Cubs decline club option on Fujikawa

Cubs decline club option on Fujikawa

CHICAGO -- The Cubs declined their 2015 club option on Kyuji Fujikawa Thursday, making the right-handed reliever a free agent.

That option was for $5.5 million, with a buyout of $500,000. Fujikawa, 34, came to the Cubs after a 12-year-career for Hanshin in Japan via a two-year, $9.5-million deal prior to the 2013 season. But after making just 12 appearances and posting a 5.25 ERA in '13, Fujikawa underwent Tommy John Surgery in June of that same season.

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Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Rizzo, Castro, Arrieta earn GIBBY nominations

Rizzo, Castro, Arrieta earn GIBBY nominations

A number of Cubs players are being honored with MLB.com's Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) award nominations for their exemplary individual performances this season, and more yet for outstanding and peculiar plays that took place over the course of the year.

Shortstop Starlin Castro is a nominee for Bounceback Player, Anthony Rizzo -- a first-time All-Star this season -- is nominated for Breakout Hitter, and right-hander Jake Arrieta is nominated for Breakout Pitcher. The Bounceback Player and Breakout Hitter categories both have nine nominees, while Breakout Pitcher has 10.

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Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Reports swirling around Maddon to Cubs

Reports swirling around Maddon to Cubs

Joe Maddon is on the verge of becoming the Cubs' next manager, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, who earlier reported a deal was done. Maddon's agent and two Cubs sources say they do not have a deal.

"We don't have a done deal," said Alan Nero, Maddon's agent. "We continue to talk to several clubs. It's not to say we won't have a deal done in the next few days, and if we do, it will be announced."

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Winds of change beginning to blow at Wrigley

Winds of change beginning to blow at Wrigley

CHICAGO -- The biggest change for the 2015 Cubs won't be the lineup, but Wrigley Field.

The team's $575 million renovation of the 100-year-old ballpark begins this offseason, and next year will feature a new video scoreboard in left field, among other things.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Coghlan makes most of opportunity with Cubs

In first year with Chicago, outfielder has his best season since '09

Coghlan makes most of opportunity with Cubs

MESA, Ariz. -- Anthony Iapoce remembers Chris Coghlan's first at-bat with the Marlins' Class A Jamestown team in 2006. It's been a roller coaster ride for Coghlan since then, but Iapoce could tell the outfielder was in a good state of mind in Spring Training with the Cubs earlier this year.

"It was really good to see him with a huge smile on his face," said Iapoce, now the Cubs' Minor League hitting coordinator. "A lot of people say they're grateful for the opportunity, but that's Chris speaking from the heart."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Cubs outright Kalish, Valaika and Vitters to Triple-A

Cubs outright Kalish, Valaika and Vitters to Triple-A

The Cubs outrighted outfielder Ryan Kalish, infielder Chris Valaika and third baseman Josh Vitters to Triple-A Iowa on Wednesday.

Kalish, 26, hit .248 in 57 games with the Cubs this season, while the 29-year-old Valaika batted .231 in 44 games.

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Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Edwards continues strong AFL play with hitless outing

Edwards continues strong AFL play with hitless outing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- C.J. Edwards is working on a three-inning, 55-pitch limit in the Arizona Fall League, but so far he's making the most of his limited time on the mound.

Edwards threw three hitless innings with one strikeout Monday as the Mesa Solar Sox and the Salt River Rafters were tied at three when the game was suspended after 11 innings.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @boor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Cubs Arizona Fall League overview

Cubs Arizona Fall League overview

After signing for $1.6 million as a second-round Draft pick in 2011, Dan Vogelbach played a handful of games in Rookie ball and then headed to the Cubs' instructional league camp in Mesa, Ariz. The team shared its facility with the Arizona Fall League's Solar Sox, and Vogelbach took interest in the advanced prospects there and hoped to join them one day.

"I knew it was the best of the best," said Vogelbach, the Cubs' No. 10 ranked prospect by MLB.com. "It was definitely a goal of mine to be out here in the Arizona Fall League. It hasn't disappointed."

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Cubs' Edwards to play in AFL Fall Stars Game

Rosters for annual AFL event include 14 prospects from Top 100 rankings

Cubs' Edwards to play in AFL Fall Stars Game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Make way for the next generation.

Several of the best prospects in baseball will collide on Saturday in the ninth annual Fall Stars Game, the yearly All-Star Game for the Arizona Fall League. This year's rosters feature 14 players on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list.

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Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Good catch: Cubs keeping Schwarber behind dish

With offensive prowess not in question, backstop polishing skills at position

Good catch: Cubs keeping Schwarber behind dish

MESA, Ariz. -- There's no doubt that Kyle Schwarber can hit, but there were questions as to where he should play. Not anymore. After some intense lessons this summer, the Cubs want Schwarber to keep his focus on catching, and that's good news for their first-round pick.

"I did have some second thoughts deep inside me if I could [catch], but now I don't," Schwarber said during a break in instructional league earlier this month. "I know I can keep working at it, and hopefully make it work one day."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Russell homers in his final Fall League at-bat

Highly touted prospect's stay in Arizona ends after 10-game stint

Russell homers in his final Fall League at-bat

MESA, Ariz. -- Addison Russell's stint in the Arizona Fall League came to an abrupt end Thursday, but he made sure to leave a lasting impression.

In his final AFL at-bat, Russell, the fifth-ranked prospect in baseball, hit a towering two-run homer to left that helped seal Mesa's 7-3 victory over Scottsdale.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Tip for making the bigs: Room with Giansanti

Cubs Minor League outfielder has seen seven former roommates called to the Majors

Tip for making the bigs: Room with Giansanti

CHICAGO -- Want to get to the big leagues? You need to room with Cubs prospect Anthony Giansanti.

Think we're kidding? Javier Baez, Eric Jokisch, Matt Szczur and Rafael Lopez all made their Major League debuts this season with the Cubs, and all are former Giansanti roomies. Logan Watkins, Mike Olt and the Marlins' Justin Bour also were in the big leagues, and also once shared living space with Giansanti.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Prospect Russell rakes in Fall League victory

Shortstop knocks in three runs, including a two-run homer, helping Mesa earn win

Prospect Russell rakes in Fall League victory

SURPRISE, ARIZ. -- The 2014 season provided its fair share of hurdles for Addison Russell to overcome.

Not only did the No. 5 overall prospect, according to MLBpipeline.com, miss several weeks with a hamstring injury, but he also had to adjust to playing on multiple teams in multiple leagues.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Crews begin bleacher, infrastructure improvements

First phase of Wrigley renovations set for completion by Opening Day

Crews begin bleacher, infrastructure improvements

CHICAGO -- If you walk by Wrigley Field, you'll notice a large gap in the left-field wall. And soon there will be one in right field as well. Crews are taking down the left- and right-field bleachers as part of the four-year, $575 million Wrigley Field renovation project.

The first phase of the privately funded project, to be completed this offseason, is infrastructure work. The ballpark's structural steel and foundation will be strengthened and much of the concrete in the bleachers will be replaced. The first phase also includes the expansion and improvement of the bleachers, which were updated after the 2005 season.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Cubs prospect Vogelbach heating up in Arizona

Mesa collects second straight win; Berti, Kieboom go deep in eighth

Cubs prospect Vogelbach heating up in Arizona

After winning just one game in the first week of the Arizona Fall League, Mesa broke out of its slump Wednesday with a victory at Peoria. The Solar Sox built on that success Thursday night, defeating the Javelinas, 6-2, for their second win in a row.

First baseman Dan Vogelbach, the Cubs' No. 10 prospect, has mirrored Mesa's season. He went 1-for-11 with three walks and seven strikeouts in his first four games of the AFL, before collecting two hits and his first RBI on Thursday.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Highly touted Russell makes appearance at second in AFL

Cubs want shortstop, No. 2 prospect to be versatile

Highly touted Russell makes appearance at second in AFL

MESA, Ariz. -- The scouts noticed, as did the 400-plus fans at Scottsdale Stadium and any diligent Cubs aficionados who checked the box score. Highly regarded shortstop Addison Russell started at second base this week.

Russell moved to the other side of the infield for the Mesa Solar Sox on Monday in Arizona Fall League play, and he caught two popups and handled three groundouts. No errors, no hoopla. The 20-year-old infielder also had a hit in that game, one of three he's recorded so far in 15 at-bats over four AFL games.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Theo says Cubs' goal is to win division in '15

State of the club is discussed at presentation with season-ticket holders

Theo says Cubs' goal is to win division in '15

CHICAGO -- During end-of-the-season reviews with players, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein noticed there was a different tone. Nearly every player was excited about the 2015 season, and eager to get started.

Maybe that's because the Cubs are at a transition point in their rebuilding process, Epstein said. Now, with the influx of talented young players, they're ready to compete.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Ceremony begins Wrigley restoration, expansion

Ceremony begins Wrigley restoration, expansion

CHICAGO -- The Cubs hosted Commissioner Bud Selig, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and 350 distinguished guests on Saturday for the official groundbreaking ceremony of the renovations to 100-year-old Wrigley Field.

Selig, whose tenure began in 1992 and will end on January 25, called Wrigley one of the game's great cathedrals. He also praised the Cubs for their efforts to restore the century-old stadium.

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Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Cubs' prospect Edwards solid in Fall League action

Mesa gets back on track in Fall League action behind long ball, solid mound effort

Cubs' prospect Edwards solid in Fall League action

SURPRISE -- After dropping each of their past two Arizona Fall League games, the Mesa Solar Sox are back in the win column following a 5-2 victory over the Peoria Javelinas on Wednesday.

The Solar Sox, who have won both matchups against the Javelinas this season, powered their way to victory with four extra-base hits.

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William Boor is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Chicago native Mallee realizes dream with Cubs

Hitting coach was instrumental in helping young Astros players improve

Chicago native Mallee realizes dream with Cubs

HOUSTON -- When John Mallee was a young hitting coach in Class A in 1996, he was driving past Wrigley Field in his native Chicago and told his father he would one day coach on that field while wearing a Cubs uniform. The dream has come true.

Mallee, who spent the previous two years as Houston's hitting coach and helped Jose Altuve win a batting title this year, accepted the position to be the Cubs' hitting coach Thursday, giving him the opportunity to live near his home. Mallee is a Chicago native and his family lives in nearby northern Indiana in the offseason.

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Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Here's the skinny: Edwards eager to learn, progress

Cubs prospect gaining innings in AFL with eye on jump to bigs in 2015

Here's the skinny: Edwards eager to learn, progress

MESA, Ariz. -- Let's get the weight issue out of the way: C.J. Edwards does not weigh 155 pounds. The skinny Cubs pitching prospect is now 170 pounds and a few ounces. He hasn't exactly bulked up, but the right-hander is working on it.

"If it comes, it comes," he says. "If it doesn't, it doesn't."

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Cubs announce 2015 Spring Training schedule

Chicago's Cactus League slate to open with split-squad action vs. A's, Giants

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs will open Cactus League play on March 5 with split-squad games against the Athletics at Cubs Park and against the Giants in Scottsdale, beginning their second Spring Training at their new facility.

The club's 29-game Cactus League schedule includes 15 games at Cubs Park and 14 road games. The team may add additional games in the future.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Cubs hitting coach Mueller steps down

Former batting champ helped Rizzo, Castro bounce back this year

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Cubs are looking for a hitting coach with Major League experience at that job to replace Bill Mueller, who has resigned after one year with the team.

Mueller, a former batting champion who helped Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro get back on track last season, kept the Cubs up to date on his intentions, and the team already has started its search for a replacement, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said Tuesday.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Cubs claim lefty reliever Ortiz from Rangers

Cubs claim lefty reliever Ortiz from Rangers

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs continued to add pitching to the organization, claiming left-hander Joseph Ortiz off waivers from the Rangers on Monday. With the move, the Cubs' 40-man roster is now full.

Ortiz, 24, went 2-2 with a 4.23 ERA in 32 relief appearances for the Rangers in 2013 before being limited to 15 Minor League appearances last season because of a fractured left foot. He was injured when he was hit by a motorcycle while walking on the street in Venezuela.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Zapata, Encarnacion thankful for second chance

Dominican prospects injured car crash are on track to return to the field

Zapata, Encarnacion thankful for second chance

MESA, Ariz. -- Doctors told pitcher Jose Zapata he might not walk again, after he suffered a broken neck in a horrific car accident in the Dominican Republic in January. Outfielder Kevin Encarnacion, injured in the same crash, was told he might not be able to use his right arm.

Zapata was on the mound at the Cubs complex on Saturday, nervously facing batters for the first time since the accident. After he threw his 15 pitches, the players and coaches applauded. Encarnacion gave his friend and teammate a hug.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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MLB.com Columnist

Jonathan Mayo

Pipeline Perspectives: Mayo eager to see Edwards in Fall League

White Sox shortstop, Cubs hurler have lots to prove as teams move forward

Pipeline Perspectives: Mayo eager to see Edwards in Fall League

There's a good amount of subjectivity regarding baseball prospects. With the evaluation of talent being in the eye of the beholder, finding consensus is often difficult. Even Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLBPipeline.com don't always see eye to eye. They discuss their viewpoints regularly in a feature called Pipeline Perspectives. Submit a topic for them to debate.

It is just one week before the start of another exciting Arizona Fall League season. I can't wait to get out there to see some of the best prospects in the game compete in the AFL, known as Major League Baseball's finishing school.

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Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com and writes a blog, B3. Follow @JonathanMayoB3 on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Statues removed as part of Wrigley Field renovation

Banks, Caray sculptures to be refurbished during offseason

Statues removed as part of Wrigley Field renovation

CHICAGO -- Renovations to 100-year-old Wrigley Field continued Wednesday as the statue of Ernie Banks on Clark Street was temporarily removed for restoration.

The statue will be taken to the Alchemist Sculpture Foundry in Kalamzoo, Mich., where it will be sandblasted, have the patina reapplied and a new sealer installed, according to Lou Cella of Rotblatt-Amrany, the Chicago-based art studio that sculpted the monument.

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Daniel Kramer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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Epstein expects Cubs to contend for NL Central in 2015

President of baseball ops sees 'a day coming' soon when all pieces fit together

Epstein expects Cubs to contend for NL Central in 2015

CHICAGO -- The emphasis in the first three seasons under Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has been to restock the Minor League system and build a foundation of impact players. In 2015, Epstein feels the Cubs will take a major step and not just develop players, but be competitive.

"I think we've proved we can be very competitive in this division, and when you have a chance to compete, you should set your sights high, and that means our goal is the [National League] Central title next year," Epstein said.

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Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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