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Report: Ross to Cubs

David Ross and Jon Lester may be together again.

The Cubs have reportedly signed Ross to a two-year, $5 million contract, according to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.

In 13 seasons, Ross has a .233 career batting average. What’s key is that in 29 games over two seasons catching Lester with Boston, the lefty pitcher has a 2.77 ERA with 192 strikeouts over 195 innings.

And, in case you forgot, the Cubs just signed Lester to a six-year, $155 million contract.

Ross caught five of Lester’s first seven starts this past season, and the lefty posted a 2.19 ERA with 43 strikeouts and had walked five.

“When you mix his stuff with my brains, it’s awesome,” Ross said at the time.

– Carrie Muskat

Cubs claim Lavarnway, Peterson

The Cubs claimed catcher Ryan Lavarnway off waivers from the Dodgers and outfielder Shane Peterson off waivers from the Athletics. To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Donn Roach and infielder Logan Watkins were designated for assignment.

Lavarnway, 27, has spent the last seven seasons in the Red Sox organization, batting .299 in 25 games on the 2013 World Championship team. He was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers on Dec. 5 but designated for assignment on Dec. 10. He missed more than two months last season with a left wrist strain and spent most of the year with Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .283 with three homers, 20 RBIs and a .389 on-base percentage in 62 games.

Theo Epstein knows him well. Lavarnway was a sixth-round pick out of Yale in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft by the Red Sox.

Peterson, 26, batted .308 with 40 doubles, 11 homers and 90 RBIs with Triple-A Sacramento last season, and earned Pacific Coast League midseason and postseason All Star honors. A left-handed hitter, he posted a .381 on-base percentage and a .460 slugging percentage. Peterson led the league in hits and doubles and ranked second with 101 runs scored.

– Carrie Muskat

Reports: Cubs claim Peterson

According to reports, the Cubs have claimed first baseman/outfielder Shane Peterson from the Athletics. Peterson, 26, a left-handed hitter, has played in two big league games in 2013. In seven Minor League seasons, Peterson has a .284 batting average, including .308 last year at Triple-A Sacramento where he hit 11 home runs, 40 doubles and drove in 90 runs. The Cubs have not confirmed.

– Carrie Muskat

Ruggiano to Mariners – UPDATE

The Cubs dealt outfielder Justin Ruggiano to the Mariners Wednesday for Minor League pitcher Matt Brazis, opening a spot on the 40-man roster. Ruggiano, 32, batted .281 with six home runs and 28 RBIs in 81 games for the Cubs last season, but missed time because of a left hamstring injury suffered in late April. His season ended on Aug. 22 when he fractured his left ankle.

Brazis, 25, is 8-6 with 14 saves and a 2.89 ERA in 100 Minor League relief appearances over three seasons for the Mariners. He split last season between Class A High Desert and Double-A Jackson, going 4-1 with six saves and a 2.36 ERA in 40 appearances. Brazis struck out 84 batters and walked 18 in 72 1/3 innings pitched.

The Cubs do want to add a veteran outfielder, but were looking for players with more experience to be what manager Joe Maddon calls “clubhouse dudes” and help mentor the young guys.

Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown first reported the possible trade on Wednesday.

– Carrie Muskat

Justin Ruggiano rumors

According to Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown, the Cubs and Mariners have had conversations about Justin Ruggiano. The outfielder batted .281 in 81 games with the Cubs. His season ended Aug. 22 when he injured his left ankle. Ruggiano also missed time in late April and early May because of a left hamstring injury. The right-handed hitter has a career slash line of .257/.319/.431. The Cubs’ 40-man roster is full after the additions of Jason Hammel and Jon Lester, so the team will have to make some decisions if they are to find room for the so-called “clubhouse dudes” that manager Joe Maddon wants to add.

– Carrie Muskat

Cubs, Gomes and Upton rumors

The Cubs made new manager Joe Maddon happy by adding his bench coach, Dave Martinez, to the staff. Could they also add former Rays outfielder Jonny Gomes? Gomes, 34, who played for the Rays from 2003-08, could be another attractive right-handed bat for the Cubs bench, and one of the “clubhouse dudes” Maddon is looking for to help mentor the younger players. It would be interesting if he was signed by the Cubs. Gomes was included with Jon Lester in the Red Sox trade to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes last July.

David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the Cubs and Padres are “turning up” their efforts to add a right-handed power bat, and could be looking at Justin Upton.

The Cubs do want to add an extra outfielder, but also plan on giving most of the at-bats to Jorge Soler, and they were happy with Chris Coghlan’s performance. Arismendy Alcantara is playing center field in the Dominican Republic.

– Carrie Muskat

Maddon on Lester race: “I hope we win it”

What’s Joe Maddon’s take on the Jon Lester sweepstakes?

“I hope we win it,” Maddon said Tuesday.

Speaking to the media at the Winter Meetings, the new Cubs manager said he had a phone conversation with Lester in November, part of the team’s recruiting process. They discussed hunting, the AL East, past games, and how much respect Maddon has for the left-hander.

“I always admired his work from a distance,” Maddon said. “This is a guy who, when the game was really big, he was always at his best. To possibly get this opportunity to work with him for the first time is very exciting. I honest to God don’t know where this is at right now.”

Maddon does acknowledge that it will be tough for Lester to leave Boston.

“Having been with the Red Sox his whole career and all the wonderful success he’s had there, you would think it would be a difficult situation,” Maddon said. “I can’t speak for that, personally. As an opponent, this guy was always at his best when it seemed to matter most. You want to get to him early because if you permit him to settle, he’s definitely going to be there in the seventh or eighth innings.

“You can’t have any respect for a Major League baseball player than we do for him right now. For us to be able to pull this off would be pretty outstanding.”

Did Maddon have any idea as to how long it will be before Lester makes a decision?

“I’m sure it’s not going to be much longer,” Maddon said. “I really have no information or knowledge about that. You just wait for the white smoke.”

– Carrie Muskat

Is it Jon Lester decision day?

Will Jon Lester announce his decision today? According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, the free agent pitcher may not announce his pick until Wednesday. There were reports that the left-hander was going to make his decision public on Tuesday. The Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Dodgers are in the mix for Lester, who has been the hot topic at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. On Monday, Boston manager John Farrell said he was optimistic the Red Sox would bring Lester back. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reports Lester has to decide between multiple six and seven year offers, which are expected to top $150 million. The Cubs, who met with Lester in mid November in Chicago, won’t say anything about their negotiations.

– Carrie Muskat

Cubs can only wait for Lester

Will Jon Lester decide to go west and join the defending World Series champions? Will he return to Boston to pitch for the Red Sox? Or, will he pick the Cubs and rejoin Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer? Lester met Monday in Atlanta with a delegation from the Giants, who pitched a return to the Bay area where the left-hander played in the second half of last season with the Athletics.

The Giants, Red Sox and Cubs can afford Lester, who was 16-11 with a career best 2.46 ERA in 32 starts last season for the Red Sox and Athletics. According to reports, the Cubs and Red Sox have made six-year offers to Lester worth $138 million and $130 million, respectively.

Lester, who turns 31 on Jan. 7, also met with the Braves, but they have reportedly dropped out of the bidding for the free agent pitcher, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

All the Cubs can do now is wait. Lester has two World Series rings from his days with the Red Sox, including one from 2007 when Epstein and Hoyer were in Boston’s front office. The lefty could be a key part of the Cubs’ bid to end a 108-year championship drought.

– Carrie Muskat

Lester to talk to Giants

The Cubs will have to wait a little longer for a decision from free agent Jon Lester. The pitcher was to meet with the Giants Monday, according to MLB.com’s Chris Haft and ESPN’s Buster Olney. The Giants would be the fourth team Lester has talked to, joining the Red Sox, Cubs and Braves. There were early reports that Lester also would meet with the Cardinals but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports GM John Mozeliak has no plans to bring the lefty to St. Louis for a visit. Mozeliak described the Cardinals’ interest more as due diligence.

“I feel we still have depth,” Mozeliak told the Post-Dispatch. “We don’t have to do something now.”

Lester was in Chicago on Nov. 18 to meet with his former bosses, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer, and tour Wrigley Field.

According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Cubs have offered Lester $138 million over six years. Heyman says the Red Sox are willing to go up to $130 million.

– Carrie Muskat

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