The Cubs left the winter meetings in Nashville on Thursday, and they’ll come home Friday with something new and something old.
First, they’ll introduce relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa during a late-morning news conference at Wrigley Field. The Cubs and the Japanese closer have agreed on a contract that will guarantee him $9.5 million over the next two years, plus options for 2015.
For the old, the Cubs and third baseman Ian Stewart have agreed on a new one-year deal worth $2 million with incentives that could add $500,000 to the deal. The Cubs last week did not tender Stewart a contract, avoiding a possible salary-arbitration hearing.
But finding nothing to their liking in a thin market at third base, the Cubs decided to bring Stewart back as a free agent. Stewart, 27, had his 2012 season end in June because of a left-wrist injury that resulted in surgery in July. Stewart wound up with a hitting line of .201/.292/.335 with 5 homers and 17 RBI. Interestingly, the Cubs acquired him last year on the final day of the winter meetings in a trade with Colorado, which received out fielder Tyler Colvin and infielder DJ LeMahieu.
Last week, the Cubs offered a contract to Luis Valbuena, who took over at third during the second half of the season. Both Valbuena and Stewart are left-handed batters.
With the signing of Fujikawa, it will be interesting to see how the Cubs’ closer situation plays out. The team said all week in Nashville that Carlos Marmol remains the closer, with Fujikawa being available for all late-inning situations.
The Cubs tried to trade Marmol to the Angels last month for pitcher Dan Haren, but they were wary of the medical reports on Haren’s back. It’s possible the Cubs could still trade Marmol, who has $9.8 million coming in the final season of his three-year contract.
Feeling a draft:
The Cubs selected right-handed pitcher Hector Rondon from the Cleveland Indians in Thursday’s Rule 5 draft at the winter meetings.
Rondon, 24, is 36-36 with a 3.88 ERA in 120-minor-league games. He has been pitching winter ball in Venezuela.
“He was a really good prospect with the Indians,” general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters in Nashville “We’ve been watching him in Venezuela this winter, and he’s been throwing really, really well. He’s got a great arm and we feel we can capitalize on that he’s healthy now and throwing the ball well.”
The Cubs also lost four players in the Rule 5 draft, including right-handed pitcher Starling Peralta, who was taken by the Diamondbacks in the major-league portion. Peralta was 5-8 with a 3.44 ERA for Class A Peoria.
Also drafted away from the Cubs were outfielder Michael Burgess, infielder Matt Cerda and right-handed pitcher Alvido Jimenez in the Class AAA phase. Burgess was selected with the first pick overall by Houston, Cerda with the 19th pick of the first round by St. Louis and Jimenez in the second round by Toronto.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.