Chicago Cubs news and notes: Scott Baker, Kris Bryant, Juan Paniagua

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This Chicago Cubs news and notes column is a collaboration between Paul M. Banks and the newest member of The Sports Bank family Jeremy Harris

Scott Baker, whom the Chicago Cubs signed as a free agent from the Minnesota Twins after missing all of last year with an elbow injury, has been cleared to start a four-game rehabilitation stint with Kane County, the Cubs Midwest League affiliate. The objective when the Chicago Cubs signed Baker was for him to break with the team just like Scott Feldman did and be flipped at the deadline for prospects (just as Feldman was).

In fact, the two were signed within two weeks of each other. Yet when Baker suffered a setback in Spring Training, it appeared that the $5.5 million invested in him had been wasted. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer is now indicating that if Baker pitches well and remains healthy the final two months of the regular season, he hopes the Cubs can retain him for next year, when the team will be entering their third and hopefully final midseason selloff under Team Epstein. Baker might be redeemed for more prospects. Incidentally, Baker entered this year with an impressive 63-48 record, accumulated over eight seasons in many hotly contested pennant races. If healthy, he has value.

-Chang-Yong Lim, whom the Cubs signed from the Japanese league last offseason despite knowing that Lim was recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery and unlikely to pitch most if at all this season, has been pitching more frequently for the Arizona League Cubs and also could be joining the team later this year and definitely will be next season barring a setback. At 38 next June, he would appear to fit the profile of another player the Cubs could use to acquire prospects.

-One of the Cubs top prospects, Juan Paniagua, whose season had been on hold because of Visa problems, made an impressive debut for the Arizona League Cubs.

-Kris Bryant, the Chicago Cubs first round pick (second overall) of the 2013 Draft was signed. With a club record $6.7 million signing bonus. He was drafted out of the University of San Diego following his junior season in which he hit .329 with 80 runs scored, 13 doubles, three triples, 31 home runs and 62 RBI in 62 games. Bryant also led the nation in runs scored, walks and slugging percentage.

Prior to the draft, Baseball America listed Bryant as the top position prospect available. The publication also ranked him as the top college power hitter available and third-best with regards to strike zone judgment. He was drafted by Toronto in the 18th round of the 2010 MLB June draft, but did not sign, electing to attend San Diego.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He does a radio spot twice a week for 95.7 The Fan. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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