Cubs Baseball Returns and Other News, Notes and Rumors

Baseball received a jolt on Wednesday when Derek Jeter announced on his Facebook page he would be retiring at the end of the 2014 season. ‘The Captain’ has decided to hang ‘em up. The Cubs play the Yankees twice this season. Rick Renteria’s team travels to the Bronx in April (April 15-April 16) for two games and the Derek Jeter Farwell Tour will stop at Wrigley Field in May (May 20-May 21) for a pair of games.

On the Cubs’ front, the team held their annual organizational meetings at the new facility on Tuesday and the ribbon cutting ceremony for Cubs Park took place Wednesday. Many of the players from all of the levels in the Cubs’ system have already reported to Cubs Park and are preparing for the start of Spring Training … pitchers and catchers officially report on Thursday.

The Cubs lost two pitchers on waivers Wednesday after the Reds claimed RHP Brett Marshall and the Twins claimed LHP Brooks Raley. The Cubs had to clear at least one spot on the 40-man roster to add Jason Hammel and the second spot could be used on RHP James McDonald.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are scheduled to address the media on Thursday to give their annual ‘State of the Cubs’ address.

Jeff Samardzija

FanGraphs posted a report about the off-season Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs have had. The two sides would like for Samardzija to stay with the Cubs on a long-term deal but they remain far apart in what Samardzija is worth.

Samardzija sees himself as a top of the rotation starter and would like to be compensated as one. Reportedly the Cubs have offered Samardzija a five-year contract in the $55 million range while he is rumored to be looking for a contract in the $90 million range.

The Cubs have asked the Blue Jays for a package of players that would include Toronto’s top two pitching prospects in Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman. FanGraphs reported the Cubs asked Atlanta for Justin Upton or Jason Heyward, a new rumor on the Samardzija front, when the Braves were trying to acquire him earlier in the winter.

The Mariners have recently checked in with the Cubs about Samardzija. And Seattle’s interest might have to do with the news that Hisashi Iwakuma will be out for four-six weeks and miss the start of the season with a strained tendon in his right middle finger.

With A.J. Burnett off the market and on his way to Philly on a one-year, $16 million contract that is believed to include a mutual option for 2015 and a partial no-trade clause, the free agent pitching market is shrinking and with it, the options for teams still wanting to add a starting pitcher.

The Samardzija rumors will continue throughout Spring Training and into the season unless the two sides can find a common ground on a long-term extension. And the Cubs are expected to keep shopping Jeff Samardzija while hoping he stays healthy and shows the improvement on the mound he feels he is capable of.

Jae-Hoon Ha

According to a report from Global Sports Integration, Cubs’ outfield prospect Jae-Hoon Ha had surgery on his left wrist recently that could hold him out until at least June. The Cubs left Ha unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft and many thought some team would take a chance on the underrated outfielder. The injury to his left wrist could explain why the Cubs left him unprotected and a team did not take a chance on him in the draft.

Nothing official has come from the Cubs on Ha’s wrist surgery or if the surgery was related to the injury he suffered when he crashed into a wall making a diving catch late in the 2012 season.

Jae-Hoon Ha played in 90 games last season between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa and hit .254/.318/.365 with 18 doubles and six home runs.

Justin Grimm

Justin Grimm begins his first Spring Training with the Cubs and he is going into camp with a chance to make the Cubs’ rotation. Grimm was asked to prepare as a starter this winter and while it is a long shot for him to make the rotation, Grimm could break camp in the bullpen.

Grimm told the Bristol Herald Courier he thinks he is in the Cubs’ plans for the upcoming season. Grimm said he has to “take care of business” and “get people out.” Grimm reported to the Cubs’ facility on Monday.

Grimm had a rough spring with the Rangers a year ago. He said he learned a lot by the experience he gained. Grimm still earned AL Rookie of the Month honors for April last year before he was traded to the Cubs in the Matt Garza deal.

Chad Noble

The Cubs have a new bullpen catcher, former Cubs’ minor league catcher Chad Noble. The Cubs did not renew Andy Lane’s contract at the end of last season and have filled his spot with Chad Noble.

The Cubs selected Chad Noble in the 37th round of the 2010 draft out of Northwestern. Noble spent last season at three levels in the Cubs’ system (Daytona, Iowa and Tennessee) and his .223/.275/.289 in 62 games. Noble has an excellent reputation and was more of a defensive catcher than an offensive one during his professional career.

News and Notes

Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz is having an open showcase at the Padres facility in Peoria, Ariz. on Thursday. Diaz is eligible to sign with a Major League team on Feb. 18 and is expected to ink a contract in the next week according to Jesse Sanchez. The Cubs were connected to Diaz last year.

And speaking of Cuban infielders, the Dodgers signed Erisbel Arruebarruena.

RHP Jen-Ho Tseng signed with the Cubs last year for $1.625 million. Tseng has created a lot of buzz during his short time in the Cubs’ system with his mid-to-upper 90s fastball. According to a report from Global Sporting Integration, Tseng is leaving Korea on Feb. 19 to report to Spring Training in Mesa.

Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters will try to re-establish themselves this spring after hitting the reset button on their careers this off-season. Both players are on the 40-man roster and will try to make the big league roster this spring according to a report from Patrick Mooney.

And last, but certainly not least … Santo Films created a Facebook page to honor Ron Santo … If you have a chance, give them a ‘Like’ and let them know the CCO sent you.

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Quote of the Day

"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein