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updated: 12/21/2011 4:24 PM

Is Cubs-Reds deal for pitchers close?

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  • Although Cubs pitcher Sean Marshall is considered one of the best left handed relievers in baseball, he also is at his peak value for the Cubs right now as they try to rebuild with trades.

       Although Cubs pitcher Sean Marshall is considered one of the best left handed relievers in baseball, he also is at his peak value for the Cubs right now as they try to rebuild with trades.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Cincinnati Reds pitcher Travis Wood is someone the Cubs may have interest in acquiring through a trade.

      Cincinnati Reds pitcher Travis Wood is someone the Cubs may have interest in acquiring through a trade.
    Associated Press

  • Outfielder Reed Johnson has agreed to a new deal with the Cub for next season.

      Outfielder Reed Johnson has agreed to a new deal with the Cub for next season.

 
 

If you're worried about the Cubs trading left-handed reliever Sean Marshall, know that such a move fits the plan laid out by team president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.

While it is true Epstein said Marshall "might be the most valuable left-handed reliever in all of baseball," that also makes him a valuable commodity in other teams' eyes.

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The Cubs would not confirm a report Wednesday that they have agreed to send Marshall to the Cincinnati Reds for left-handed starting pitcher Travis Wood and a pair of minor-leaguers. Players in the proposed deal would have to pass physical exams first.

It fits the Epstein/Hoyer mold of trading a player nearing free agency (Marshall will be eligible after the 2012 season) for young players under team control for a long time.

Marshall, 29, will make $3.1 million in 2012, finishing a deal signed with former GM Jim Hendry. That's hardly bank-breaking money, especially if you agree that Marshall is the top left-handed reliever in the league.

But Marshall probably is at his peak trade value now, and who knows how much he'll command if he hits the open market next fall.

Wood, who turns 25 in February, is not eligible for salary arbitration as he has just over one year of major-league service to his credit.

This year, Wood was 6-6 with a 4.84 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP in 22 games (18 starts). He pitched 106 innings, giving up 118 hits while walking 40 and striking out 76.

Wood made his major-league debut at Wrigley Field on July 1, 2010, getting a no-decision as the Reds beat the Cubs 3-2 in 10 innings. On that day, Wood worked 7 innings, giving up 2 hits and 2 runs.

The Cubs could use a lefty in their rotation. As of now, they have right-handers Matt Garza (if they don't trade him), Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells and perhaps Carlos Zambrano, if he works his way back into the team's good graces.

Reed all about it:

The Cubs and veteran outfielder Reed Johnson have agreed on a new deal, pending a physical, according to sources. Johnson has had chronic back problems for much of his career.

This year with the Cubs, Johnson appeared in 111 games and had a hitting line of .309/.348/.467 with 5 homers. The right-handed hitter batted .312 against righty pitchers and .305 against lefties.

He'll be a backup outfielder and a positive influence in the clubhouse. Johnson was with the Cubs in 2008 and 2009. He played for the Dodgers in 2010 before coming back to the Cubs on a minor-league deal in January and being added to the big-league roster at the end of spring training.

Familiar look in minors:

The Cubs made very few changes to the managerial and coaching staffs of their minor-league clubs.

Longtime organization man Dave Bialas goes from minor-league field coordinator to manager of the Cubs' Class AAA Iowa farm club. Bill Dancy, who managed Iowa, will be the organization's infield coordinator.

Dave Keller, who was on the major-league staff this year as a coaching assistant, will become Iowa's hitting coach. Former Cubs reliever Jeff Fassero goes from being the pitching coach at Class A Peoria to pitching coach at Class AA Tennessee.

Minor-league managers Buddy Bailey, Brian Harper, Casey Kopitzke and Mark Johnson remain as managers, with Harper going from Tennessee to Daytona (A) and Bailey going from Daytona to Tennessee. Former big-league outfielder Bobby Mitchell will manage the Cubs' Rookie affiliate at Mesa.

Onetime Cubs first baseman Bill Buckner likely will be named the hitting coach at Class A Boise.

The Cubs have kept most of their minor-league structure in place. Owner Tom Ricketts repeatedly said he was impressed with the staff, and the new baseball management team appears willing to give that staff a fair shot.

• Follow Bruce's reports on Twitter @BruceMiles2112 and check out his Chicago's Inside Pitch blog at dailyherald.com.

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