CHICAGO -- The Cubs acquired Minor League catcher Anthony Recker on Monday from the Athletics in exchange for catcher/infielder Blake Lalli, but as of now, the team is still trying to figure out who the regular backstop will be.
Recker, who turns 29 on Wednesday, was batting .265 with nine home runs at Triple-A Sacramento and had been designated for assignment on Aug. 20. He hit .289 against left-handed pitching. In 18 games over two seasons with the A's, Recker hit .146. An 18th-round pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Recker will join Triple-A Iowa's roster.
"He's another catcher with raw power who receives and throws really well," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Recker. "It's another guy to have in the organization and we'll see what happens."
Steve Clevenger and Welington Castillo are sharing time behind the plate with the big league team, and Sveum said that will continue. Neither will be considered a "veteran" next season despite the playing time this year.
"You have to play more games to be considered veterans," said Sveum, who added Clevenger and Castillo could wind up sharing the job in 2013. "I think going through the next month, six weeks of Spring Training, and coming in a lot more comfortable with the system we have that [coach Mike] Borzello and [pitching coach Chris] Bosio put together every day, I think that will be plenty for them. I think they're viable enough to handle [the job next year]."
Lalli, 29, was designated for assignment Thursday, cleared waivers and had accepted his assignment to Iowa. He was batting .259 in 93 games with seven home runs, 20 doubles and 40 RBIs, and had played catcher, first base and left field. He was promoted to the big league team in mid-May, and batted .133 in six games.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Recker, left-handed reliever Scott Maine was designated for assignment. Maine, 27, has spent part of three seasons in the big leagues with the Cubs, and had a 4.79 ERA in 21 outings this season. He had a 2.88 ERA in 28 relief outings for Iowa.
Soriano advises Castro; deal nearly done
CHICAGO -- Alfonso Soriano has seen what happens to some players who sign large contracts and has given Starlin Castro some words of wisdom as the Cubs shortstop gets close to finalizing a seven-year contract extension, reportedly worth $60 million.
"I said to him, 'I want you to be the same person, but you have to be more smart because you're going to have a lot of people come to you,'" Soriano said Monday about his advice to the 22-year-old shortstop.
"[I told him] 'Just believe in your father and your mother, and don't forget where you come from and who gives you the money,'" Soriano said. "'Baseball gives you that money. Don't quit because you have the money.' Now is the time he has to work more because you get paid if you're a good player."
The deal could be announced as early as Tuesday. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported late Monday that Castro's seven-year, $60 million deal would include a $6 million signing bonus with salaries of $5 million for the first two years, and increase to $6 million the next year, then $7 million, $9 million, $10 million and reach $11 million. There is a club option of $16 million or a $1 million buyout.
If Castro wins the Most Valuable Player Award, or finishes first through fifth twice, the final year of the deal and the option year each escalate by $2 million. The deal would cover all four years of arbitration plus at least two free-agent years.
Castro's agent, Paul Kinzer, was at Wrigley Field on Monday to finalize the deal.
Soriano, 36, gave Castro some examples of players who have lost their money by spending unwisely or giving it to so-called "friends." Plus, the veteran gave Castro a little dose of reality. He reminded Castro he'll have to pay his agent, plus pay taxes.
"You get $60 million and it sounds like a lot of money, but you give 40 percent to the United States -- or 50 percent," Soriano said. "It's not $60 [million] -- it's $30 million. You have to be smart.
"[Other people] will say, 'Oh, he signed for $60 million,' but they don't see his family, they don't see he has to take care of himself, save money for the future," Soriano said. "[Those people] don't know that. I hope he knows that he has to be smart and not spend too much money. This is baseball. That may be the only contract you have. You better save money for the future."
Soriano knows a little about large contracts. He received an eight-year, $136 million deal from the Cubs in 2007.
"When I signed my contract, I was 32," Soriano said. "I knew what I wanted. Before, during my years of arbitration, I had a lot of 'friends,' but my agent and my financial guy were always on top of me. They said, 'You got the money, more people will come. Don't be afraid to say no. You didn't have that friend before -- why is the friend now coming?'"
When he signed his first contract, Soriano said he bought a house for his mother. He does not live extravagantly, and hopes Castro remembers his advice once the deal is done.
"I hope he doesn't forget," Soriano said. "I want the best for him. We'll see what happens."
Darwin Barney, Bryan LaHair, James Russell and Jeff Samardzija helped 50 children from the Cubs Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program have a fun time at Monday's game. The kids received round-trip transportation to the game, met the players, got free tickets, food and beverages, as part of Major League Baseball Players Trust's "Buses for Baseball" program.
The Players Trust is supported by the Cubs organization and provides a unique, up close and personal opportunity at the game. The Cubs' RBI program has operated in the Chicago area since 2000 and reaches over 600 youths ages 5-18. It is designed to increase participation and interest in baseball, especially among minorities, and to increase the number of talented athletes prepared to play in college and the minor leagues.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.