryland and could be a fit for the Orioles and Phillies if he wants to pitch close to home. Burnett figures to jump to the front of the line if he is open to pitching anywhere in the league. The addition of Burnett could slow down the market for the other free agent starters.

Chris Bosio recently told Comcast SportsNet’s Tony Andracki that he believes the Cubs have enough pitching going into Spring Training to surprise some people. Bosio thinks the Cubs “have more depth” than last year and “some big arms” … plus there are “some young, talented pitchers coming.”

Chris Bosio is high on Kyle Hendricks and he will be in big league camp along with Neil Ramirez. Other young arms to keep an eye on this spring include lefty Eric Jokisch, Arodys Vizcaino, Marcus Hatley, Alberto Cabrera, Brett Marshall, Carlos Pimentel and Armando Rivero.

The Cubs loaded the moving vans Tuesday and sent them West full of Cubs’ gear … another sign Spring Training is just around the corner. Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa on Feb. 13.

MLB Approves Protective Caps for Pitchers

Major League Baseball has been testing numerous prototypes of padded caps to provide pitchers with some protection against line drives. MLB announced Tuesday “that it has approved such a product for the first time, after consultation with the players’ association.”

According to the report from ESPN, “the threshold for approval was that the cap had to provide protection, at 83 miles per hour, below the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment standard severity index of 1,200. Severity indexes higher than 1,200 are considered high-risk for skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries.” MLB determined through test that 83 mph “was the average speed of a line drive when it reaches the area of the pitching mound.”

4Licensing Corporation subsidiary of isoBLox is manufacturing the caps that will be available to pitchers this spring. Pitchers that want to use the protection will be able to do so during the upcoming season.

Brandon McCarthy told ESPN he will not be using the cap because it “isn’t Major League ready” according to McCarthy and is “too big and too hot.”

MLB will keep working on more options for the players.

News, Notes and Rumors

According to a report from Korea, Suk-Min Yoon has four offers on the table from four Major League teams and is negotiating with two of them. Yoon could sign a contract as early as this weekend. The Cubs reportedly had interest in signing Yoon earlier in the winter. Scott Boras represents Yoon and his client has been working out at the Boras Sports Training Institute during the off-season.

The Mariners have had discussions with Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo. Seattle is looking for another starter, a late-inning reliever and a bat to go with their huge off-season acquisition according to Jon Heyman.

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver