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Cubs targeting 'level five' players

GM Hoyer prioritizing winning-first attitude on free-agent and trade markets

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The Cubs are in the market for what manager Joe Maddon likes to call "level five" players.

"All they care about is winning," Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer said. "They're done thinking about their contract, they're done thinking about personal stats -- all they care about is winning."

The Cubs are looking for that type of player, considering their history. Hoyer said Tuesday that they've gotten plenty of interest from free agents who want to be on the Cubs when they do finally win a World Series.

"Players want to win, and I do think that's a good tipping point for them that we haven't won in 107 years and there's an added benefit of trying to break a long drought," Hoyer said Tuesday. "I think they find it very appealing."

The Cubs continued their search at General Managers Meetings, spending most of Tuesday in administrative meetings but also beginning conversations with agents about their free agents and teams regarding possible trades.

"We'll have a better sense leaving Boca of what we're going to do," Hoyer said. "Whether we have any action I think is questionable. These are a great resource for gathering information and further preparing yourself for the rest of the offseason."

The Cubs reportedly will meet with the agents for pitchers David Price, Zack Greinke and Jordan Zimmermann, and they were expected to meet on Wednesday with Dexter Fowler's agent, Casey Close, to discuss possibly bringing the outfielder back. The Cubs did make a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer to Fowler, who filled the role as leadoff man, setting personal highs in runs scored and games played. Fowler has until Friday to decide whether to accept the offer but is expected to decline.

Hoyer and Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein also were to talk with representatives for free-agent pitcher Jeff Samardzija about possibly returning to the North Side of Chicago. Even though Samardzija struggled with the White Sox, posting a 4.96 ERA in 32 starts, part of the problem may have been that the right-hander just wasn't comfortable on the South Side.

The Cubs' goal this offseason is to add pitching, and Samardzija may be a good fit in the rotation behind Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Jason Hammel.

More from the General Managers Meetings

• Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez interviewed with the Dodgers on Tuesday night at the General Managers Meetings. Martinez, 51, worked with Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman when the two were with Tampa Bay. Friedman was the Rays' director of baseball development, and then moved up in the front office, eventually becoming general manager in 2005. Friedman joined the Dodgers in October 2014. Martinez played for Tampa Bay from 1998-2000, and was brought on as the club's bench coach in October 2007.

• Former Cubs manager Rick Renteria was hired to be the White Sox bench coach. Renteria had signed a three-year contract with the Cubs prior to the 2014 season.

"I think they got a great guy for them and a great fit for them," Hoyer said. "I hope this starts his path back to being a manager. I think he'll be a very good one once he gets another opportunity."

Renteria was dismissed after his only season at the helm, and replaced by Maddon.

"We've said it openly -- Ricky had a good year for us, and I don't feel we treated him entirely fairly," Hoyer said. "What happened to him was based on circumstances. Obviously, we're thrilled with Joe and had a wonderful year. Ricky deserved better. I'm glad he's getting the chance with the White Sox. I'm glad he's in Chicago. I'll probably see him more often. I think he'll do a great job."

Renteria did stay in touch with Hoyer during the season, sending text messages to congratulate the team.

"He's got a big heart," Hoyer said. "I think he was happy for the guys he touched during the course of the season."

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.
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