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Potential Short Stop Debate Does not Concern Chicago Cubs GM Theo Epstein

February 6th, 2013 at 10:59 AM
By Chester Baker

When Keith Law of ESPN released his annual top-100 minor leaguers this week, he pencilled in Cubs shortstop prospect Javier Baez in the number 31 spot. While this seems like a wonderful thing, the team's cornerstone player, Starlin Castro, already occupies that position. Although it could be cause for some concern, as one of the two players may need to move to another spot in the field at some point, general manager Theo Epstein does not see any problem with having two of the best young shortstops in baseball

'Starlin Castro' photo (c) 2012, Ben Grey - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

"That's the problem you want to have. Give me nine shortstops. If you give me nine shortstops we'll field a team," Epstein said on Tuesday while speaking on "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on ESPN Chicago 1000. "Gary Sheffield came up as a shortstop He stayed there for awhile and then he went to third base and then left field and right field."  

Although Castro was involved in some rumors this offseason regarding a trade with the Diamondbacks for Justin Upton, he will be the key piece for the Cubs to return to the postseason in the next few seasons. Castro, 23, signed a four year, $60 million contract extension last season, in which he was selected to his second consecutive All-Star game. Much of the trade talks involving Castro centered around the idea of having Baez as an insurance. 

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Chicago Cubs Miss Out on Anibal Sanchez as Pitcher Signs with Detroit Tigers; Cubs Offer $77.5 Million

December 14th, 2012 at 10:04 AM
By Chester Baker

One of the Cubs top targets for the offseason has slipped through their fingers, but you can't knock their effort. Anibal Sanchez has reportedly signed with the Detroit Tigers of five-years, $80 million, signing for more than the $77.5 million offered by the Cubs. The righty, who was 9-13 with a 3.86 ERA last season, had narrowed down his choices between Detroit and Chicago before opting to return to the Tigers. The Cubs had been moving under the radar with the Sanchez deal, coming as a surprise for a team which has gone after low risk, high reward players throughout the offseason, adding Scott Feldman and Scott Baker to the rotation. 

'Detroit Tigers cap' photo (c) 2012, Michael - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

It is reported that Sanchez took Chicago's offer back to the Tigers to receive a matching offer, which he got. After receiving that news the Cubs then countered before Detroit offered Sanchez the $80 million deal which he took. 

The deal was reported as all but done by several reporters on Twitter earlier this morning before quickly learning about his intent to stay in Detroit. Once again, Cubs fans had to endure having their optimism of a player coming to Chicago only to have those feelings dashed. The team reportedly traded for Dan Haren only to see a deal involving Carlos Marmol fall apart, and Ryan Dempster blocked a trade with the Atlanta Braves which would have netted the Cubs top pitching prospect Randall Delgado. 

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Ryan Dempster and Chicago Cubs Discussing Possible Return

December 9th, 2012 at 10:00 PM
By Chester Baker

Major League sources have confirmed that the Cubs are having talks about a possible comeback for Ryan Dempster, the team's former ace who was traded to the Texas Rangers last season. Dempster has reportedly turn downed offers during the offseason, keeping the possibility of him donning Cubs pinstripes alive. If he were to be resigned by the team, he would immediately step back into his role at the top of the rotation, solidifying a starting pitching staff which has plenty of questions to be answered.  

'Ryan Dempster winding up' photo (c) 2011, wisley - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

ESPN Chicago reports that one of the main holdups in the contract would be the inclusion of a no-trade clause. Dempster would be hoping to secure some stability, knowing that he won't be dealt again in the next few seasons. For a pitcher of his age, the clause would all but assure the he would be finishing his career in Chicago

The clause could prove be a breaking point, however, as it take Dempster out of any potential deal as the Cubs continue their rebuilding process. Last year Dempster made $14 million, but it would be unlikely that he would be worth such money this offseason. If the Cubs do decide to come close to that range, signing Dempster to such a high salary with a no-trade clause could be a problem down the road. 

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Ian Stewart Returns to Chicago Cubs for Second Season

December 6th, 2012 at 7:12 PM
By Chester Baker

After allowing third baseman Ian Stewart to test the free agent marker by not tendering a contract offer, the Chicago Cubs have resigned the former Colorado Rockie. Stewart spent last season in Chicago battling injuries, limited him to only 55 games. The move most likely means the end of the Cubs third base dilemma, although Luis Valbuena has been having a solid winter while playing in Venezuela. 

'IMG_2338' photo (c) 2010, Jon Konrath - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Stewart is a solid defensive third baseman but he has struggled at the dish for the majority of his big league career, with a career .232 batting average. The move does make sense for the team, as the deal is just one-year for $2 million, meaning it is low risk. Still, given the excitement Theo Epstein brought with him when he came to Chicago last season, the Cubs are still yet to make much noise in the offseason. Instead opting to follow the plan of short deals for players with a lot of upside. 

Although Stewart is probably not the long term answer for the Cubs, it does seem fair to give him another shot at a full season, as Chicago did not get a chance to see the third baseman in action for a full season last year. Also, he was hampered by a wrist injury which was repaired with surgery, so Stewart will come back stronger than he finished 2012. 

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Chicago Cubs Come to Terms with Nate Schiertholtz

December 5th, 2012 at 9:29 PM
By Chester Baker

'Nate Schierholtz' photo (c) 2011, SD Dirk - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ The Cubs solidified their outfield by signing Nate Schiertholtz to a one-year, $2.25 million on Wednesday. Schiertholtz had spent most of his carrer with the San Francisco Giants before being traded to Philadelphia in the Hunter Pence deal last season. He will most likely play right field for Chicago, allowing David DeJesus to stay in center field, with Alfonso Soriano in left field. The deal was originally reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. 

The new outfielder is a career .270 hitter, who was a member of the Giants when they won the World Series in 2010. Although he may not be the big splash some Cubs fans were hoping for in the outfielder, Schierholtz has proven himself to be a solid Major League ballplayer.

He has also provided stellar defense since making his debut six years ago, as he boasts a .988 fielding percentage. While he has played all outfield positions in the past, his primary position is right field, where he has spent 420 games. 

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