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Cubs announce signing of OF Steven Souza Jr., also add ex-Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress

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It took 17 weeks and two days since the end of last season, but the Cubs on Tuesday made their first major-league acquisition of the winter – two of them, in fact.

They signed two bounce-back candidates to low-risk, one-year contracts Tuesday: former Rays and Diamondbacks right fielder Steven Souza Jr. for $1 million and former Brewers reliever Jeremy Jeffress for $850,000.

Both deals include incentive clauses that can raise the total values to $3 million for Souza and $1.05 million for Jeffress.

That left only the Rockies among the 30 big-league clubs who have not added a player on a non-split, major-league contract since last season.

Souza’s agreement, first reported last week, was officially announced by the club Tuesday night. The Cubs must clear a spot on the 40-man roster before officially announcing Jeffress.

The deals, which come one day after the division-rival Reds announced the $64 million, four-year deal with ex-Cubs outfielder Nick Castellanos, further underscore how limited the Cubs have been this winter by budget constraints.

Their current projected roster would push them over the luxury-tax threshold ($208 million) for the second consecutive season – keeping in play trade rumors swirling around several core players.

As with any one-year deal, the full base values of Tuesday’s signings are not guaranteed until they make the opening roster.

Souza, 30, hit 30 homers with an .810 OPS in 2017 but missed half of 2018 and all of 2019 with injuries. His bonus package includes $1 million total in meeting plate-appearance thresholds and another $1 million in reaching thresholds of days on the active roster.

Jeffress, 32, joins a list of high-potential, low-risk, bounce-back pitchers the Cubs have put together for a bullpen that could be its Achilles heel or the backbone of the team, depending on the direction of those bounces.

Jeffress was an All-Star workhorse for the Brewers’ 2018 division winner, producing a 1.29 ERA and 10.4 strikeouts per nine inning in a career-high 73 games.

After a sore shoulder delayed his 2019 start by three weeks, he struggled much of the season before the Brewers released him. He had a 5.02 ERA in 48 games, with two fewer strikeouts per nine innings.

The Cubs also brought back Brandon Morrow on a no-risk, minor-league deal after the once-dominating reliever missed the last 112seasons of his two-year deal with the club because of injuries.

They also added depth in low-level trades for and low-risk signings of Casey Sadler, Travis Lakins, CD Pelham, Ryan Tepera, Dan Winkler and Jharel Cotton.



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Chicago news

United, Delta Among Airlines Issuing Travel Waivers Ahead of Winter Storm – NBC Chicago

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Several major airlines have issued travel
waivers for their customers as a winter storm takes aim at the Chicago area.

A winter storm watch has been issued for several counties in northern Illinois, with snowfall totals in excess of six inches possible in some locations.

With that forecast, several airlines,
including Delta and United, have issued travel waivers for Feb. 25 and 26.

“Travel waivers” allow passengers to change their flight times without having to pay change fees, according to the airlines. Delta and United have both issued press releases laying out the steps for customers to change their flight plans because of the potential for wintry weather.

The winter storm watch will take effect on
Tuesday morning and will continue into Wednesday morning for McHenry, Lake,
DeKalb, and Kane counties in northern Illinois. Despite not being in the
impacted area, Chicago itself could see snow on Tuesday and into Wednesday,
which could potentially hinder commuters and could result in the cancellation
of hundreds of flights at both Midway and O’Hare.





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Mayor Lightfoot Says Jussie Smollett Needs To Be Held Accountable – CBS Chicago

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Rookie Coby White hits rare Air again as Bulls end eight-game losing streak

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It’s great company to keep.

Then again, whenever a rookie finds himself in the same neighborhood as an accomplishment by Michael Jordan, it’s usually a good night.

‘‘He’s the GOAT,’’ Bulls guard Coby White said of Jordan. ‘‘It means a lot. Like I always say, keep trying to get better each and every game. I feel like I’m taking a step in the right direction. Gotta keep it going.’’

White had it going Sunday. He became the first Bulls rookie since Jordan to notch back-to-back 30-point games, and his 33 points helped the Bulls to a 126-117 victory against the Wizards. The result ended the Bulls’ eight-game losing streak.

And White wasn’t alone. Fellow guard Zach LaVine finished with 32 points and set a franchise record for most three-pointers in a season by breaking Ben Gordon’s mark of 173 set in 2008-09.

White said he was happy to play a key role in ending the Bulls’ skid.

‘‘You saw the streak we were on,’’ said White, who also scored 33 points in the Bulls’ loss Saturday to the Suns. ‘‘We needed it badly. That’s always good.’’

It isn’t the first time White has been mentioned in the same sentence with Jordan. Last season at North Carolina, White passed Jordan on the all-time scoring list for a freshman before the Bulls selected him with the No. 7 overall pick in June.

And while White has had some big moments this season, being passed over for the Rising Stars game during All-Star Weekend didn’t sit well with him. Since then, he is averaging 26 points.

‘‘Obviously, you want to play in the Rising Stars game,’’ White said. ‘‘You’re going to use that as fuel. But it wasn’t like I was pissed about it. . . . It was more like I’ve just gotta keep being me. I always play with a chip on my shoulder, so that’s what I’ve gotta keep on doing.’’

White’s performance, however, wasn’t even the biggest of the night. Wizards guard Bradley Beal scored a career-high 53 points in a losing cause.

Status quo

Coach Jim Boylen would have loved to report that help was on the way, but that’s not the case. At least not yet.

Monday will be a big day for the Bulls’ walking wounded. The players dealing with injuries will get a workout while the healthy players are off. After that, Boylen should have a better idea of who will be available Tuesday against the Thunder.

Big man Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle) and forward Otto Porter Jr. (left foot) seem to be the closest, with swingman Denzel Valentine (hamstring) right behind them.

If none has made enough progress to play against the Thunder, the injured players will have at least two more practices to get ready for the Bulls’ game Saturday in New York.



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