The Chicago Cubs have had a very interesting winter. They were one of the busiest teams with free-agent signings, but, oddly enough, only one of the position players they signed was ranked in the top 100 position player free-agent list according to CBSSports.com. That player was Nate Schierholtz (ranked No. 23).
That was pretty much the extent of the Cubs making a big splash this winter.
Even still, those moves may have been a bigger splash than most Cubs fans expected. The Cubs may not have nabbed any of the big-name free agents available, but they did address many of their needs moving into the 2013 season.
Most of the free agents the Cubs signed have been pitchers, and rightly so, as the rotation was arguably the weakest part of the Cubs team in 2012. However, some question marks still remain on the field, most notably at third base and in the outfield.
Even though the hot stove isn’t quite as hot as it was about a month ago, there are still some rumors lingering around the Cubbies and how they may address some of the question marks surrounding the team.
Here are five rumors that remain floating around the Cubs as the team prepares for the 2013 season.
ESPN’s Bruce Levine recently stated that the team may have interest in signing free-agent pitcher Shaun Marcum. That is, if they don't believe Matt Garza will be ready for Opening Day.
This probably had a better chance of happening before the team signed Edwin Jackson. As of right now, the Cubs have eight starting pitchers with a legit chance of cracking the starting rotation on their 40-man roster—Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, Edwin Jackson, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Carlos Villanueva and Arodys Vizcaino.
There’s an old saying in baseball that you can never have too much pitching. Eight starting pitchers on most teams would sound like a log-jam. But having eight starting pitchers on the roster when three of the pitchers are coming off arm injuries (Baker, Garza and Vizcaino), is a necessity.
Jed Hoyer stated on ESPN Chicago that pitching would be the main focus this offseason, but with eight potential starters, it may be time to direct attention elsewhere.
You have to start wondering when Michael Bourn will get nervous about not having signed with a team yet. He almost surely thought he would be with a team by now.
Bruce Levine of ESPN reported at the end of November that, according to a major league source, the Cubs had discussions with Bourn’s agent.
Now that it’s January, and Bourn is still looking for a team to call home, many fans are starting to wonder whether or not the Cubs can land the highly touted free agent.
However, Bourn is probably the last thing the Cubs are looking for at this point.
If you do a side-by-side comparison between Bourn’s 2012 stats with current Cubs leadoff hitter David DeJesus, you would find there isn’t much difference. Aside from stolen bases and a few more percentage points on batting average, they are practically identical.
At some point, the question has to be asked as to why the Braves let Bourn go and then replaced him so quickly with B.J. Upton. There just isn’t as much of a market for Bourn’s services as originally anticipated.
Bourn will eventually hook on with a team; it just won’t be the Cubs.
The Cubs tried to move Garza before the trade deadline in 2012 and actually had numerous suitors before Garza’s elbow injury caused him to be shut down for the year.
Once Garza is healthy and pitching again, many believe the Cubs will try to move Garza once again.
The Cubs are building a team that can become highly competitive as soon as 2014. If the team is going to be in a position to compete, it would be wise to hang on to Garza and stockpile as much high-end pitching as possible.
However, Garza will be a free agent at the end of the 2013 season. For that reason, Garza will be moved before the trade deadline in 2013.
The team’s deal to send Marmol to the Angels may have fallen through, but it seems the attempted trade has all but sealed Marmol's fate with the Cubs.
If the trade attempt didn’t prove this, the signing of Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa may have. The Cubs have stated Fujikawa will start the season in spring training as the setup man, but we'll see how long that lasts.
There’s no doubt that Fujikawa would probably be a dynamite setup man. In fact, some scouts believe he profiles better as a setup man in America.
Kyuji, whose name translates to “baseball kid,” could be the closer at some point for the Cubs in 2013.
It wouldn't be surprising if Marmol gets moved before spring training kicks off, but with the holes in the Cubs bullpen, it may be wiser to hang on to Marmol for now.
Soriano has been at the center of trade talks for the Cubs this winter, and they have made it no secret that his services are on the table.
One of the most recent rumors has Soriano going to the Phillies. The Phillies have been very active this winter and are looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2012 season.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Cubs and Phillies discussed a deal that would send Domonic Brown to the Cubs and Soriano to the Phils. However, a deal has not yet been completed.
Domonic Brown was once one of the highest rated prospects in all of baseball, but according to Fangraphs, his career has been in a bit of a tailspin as of late.
Another name popping up for the Phillies has been Vernon Wells, and with Michael Bourn still available, the Phillies seem to be waiting things out.
Could Soriano’s main suitor be getting cold feet?
Soriano is still owed $36 million. According to NBC Sports, even though the Cubs are willing to pay $26 million of the money owed, it doesn’t seem like there are many suitors for the outfielder.
It sure seems like $26 million is an awful lot of money to pay someone to play for another team. The Cubs would only be saving $10 million by trading Soriano, so why not just keep his 30-plus home runs in the lineup?