Cubs To Sign Carlos Pena

Carrie Muskat and just about everyone on twitter is saying the deal is done for Carlos Pena for a grand sum of...

(drumroll please)

1 yr/$10M

I'm sure we'll get more details on Wednesday, but looks like Cubs chose to pay a little more this year and a little less overall than the 2/$14M that Levine suggested earlier. If the numbers are true, it is $2M more than they offered Berkman and I'm wondering if Pena and Co. were willing to take deferred money that Berkman was not.

Pena was the Rangers 10th overall pick in the 1998 draft and was one of the top prospects in the game in the early part of the decade ranking #11 overall in 2001 and #5 overall in 2002 by Baseball America. He bounced around four different organizations (Rangers, A's, Tigers, Red Sox) before finally settling in Tampa in 2007 where he went nuts to the tune of a 1.037 OPS and 46 HR's. He settled down to an .871 OPS in 2008 and .893 in 2009 with over 30 HR's each season before last year's .732 OPS and just 28 HR's and .196 BA. His monthly splits last year show 2 disastrous sub .500 OPS months and 4 above .800, including a .920 OPS in May. Streaky I believe is the term they like to use. He lefty/righty splits are typical with .881 vs. righties and .750 vs lefties for career (.759 vs. .675 last year).

Pena has a reputation of being a good clubhouse guy and a good defender although UZR doesn't agree. A good time to mention that UZR is also getting more and more distractors every day and first base seems to always have been sketchy in their rankings.

As for the peripherals, he strikes out A LOT, over 30% in each of the last three seasons but walks a lot too, near or over 15% over the last four seasons. His BABIP was .222 last season and just .250 the year before (.279 on his career), so hard to say for sure if he's just the victim of bad luck or seriously degrading skills.

But with a change of scenery and leagues, maybe the Cubs can get a good year out of him and either help the team or be a trade chip come July. We'll see how the rest of the offseason shakes out, but I think the deal makes sense for the Cubs in 2011. There's no burden on the Cubs past 2011 and there's plenty of reasons to to believe Pena could bounce back (and plenty of reasons to believe he won't). The risk is low and the upside is high, which is about the most the team can afford this offseason.

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Comments

12/8/10 - Chicago Cubs sign Rob Deer

I'm happy enough. I'm simply grateful that it wasn't the rumored 2 year and an option, and I am particularly glad that it is only one year. Good point on deferred money possibilities - I hadn't pondered that. 10 million seemed like more than we could spend on a first baseman if Hendry still planned on adding pen help, rotation help, and perhaps some depth, but if some money is deferred, that may help.

I think Pena's solid defensively at first, and that could help long run, even if he's gone after a year, because getting a good glove at first could help Starlin out a bit. I'm happy if Pena means that we don't pursue that rumor floating yesterday of Davis/O'Day for Chirinos/Gorzelanny. I prefer keeping Chirinos over Castillo, and I don't love the idea of shopping Gorzelanny, particularly for that return (hard to think we'll sign a better starter, and a better lefty starter, that is worth all the maneuvering). As a passable cost-controlled lefty starter coming off a passable/decent year, Gorzelanny should be packaged for either a better return, or to help clear some salary. I'm not against a Chris Davis gamble - I just want it at a better price.

At the end of the day, a one year deal was the best possible news (unless we traded for a first baseman). I don't think there was any significant difference between the remaining first baseman on the market.

my only real issue is overpaying him 2-3m when the budget is nickle/dime'd as it is.

it should be interesting to hear what the deal "really" is and how the loot breaks out.

soriano and pena...we're in for a lot of whiff-leball in 2011.

personally Davis for Chirinos works just fine for me. Cubs need something around for Ramirez's possible 2012 exit and if Pena has another 2010.

More than a back-up catcher/infielder at least...

The Cubs seem to give indications that they aren't high on Soto's play behind the plate. Chirinos is probably the more ready catcher (compared to Castillo), and he probably has a better overall bat. I would much rather have that safety net around than Chris Davis. I'm fine with a Davis gamble, but I'm not too enthused that he eventually figures it out.

Who knows, though.

Chris Davis.......Yikes.....Really?

they've also given every indication they aren't high on Chirinos.

how's that? Most indications are that they are fairly high on him and that they like his defense and leadership a ton. After all, he was Starlin's "mentor", and has long been viewed as a potential coach in the system.

Az Phil has said Soto is coming off a shoulder surgery that may not be healed until the end of May. While Chirinos has interesting skills, it would appear Castillo still has a higher ceiling. I personally would make the Gorzo/Chirinos for O'Day/Davis deal NOW. O'Day could be the bullpen arm they need to put Cashner in the rotation and I don't think Gorzo brings anything that Coleman couldn't at this point..........until Archer/McNutt are ready

Agree.

I actually like Castillo. That said, I find it hard to argue Castillo having the high ceiling. He has age on Chirinos, but Chirinos is the better defensive catcher, one of the best in the minors. Chirinos has a better approach at the plate. Castillo has slightly better raw power, but with the holes in his swing, it's hard to see that power being consistently in play.

A middle reliever like O'Day shouldn't impact their decision on Cashner. I understand it might, I just don't think it should. You'd have a hard time convincing me that O'Day is a setup level arm, but if one feels that way, sure, I can buy it.

I'm not against moving Gorzelanny. Just not sure this is the right move.

I'd liken Chirinos to a Jason Kendall with less speed and Castillo to a Henry Blanco.

Except by the time Kendall was 27 he was a 3 time all-star and had put up 4 Season's of over .300 and a .294 batting average up.

People forget just how good Jason Kendall was when he first came up with the Pirates. The fact that he is completely average at 37 seems to skew those memories.

I think that he'd hit .300 with 30 doubles and 12 HR's given the chance.

didn't get a call-up last year, but Castillo did, slow to move him up, not protected in Rule 5 last season, resigned Koyie Hill, AZ Phil's reports that they see him as a coach more than a player (paraphrasing).

He's a Stockstil guy and I'm sure there are some prejudices there in the organization but I don't get a sense they see him as anymore than utility guy.

could be wrong...

Okay ... I'd counter -

a) There was no need to make an additional call-up/40 man move when Castillo wasn't getting enough time as is.

b) Koyie Hill probably reflects more on the situation with Soto and the pitching staff than it does Chirinos.

c) Scouting reports from BA and other places note the strong improvement and how more and more, people are seeing him as a possible late-blooming catcher who has a chance to be a starter.

hopefully quade puts pena and soriano next to each other so cubs can set a record for runners stranded on base. :)

After years of being about the worst org in baseball for catchers, it would seem now the tables have turned and the Cubs are deeper at catcher than any team around. Soto, Castillo, Chirinos, Clevenger, Brenly--that's a lot of decent catching talent. Problem is, there isn't enough room at the inn for all of them, what say you about their likely 2011 assignments, AZ Phil?

It sure looks like the Cubs will go (yet again) with Koyie Hill as backup catcher, why I have no idea. If Brenly is ready to move up to AA, Clevenger would seem to be screwed, and I don't know how Chirinos and Castillo could split time in AAA to a degree that gives either enough PT to further develop their skills.

So are the Cubs FORCED to trade one of Chirinos or Castillo this winter? This is what irks me to no end about keeping Hill around. Why the Koyie love? It's ridiculous.

As for Pena, meh. $10MM is too much, but it ain't my money.

Let's wait on Rule 5. There's still a chance Clevenger could be selected. That said, if I had to take a guess right now, I'd go

AAA - Chirinos/Castillo/Robinson
AA - Clevenger/Brenly
A+ - maybe Flores/Mota
A - Gibbs/uh ... Guevara? Noble? Vigurs?

of those, though, Chirinos, IMO, is the only one that has a chance to be a starting backstop (and even then, he might be better suited as a backup backstop). I've always liked Castillo more than many Cubs followers, but everything about Welington and Clevenger sounds like backup backstop material. With Soto's defense still being questioned, plus the fact that he's going to be extremely costly in arbitration at an age when many catchers can start to show signs of wearing down (he'll be 28 next year, and while still be in arb for a couple more years), I'd rather keep Chirinos around.

Clevenger really should be in AAA, but there's no way they can split the AB's enough. If Clevenger is selected Rule 5, my guess is ... maybe Mota goes to AA, or maybe Chris Robinson, more of a system asset than a prospect, gets shifted down. Gibbs should ditch switch-hitting, which might give him a better chance to develop into a starting backstop.

As for Koyie, nothing against him, but I was fine letting him go. That said, if the Cubs are down on Soto's defense, then Koyie being around makes some sense (if they don't love Soto enough defensively, tough to turn it over to a kid without a veteran like Hill in place). I could see Chirinos or Castillo have a great spring and perhaps convince them to let Koyie go from the 25 man.

Submitted by Jim Hickmans Bat on Wed, 12/08/2010 - 6:06am.
After years of being about the worst org in baseball for catchers, it would seem now the tables have turned and the Cubs are deeper at catcher than any team around. Soto, Castillo, Chirinos, Clevenger, Brenly--that's a lot of decent catching talent. Problem is, there isn't enough room at the inn for all of them, what say you about their likely 2011 assignments, AZ Phil?

========================================================

JIM H: Barring a trade or losing a catcher in the Rule 5 Draft or an unforseen injury, I would predict this as of right now:

If Geovany Soto's shoulder is healthy enough for him to handle the #1 load, then Soto and Koyie Hill will be the only two catchers on the Cubs MLB Opening Day roster, Welington Castillo, Robinson Chirinos, and Steve Cleveger will be at AAA (with Chirinos and Clevenger also playing 1B-3B), Michael Brenly, Chris Robinson, and Blake Lalli will be at AA (with Robinson mentoring Brenly and Lalli mainly playing 1B), Luis Flores, Jose Guevara (or a FA TBD), and Jonathan Mota will be at Daytona (with Mota also the D-Cubs #1 back-up 2B-SS-3B), Micah Gibbs and Chad Noble will be at Peoria, and Sergio Burruel, Carlos Romero, Max Kwan, Jeff Vigurs, Engel Santana, and Alberto Mineo will be left at Fitch Park (EXST).

If Soto can't throw well enough to be a catcher (ast least to begin the season0< then I would think Castillo and K. Hill would share the back-stop job, Chirinos and Clevenger would be the catchers at Tiowa, and everyting else would be the saame.

The Cubs would probably like to re-sign one of their two Rule 55 minor league FA catchers (Mark Reed or Mario Mercedes) to share the catchers job at Daytona with Luis Florse, but both might want to try to find a better opportunity in another organization, especially Mark Reed, who should be at AA in 2011, but probably would not be if her returns to the Cubs. Mercedes is more of an organizational guy who could be developed into a mentor-coach, so of the two, I would think Mercedes is more-likely to come back and play at Daytona in 2011.

Looking at this team, who the hell leads off? Is it a platoon of Dewitt and Baker? Maybe Sori will lead off again.

I'd guess Fukudome v. righties, Baker v. lefties.

Is Fukudome going to get the PT to do that? By most accounts (Bruce Miles has indicated this I think), the Cubs are going to let Colvin run with it at a position, and now, that position is RF. My guess is that whoever mans 2nd will lead off.

Yeah, I just tried to write a good lineup v. righties, and it's definitely hard to stay defensively coherent, offensively balanced, and give everyone their time off. The other thing about this team is that no one jumps up and screams #3 hitter. If Lou was still here, it'd be Byrd, but I'd be more inclined to put (healthy productive) Ramirez there and get into the power section a little quicker.

Vs. lefties, this team's lineup actually doesn't look too shabby on paper: Baker, Castro, Ramirez, Pena, Soriano, Soto, Colvin, Byrd

that was my concern this offseason as well. At some point, they need to change the lineup structure and find a top of the order bat. If, as expected, the OF is Soriano/Byrd/Colvin for the most part, that leaves MI options to lead off. I don't love the idea of Castro leading off, and it doesn't seem like we'll have enough money to find a leadoff 2nd baseman.

If they trade Fukudome, then maybe Guyer makes the team, and there will be a lot of days when you will be tempted to sit Soriano or Byrd and let Guyer lead off. (Thirty SBs, three CSs.)

Maybe they are looking at fielder or pujlos in 2011.

Any big name 3rd baseman in 2011?

Vitters will probably get one of the corner spots.

Vitters in 2011? Or Vitters in 2012? Let's not get too far ahead. Let him consolidate and have a big year in AA. Even if he does, a best case timeline puts him more mid-2012 than beginning, so they should have another plan in place.

I also wouldn't be surprised if some of the speculation about Vitters becoming a full-time first baseman (and being viewed as the first baseman of the future) comes true.

The Cubs have downplayed this. The majority of his on-the-field work has been at 3B as he has been anointed the A-Ram replacement. However, AZ PHIL has pointed out continually that he struggles with his defense there at times. I am hoping he gets it together big time this year in the field. He is a "natural" hitter, and I believe that part of his game will continue to improve.

But it would be sad to realize that we drafted a 21 year-old DH.

There's places to go down the defensive spectrum from third that aren't DH (Namely left and first) so I wouldn't worry about that too much.

Whether he's going to be able to hit is now up in the air, though.

I disagree that with Toon's comment that best case puts him in the majors mid 2012. Best case puts him in the majors in September of this year. You have to go way back to 2010 to find a time the Cubs promoted an infielder from AA to the majors mid season.

okay fair enough. best case is this year. how about a positive case would be mid-2012 (AA this year, a dash of AAA next year, assuming all goes well).

Well, based on history, I think he'll get promoted to AAA this year after his first hot streak at TN, but yeah, right now mid 2012 is probably what they're hoping for.

Submitted by toonsterwu on Wed, 12/08/2010 - 7:31am.
Vitters in 2011? Or Vitters in 2012? Let's not get too far ahead. Let him consolidate and have a big year in AA. Even if he does, a best case timeline puts him more mid-2012 than beginning, so they should have another plan in place.

I also wouldn't be surprised if some of the speculation about Vitters becoming a full-time first baseman (and being viewed as the first baseman of the future) comes true.

===========================================

TOONSTER: Josh Vitters showed definite improvement defensivelyy at 3B in the AFL. It's possible that the move to 1B at Instructs and occasionally playing 1B in the AFL was a bit of a wake-up call for him.

Although he sometimes looks a bit disinterested when he's in the field, he actually does have the actions of a third-baseman, He just needs to pay more attention to his defense and make a better effort. He did that in the AFL, but he and needs to carry it over into the 2011 season. As long as he plays 3B in 2011 like he did in the AFL, I doubt that he will play much 1B next season.

personally, with me on Vitters, it simply comes down to his bat. I think he's fine for his cost-controlled years at 3rd. I'd guess passable. REally comes down to the bat.

hey, AzPhil, any news on the DJ LeMahieu strength and conditioning, along with power stroke, winter?

I'm semi-optimistic about this pickup. It's a bit much, but whatever...less money for a post-career-year reliever. One year, good clubhouse guy, switch from AL east to NL central, good defense. I'd throw in contract year, but that didn't seem to help him last year. I'm mainly just glad it's over quickly so I don't have to keep hearing about shitty 1B possibilities.

It's tough to go wrong on a 1 year contract. I agree with most others here that he's probably a bit overpaid, but there's a good enough chance that the cubs aren't paying for the August/September part of that.

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, I find Pena pretty interesting. His career numbers are strangely enticing. He's got a high OBP, a fairly decent but not magnificent career OPS, a low average, a high strikeout rate, and a high walk rate. That to me is the strange part. For example, his seasonal average number of walks is 88. If he had repeated that last year and played in the NL, he would have been sixth in the league in walks.

But his seasonal average for strikeouts is an almost astonishing 171. He would have been fifth in the league with that number last year. I just think that's weird. So, when he does manage to get wood on the ball and isn't having a pitcher work around him, he apparently hits the living shit out of it. What's nice is that he actually apparently ALLOWS pitchers to pitch around him (Soriano averages 42 walks per season).

Anyway, get ready. On average, Pena strikes out a little less than 40 times a year MORE than Soriano does.

That said, the Cubs could have some pop next year if Ramirez stays healthy. You've suddenly got a bunch of home run hitters: Ramirez, Pena, Soriano, and Colvin (especially if he doesn't go through a sophomore slump and maybe even gets better).

Project .500, as Rob calls it, looks to be taking shape rather nicely.

Here's hoping Rudy can get him going. The first thing that he needs to do is start hitting to the whole field again. That's the crux of his BABIP issues. If you're slow and you insist on hitting the baseball at 6 of 8 defenders, you're going to have a low BABIP. The fact that the cheap HR's in Wrigley are to left center, may help his mindset. Plus he batted .250 in day games last year, so we're golden.

I like the deal in that it's one year, and if you sort of look at it as one year $8 million, with a $2 million buyout it's not that bad. The idea that the Cubs can at least bid up the Brewers and the Cards on their first basemen next year is appealing (though probably too smart for the current regime to actually do).

On defense, unless UZR has recently changed their system without notifying anyone, it totally disregards "error saving" catches, something that Pena is allegedly good at. So there's some hope, but I wouldn't expect Keith Hernandez over there.

Ya, I was pleasantly surprised to see the words "one" and "year" in the same sentence on a Hendry signing. I forgot to mention Soto of course. So the corrected sentence is: "You've suddenly got a bunch of home run hitters: Ramirez, Pena, Soriano, and Colvin and Soto".

It does seem like every year one of the keys to the Cubs' success is Ramirez being healthy. I'd love to hear he went through a conditioning program this winter, but I'm not holding my breath.

Perhaps Ramirez will re-dedicate himself this winter...

$10 mil for a .196 hitter.

Someone remove Hendry's eyes, because they clearly aren't working.

You do know that there is more to baseball than batting average, right? And there is more to a player than just the past season, right?

And I do know that a guy who's career BABIP is .272 is scary. And when it's dropped to .250 and .222 the last two years, something is wrong in Denmark when he gets $10 million.

This guy suggests the Cubs move Ramirez and Soriano for Vernon Wells. Hey, it's the Internet, why not?

Then, just for kicks (trade everyone!): Fukudome, Grabow, and Silva for Jason Bay?

http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/tra...

Does not compute.

He's not necessarily saying that the Cubs SHOULD do those trades. He is talking hypothetical, moderately realistic trades of bad contracts.

Really don't see the point of going with Pena. Whats he gonna do? Match Derrek Lee's numbers at best, while hitting .220? I seem to remember us finishing 5th with that kind of production.

I guess welcome to the National League Central, home to a crap load of lefties that Pena has only hit .194 off of in the last 3 years.

Chris Davis makes more sense for a team in transition than a 1 year rental on Pena. Its clearly not a sure thing on Davis but the team is gonna suck anyways and your gonna find out if Davis is the answer or not next year. If he is you got a long term solution, if he isn't ohh well no biggie we don't lose much in the attempt. With Pena, no matter what happens your still back at square 1 next year. And your still in "what if" mode.

I personally like to look for long term solutions not 1 year band aids.

DLEE at age 35: .260/.347/.428
Pena at age 32: .196/.325/.407

The batting average sucks, but he did manage to hit 28 HR still in a down season. I would believe that the Cubs are hoping that moving to the NL, and getting away from the AL East will help a bit. I'd rather have this deal that 4 years of Dunn...or 3 of Laroche.

Not a sure thing on Davis, is putting it mildly..since the Rangers were willing to try anyone but him at 1B last season. Oh..and Davis at 3B? Yeah..that's not happening....ugh.

It's always fun to play around with these hypotheticals, but if the Cubs were to do what the author suggests, they would lose;

Alfonso Soriano
Aramis Ramirez
Kosuke Fukudome
Carlos Silva
John Grabow

And pick up:

Vernon Wells
Jason Bay

So the Cubs payroll would remain relatively unchanged, but they would have to find a third baseman, fifth starter, and another bullpen arm. Fun to think about, but not very realistic.

Cubs the 4th Best Staff...

Its now official: the Cubs are behind the Brewers starting staff with the latest trade of Shaun Marcum coming over from the Jays.

With the Cubs staff consisting of three #5 pitchers (Wells, Gorzo, and Fat-Boy-Slim), a 3 and a 2/3, currently, the Brew-Crew just leap-frogged us.

Can't wait for the long mileage our bullpen will be getting this year!

Eh ... I don't think our staff is good, but I don't think Marcum is that much better than Randy Wells. He's better, but let's wait and see how much. Everyone assumes that he'll be lights out - this is a average fastball guy that requires his secondary pitches to be sharp.

Not much better than Randy Wells

You may want to put down that Cubbie Cool-Aide.

Read stats much?

Garza at 26 (and not a converted catcher), when factoring in the AL East numbers compared to the shit NL Centr, his no-hitter, AS game appearance, is WAY better than roller-coaster Randy, a 5th starter on most contending teams - if at all.

Garza or Marcum? I thought we were talking about Marcum.

Sure, I read stats.

Wells xFIP and WAR (2009/2010): 4.24/3.1, 4.09/3.3.

Marcum's xFIP and WAR (2008/2010): 4.24/2.0, 3.90/3.5.

I didn't say Marcum wasn't better. I'm just not sure it's by nearly as much as you seem to be suggesting. Marcum's got an edge on K rate and BB rate. The K rate difference isn't as big a deal, as Wells is more of a groundball guy than Marcum.

For the heck of it, let's look at Garza (I've stated that I think the Cubs should look at Garza and Nolasco)

Matt Garza xFIP/WAR (2009/2010): 4.21/3.2, 4.51/1.8.

I note those stats, and also recognize that Rays fans are hoping that he's the starter that's shipped out (and not Shields), but even then, I'd go after Garza. The change in his K rate (dip) is troublesome (Garza's K and BB rates are similar to Wells this year), but he's a solid guy who will eat innings and should be a solid starter in the NL.

I'd probably tab the three as Marcum/Garza/Wells, but I don't think the difference between 1 and 3 is as dramatic as a number 2 vs. a number 5.

Pays to read - I had read Toons post as comparing Garza to Wells - not Marcum (who I think is still better than Wells, but not as much as Garza).

My bad.

Sounds like you would rank it

Garza/Marcum/Wells.

If I knew more about what happened with Garza last year, I would feel more confident ranking it that way. If he's the guy who put up those numbers in 2009, I'd rank it that way, but that drop in K rate looks ugly. I don't recall any reports suggesting injury was a significant factor.

Objectively...
Cubs Rotation by ERA + last season
131
113
106
103
102

Brewer's rotation (with Marcum)
114
103
95
87
89

It takes a shitload of pessimism and optimisum respectively to put the Brewers ahead of the Cubs at this point. The Cubs, without Zambrano for half the season were 2nd in the majors in quality starts.

You are counting on Fat-Boy to be useful again? Wells to do anything (he has to be perfect in order to win a game)? What is left with removing those two and the Brewers adding something useful?

I thought fat boy was Silva

from Levine

According to a physical report, the 33-year-old Pena, who had plantar fasciitis last season, has recovered from the condition.

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/news/st...

nothing yet about deferred money, so you have to think a trade is eventually gonna happen involving Gorz, Fukudome and/or Silva.

We should trade Byrd and play Colvin in center.

I think we should trade Byrd, but not necessarily put Colvin in CF. I'd look around and see if we could find a top of the order CF.

Yeah, that would be OK too. I am just trying to figure out how to get a reasonable (3!) number of left handed bats in the lineup.

"I'd look around and see if we could find a top of the order CF."

Looking around, I see Guyer, Jackson, Campana. It's something of a Wilken specialty.

Byrd at 33, coming off his sole All Star appearance (but he really ran out of gas the second half of the season). That would truly be selling high. Maybe a first for Hendry.

He sold high on DeRosa.

Here is a short list of Cub contracts that expire after the 2011 season:

Silva - $11.5 million
Grabow - $4.8 million
Fukudome - $13.5 million
Pena - $10 million
Ramirez - $14.6 million + a $2 million buy out

Total $52.4 million (reduced for the buy out)

You forgot Koyie Hill!

Do you think that's enough to get in on Todd Helton, Aaron Cook, and Edwin Encarnacion?

Not with Jim Hendry negotiating the contracts

Submitted by Rob Richardson on Wed, 12/08/2010 - 9:06am.
Here is a short list of Cub contracts that expire after the 2011 season:

Silva - $11.5 million
Grabow - $4.8 million
Fukudome - $13.5 million
Pena - $10 million
Ramirez - $14.6 million + a $2 million buy out

Total $52.4 million (reduced for the buy out)

======================================

BOB: Actually Carlos Silva gets paid $6M from the Cubs in 2011, plus a $2M buy-out for 2012. The remaining $5.5M of Silva's 2011 salary will be paid by Seattle.

And Ryan Dempster has a $15.5M player option for 2012, although I doubt that he would walk away from that since he allowed his contract to be restructured to back-load it and free up more cash for Hendry in 2010.

I also think Jeff Samardzija could get outrighted to the minors post-2011 (he can't be traded or placed on Outright Waivers in 2011 without his permission, that is, until the Cubs decline their 2012 $3M club option, which they can't do until after this season), and that will save another $2.8M. If the Cubs do decline the club option on Samardzija for 2012, they can either keep him on the 40-man roster and he becomes an Auto-Renewal player (but can't have his $2.8M 2011 MLB salary cut more than 20% for 2012), or the Cubs can try and outright him to the minors where they could pay him as little as $15,000. If Samardzija is outrighted, the Cubs would continue to control him (although he would be eligible for selection in the 2011 and 2012 Rule 5 drafts) until after the 2013 season, when he would be eligible to be a Rule 55 minor league league FA (unless he is added back to the 40-man roster by the 4th day after the conclusion of the 2013 World Series).

Bruce Levine radio report...

The Cubs are going after Matt Garza of the Rays.

He believes there's deferred money in the Pena deal.

Phil Rogers again working hard to get his facts right:

"...(Dodgers GM) Colletti remains hard at work trying to replace catcher Brian McCann and adding depth in the outfield and bullpen."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/sc-spt-1...

Oh my god.

How does Phil Rogers remain employed by such a prestigous, well-run, reputable icon of the news industry........oh, wait a minute. My bad.

I am fully on board with the idea of going after Garza. It could get costly, though. I also think Garza is a bit overhyped/overrated, but he's a strong arm who will eat innings.

I'd like to see them ponder Ricky Nolasco as well (as Florida is rumored to be considering shopping him again).

The addition of Matt Garza would likely mean to me that this team is good enough to compete for a pennant if exactly everything goes right (assuming there's still a competent 7-8th inning guy on the way).

Garza rumor in print from Levine:

http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/i...

Also saying Chris Davis and Darren O'Day still in play.

oohh, my pants got tight.

uhh, okay.

The only scenario better than Gorzo/Chirinos would be that the Rangers have to take Koyie Hill as well.

The only good line from Just Shoot Me. Wait, what? - no I didn't watch it.

ha, I'll admit to watching that show. Enrico, Wendie Malick were interesting characters. Always felt Laura San Giacomo wasn't given enough ... even though she was the lead. That said, she was playing the "straight" person.

See ... I watched it.

I don't know what you're talking about...but I like the episode when David Spade found out he was, uh, physically superior.

Something to the effect of "I only ever saw naked guys in porno...I just thought I was a bit above average."

But I didn't watch it.

Gordo tweeted that some of Pena money is deferred.

So that essentially makes it a two-year $10M deal, with a $5M salary in 2011 and a pre-planned de facto $5M buy-out for 2012 (with the deferred $5M taken from the 2012 payroll).

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