INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The impending free agent market for third baseman Kevin Youkilis will have a Chicago flavor to it.
The White Sox are already on record as saying they will try to re-sign the 33 year old infielder who played the majority of the season with them. That leaves the question of whether Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer would like to see Youkilis on the north side of town in 2013.
The Cubs still must decide whether they will tender a contract to Ian Stewart, who missed most of 2012 with an injured wrist. The new date for offering your own players contracts is Nov. 30. The Cubs hope to have a better handle on Stewart's health by then. In the meantime, the question is if Youkilis would fit or if he would be interested in signing with a rebuilding team like the Cubs.
"It is a position that has limited clear options for," Hoyer said Thursday of third base. "We may have to be creative through trades. We are still talking to Ian, but there are not a lot of clear options on the free agent market. We may have to look at some different avenues and options to solve it."
Hoyer and Epstein have a good relationship with the former Red Sox player, whom they helped nurture through the Boston farm system. All that considered, playing next season at age 34 might point Youkilis in a direction to a market that is in position to win right now. Industry sources believe Youkilis will be tendered offers in the two- to three-year area at $8-10 million a season.
Epstein has had a tendency to avoid giving no-trade clauses in his previous signings as a baseball executive, a fact that might further detract from the Cubs and Youkilis agreeing on the parameters of a contract.
Cubs eye pitching help: The Cubs continue their pursuit of starting pitching with an emphasis on free agents who may be available on short-term deals. ESPN insider Jim Bowden said the team has an offer out to Francisco Liriano. The lefty finished the 2012 season with the White Sox after being traded by the Twins before the July 31 deadline for non-wavier trades.
Agents for pitchers Shaun Marcum and Brandon McCarthy have had conversations with the Cubs. "We had a lot of good meetings," Hoyer said after Thursday's GM meetings ended. "We have had a lot of conversations, but I wouldn’t say anything is close. We talked to a lot of agents and a lot of teams."
The team has one priority and that is to try and re-sign free agent reliever Shawn Camp. The veteran RHP led the National League in appearances with 80 in 2012.