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Cubs sign Bako

January 30, 2009, 9:42 AM

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Cubs today have signed Paul Bako to a one-year / $750,000 contract. The former Cubs catcher can also realize $300,000 in incentives for at bats. Bako, who caught for the Cincinnati Reds last year, gives manager Lou Piniella a veteran presence and a left-handed bat to augment rookie of the year Geovany Soto's playing time. Bako's deal is not guaranteed, but becomes guaranteed at the end of March. If he's released before that time, the Cubs must pay Bako 20% of the $750,000 upon his release.

After San Diego Padres president Sandy Alderson announced on Thursday that Jake Peavy is expected to be with the team in Spring Training, most observers believe a possible deal between the Cubs and Padres is finished. According to league sources, the Cubs and Padres will try to revisit a Peavy deal sometime during Spring Training when Cubs officials have a new owner (most likely the Ricketts family of Omaha, Nebraska) to ask for extra payroll money for 2009. The Cubs' payroll is locked in right now at $140 million, which includes all players on the 40-man roster. In order to take on a contract like Peavy's, Cubs brass must have a long protracted conversation with the new owner in order to find out if he is willing to take on an additional $63 million, which doesn't include Peavy's $22 million option for 2013.

The Cubs are still looking for a right-handed hitting infielder/1B-3B backup. Names that have come up for the Cubs are Kevin Millar and Rich Aurilia. The team had shown early interest in Nomar Garciaparra, but were told that he was looking for more of a full-time position. The team also inquired about the availability of former White Sox SS Juan Uribe before he signed a deal with the San Francisco Giants.

White Sox GM Kenny Williams told me on Wednesday that any move by the White Sox will be predicated by economics. Williams said that if he wanted to spend a dollar, he would have to move a dollar off his extended payroll. The economics for the Sox, as it is for so many teams, is a bit bleak when it comes to advertising dollars. According to sources, the White Sox lost a big bank and big automobile sponsor from 2008. Surprisingly though, White Sox season tickets are moving well, building off of the exciting finish to the 2008 season.

The White Sox expect right-handed pitcher Bartolo Colon to be ready to throw sometime towards the middle-to-end of Spring Training. Colon recently had bone chips removed from his right elbow. One source said the clean-up in Colon's elbow was minor and that he should be ready to help the White Sox sometime in April or early May.


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