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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  • Ripsnorter1

    Paul Maholm and Carlos Marmol are making the same amount in 2014: $1.5 million. Maholm has incentives that probably exceed the Marmol incentives.

    • Tony_Hall

      Yes and Maholm, who we were thought to be looking at since the Hammels, Mahoms, Feldman types have to look to teams like the Cubs who can offer a rotation spot, ends up being the #5 on the Dodgers. Maybe these type of pitchers are wanted by all teams, even playoff teams. Even the Dodgers are shopping at the bargain bin for players.

    • cubtex

      Paul Maholm 1.5 mil plus incentives. Do you think he would have signed with the Cubs for that? Nope. Would have been a guaranteed 6 mil like Hammel. If a player has a chance to win late in his career and they have a chance to play for a contender….no contest. Maholm #5 starter for Dodgers or #5 for the Cubs and get flipped at the deadline? lol

      • CubbyDenCritic

        I think Maholm saw all the snow & cold in Chicago and said to himself, “Hollywood Hills looks much better then those large Chicago snow hills”

        • cubtex

          I see all that snow and cold in Chicago and I don’t miss that at all :)

      • Tony_Hall

        LOL, you will defend other teams actions no matter what. Shouldn’t Dodger fans be upset with Maholm as their 5th starter when they could have added Tanaka, and once they lost out on him they could have signed Garza and right now could still have Jimenez or Santana.

        • cubtex

          they have a great team. He is a #5. They have Kershaw,Greinke and Ryu as a 1,2,3. Are you kidding me? Give me a 1,2,3 like that and I will be fine with a Maholm as a 5.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Theo and Tananka: smoke screen.

    Now let’s deal off the best starter we have, Samardzija, and make Hammels our #1 starter. Let’s get this team to the bottom of MLB as fast as possible!

    Don’t like that paragraph? It is exactly what Team Theo is doing. Smoke screening that they want to sign FAs, and doing nothing but making the team worse. They want the #1 pick in the 2014 draft. They are going to hook themselves a TOR starting pitcher.

    Meanwhile, enjoy 100+ losses in 2014.

    • Tony_Hall

      Sorry, Rip, it is not a smoke screen. They are going after certain type of FA players. In Tanaka’s case the Yankees way overshot what was needed to sign him. This is what happens when a 25 year old hits FA. Plus they will be paying the luxury tax on his contract, making it even more expensive. That is what happens when you don’t have a farm system to fill in your needs at the major league level, you have to overpay for what you need. So, you are right, they don’t want to sign FA’s, unless they fit the long term plan and then other teams need that player far more today then the Cubs. Theo has said that that is the last place you want to look to add players, as it is the most expensive. Right now, they are using FA to round out the the roster. Yes they are not trying to put together a roster that is competitive with the Cardinals so they are adding players like Maholm, Feldman, and Hammel’s. If they were they would have moved on to the 2nd best option after Tanaka, but instead went back to the model of signing a vet for a relatively cheap contract, use the 1st half of the season to build his value and then trade him off. Honestly, this is not a bad way to fill a rotation spot for the 1st half of the year, even when the team is going for the World Series, as it can allow a young arm to stay in the minors for the first 3-4 months where they can control their innings more then spin off the vet for more prospects and call up the young arm to be the #5 the rest of the year. You might end up with a Wacha and have an arm for the playoffs or you may put them in the bullpen like the Cardinals have also done.

      • No Baseball In Indiana

        No doubt. I love how Cashman is now trying to lower expectations of Tanaka, saying that he has the skill to be a solid number three. Can you imagine the comments here if the Cubs had matched the Yankees offer, signed Tanaka, then immediately pegged him as a number three?

        • cubtex

          Seriously dude. You want him to put all those expectations on the fanbase before he has thrown a pitch and tell the press “we expect him to be our ace immediately and lead our staff to a WS?”
          Does he believe he will be a solid #3? Not a chance in hell.

          • No Baseball In Indiana

            Way to miss the point.
            So now that the Cubs don’t have him, you think he’s an ace. Too funny.

          • cubtex

            dude. I would like you to find anywhere in the archives where I have said he is not a TOR starter. Do I think he sucks? No. Do I think he will get hurt in 3 years? Are you getting it now?

          • cubtex

            and another thing. Do you honestly think Theo would have come out if they had signed Tanaka and proclaimed “We now have our ace for the next decade and he will be the chosen one to lead us to a WS.” Jeez

          • No Baseball In Indiana
        • mutantbeast

          Right. Im sure Cashman paid $20plus M /yr for a #3 starter. Tanaka had better pitch like Whitey Ford 1961 or Ron Guidry 1976., otherwise He,ll be gone in 4 years.

    • cubtex

      agreed Rip. Actions speak louder than words. “We will do whatever it takes and not be outbid for Tanaka” “Each and Every Year to Win is Sacred”

      What team are these quotes from? Yankees? Nope. Cubs? Hahaha.

      Actually that is exactly what the Yankees do. They know they have a weak farm system so they are prepared to spend 12-15 mil next year in the International Free Agent Market to replenish the farm system and keep on winning each and every year.

      Cubs plan= 100 losses, 96 losses and 93(my prediction) losses. Trade EVERY asset on the mlb roster for prospects. How can you not have a good minor league system this way?

      • No Baseball In Indiana

        Yankees are an 85 win team with a $200 million payroll. Good luck fixing a bottom third farm system with one of the weakest IFA markets in years.

        • mutantbeast

          Stankees also have a local TV contract worth over a billion $, so salaries dont mean quite as much to them. Same with the LAD. Cubs need a similiar local TV contract to compete financially.

          • No Baseball In Indiana

            Exactly. The Yankees revenue stream is the only thing obfuscating how poorly they’ve been at player development and free agency.

      • Eugene Debs

        The Yankees picked up some good pieces this offseason, but overall that organization is looking at some bad times. I doubt they win more than 85 games this year.

        • paulcatanese

          Maybe so, but those 85 wins may get them into the playoffs and an outside chance to get to the World Series. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
          A team can build and build the farm system, and that could take years (as all can see). They can come up with good prospects and continue to do so.
          But they are still “prospects” until proven otherwise. Polls can put these in the top every year, but none of it means a thing unless they get into the playoffs and get to the World Series.
          Meanwhile the Major League team and fans suffer .
          No one can predict when it will happen and even if it will.
          What fans are looking at is now into the third year, and are still being asked to be patient.
          All I have seen so far are have been projections of the future, and these are all suspect with what has to take place to succeed. Still a lot of ifs.
          Tons of players have been brought in, not to succeed but to be turned over and over with a very slow rate of return.
          Lightning in a bottle.
          Cannot buy into bringing someone in with the hope of trading him off, even before that player throws a pitch or swings at one.

      • dicepaul

        You do know that quotation marks are to be used for actual quotations. Can you give me citations for what you have quoted? Theo has said “opportunities to win are sacred” and he has also mentioned about taking advantage of those “sacred opportunities”.

        • cubtex

          is that what those 2 squiggly things mean? thanks

          • dicepaul

            Well do you have citations or not? It was a simple question.

          • cubtex

            I am out and not going to search his exact quote. Use this thing called “google” It is pretty cool. You can find answers to many questions on there. I think you will find it. If I am off a word or 2. Oh well.

          • dicepaul

            Oh well??? Off a word or 2 changes the whole meaning of a quote. So basically you are saying you typed it that way to support your argument but you don’t care what the actual facts are.

          • Tony_Hall

            Theo never said the one about Tanaka, that was reporters saying they had sources and the other Theo said that something along those lines, but what Tex never says is that the next line was but not at the expense of the long term plan. But taken out of context works better for him.

          • cubtex

            I was 2 words off with Rip providing the quote. He didn’t say (and every) Did it change the meaning? Why would I intentionally make up a quote to mean something else on a blog website? That is ridiculous to imply. I don’t need to make things up to show how Theo is not doing anything at all that is extraordinary.

          • dicepaul

            You changed the subject of the quote. That does change the meaning.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I found it for him.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Theo said, on the day he was introduced to the Chicago press, that “each win is sacred.” I’ll find the quote for you and post it right here.

          • dicepaul

            Did you even read my first post? If you did you should have noticed that I used Theo’s quote (the correct quote).I see like Tex you also like to misquote to help your argument.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Thank you for the reply.

            It is true that I like Cubtex. I think he’s dead right about the Cubs, Theo, Hoyer, and the rebuild. And frankly, events have proven him correct.

            I also like Tony Hall, but Tony does not much agree with me or Cubtex. Tony could be a PR front man for Theo–he’s that good. He really is. But that doesn’t stop me from greatly enjoying his posts and counterpoints. He’s a great guy, imo.

            I do not ever intentionally misquote anyone for any reason.

            I, for one, will be glad to read your posts, quotes, and prognostications about the Cubs and their future. I have a great interest in these discussions.

          • paulcatanese

            Agree, and I like you and Cubtex. Also like Tony Hall, the consummate devils advocate.

          • Tony_Hall

            But that is not all he said.

            “We’re going to build the best baseball operation we can. We’re going to change the culture. Our players are going to change the culture along with us in the major league clubhouse. We’re going to make building a foundation for sustained success a priority. That will lead to playing October baseball more often than not. Once you get in in October there’s a legitimate chance to win the World Series.”

            “Build the best baseball operation we can.”

            “We’re going to make building a foundation for sustained success a priortiy”

            Also not in the article right after he said every season is sacred, he said but not at the expense of the long term plan.

            Everything he has said is about building the foundation first. He never said they would be coming in and trying to win first, then worry about building the organization from the ground up.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      you mean #1 pick in 2015…..
      some baseball expert are saying Cubs could lose 100 games in 2014….it might be looking ugly when August comes around, but at least we can see how these prospect arms will turn out……Greg Maddux first full year (1987) saw him 6-14 with a 5.60 ERA…..at 26 years old, Maddux won his first Cy Young, ….when Maddux was 29,he had 4 Cy Young’s….did you hear that Jeff Samardzija?….Maddux had 4 CY’s by the time he was 29.

      • Ripsnorter1

        I do mean 2015. Thanks for correcting me.

        Samardzija–I do not expect him to win any Cy Young awards in his lifetime.

  • Tony_Hall

    We have more than enough to run the CCO fantasy baseball league as I have 18 spots held and we can go up to 20 teams.

    Let me know if you are interested by replying here and then emailing Neil through his contact link.

    http://chicagocubsonline.com/contact#.Uvd8IfldXwl

    • Eugene Debs

      Will you be sending out an email invite?

      A good question will be “who will be the first 5 Cubs chosen?” We’re all Cubs homers, so you know we’ll be reaching.

      • Tony_Hall

        Yes, once I have your email. Neil just sent me 2 more this morning and I have emailed them all so far.

      • JasonOfTheBurbs

        5? that will be tough. Shark possibly. Rizzo I can see. Veres for saves?? Maybe Travis Wood?

        Maybe Junior Lake or Castillo? That will be tough.

        • Tony_Hall

          Not really.

          Castro, Rizzo, Castillo for sure with 20 teams.

          Samardzija, Wood will be taken.

          Veras and maybe Strop as set-up guys will be needed to be taken as well.

          Stretching a little and Lake should go and if Olt mans 3B, he could be taken as well.

  • Tom U

    Congratulations to Naranjeros de Hermosillo, as Mexico wins its 3rd Caribbean World Series in 4 years, defeating Puerto Rico 7-1

    • CubbyDenCritic

      try to say “Naranjeros de Hermosillo” five times in a row real fast……
      It has been a very long time since we saw so much interest on how the young Cubs pitchers & hitters will all perform in the next few weeks………Baez, Hendricks, Beeler, Almora, Hartley, Soler……I think many of these young guys will know they have a real shot to making this club some time this year….2015 for many of them might really be here by August 2014……..three players have to produce this year or their Cubs career is over…..B Jackson, Vitters & Vizcaino…….
      Now that everyone has signed, the next big moves Cubs fans will be waiting for is the call up of Baez….and the trade of Samardzija……Baez call up will happen before Shark is traded………I do believe we might have seen some of the prospect names mention in a Samardzija trade, but when July trade date rolls around, look for even bigger prospect names to be thrown in if the Cubs spice up the deal on their side even more…..we might be seeing a log jamb in the Cubs minor league OF …..Soler, Almora, Bryant, Ha, B Jax, Vitters, Jiminez, Hannermann, Silva, Szczur…….five of these guys will be on this team this year, eight of them will see MLB in 2015……..so look for these players to be traded… Szczur, Vitters & Ha due they are back up MLB OF’s.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Cubs might be going after certain type of major free agents…..but major free agent players want to sign with certain clubs that do not dwell in last place and keep losing 90 plus games season after season.
    When the Cubs start to win playoffs, major free agents will then come here to play.