Cubs interested in Brandon McCarthy and Shaun Marcum

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According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times the Cubs “already have expressed interest in” Brandon McCarthy and “another buy-low candidate the Cubs are eyeing” is Shaun Marcum.

General manager Jed Hoyer indicated that the Cubs will probably try to sign some veterans to reasonably priced one- or two-year deals, like they did last offseason with Paul Maholm and David DeJesus.

Whether or not health-related question marks are enough to drop McCarthy or Marcum into that sort of contract range remains to be seen, but Hoyer called the short-term, bounce-back deals “a good model of contract that really served us well.”

It’s no surprise that the Cubs are pursuing veteran starting pitching on the free agent market considering they nearly acquired Dan Haren from the Angels for Carlos Marmol before that deal fell apart at the last minute.

Mariners sign Ichiro to a minor league deal

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USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Mariners will sign Ichiro Suzuki to a minor-league deal. If he makes the roster he’ll make $750,000. At least until he retires.

I say that because it seems quite clear that the idea here, telegraphed since last season, is to activate Ichiro for the Mariners’ series against the Oakland Athletics in Tokyo on March 20-21 and for hoopla surrounding it all. The Mariners and A’s will have a 28-man roster for that series, which is officially part of the regular season schedule, but it will be pared back down to 25 once games begin in the United States.

Suzuki, 45, hit .205/.255/.205 in 47 plate appearances through May 2 last season, at which point he agreed to be deactivated to join the Mariners’ front office. Many assumed Ichiro would announce his retirement later that season or during the offseason, but the Japan Series soon crystalized as an obvious way for him to offer his final farewell to both his American and his Japanese fans.

Unless of course he goes 6-10 with three doubles in that series, at which point everyone will be tempted to keep him on the roster past Japan. Which, given the Mariners’ rebuild and likely poor performance this coming season, wouldn’t exactly be hurting anyone, would it?