An extension for Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is “just a matter of time,” team owner Tom Ricketts told reporters, including Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times at a charity event on Wednesday. “We talk all the time, and it comes up,” Ricketts explained, adding that he is “on the same page” with Epstein in that regard. Epstein, of course, is entering the final season of his five-year contract with the Cubs, though given the manner in which Chicago has returned to prominence in the NL Central and the team’s very positive long-term outlook, it’d come as a surprise if the two sides didn’t work out a new contract.
Here’s more from the division…
- Brewers GM David Stearns wouldn’t disclose whether he will continue the “file and trial” approach to arbitration that the Brewers have employed in recent years, writes MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. For those unfamiliar, “file and trial” teams cease negotiating one-year deals with players once arbitration figures are exchanged — which will happen this Friday. While some file-and-trial clubs will continue negotiating multi-year deals after arb figures are exchanged, such teams will head to a hearing if no multi-year deal talks are in the works. The Brewers have three arbitration-eligible players — Wily Peralta, Jean Segura and Will Smith. Stearns said he didn’t expect any updates on the trio’s contract status until closer to the exchange deadline.
- Seung-hwan Oh told reporters in Korea, including Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency, that he got the impression all throughout negotiations with the Cardinals that the team felt it needed him, and he’s happy with the deal he received. Oh apologized to his Korean fans for some legal troubles that he incurred which resulted in a 72-game suspension from the KBO, though his actions wouldn’t have warranted any consequences in the United States. Oh was suspended for gambling at an overseas casino in Japan (not on baseball), which is against the KBO’s rules. He’d be forced to miss a half season if he returned to Korea’s top league, though he spoke like a man who doesn’t intend to do so in the near future, saying he hoped to reach the World Series and wouldn’t be satisfied with an ERA over 3.00. Instead, Oh said, he hopes to keep that number closer to 2.00 — a threshold with which he is familiar after a stellar career in both Korea and Japan. Oh said he doesn’t plan to add a new pitch but might rely more heavily on his split-finger. He’s also looking forward to a potential showdown with countryman and new division rival Jung Ho Kang, who was 4-for-13 with a homer off Oh in Korea, per Yoo.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, that right-hander Juan Nicasio will be stretched out in Spring Training so that he may serve as depth in a number of roles (Twitter link). Depending on how Nicasio fares, he could be used as rotation depth, a long man or in middle relief, according to Biertempfel. Nicasio was a bit wild but had generally strong results out of the L.A. bullpen last season, working to a 3.86 ERA with 10.0 K/9 against 4.9 BB/9.