Cubs sign Cuban left-hander Gerardo Concepcion

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From reporter Jorge Ebro of Miami’s El Nuevo Herald comes word that Cuban left-hander Gerardo Concepcion agreed to a “multimillion dollar” contract on Thursday evening with the Chicago Cubs.

Concepcion was named the Rookie of the Year in Cuba’s Serie Nacional for 2010-2011 after posting a solid 10-3 record, 3.36 ERA and 53/43 K/BB ratio across 101 2/3 innings of work. The 18-year-old southpaw defected in June to Mexico and officially become a major league free agent in mid-January.

Concepcion also drew interest from the Yankees, Phillies, Royals, Marlins, Giants, Blue Jays and Red Sox this offseason. But the aggressively-rebuilding Cubs were able to outbid the competition.

He’s likely to open the 2012 season at a low level of Single-A. Or maybe it’ll be rookie ball.

UPDATE, 8:12 PM: Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes says Concepcion’s deal is worth $7 million.

Twins to retire Joe Mauer’s No. 7

AP Photo/Jim Mone
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Twins senior director of communications Dustin Morse announced that the Twins will honor former C/1B Joe Mauer by retiring his uniform number 7. Mauer announced his retirement from baseball on November 9.

Mauer will join Harmon Killebrew (No. 3), Tony Oliva (No. 6), Tom Kelly (No. 10), Kent Hrbek (No. 14), Rod Carew (No. 29), Kirby Pucket (No. 34), and Bert Blyleven (No. 28) as Twins to have their numbers retired.

Mauer, 35, spent 15 seasons in the majors, all with the Twins. He posted a career .306/.388/.439 triple-slash line with 143 home runs and 923 RBI. He won the AL MVP Award in 2009, won the batting title three times, earned three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers, and made the AL All-Star team six times. Sadly, his career was limited due to injuries, including a concussion that caused him to move from catcher to first base.

Five years from now, Mauer will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. There will certainly be some arguments for and against his candidacy. He retired with 55.1 career Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference, which definitely puts him in the conversation. But, as always, there’s never a consensus.