Geovany Soto, Carlos Marmol

Diving into the depths: Chicago Cubs

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Ryan Dempster
2. Matt Garza
3. Carlos Zambrano
4. Randy Wells
5. Carlos Silva
6. Andrew Cashner
7. Todd Wellemeyer
8. Braden Looper
9. Casey Coleman
10. Thomas Diamond
11. Jeff Samardzija
12. Jay Jackson
13. Chris Carpenter
14. Trey McNutt

The rotation should be a strength if Silva can perform like he did last year and stay healthy. There is some pretty reasonable depth around, too. Since Cashner didn’t pan out as a setup man last year, I’m guessing the Cubs will have him return to Triple-A to work as a starter. If things go well, he could be a big factor in the second half of the season.

Bullpen
1. Carlos Marmol
2. Kerry Wood
3. Sean Marshall
4. John Grabow
5. Marcos Mateo
6. Esmailin Caridad
7. James Russell
8. Andrew Cashner
9. Jeff Samardzija
10. Braden Looper
11. Angel Guzman
12. Todd Wellemeyer
13. Scott Maine
14. Thomas Diamond
15. Justin Berg
16. Jeff Stevens
17. Polin Trinidad
18. Jeff Beliveau
19. Rafael Dolis
20. John Gaub
21. Scott Rice

The Cubs decided against spending to upgrade their pen, and they only ended up with Wood because he passed up bigger offers to return to Chicago. I like Mateo’s chances of being useful, but beyond the top four, there shouldn’t be any locks for the pen. … Being out of options probably won’t help Samardzija, since his big contract would seem to guarantee that he’ll clear waivers unless he pitches well enough to earn a spot on merit.

Catcher
1. Geovany Soto
2. Koyie Hill
3. Max Ramirez
4. Welington Castillo
5. Chris Robinson

First base
1. Carlos Pena
2. Tyler Colvin
3. Bryan LaHair
4. Scott Moore

Second base
1. Blake DeWitt
2. Jeff Baker
3. Scott Moore
4. Augie Ojeda
5. Darwin Barney

Third base
1. Aramis Ramirez
2. Jeff Baker
3. Bobby Scales
4. Scott Moore
5. Augie Ojeda
6. Darwin Barney

Shortstop
1. Starlin Castro
2. Darwin Barney
3. Augie Ojeda
4. Matt Camp

Baker hit .350/.395/.550 in 140 at-bats against lefties last season, so the Cubs should go with a strict platoon at second base. … Barring an acquisition, the newly signed Ojeda will likely battle Barney for the last spot on the Cubs bench. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Cubs to grab Cristian Guzman or Julio Lugo as another middle-infield option.

Left field
1. Alfonso Soriano
2. Tyler Colvin
3. Fernando Perez
4. Reed Johnson
5. Lou Montanez

Center field
1. Marlon Byrd
2. Tyler Colvin
3. Reed Johnson
4. Fernando Perez

Right field
1. Kosuke Fukudome
2. Tyler Colvin
3. Reed Johnson
4. Brad Snyder
5. Fernando Perez

The Cubs failed to move Fukudome in an effort to free up money and playing time for Colvin, so he’ll probably start in right field against right-handers, at least early on. Colvin, who figures to get more work at first base this spring, will be the top backup at four spots. He’ll probably end up with more at-bats than Fukudome if he keeps hitting like he did last season.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.