Meetings fruitful for aggressive Cubs

Meetings fruitful for Cubs

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Cubs ended the Winter Meetings with potential help in the rotation and on the bench, but had to leave general manager Jim Hendry behind.

Hendry remained hospitalized after undergoing an angioplasty Wednesday night. Think that stopped him? Hendry finalized terms on a four-year, $40 million contract with free agent left-hander Ted Lilly from the hospital on Wednesday.

Hendry also was close to reaching a deal with free agent Daryle Ward, which would give the Cubs some backup at first base and in the outfield and provide a key left-handed bat off the bench. Ward hit .308 with seven home runs and 26 RBIs in 98 games for the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves last season.

Neither Lilly nor Ward were officially Cubs, pending physicals.

The Cubs also are still talking to Cliff Floyd's representatives as well, and trying to acquire additional pitching, said Gary Hughes, special assistant to the general manager.

"We're always in the hunt to help ourselves," Hughes said. "Are we done? No."

Hendry had made the biggest splash before the Meetings started by signing Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, then adding second baseman Mark DeRosa, and bringing back Kerry Wood, Wade Miller and Henry Blanco. The Cubs spent more than $200 million in a week. Hendry was so excited at securing Soriano that Hughes couldn't understand him on the phone when he called with the news.

"It was a credit to Jim," Hughes said of the quick-paced deals. "For the most part, it's been a very active winter and very productive for us so far. We're not done. We want to keep doing what we can to improve the ballclub. When you win 66 games, you have to do something to get better. That's what we're trying to do. Again, it's only on paper."

New Cubs manager Lou Piniella will hopefully benefit from the moves. He denied he was the driving force in the high-priced market.

"I just drive the bus," Piniella said. "I don't get too involved at all in the money aspect of it. I get involved more on the talent aspect but, you know, the market is a market. These guys get paid because they're good. Some clubs will spend more than others, and I've been places where they don't spend, and now I'm here where they are spending. So I feel good about that."

The Cubs aren't done. The Kansas City Royals secured free agent Gil Meche, another pitcher the Cubs were eyeing, and Hughes said there is potential to add pitching either through trade or free agency.

"We've had a lot of discussions with a lot of people over a lot of players," Hughes said. "There's more stuff that has to be done. Knowing Jim, it usually happens sooner rather than later."

Deals done: The Cubs agreed to terms with left-hander Lilly on a four-year, $40 million contract that also may have added on a $4 million signing bonus. They dealt outfielder Freddie Bynum to the Orioles for Minor League right-hander Kevin Hart.

Rule 5 activity: The Cubs selected outfielder Josh Hamilton from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with the third pick overall and traded him to Cincinnati for undisclosed cash considerations. The Cubs also selected right-hander James Henderson from the Washington Nationals in the Triple-A portion of the draft. Five players from the Cubs Minor League system were selected by other teams, not including Hamilton. In the Major League phase of the draft, left-hander Edward Campusano was chosen by Milwaukee, then traded to Detroit; right-hander Lincoln Holdzkom was selected by Houston; shortstop Jason Smith was selected by Toronto. In the Triple-A phase of the draft, second baseman Richard Lewis was selected by Kansas City and right-hander Andy Shipman was taken by Oakland.

Goals accomplished: The Cubs appear to have added an arm to the rotation in Lilly and a backup first baseman in Ward. Plus, Hendry laid the groundwork for other moves.

Unfinished business: The Cubs are still looking for more starting pitching, and could explore adding players through trade if the free agent market isn't attractive.

GM's bottom line: "People are saying, 'Hey, do you guys have any money left?' Other teams will spend money, too. We just made our deals a lot quicker." -- Hughes

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.