It’s Almost Time for Cubs Pitchers and Catchers to Report to Spring Training

Weekend Update

With the Cubs avoiding arbitration with Jeff Samardzija on Saturday by agreeing to a one-year deal that will pay him $5.345 million and Darwin Barney last Thursday on a $2.3 million contract, the Cubs have all of the players currently on the 40-man roster under contract for the upcoming season and can focus on the start of Spring Training.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will take place Wednesday at the Cubs’ new Spring Training home and the following day all pitchers and catchers must be in Mesa. Rick Renteria and his staff will hold their first official on the field work out Friday. Position players do not report until Feb. 18, then on Feb. 19 the first full squad practice will take place.

The Cubs open the 2014 Cactus League schedule at Cubs Park on Feb. 27 against the Diamondbacks.

The front office has not announced the signing of Jason Hammel. Hammel and the Cubs reportedly agreed to a one-year contract on the last day of January that would pay the veteran right hander $6 million, plus another $1 million if he reaches all of his incentives. The Cubs will have to make a roster move to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Hammel. And one possible option to clear a spot would be to place RHP Kyuji Fujikawa on the 60-day DL.

The minor league contract with RHP James McDonald also has not been announced. The Cubs reportedly agreed to terms with McDonald on a one-year contract on Jan. 31. Once McDonald is announced and Chang-Yong Lim is officially added to their spring roster, the Cubs will have 66 players in big league camp plus minor league catchers Will Remillard and Luis Flores. The Cubs added the two minor league backstops to help with the workload early in camp.

When the Cactus League games begin, a majority of the focus will be on how the top prospects in the system are performing. Arismendy Alcantara, Jorge Soler, Mike Olt, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm, Arodys Vizcaino, Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters are on the 40-man roster and figure to receive a lot of playing time in the spring, while players such as Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Albert Almora, Kyle Hendricks, Eric Jokisch, Armando Rivero and Marcus Hatley should see a fair amount of action early in the exhibition season. And in the cases of Rivero and Hatley, their performances will determine how long they stay in big league camp.

News and Notes

Once the Cubs agreed to terms on a one-year contract with Jason Hammel, the chances of a reunion with Paul Maholm were slim to none. The Dodgers announced Saturday night they signed the veteran southpaw to a one-year, $1.5 million Major League contract. To open a spot on the roster for Maholm, the Dodgers placed Scott Elbert on the 60-day DL. Maholm’s deal includes an incentives package worth $5 million that could run his total payday for 2014 to $6.5 million.

Paul Sullivan posted a report on the Cubs do-nothing off-season. And listed the failures of winters past while admitting “doing next to nothing to improve a rebuilding club may be preferable to overspending on bad free agents, as long as the overall game plan succeeds.” Sullivan pointed out Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer had “to deal with the embarrassment of losing out to the Yankees on manager Joe Girardi and Masahiro Tanaka after reports and tweets from prominent media outlets suggested they were set on spending any amount to snare Girardi and prepared to blow away the field on Tanaka.”

And not to be outdone by the Tribune, Gordon Wittenmyer posted his views of the Cubs off-season with Spring Training set to officially begin this week.

Taking a player to arbitration is never a good idea for the player or the club. The relationship between the two sides often changes after going through the process. Two players went to arbitration Saturday … with one of the two players coming out on top. Multiple reports suggested the Padres and Andrew Cashner were working on a contract extension and that was the reason for the delay in agreeing on a contract for the upcoming season. Well, as it turns out San Diego and Cashner went to arbitration on Saturday and the panel ruled in favor of Cashner. The Padres will pay Cashner $2.4 million. Afterwards Cashner was asked about it and he said he found the hearing “an interesting process.” The Indians’ Vinnie Pestano lost his arbitration case and will make $975,000 in 2014 after he submitted a $1.45 million figure.

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