Cubs strike deal with OF Nate Schierholtz
BY GORDON WITTENMYER firstname.lastname@example.org December 5, 2012 10:24PM
The Cubs agreed to terms with outfielder Nate Schierholtz on a one-year, $2.25 million contract. | Greg Fiume~Getty Images
Updated: January 7, 2013 1:32PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Landing a third baseman in an increasingly scarce market is looking even tougher than expected for the Cubs.
But they assured they won’t leave the winter meetings empty-handed by agreeing to terms Wednesday with free-agent outfielder Nate Schierholtz on a one-year, $2.25 million contract.
Schierholtz, 28, is a strong defensive outfielder with a .270 career average who has yet to play a full season in six years in the majors.
The deal, which awaits a physical before becoming final, would shift David DeJesus to center, where he played much of last season after opening the season in right. Schierholtz, who made $1.3 million for the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies last season, was non-tendered by the Phillies.
Cubs officials wouldn’t comment on the subject late Wednesday, but a source said the team might not be done seeking outfield depth.
Meanwhile, the Cubs’ modest wish list to fill a gaping hole at third base is disappearing fast, with targeted free agents Jeff Keppinger (White Sox) and Eric Chavez (Arizona Diamondbacks) signing with other teams. Late Tuesday, shortstop
Yunel Escobar — another Cubs target — was traded by the Miami Marlins to the Tampa Bay Rays.
‘‘Obviously, we were part of some of the negotiations that ended [Wednesday],’’ general manager Jed Hoyer said. ‘‘We have a lot of irons in the fire when it comes to third base, and we’re confident we’ll land someone that we feel good about. But it’s certainly a position of scarcity, no question.’’
Top free-agent third baseman Kevin Youkilis is beyond what the Cubs’ reach, and his agent hadn’t so much as met with the team as of late Wednesday. Swing-and-miss specialist Mark Reynolds is a poor fit, Casey McGehee hasn’t been approached and a source insists Yuniesky Betancourt is nowhere near their radar, despite several reports of interest. Even non-tendered Cub Ian Stewart is fielding enough offers from other teams to look like a long shot.
Non-tendered Cleveland Indians third baseman Jack Hannahan appears to be the best bet left on the board.
A report that the Cubs and right-hander Ryan Dempster talked about terms of a possible reunion were grossly overstated and quickly shot down by a source with knowledge of what amounted to a courtesy meeting.
† The Cubs assured Carlos Marmol he’ll be their closer when the season opens, but they have prepared him for the likelihood he again will be asked to waive his limited no-trade rights for a trade-deadline deal next summer.
† The announcement of Japanese closer Kyuji Fuji-
kawa’s two-year, $9.5 million
deal finally might come Thursday.
† The Cubs, who pick second in the Rule 5 draft Thursday, planned to discuss whether to use the position in a draft-and-trade deal.