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It could be a very busy couple of days leading up to the Cubs Convention. Public relations rarely drives baseball moves – or, at least, with the new front office I expect that to be the case – but the Convention could be an exception. Talks continue with multiple teams about Matt Garza, the Kerry Wood watch is in full effect, and the Cubs currently have 41 players on their 40-man roster…

  • Jon Heyman says a Cubs’ source told him it’s looking increasingly likely that Alfonso Soriano will open the season with the Cubs. The Cubs are working very hard to move him to the AL, but the huge contract – three years and $54 million remaining – may make things too difficult for the Cubs and a trade partner to strike the right balance in who pays how much.
  • Nick Cafardo had recently suggested the Cubs wouldn’t have a problem moving Soriano to the AL if they really wanted to, because, he says, the Cubs are willing to eat “most” of the contract. Cafardo mentions the Orioles, as Phil Rogers has many times.
  • A Kerry Wood tea leaf: Wood congratulated Paul Maholm on Twitter about signing with the Cubs, but did not welcome him to the team. Twitter does have character limits, mind you…
  • Speaking of Maholm, Ken Rosenthal reports that there are indeed incentives built into his otherwise very team-friendly one-year/one-option-year contract. Rosenthal says Maholm can earn $550K in incentives each year with the Cubs: $50K at 150 IP, and then $100K at 160, 170, 180, 190, and 200 IP. Those incentives aren’t terribly difficult to reach, but they also aren’t terribly burdensome. Still a very good signing for the Cubs.
  • According to multiple reports, the Reds are going to sign closer Ryan Madson, who, not two months ago, was looking at a four-year, $40 million type offer, for just one year and $8.5 million. If you weren’t already convinced, as I was, that Carlos Marmol would be opening the season with the Cubs, let this signing convince you. In a market where Madson can get only one year and $8.5 million, Carlos Marmol at two years and about $17 million has no surplus trade value. None. He probably even has negative trade value. At this point, the Cubs will have to hope that he comes to camp in great shape, he pitches excellently in the first half, and then see where things go.
  • Bruce Levine held a chat yesterday, and, among the highlights: (1) Bruce says the Cubs have talked to multiple teams about Marlon Byrd, but would prefer to trade Soriano (Mariners and Orioles make most sense, but neither is willing to take on much salary); (2) the Cubs won’t trade Matt Garza unless they get the package they’re looking for – and, from the Tigers, that will almost certainly include Jacob Turner as a starting point (the Cubs also want third base prospect Nick Castellanos, but the Tigers have refused so far); (3) the Cubs are interested in both Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler (very interested); (4) Bruce thinks Kerry Wood will re-sign with the Cubs by Friday; (5) no one – the Cubs, Padres, or Red Sox – seems to care very much about the compensation issues (swell); (6) the Rangers would make a nice trading partner for the Cubs in the Garza talks if Darvish falls through (which is unlikely); (7) Bruce thinks Brian Roberts doesn’t make much sense for the Cubs; and (8) there’s no chance Carlos Pena is back with the Cubs next year.
  • Jed Hoyer was on MLBN Radio yesterday, and, although he wouldn’t comment on specific trade talks, when asked if the Cubs would accept an offer of Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos for Matt Garza, he conceded that the Cubs have had talks with teams about Garza, but “we haven’t gotten the level we need to so far.” I don’t know that he meant that to sound as strong as it did – he was kind of hemming and hawing – but it sounded to me as though he was confirming that, yes, the Cubs are talking to teams about trading Matt Garza, and the Cubs are just waiting for teams to step up their offers. This, of course, is something we’ve long believed to be true – I’ve heard and reported it from multiple sources – but it’s interesting to hear Hoyer actually confirm it. Hoyer naturally made sure to add that the Cubs would also be happy to keep Garza around “for a long time.”
  • From the Tigers’ beat (heh), GM Dave Dombrowski says the team still isn’t looking to add a starting pitcher, and Peter Gammons says the Tigers aren’t even willing to trade Turner straight up for Garza (I … doubt that).
  • The Mets waived former top prospect Fernando Martinez, a 23-year-old outfielder who’s fallen off in recent years. He’s likely to garner quite a bit of interest on the waiver wire, and it’s debatable whether the Cubs would even put themselves in a position to have to remove another player from the 40-man roster just to claim him.
  • Ashley

    I really hope the Cubs can trade Sori, I think the Cubs could at least get a good player for him! The whole Kerry Wood thing has me really curious, I mean it was Cubs or retire and now he seems to be looking somewhere else. Also Hoyer says they made a substantial raise in pay offer to Wood, so I don’t knw what to believe. I do wnat Kerry in a Cubs uniform come Spring though!

  • die hard

    would it make sense for Soriano to platoon at 1B with LaHair meaning the latter gets most at bats but will in effect treat Sori as DH if you count PH duties not playing 1B and could save wear/tear on his legs and, more importantly open up LF to competition which should improve defense….Sori with 200-250 AB should translate to 15 hr/50 rbi which stacks up with part-timers/DH and could squeeze most out of bad situation. Silk purse out of sows ear approach.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/sperls13 sperls13

      He would absolutely shatter the NL 1B record for errors in one season, even in a part-time role -> NL – 58 – Cap Anson, Chicago -1884

      Plus, it would turn us into even more of a laughingstock than 2012 is already set up to be.

      Yeah, no thanks. We just need to bite the bullet and eat almost all of his contract. Thanks Jim, for another crazy, overpaid, back ended, waste of a contract!

    • Cubdom

      Die Hard that is actually an interesting idea though I do not know if he could play first base, but its the most intelligent thing I have seen you write here. At least you are thinking out of the box, I give you credit for that.

      • chris margetis

        I won’t bash Sori as he carried the Cubs on his back to the playoffs in 2007 and was rather integral in 2008, but have you guys ever seen him field a routine single to the outfield? Can you imagine him trying to dig balls out of the dirt at first? Good Lord would that be a sight to behold and that doesnt even scratch the surface of his woes on hard hit shots to first. Ugh.

    • Mick

      I agree and it’s worth a try. If we can’t get anything for Soriano as it is, we may as well try something to increase his value. What’s the harm at giving him a look in spring training to see what he can do. In my playing days I primarily played IF so, most of my reps came by way of ground balls, cut-off drills, situational reps, and throws around the IF. Then later in my career I was moved to the OF and I struggled. It’s a whole different game looking into the sky then on the ground and your jump off the bat makes all the difference. Soriano started out at 2B and they tried to convert him to LF, I think they would have been better served to try him at 1B or 3B before putting him in the outfield.

      • art

        sorry Mick, soriano has never been good on defense, anywhere. his hitting is what got him to the majors.

    • Andrew

      No, left field is the best place for him after DH. He’s never played first in his career and we have to reason to believe hed be ok at it. I think it’s much more likely that he is a fulltime pinch hitter or platoons with someone in left. Left field is the only place where his poor fielding skills can be slightly hidden while taking advantage of his strong throwing arm, which he actually has.

    • art

      What? LOL,

  • Chris

    We really need to drop Sori, I was excited when we first signed him becasue of the season has was coming off of….but we have all been regretting it from the first season. If we could get a middle of the road prospect I would take that to get rid of him. Kerry would be nice to have around but we are limited on space now who else gets moved to get the deal done…. I see him being a future Cubs pitching coach.

  • Drew

    Watching how many throws Pena saved last year, I cringe at the thought of Soriano at 1st.

    • CubFan Paul

      Pena saved the most throws at 1B in the Majors last year (a little more than 50, in think)

  • JulioZuleta

    Off topic, but Ben Badler just tweeted the White Sox top 10 prospects. When they traded for Nestor Molina (Blue Jays) and Simon Castro (Padres) for Santos and Quentin, both were outside of their respective organizations’ top 20 prospects…They come in at #2 and #3 for the White Sox. How does Kenny Williams have a job?

    • CubFan Paul

      i think thats how the White Sox’s owner, JR, wants Kenny to run the team. draft cheaply, trade vets for good prospects, and overpay for national league .220 hitters

  • Mike S

    If Kerry Wood doesn’t sign with the Cubs then we could always give Travis Wood #34 and then really spite him haha

    • rocky8263

      Mike S. what’s up with that? Why the hard on for Kerry? This guy bleeds Cubbie blue and you want to spite him?

    • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

      Maybe Theo and comp will force Detroit to include Austin Wood in any deal, so they can convince people 2 new Woods is better then an old one. Only explanation. Get Wood signed. Period.

  • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

    If Soriano plays first, the errors would be the least of our worries. We would lose every close play there because Sori would have to hop to catch the ball.

  • http://sportsfixchicago.com/ Ty

    I hope Marmol can have a bounce back season this year. I feel like teams already put to much emphasis on the closer role, and if he can come back to form for the first chunk of the season some team will overpay in a trade for him around the deadline.

  • Cheryl

    Would it make any sense to cut Soriano completely and if he is picked up by any club that salary would reduce the compensation due from his release?

    • Toosh

      If the Cubs release Soriano they are responsible for his entire salary.

      • Edwin

        Unless I’m mistaken, the Cubs would be responsible for any amount less the amount the new team signs the player for.

        • Toosh

          When a signed player is traded his entire contract goes with him. The team trading him away can send cash with him if that is agreed upon.

    • Jim

      If he is released, a team picking him up would only be responsible for the major league minimum.

  • Eric S

    I’ve come to grips with the fact that we’ll more than likely have Sori on the team for at least 1-2 maybe even 3 more seasons before any takes a nibble on picking him up. Of course the Cubs will have to eat most if not all (Zambrano) contract, but would a team really want him taking a spot on their roster for 3 years? That’s the bigger question. If he is a Vlad Guerro albatross in Baltimore what makes you think they would want that for 3 years? They were barely able to stomach him for a full season. And I think Vlad is a better player than Soriano. Sure money wouldn’t be an issue, and he can at least play (using the term loosely) the field and DH but he’s also not the big name player that’s required for that position which is why no one has taken the bait as of yet. We can try and put the lipstick on the pig all we want here, but the fact remains this contract still stinks.

  • 2much2say

    The Cubs may resign Pena if he is a 5 mil guy this time around

  • Cheryl

    I don’t think any team would take him for 3 years. If they even took him for 2 years and his pay for 2 years was taken away from his severence that would help.

  • thisisitflyfishing

    Peter Gammons use to be one of my favorite writers and he has lost ALL credibility with me! Peter writes and makes comments that are factually not true. Why is this guy still employed? Peter, it’s time to take your personal agenda off the table and to start reporting in an unbiased manor.
    Some of my favorites;
    “The Tigers aren’t even willing to trade Turner straight up for Garza”
    “everyone involved knows the Cubs are a bottom-three farm system”
    “The Cubs say they do not have the cash to sign Fielder”
    “Wrigley Field is a Dump”

    • jr5

      I was thinking along the same lines…when did he become such a mouthpiece? Has he always been like that, and I just didn’t notice?

      • thisisitflyfishing

        I dont recall him being like this years ago. It seems to me about a year ago when he went to the MLB network he became more vocal. I dont know if there is a correllation. His comments are almost comical anymore.
        I would bet the Tigers would make that deal yesterday.
        He also made the comment about the Cubs farm system in bottom third when the Sox were trying to pry a prospect as compensation for Theo. All publications I was familiar with had the Cubs either middle of the pack or slightly above midpoint.
        I wish someone would call him on some of these comments.

        • Pat

          To be fair, based on speding so far the Cubs may not have had enough to sign Fielder (and do the other things they wanted to). Wrigley IS a dump. The farm system comment was actually that no one in the Cubs top ten would be top twenty in Boston’s system – which is not true. And while all signs point to Turner plus being available for Garza – a deal hasn’t been dome yet so we don’t know for sure.

      • http://bleachernation ferris

        they tend to let hof be very judgemental,such as bob fellers critisism of pete rose,:”he’ll never get my vote” well pete doesnt have to worry bout that any more but you get my point.peter gammons used to be the guy i wanted to hear from but now im w/you there is to much emphasis on what he says……….turner for garza straight up would be a dumb deal for the cubs…turner is still just a prospect,how many cant miss prospects miss? i do hope we land him along w/others though and some day he “may” be as good as garza but not yet not close.

    • gratefulled

      Is it me or has Peter Gammons turned into a side -show act? He used to be an in-depth reporter, now just seems to say sh*t in order to get people to listen to him. Pretty much wish he would just go away at this point.

  • thisisitflyfishing

    “factually not true”…sorry, now there is an oxymoron. I meant to say that he makes comments that are not factual.

  • Frank

    To be fair, John McDonough signed Soriano–not Hendry. This was part of Sam Zell’s effort to make the team more attractive to buyers. Many thought it wasn’t a great contract even at the time, but he was coming off a 30-30 year.

    • gratefulled

      A 30-30 year in which he was piped fastballs in the lead-off position playing for an awful team that was constantly down multiple runs. It was like no research was done what-so-ever before that deal was made.

      • ferrets_bueller

        Technically…it was a 40/40 year.  And the only one ever done without Steroids.

    • Boogens

      Believe it or not, Sori was coming off a 40-40 season (46 HRs, 41 SBs).

      He’s only had 55 SBs since becoming a Cub. 38 of those came in the first two years.

      • Skinner

        Then the knee injury he played through during the 2009 season. Add age to that and there’s the end of his wheels.

  • http://sportsfixchicago.com/ Ty @ SFC

    I don’t see the point in resigning Pena or putting Soriano at 1st. Why not see if you having anything decent w/ Lahair? If you do maybe you could trade him and get something for him or he can be a valuable backup for 1st and the corner outfield spots. And if he sucks, just bring up Rizzo.

    • 2much2say

      Pena improves the defense. Playing around with Lahair/Rizzo makes no sense. With Pena on a 1 year you have time to develop Rzzo. Lahair can be utility guy

      • http://sportsfixchicago.com/ Ty @ SFC

        I get that Pena would improve the defense, but I just don’t think it’s worth bringing Pena back since this team won’t be competitive next year.

        • CF

          With LaHair and Rizzo both ready (or near ready) for a shot, I’d be shocked if the front office would prefer re-signing Pena at any price to the compensatory draft pick the Cubs will get when Pena signs elsewhere.

          • http://bleachernation ferris

            agreed especially with the new cba..we need to let him walk,and by not signing fielder we dont lose ant pics either,lehair should be the guy then when rizzos ready its his job to lose,leheai if hes hitting well then goes back to the o.f. or is an attractive trade piece or bench guy

      • Mick

        If we re-sign Pena then we lose out on a compensatory pick we would have otherwise received if we hadn’t. We still have Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt if LaHair falls completely flat on his face. I kind of like the idea of getting Soriano some reps at 1B in spring training just in case he suprises us. I actually expect a pretty decent year from Soriano. He hit 26 HR’s last year in 475 AB’s and after losing A-Ram and ultimately Pena our lineup could use his pop in the middle of the lineup. That may be the only way we’re actually able to trade him is if he can show a more trained eye at the plate and a continued increase of his power production.

  • Edgar

    I like Sori in a platoon if not full time at 1b. gotta give the man a chance, he could be the next miguel cabrera.

  • 2much2say

    Soriano can platoon at 2nd and LF. Give him protection in the 3 hole and he will produce.
    Stewart/Soriano at 2nd find a 1 year 3rd baseman Teahen? Bring up Vitters/Castellanos

  • 2much2say

    2013 Line up
    1st Rizzo
    2nd Phillips?
    SS Castro
    3rd Vitters /Castellanos?
    LF Jackson?
    CF Cespedes?
    RF Dejesus
    C Soto

    • Kyle

      It’s hard to tell just going off of scouting reports, but I suspect Cespedes would play left and Jackson center if they shared an outfield.

    • Gabe

      i don’t think dejesus and soto will be with the club in 2013. or at least starting for that matter. i’d like to see them trade garza to the yankees and get montero. i hear they’re grooming him into a catcher and he’d probably hit 50+ homers a season at the friendly confines.

      • Noah

        It’s doubtful you could get Montero for Garza at this point, and Montero is a pretty terrible defensive catcher.

  • Drew

    He was awful 10 years ago as a 2nd Basemen, cant imagine how bad he would be now!

    Also, wasnt Carlos Lee the other “big free-agent” that year? which contract would you rather be saddled with at this point?

  • Gabe

    whatever position soriano ends up playing, he’ll end up stealing valuable experience away from some of the younger players that will still be with the club after the rebuild is over. Even if the cubs could eat 95% of the contract it would be worth it to not steal time from prospects and maybe get another couple on the cheap in the process.

    • sam

      Dont get bend out of shape! !Soriano from all indications is in good health. The cubs need to keep its youngsters in the minors . let Soriano increase his value so we can get some type of trade value in return, and or not eat up too many dollars in his contract. For the mobs that want Soriano gone. lets have someone ready to take his place when that time comes – He still draws people in the park. The same people that boo him are the same silly drunks that go all wild when he has a good day! when the time comes ( do I dare say it …..(LOL) the Cubs will trade him . i must be in a good mood today.

  • Stinky Pete

    “Good night, Westley Matt Garza. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill trade you in the morning.”

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

  • Tommy

    Does Peter Gammons hate the Cubs because of Theo now, or what? I swear that guy has been downplaying Garza’s worth from day one. I always liked the guy, but since Theo came to town, I’m starting to like him notsamuch.

  • Hawkeye

    I may be late to the party on this one, but MLBTR posting that Kerry Wood deal is all but done with Cubs.

  • sam

    With the link that Brett provided . Its seems the Tigers do not need Garza -They seem content that they can win Al Central without him( yes that can be all smoke ) The Tigers Fan base is split .(blessyouboys.com) (funny) Just mentioning the name Turner divide half of that split. Its seems like most tiger fans like Garza they are not willing to trade the future for Garza.

  • Doc Evans

    As it stands right now, I would be perfectly content with the Cubs dealing Garza to the Tigers for a handful of prospects (Turner and Smyly intrigue me). But if Theo and Jed were unable to swing a trade involving Garza, I would love to see Garza pitching for the Cubs in 2012 and beyond (extension?). All in all, I love to see what the new front office has done thus far in the offseason and I look forward to 2012, despite my low expectations for the team’s results.

  • Elephanthole

    I think Kerry Wood is regretting telling the world that he would either sign with the cubs or retire. Now all he is doing is trying to drive the offer up by including other teams in the negotiations. Smart move! No way is Matt Garza going to be with the Cubs opening day. Theo and Jed are just waiting for the best offer and I am glad. It makes no sense to keep him at this point in the rebuilding stage.

  • die hard

    Garza trade to Bosox could be part of a package to satisfy compensation for Theo….two birds with one stone approach…..dont know what package could be but Theo knows their farm system and thus would make most sense to go for their prospects….who knows, maybe Soriano, Dempster and Crawford could be involved?…a BALL BUSTER BLOCKBUSTER

    • SweetJamesJones

      Maybe in your perfect world. :)

  • J.B. House

    I’m just going to throw this out there cause its a slow night on tv and on trade rumors. Alfonzo Soriano and a decent reliever aka Mateo or Gaub.To Yankees for Burnett and Rafeal Soriano.
    Advantage to Cubs. Despite taking on 2 bad contracts for one the money is pretty close 54mil to 57mil. The plus for Chicago is in 2014 instead of owing 18mil we owe 0.
    Advantage to Yankees. Because of luxury tax any payroll they add is inflated beyond the actual cost of the player. Because of this they have been reluctant to add payroll this season. This trade lowers there 2012 payroll 9mil and there 2013 payroll 12mil. Plenty of money to add a pitcher.( I believe Garza is expected to make around 9 and then 12.Just saying)

    • Bric

      I’d love to see Gaub flipped to another team considering he’s the only one left of the DeRosa deal but I don’t think he has any value. You’d think a lefty with bullpen experience would garner at least some interest, but apparently not. Matteo may get a little but he’s always had the stigma of control issues. And their ages for the minors are helping either. I don’t think the Cubs have much pitching talent in the minors to be of help in trades.

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