Marmol? Soriano? Cubs will have to listen to offers

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Marmol? Soriano? Cubs will have to listen to offers

NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Cubs already asked Carlos Marmol to waive his no-trade rights last month, when they thought they were closing in on a deal with the Los Angeles Angels for Dan Haren.

That fell apart, but Marmol already appeared to be on borrowed time with the Cubs, because hes entering the final year of his contract and the front office is looking for long-term assets. Signing Kyuji Fujikawa wont quiet the speculation inside the Gaylord Opryland during the winter meetings.

Team officials havent commented on the Japanese closer, who has to take a physical before his two-year, 9.5 million deal (plus an option) becomes official. Marmol is owed 9.8 million in 2013. But there still could be room for both at the back end of the Cubs bullpen.

Even if we add a setup-type reliever or somebody with closing experience, Carlos is our closer, team president Theo Epstein said Monday. He had a really good second half of the season. Were just trying to deepen the pen if we can and turn it from a weakness to a strength.

The Cubs arent looking to just give away Alfonso Soriano either. Theres still the 36 million left on his megadeal, plus his preferences about geography and playing for a contender.

But Sorianos trade value may never be higher after a season in which he generated 32 homers and 108 RBIs and changed the perception of who he is as a player.

For those of us who were new here, he really won us over right away with his work ethic and his preparation and the way he served as a bit of a veteran presence and a role model for some of the younger players, Epstein said. I had different expectations coming from the outside. Looking back on it, I dont even really know why. But he was an excellent clubhouse presence for us, so we value his contribution. We value what he does for the Cubs.

At the same time, we had dialogue with him throughout the course of the season because sometimes it makes sense to listen. He has no-trade rights, so well keep him informed if theres the right fit for the Cubs where we can get better over the long haul. And if its the right fit for Sori where its a place that he wants to go and feels like he might have a better chance to win the World Series next year. Then maybe it will make sense to pursue.

Across the next three days, there will be whispers about Soriano in the lobbies, and tweets about possible fits. But the Cubs are sticking to their talking points.

We really value what hes done here, Epstein said. And weve been open with him about the fact that: Hey, well listen if theres something that makes sense for everyone, well come to you.

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

[PHOTO] Joe Maddon, Miguel Montero patch things up over a drink

Despite the Cubs ending their 108-year World Series drought, Miguel Montero made offseason headlines for all the wrong reasons when he complained about his role in the Cubs' 2017 championship campaign.

Montero criticized Maddon's communication skills, catching rotation and bullpen decision-making after the team's Grant Park celebration. Maddon brushed off the criticism, and last week at spring training Montero said he hadn't spoke with the Cubs' skipper.

That tension appears to be all but a thing of the past, as Montero posted this picture of him and his manager sharing a drink together sporting nothing but smiles.

It's safe to say Montero would describe his relationship with Maddon now as: #WeAreGood.

Addison Russell planning to become next Cubs superstar

Addison Russell planning to become next Cubs superstar

MESA, Ariz. – Addison Russell earned his manager’s trust by playing “boring” defense, always making the routine plays at shortstop with textbook fundamentals. Even Russell’s agent called him an “old soul,” already serious about his craft and driven by quiet determination and husband-and-father responsibilities.

But the Cubs also know Russell as a moonwalking showman with the freaky athleticism to do Ozzie Smith backflips and make spectacular highlight-reel plays. And you could see the vroom-vroom, fist-pumping celebrations after yet another clutch hit.

“Ever since I was a little kid,” Russell said, “I always wanted to be on the big screen.”

Now Russell will try to make the leap to superstar, as one of the many personalities on a Cubs team that can crossover nationally and live forever in Chicago, just like the ’85 Bears, the way Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have built their brands.

“We got great ballplayers, beautiful faces on this team,” Russell said. “Just talent galore in this clubhouse, and that’s really cool to see, because these guys handle themselves like real, true professionals.”

The start of spring training is a reminder that Russell has still only spent one wire-to-wire season in The Show. He turned 23 last month and has already become a World Series champion, the youngest player in franchise history to start an All-Star Game and the first Cub shortstop to reach 95 RBI since Ernie Banks in 1960.

Russell’s World Series grand slam helped him accumulate the most postseason RBI (14) in club history – after putting up 11 game-winning RBI for a 103-win team. FanGraphs also had Russell tying San Francisco’s Brandon Crawford for the major-league lead with 19 defensive runs saved at shortstop.

“Really, the sky’s the limit,” manager Joe Maddon said. “This guy is scratching the surface. He is that good. Know thyself – I think that’s what’s happening with a lot of our young guys. They’re understanding themselves better. And as they do, their game’s going to continue to improve.

“So with Addie, listen, he could be an annual All-Star, there’s no question. Beyond that, he’s just such a gifted athlete, so quick, and he cares so much. And he’s really turned out to be a good self-evaluator, so all those are components to creating a superstar.”

Russell said he’s working with Boras Corp. on potential endorsements with Pepsi and Audi. He visited a Nike headquarters in Oregon to help design his custom cleats and custom glove. He also posted images from the White House on his social-media accounts, which have nearly 549,000 followers combined between Twitter and Instagram.

“The opportunities are coming, which is great,” Russell said. “It’s a whole new playing field. I’m glad that I’m getting to see a different side of baseball, where I can actually find a couple talents off the baseball field. It’s all interesting stuff.”

It’s also taken some getting used to, as he almost had trouble remembering how many “Addison Russell Days” there were in Florida, between events at Pace High School and with the Santa Rosa Board of County Commissioners.

“This whole fame thing is really new to me,” Russell said. “Walking everywhere, people want autographs and stuff. Different airports, different cities, it’s very humbling. It’s a great blessing. I’m just a small-town guy, so it hit me pretty hard.”

Like the moment Russell realized what the Cubs just did, after the whirlwind of riding in the championship parade down Lake Shore Drive and Michigan Avenue, standing on stage in front of millions at the Grant Park rally and going to Disney World.

“I remember this past offseason, going into my mom’s room and laying down on her bed,” Russell said. “That’s when all the memories of this past year – all the way from spring training (to) the All-Star Game and then the World Series run – it all hit me at once. It was overbearing, kind of, and I started crying.

“That’s when it sunk in. It was just a magical moment.”