Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

When the Texas Rangers added Adrian Beltre (with a hilariously awful contract, you’ll note) earlier this offseason, rumors began to swirl about incumbent third baseman Michael Young. Would he stay, would he go? Management says he’ll see time all over the field, and, in that way, a full complement of at bats – especially if he DH’s most of the time. But then the Rangers added Mike Napoli – a heavy-hitting, but light-catching catcher. So the presumption is that Napoli does most of the DH’ing, and Young sees his at bats… where? No one is quite sure.

But most think the Rangers will try to move Young, and some even suggest they’ll consider moving second baseman Ian Kinsler. Neither move seems likely, but each could walk right into the starting second base gig on a team like, say, the Cubs.

Napoli’s acquisition follows the Rangers’ signing of free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre — the guy who made most sense for the Angels — and catcher Yorvit Torrealba. Napoli becomes essentially baseball’s best 10th man, likely to get at-bats at catcher, first base and DH. It also puts an even tighter squeeze on Michael Young, whom Beltre displaced.

Young said last weekend he doesn’t plan to be a DH forever, and the Napoli addition would make it easy to trade him or Ian Kinsler as scouts believe second base is Young’s best fit. The Rockies are interested in Young and at one point this winter the Rangers were offering to pay half of the $48 million left on his contract. Dealing Kinsler, guaranteed only $13.5 million over the next two years, might be more palatable and bring a higher return.

Either Young or Kinsler would upgrade two spots for the Cubs — second base and leadoff. The Rangers’ need is a starting pitcher to replace Cliff Lee. Nolan Ryan loves Andrew Cashner, but it’s hard to imagine the Cubs trading a second pitching prospect after putting Chris Archer in the Matt Garza trade. Chicago Tribune.

Unspoken in the rumormongering is how tightly the Cubs budget is now strained. By Jim Hendry’s own words, he’s out of cash. Would the Ricketts’ put some more money on the table if the Cubs could get a player like Kinsler? He’s 28, a natural 2B, and consistently over .800 OPS. But Young is 34, and was racked in decline until a resurgent 2009 season, which he followed up with a so-so 2010.

Even if the Rangers ate half of the $48 million owed to Young over the next three years, the Cubs still probably couldn’t (and shouldn’t) swing a deal for him. Obviously Kinsler is a different story, but the cost would be extremely steep. Andrew Cashner would probably be just the starting point.

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