The Cubs currently project for the seventh overall pick in next year's draft. Once that is determined, things should get interesting on the North Side. The latest:
- The Reds will discuss the idea of signing third baseman Aramis Ramirez if he reaches free agency, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. I think signing Ramirez would really push the Reds' payroll to the limit, assuming they also pick up Brandon Phillips' club option. The Cubs must decide between Ramirez's $16MM club option and a $2MM buyout within five days of the end of the World Series, so the team's new GM may not yet be in place. After the Cubs decide, Ramirez has five days to make his choice on the option (declining would mean forfeiting the buyout). Ramirez wants to stay, but he recently told ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine he desires a two or three-year deal.
- One scenario raised during informal discussions (presumably ones including owner Tom Ricketts) has the Cubs hiring current Reds GM Walt Jocketty, which could then lead to the team snaring Tony La Russa to manage and Albert Pujols to play first base, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Jocketty declined to comment, saying that he's happy in Cincinnati, but also lavished praise on the Cubs job and noted that the team extending farm director Oneri Fleita "shouldn't be" a hindrance. Wittenmyer says the Cubs are gathering information on Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane, Dan Evans, and Ned Colletti so far. Ricketts has yet to ask permission to speak to any GM under contract, writes Levine. In a chat conducted yesterday, Levine guessed Rick Hahn would be the next Cubs' GM.
- Also in that chat, Levine wrote that Ricketts has identified the Cubs' primary need to be two or three starting pitchers. The beat writer does not think the team will spend their money this offseason on position players. He predicts a payroll in the $120-130MM range.
- Numerous Japanese teams have been scouting and are prepared to make offers to Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair, reports Levine. LaHair is intrigued but hopes to remain in the Majors. The 28-year-old snagged Pacific Coast League MVP honors by hitting .331/.405/.664 with 38 home runs in 523 plate appearances, and he's carried that success to the bigs in an eight-game stint. Former Cubs first baseman Micah Hoffpauir went the Japan route a year ago, but is hitting .245/.325/.429 for the Nippon Ham Fighters this year.
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