Cubs

Cubs shake up 40-man roster

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Cubs shake up 40-man roster

A day after adding a pair of right-handed pitchers to the mix, the Cubs shook up their roster in an effort to get under the 40-man limit.

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Outfielder Nate Schierholtz's one-year deal became official Friday and he was added to the 40-man roster.

Cuban lefty Gerardo Concepcion cleared waivers and was assigned to Low-A Kane County. Concepcion, 20, signed for 6 million in March and struggled in his first go-round in America, starting 12 games for Single-A Peoria with a 7.39 ERA and 1.91 WHIP. He surrendered 70 hits, walked 30 batters and struck out just 28 in 52.1 innings.

Concepcion was heralded as the third-best international prospect last winter, behind only Jorge Soler and Yoenis Cespedes. Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer spoke highly of Concepcion when his signing was made official in March.

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"He had success at a young age in Cuba," Hoyer said nine months ago. "We felt very comfortable with the financial commitment given how much we'd seen and how much work we had done. By all reports, very good makeup and the kind of guy we want to keep adding to our system."

Hoyer also admitted there is an assimilation process with Cuban players coming over to America and adjusting to the game on the field and the society off.

MORE: What are the Cubs getting with Concecpion?

In addition, pitchers Jeff Beliveau and Sandy Rosario were claimed off waivers by the Rangers and Giants, respectively.

It's been a busy offseason for Rosario, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers Dec. 12. He started the winter with Miami, was then claimed by Boston, traded to Oakland, designated for assignment and re-claimed by Boston and then claimed by Chicago.

Beliveau, 25, made his MLB debut in 2012, appearing in 22 games with a 4.58 ERA, 1.87 WHIP and 17 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. He was named the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2011, when he went 6-2 in 53 games with a sparkling 1.57 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 10.8 K9 spanning two levels -- High-A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.

The young lefty was 4-5 with a 3.89 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in Triple-A in 2012 before his call-up.

Cubs still trying to break through on extension talks with current players

Cubs still trying to break through on extension talks with current players

SAN DIEGO — While the rest of the baseball world is occupying their time on free agent signings and trades, the Cubs have been waiting for their number to be called.

They've been trying to nail down extensions with key players that are only a couple years away from free agency, though nothing appears imminent on that front. 

Kris Bryant, Javy Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber are all free agents after the 2021 season, leaving the Cubs two years to work out a deal or trade the player before losing them for nothing but a compensation pick. Willson Contreras is a free agent after 2022. Theo Epstein's front office reached a four-year, $55.5 million deal with Kyle Hendricks in spring training, extending his team control through the 2023 season.

The Cubs won't comment specifically on the current extension talks, but they'd ideally hope to wrap anything before spring training this year, so the players can focus solely on baseball by then.

"We always take the position of not commenting on extensions, but are we having those discussions? Yes," Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. "People focus so much on trades and free agent signings at these meetings, but all the agents are under the same roofs, also, and allows us to have those kinds of discussions. I'm not gonna specify who or what, but yeah certainly those conversations are ongoing."

Bryant has long been thought of as the toughest of the group to lock up long-term given that his agent, Scott Boras, typically advises clients to hit the open market and maximize their value. Boras reiterated Tuesday afternoon at the Winter Meetings he and Bryant are still open to extension talks with the Cubs.

Baez and Rizzo loom as the two most likely to extend their Wrigley Field stays, with the two emerging as the faces of the franchise in their own ways.

As the Cubs try to navigate an offseason where they're "serving two masters" (trying to compete in 2020-21 while also enhancing the long-term future of the franchise), a potential extension would check both boxes in a major way. If Hoyer and Theo Epstein knew Baez would be locking down shortstop and the middle of the lineup for the next six seasons, they could breathe a bit easier thinking about the big picture and long-term health of the franchise. 

At the same time, they can't operate as if anything is a certainty. Bryant could decide he likes the Cubs' offer and make Chicago his forever baseball home. Baez could conclude the opposite. 

It's what makes this particular offseason so tricky for the Cubs.

"We have to be able to have parallel tracks in our mind," Hoyer said. "We have to be able to do multiple things at once. It doesn't make it more difficult. We have a lot of really good players. We've had them for a long time. When we talk to these players about contracts, there's no player that we talk to that we haven't had a conversation with at some point before about a contract. 

"We've talked about these players for five years in some way, shape or form. When we sit down with these players, we're not covering a ton of new ground. We've already been over a lot of it. I think we're able to have parallel tracks."

Two MLB moves that changed the landscape of Kris Bryant's trade market

Two MLB moves that changed the landscape of Kris Bryant's trade market

Two reported transactions Tuesday may not have drawn much attention from Cubs fans, but both directly impact the North Siders.

First, The Athletic’s Fabian Ardaya reported the Angels are trading third baseman Zack Cozart to the Giants for cash and a player to be named later. Soon thereafter, free agent shortstop Didi Gregorius agreed to a one-year deal with the Phillies, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported.

From a Cubs perspective, the Angels' and Phillies' moves impact a potential Kris Bryant trade market. According to Ardaya, the Giants are picking up the remaining $12.67 million on Cozart’s deal. This clears payroll space for Los Angeles to make a run at a superstar free agent, like third basemen Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson.

The Phillies inquired with the Cubs regarding a potential Bryant trade, according to multiple reports. However, Bryant’s unresolved grievance case is a holdup in any trade talks, should the Cubs entertain offers. If he wins, he'll become a free agent next winter. If he loses, he'll remain under team control through 2021.

Gregorius will slot into shortstop for Philadelphia, while incumbent Jean Segura will move to second base, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jim Salisbury. The Phillies are less likely to pursue Bryant — should the Cubs shop him — than they were entering Tuesday. Things can change, but they have less of an infield need as they did on Monday.

On the other hand, the Angels and new manager Joe Maddon suddenly could be a candidate to pursue Bryant. Acquiring him would bring less certainty than Rendon or Donaldson, as Bryant is only under contract for two seasons more, max. Furthermore, acquiring Bryant will cost the Angels prospect capital, while adding Rendon and Donaldson will 'only' entail paying them handsomely as free agents.

In short, Philadelphia is less likely to pursue Bryant than they were entering Tuesday; the possibility of the Angels doing so is stronger than it was entering the day. The Angels haven't been directly connected to Bryant at this point, but that now could change.