The Winter Meetings are one week away, and that means the free agency and trade rumors/news will be picking up steam in the coming days. With that in mind, later today, there will be a Lukewarm Stove, a rumor on Carlos Pena, and the case for Prince Fielder. Until then, bullets…

  • The week after the Winter Meetings, teams must make their final decisions about tendering contracts to their arbitration-eligible players (players with at least three years’ experience, but fewer than six years’ experience). So, with just a couple weeks to go before that deadline, it is crunch time for the Cubs to project their 2012 roster, and whether it will require all of their arbitration-eligible players – a difficult exercise, given no trades or free agent signings have yet occurred.
  • The Cubs’ arbitration-eligible players are: Matt Garza, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker, Koyie Hill, Randy Wells, and Blake DeWitt. The decision to tender contracts to some (Garza, Soto, Wells) is quite easy. The decision not to tender Hill a contract – he would make about $1 million, and there are ready-made replacements at AAA in Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger – should also be easy. Baker and DeWitt are the toughest decisions. Baker, a valuable, versatile player, is in his last year of arbitration, and could make as much as $2.5 million in 2012. DeWitt, who is nearly as versatile as Baker, but hits from the left side of the plate, is in his first year of arbitration, and probably won’t top $1 million. The difficulty of the tender decision on those two has less to do with the money than it does with the roster spot. How many utility types do the Cubs need, particular if someone like Ryan Flaherty or Marwin Gonzalez could step in next year, or if the Cubs pick up a second baseman, pushing Darwin Barney into a utility role? This will obviously get more attention over the next two weeks.




  • Outfielder Lou Montanez has elected free agency rather than accept an assignment to AAA (he was outrighted off the Cubs’ 40-man roster a week and a half ago). After a stint in Baltimore, he’ll probably find his way back to the Cubs.
  • The Astros fired GM Ed Wade and President Tal Smith last night (like, late last night – at 11:30 on a Sunday night), which was not unexpected, after Jim Crane bought the team. Wade’s four years as GM of the club were … unsuccessful. The Astros might take a shot at someone like Andrew Friedman, but they’ll probably have to settle for either an assistant GM or a retread GM.

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