Highlights from first day of winter meetings in Nashville as slow-moving baseball business took a back seat to the hiring of Jim Deshaies to replace Bob Brenly as TV analyst:
FUJIKAWA NEWS AND EFFECT ON MARMOL
A source says Cubs have told closer Carlos Marmol he's a trade candidate but "won't give him away."
Without confirming two-year, $9.5 million deal with Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa or using his name, team president Theo Epstein said signing a ``setup-type reliever ... with closing experience" doesn't preclude keeping Marmol as the Cubs try to strengthen the bullpen.
Another Cubs honcho also suggested Fujikawa is not necessarily viewed as the Cubs' closer despite the free agent's stated desire/demand during talks with teams - not to mention his decision to reject favored Angels' offer after they signed Ryan Madsen last week.
The Fujikawa announcement expected Friday following physical this week.
The Cubs don't expect World Baseball Classic vet Fujikawa to play in next spring's WBC after addressing issue during negotiations.
SORIANO, THIRD BASE, CF/RF AND LHPs
-- Epstein says Cubs have told Alfonso Soriano, who has full no-trade rights, they plan to listen to offers for him and keep him updated on any such talks.
-- Epsten said the Yankees' sudden need for a third baseman in the wake of Alex Rodriguez's latest hip injury is ``not really'' going to affect the Cubs' bargain-bin, mix-and-match efforts to cover their third-base need.
``We have our targets,'' he said. ``It's a relatively thin third-base market, and we're going to have to be creative and rely on internal options if we can.''
That means .219-hitting but good-fielding Luis Valbuena, a possible position switch for somebody else, a possible trade or possible free agent signing - none of which offer the obvious, prototype solution to the position, Epstein acknowledged. That might have to wait until the Cubs get somebody like Javy Baez to the big leagues.
Meanwhile, Epstein said he expects to add somebody from the outside to at least join the competition for at least a job share.
Said the Cubs' prez on the third base scarcity this year: ``It'd be good to be Mike Schmidt right now''
--In case you're wondering about Ian Stewart, the Cubs are waiting to hear back from the non-tendered third baseman about whether he's interested in the discount offer they've made after he discovers what's expected to be lukewarm reception from the other teams in need of help at the position.
-- Epstein says the Cubs have looked over the long list of players non-tendered by other clubs Friday and have interest in at least one left-handed pitcher. Washington non-tendered lefties Tom Gorzelanny and John Lannan, both of whom the Cubs talked to the Nationals about earlier this year.
--And not surprisingly, the Cubs have sized up the outfield market and shifted their focus from center field to right field, with an eye toward moving David DeJesus to center if they land a suitable right fielder.