A team-by-team look at the National League Central entering spring training, including key players each club acquired and lost, and dates of the first workout for pitchers and catchers, and the full squad:|
Manager: Dusty Baker (sixth season).
2012: 97-65, first place, lost in division series.
Training town: Goodyear, Ariz.
As they enter the second year of the Theo Epstein era, the Cubs remain in the early stages of a building process. They did, however, try to speed things along. They made a big play for Anibal Sanchez before he re-signed with Detroit and then signed Jackson to a $52 million, four-year deal, all after a proposed trade that would have sent closer Carlos Marmol to the Los Angeles Angels for pitcher Dan Haren fell through. Those were breaks from the smaller deals the Cubs had made to that point under Epstein. They still have a long way to go, though. This isn't about quick fixes. The Cubs are trying to build up their minor league system, hoping the payoff will be the club's first championship since 1908. Marmol could be in an awkward spot, given the trade that fell through and the arrival of Fujikawa from Japan. OF Alfonso Soriano and top starter Matt Garza have also come up in trade talks, yet the Cubs insist they're closer to contending than many realize. Never mind the record last season; they believe they're on the right path. They have six potential starters with Jackson, Garza and Jeff Samardzija leading the rotation, and they can boast a young All-Star in shortstop Starlin Castro and a Gold Glove second baseman in Darwin Barney. Free-agent outfielder Scott Hairston also appeared close to completing a deal with Chicago.
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