Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

jose valverde crazy photoshopOh, you didn’t know that the Winter Meetings, scheduled for next week, actually started today? I kid, but today has been crazy (thus the random, crazy photoshop of Jose Valverde – just because).

For those who want a quick look at the trades made around baseball today …

  • The Astros acquired center fielder Dexter Fowler from the Rockies for pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes. It’s a thoroughly meh return for Fowler, but he’s had some serious home splits and BABIP-driven success. That’s not to say Fowler isn’t good; it’s just that there have always been red flags. Interesting that the Astros are grabbing a guy who is under control for only two more years.┬áIf you really stretch for Cubs implications, I suppose you could say that Fowler goes off the market to a team that probably wasn’t going to be in on Jacoby Ellsbury. So, Ellsbury’s market was not reduced by this trade. Like I said – if you stretch.
  • The Padres and A’s got together on a Luke Gregerson/Seth Smith swap. The latter was nearly a non-tender candidate, so it’s a bit of a surprise that the A’s were able to net one of the better setup men in the game for him. The Padres had been looking for a lefty bat with pop in their outfield, though, so this satisfies that need for them. Each player is a free agent after the season, and each will probably make a shade under $5 million this year.

  • The A’s also traded prospects Michael Choice and Chris Bostick to the Rangers for outfielder Craig Gentry (a really nice A’s type player) and pitcher Josh Lindblom. The Rangers are now even more likely than they already were to pick up a bat in the outfield. Shin-Soo Choo, perhaps?
  • The Reds, Rays, and Diamondbacks got together on a three-team trade that sent catcher Ryan Hanigan to the Rays (who promptly signed him to a three-year deal), Heath Bell (and $500K in salary relief) to the Rays, the Diamondbacks got minor league pitcher (maybe prospect) Justin Choate and a PTBNL from the Rays (and the joy of unloading Bell’s contract), and the Reds got lefty pitching prospect David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks (a very nice return for Hanigan). The Diamondbacks now have more financial flexibility, which could allow them to dip into free agency for the pitcher and/or outfield power they’re seeking. Previously, they’d been connected to both Jeff Samardzija and Nate Schierholtz. Holmberg’s was a name that came up connected to the Cubs, too.
  • The interesting upshot of all this trade activity is that, as more teams satisfy their needs via trade, free agent prices could, necessarily, start to fall. That would be an intriguing turnabout for a team like the Cubs, who are presumed to be sitting out the market unless “value” falls in their lap. That’s starting to feel like more of a possibility. Keep with the patience, Cubs.

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