On Friday, the Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Gonzalez Germen off waivers from the Rangers. He was designated for assignment by the Mets on Dec. 15 and traded to the Yankees four days later. Germen was then designated for assignment on Jan. 13 and traded to the Rangers on Tuesday.
With the move, the Cubs’ 40-man roster is now at 40.
Germen, 27, is 1-2 with one save and a 4.31 ERA in 54 relief appearances over the last two seasons with the Mets. He has struck out 64 batters over 64 2/3 innings pitched, and limited opponents to a .248 batting average, including a .229 mark by right-handed hitters. Last season, Germen appeared in 25 games for the Mets, compiling a 4.75 ERA. He missed a month because of a virus and abscess.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs and newly-acquired center fielder Dexter Fowler reached an agreement for a one-year deal worth $9.5 million, thus avoiding arbitration. Fowler, 28, was acquired from the Astros Monday for pitcher Dan Straily and infielder Luis Valbuena. The outfielder made $7.35 million last season in Houston, where he hit .276 with four triples, eight home runs, 35 RBIs and scored 61 runs in 116 games.
Ty Nichols, an area scout who handles Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, was named the Cubs’ 2014 Scout of the Year during a team dinner Wednesday night in Chicago. From left to right, it’s Matt Dorey, director of amateur scouting; Nichols; Tim Wilken, special assistant to the president and general manager; and Jason McLeod, senior vice president, scouting and player development.
* Junior Lake hit a solo homer in the fifth in Estrellas’ 5-1 loss to Gigantes in the Dominican Republic playoffs. Gigantes now leads the best-of-nine series, 3-2. Game 6 will be Friday.
* Javier Baez went 0-for-5 in Santurce’s 3-2, 14-inning win over Mayaguez in the Puerto Rico championship series. Baez was intentionally walked in the 14th with two outs and two on to set up a walk-off walk. The best of seven series is tied at one win apiece, and Game 3 will be Friday.
* In Venezuela, Wilson Conteras and Rubi Silva were a combined 0-for-7 in Aragua’s 6-1 win over Zulia. Aragua (7-8) plays La Guaira (5-10) on Thursday.
* Cubs prospect Wilson Contreras hit a two-run pinch-hit homer in a six-run fourth inning to lead Aragua to an 11-5 victory over La Guaira in the Venezuelan playoffs. Contreras went 2-for-3 in the game. He batted .242 in 80 games last season with Class A Daytona. Another Cubs prospect, Rubi Silva, was 2-for-4.
* Javy Baez was 0-for-4 in Santurce’s 8-2 loss to Mayaguez in the first game of the Puerto Rican championship series. Game 2 of the best-of-seven series will be played Wednesday.
* Junior Lake was 0-for-4 for Estrellas in a 5-3 loss to Gigantes in the Dominican league championship series. The best-of-nine series is tied at two wins apiece, and Game 5 will be played Wednesday.
The Cubs are offering 6-Game Packs and 12-Game Flex Packs, and they go on sale today (Wednesday, Jan. 21) at http://www.cubs.com/packs at 1 p.m. CT. The multi-game packages feature tickets for Opening Night vs. the Cardinals, summer Friday games, weekend bobblehead promotional games, and Family Sundays. The packages also include rivalry matchups with the White Sox and Cardinals, and Interleague matchups against the Indians, Tigers and Royals.
Cubs 6-Game Pack
The Cubs 6-Game Pack provides a choice of four different pre-selected, six-game plans. Each option is tailored to different fan interests. Options include the “Summer Six Pack,” featuring six Friday games from late May to early September; the “Family Day Pack,” featuring Sunday home games with promotional giveaways and opportunities for kids 13-and-under to run the bases post-game; the “Rivals Pack,” featuring matchups with the White Sox and NL Central Division foes; and the “Bobblehead Pack,” featuring weekend bobblehead promotional games.
Cubs 6-Game Packs are available in the reserved seating bowl of Wrigley Field. Fans must order the same number of tickets for each of the six games in their package. Prices start at just $128 before service fees and City and County amusement taxes for either a “Rivals Pack” or “Family Day Pack” in the Upper Deck Reserved Outfield, with other prices varying based on plan and location.
Cubs 12-Game Flex Pack
Fans looking to customize their ticket package can choose the Cubs 12-Game Flex Pack. This package allows fans to select from two Marquee games, such as Opening Night vs. the Cardinals or summer weekend dates vs. the White Sox, plus 10 additional games from each month throughout the season. Overall, fans can select from 49 total games when purchasing the Cubs 12-Game Flex Pack.
* Tickets may be purchased online through http://www.cubs.com/packs, by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS (1-800-843-2827), or by speaking with the Fan Services team at 773-388-8270.
* Junior Lake was 1-for-4 with a triple, but it wasn’t enough as Estrellas lost, 4-0, to Gigantes in the third game of the best of nine championship series in the Dominican Republic. Estrellas leads the series, 2-1. Lake now is 1-for-7 in the series.
* Santurce faces Mayaguez in the Puerto Rican league championship, with the best of seven series beginning Tuesday. Javier Baez was expected to rejoin Santurce and play in this series.
Here’s a photo of Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who hosted his first “Laugh-Off for Cancer” last Thursday in Chicago. The event raised more than $130,000 for the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, and will be used to help children and their families battling cancer. Rizzo, who has hosted three 5K walks in his hometown in Florida and two “cook offs” in Chicago to raise money for his foundation, said the comedy night was the best event. Players such as Travis Wood, Justin Grimm, Jake Arrieta and Ryan Dempster took part in the event. Thanks to everyone who contributed and participated. It was all for a good cause.
(Photo by Mark Kosterman)
With Luis Valbuena headed to Houston, that leaves an void at third base but Cubs GM Jed Hoyer says it’s too early to write Kris Bryant’s name in the lineup for Opening Day. Cubs fans are giddy at the prospect of Bryant, 23, the Minor League Player of the Year, playing at Wrigley Field. In his second season as a pro in 2014, Bryant batted .325 with 43 home runs and 110 RBIs at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. Hoyer said they didn’t deal Valbuena to make room for Bryant.
“It’s totally independent,” Hoyer said. “Kris’ development is independent of any move we made today. We have a number of guys who will be working at third [this spring].”
The list includes Mike Olt, Tommy La Stella, and possibly Arismendy Alcantara. Javier Baez also could get some playing time there, although he’s projected to start at second base for the Cubs. Baez was currently playing winter ball in Puerto Rico.
Bryant has moved up quickly in the Cubs system.
“When Kris is ready, when we think he’s ready to come up to the big leagues, we’ll make that decision but certainly trading Valbuena will not speed up that clock at all,” Hoyer said. “It’s all dependent on Kris.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs’ offseason goals were to upgrade their roster by finding players, preferably left-handed hitters, who can get on base, and they most likely completed the makeover on Monday with the addition of Dexter Fowler. The Cubs dealt infielder Luis Valbuena and right-handed pitcher Dan Straily to the Astros for Fowler, 28, expected to fill the leadoff spot. The switch-hitter has a career .366 on-base percentage over seven seasons, primarily with the Rockies. He was traded to the Astros on Dec. 3 with a player to be named later for Brandon Barnes and Jordan Lyles.
Fowler will be reunited with hitting coach John Mallee, who was with the Astros last season, and now has that job with the Cubs. Mallee recommended the outfielder.
“The biggest thing John kept saying to us is, ‘This guy really puts on an at-bat … he sees pitches, he gets on base,'” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Monday.
That’s something the Cubs haven’t had. They ranked 13th in the National League in on-base percentage. Fowler, Miguel Montero and Tommy La Stella are three left-handed hitters the Cubs added who they hope will get on base and extend the lineup.
Arismendy Alcantara played the most center field last season but had to learn about the outfield on the job after coming up in the Cubs system as an infielder. He may become manager Joe Maddon’s Cubs version of Ben Zobrist — a versatile player who can fill in everywhere.
“Joe’s been a part of a lot of our meetings about the team, and Alcantara, for one, brings a smile to his face every time because he’s exactly the kind of player he loves,” Hoyer said of the 23-year-old switch-hitter. “He can play all over the field, he can run the bases, he’s a good defender, he’s got good power. He’s an exciting piece who you can move around.”
– Carrie Muskat