Theo Epstein told reporters this week the Cubs were looking for a starting pitcher, bullpen strength, an outfielder, and bench strength at the winter meetings. I'm not expecting much Cubs news next week but they could always surprise.
Starting Pitching—Cubs have made no secret they are in the hunt for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, if and when he is posted. They have the funds and the need to get the deal done. Other possibilities for a short-term deal are free agents Bronson Arroyo, A.J. Burnett, and Roy Halladay. The top two free agent starters are Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, but its unlikely the Cubs would surrender their 2014 second-round pick and offer big money to sign either one.
Bullpen Pitching—When Epstein made his comments, he was unable to discuss the Wesley Wright signing as the Cubs deal with the left-hander was not official. Other names the Cubs have been tied to include Joba Chamberlain and Grant Balfour. It will be interesting to see if they add another bullpen arm or Wright rounds out the pen.
Outfield—Lost of rumors about the Cubs going after Shin-So Choo but after what the market has paid for Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury and Curtis Granderson, I don't see it. Choo would cost the Cubs the second-round pick and rewarding the 31-year-old with a long-term deal would block one of the Cubs young outfielders. Raja Davis and Franklin Gutierrez may be cheaper, short-term options.
Bench Strength—I think this is code for signing more AAAA players. They may add more depth at catcher or snag another middle infielder.
The Cubs could make news by trading pitcher Jeff Samardzija but will need a big haul in return to deal the right-hander, who has two seasons of team control left. Toronto and Washington lead the rumor mill for the "Shark".
Venezuelan Winter League
Luis Valbuena went 3-3 with two runs and a walk in Lara's 7-2 victory over Margarita. Valbuena continues to start at second base and may be in the mix for a starting job if the Cubs move Darwin Barney at the winter meetings.
Dominican Winter League
CF Junior Lake was 0-3 with a walk in Estrellas' 3-2 loss to Licey.
Mexican Pacific Winter League
SS Walter Ibarra doubled in two runs helping Mazatlan to a 4-0 win over Hermosillo. Ibarra finished 1-4 and is hitting .185.
RF Darnell McDonald was 0-3 with two strikeouts in Obregon's 2-1 win against Navojoa.
Puerto Rican Winter League
Cubs prospect Greg Rohan played third for Ponce in his debut and was 0-4. Rohan, 27, was injured in 2013 rehabbing in Mesa for about a month before playing 12 games in AAA Iowa. He batted .282/.349/.491 with 21 HR and 106 RBI at Daytona, Tennessee, and Iowa.