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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.
  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    See the Astro make quick moves made me smile when I think about the patience of Ricketts and how it paid off.

  • CubFan Paul

    whoa guy! $2.5million for Baker? i like him/like what he brings, he should of played more at 1B last year, seems to be an awesome clubhouse guy, but $2.5million for the ‘man w/o a position’ might be a little too much ..mlbtr estimates $1.5million which might be a little low ..but given his versatility i’d like to see the Bakenator signed to a ‘Cub-Friendly’ extension to help this team rebound

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “could make as much as”

      I’d put him closer to $2 million, but $2.5 million is probably the upper limit.

    • Zbo

      Would there be a “no fart-lighting” clause in his contract?

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    Any trade talk going on?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’ve not heard of anything that hasn’t already been reported – the Cubs continue to talk to teams (very preliminarily) about Matt Garza, and are still listening on Soto and Marmol. I’m “working the phones” on other Cubs and other Cubs’ targets. I have no doubt that a great deal of talk is going on – but the new guys run a pretty tight ship, it seems. I’d also imagine that some folks in the mainstream media need time to secure sources in the new front office.

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Last word of the post threw me off for a second

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      Yeah I thought it said retarded GM, I almost sent in my resume.

      haha

  • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

    Flaherty has to survive the Rule 5. Leaving him off the 40 man makes me think DeWitt is probably safe.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It makes me think the Cubs are fine with an either-or. Or, it simply means the Cubs don’t think a team will take Flaherty. Either way, they’ll know about Flaherty before having to make a decision on DeWitt, which is good.

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