Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

A look at Cubs news and prospects playing in Winter Leagues

Hot Stove 2017, Stephen Perakslis shines in AFL, and Winter League update.

Hot Stove 2017

The 2016 Hot Stove version for the Cubs was relatively quiet after the past two seasons with the signing of Jon Lester and Jason Heyward. They traded for Wade Davis, signed outfielder Jon Jay and added a few pieces for the bullpen. It should be a lot hotter next off-season.

The Cubs will have eight free agents at the end of 2017, including ace Jake Arrieta. They’ll need to find a new closer (Wade Davis), two starters (Arrieta and John Lackey), add a catcher (Miguel Montero), and replace three bullpen arms ( Koji Uehara, Brian Duensing, Pedro Strop). Jay is also a free agent.

I’m pretty much resigned to the Cubs letting Arrieta walk, getting a draft pick, and making a trade or two to acquire some young pitching. I just don’ think they’ll spend the kind of money on a 32-year-old Arrieta that he’ll get on the open market. Then again, they inked Ben Zobrist to a four-year deal when he was 35. The Cubs have plenty of time to prepare a rotation for the 2018 season but they may address that need at the trade deadline, if not before.

Willson Contreras is the Cubs catcher of the present and future but he’ll need a backup for 2018 as Montero won’t be around. Kyle Schwarber is a possibility and prospect Victor Caratini will get a chance to see if he can handle the duties. Otherwise, the Cubs will be in the market for another backstop.

There will be the annual re-stocking of the bullpen but the Cubs are starting to have pitchers they’ve developed reach the majors including Carl Edwards, Jr.., Felix Pena, Rob Zastryzny, and Jose Rosario.

Arizona Fall League

Stephen Perakslis did his job in the Arizona Fall League, not allowing a run in six relief appearances. The 25-year-old worked 6.1 frames, surrendering three hits and a walk while fanning six. Perakslis throws a fastball in the low 90s and works off his change-up. The Cubs 21st round pick in 2012 out of the University of Maine, Perakslis started 2016 in Iowa and made three starts before being sent back to AA. The right-hander made another three starts but was used primarily out of the bullpen—24 relief appearances, 46 IP, 3.13 ERA, .233 BAA and 1.17 WHIP. Perakslis is expected to start the year in Iowa.

Venezuelan Winter League

LF Bryant Flete (.246) drew a pair of walks and scored once as Zulia fell to Magallanes 9-3. 

Dominican Winter League

3B Chesny Young was 1-for-4 with a pair of RBI but it wasn’t enough as Escogido fell to Aguilas 7-4 in the opening game of the round-robin playoffs for both teams. Licey and Gigantes were rained out. 

Puerto Rican Winter League

1B Yasiel Balaguert (.278) was 2-for-4, scored a run, and added a RBI but Carolina fell to Aguadilla 3-2......RH Corey Black tweeted today that he was heading home and said its “time to rest up for spring training.” Black appeared in 20 games for Santurce and recorded 12 saves while posting a 0.43 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP in 21 innings. Black is expected to close for Iowa. 

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