1:47pm: The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Harden does not need surgery and the Cubs exercised his $7MM option for '09.
8:34am: Some fresh notes regarding the Cubs' offseason plans...
- Turns out the Cubs have to decide on Rich Harden's $7MM option by midnight tonight. Even if he needs arthroscopic shoulder surgery, they're expected to exercise it. Other less likely options include declining it and going to arbitration or just non-tendering him. Unless Harden needs major surgery, he's a Cub in '09.
- Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald wonders whether the Cubs will buy out backup catcher Henry Blanco and re-sign him more cheaply rather than exercise his $3MM option.
- Gordon Wittenmeyer believes the Cubs could try to re-sign Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood before they reach free agency.
- The team's organizational meetings begin eleven days from now.
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