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lukewarm stoveWe’re still a few weeks from the period where rumors are really going to start ticking up, but there was an actual move this week, as well as a legitimate discussion about future trade pieces …

  • With the Yankees in town and in desperate need of help in the rotation (each of CC Sabathia, Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova are on the DL for extended stays), Ken Davidoff writes about the obvious connection: the Cubs will probably have arms to deal soon. Davidoff says that Jeff Samardzija would be the Yankees’ preferred target, but rightly questions whether they’ll have the prospect ammo to pull off a deal. Jason Hammel, Davidoff speculates, could be a good fallback option, and one that the Yankees would have the pieces to acquire. It’s worth pointing out that the Yankees’ best prospects all tend to be on the positional side. Speaking in a hypothetical world where a Hammel trade is inevitable: You’d love to land catcher Gary Sanchez, a borderline top 50 type who just needs time to work on his receiving skills, but that might be a stretch.
  • (Interesting, but mostly meaningless: the two pitchers the Yankees face in this series are Samardzija and Hammel. The latter did his part yesterday, and Samardzija goes today.
  • Speaking of pitching trade options, Phillies lefty Cliff Lee just hit the DL with a left elbow strain. Given the Phillies’ anticipated struggles, Lee was a possible big arm on the trade market (albeit one with limited no trade rights and a contract that pays him a minimum of $62.5 million in 2014 and 2015 (yes, you read that correctly)). If he’s no longer going to be an attractive trade piece, the market is thinned even further.
  • Either the Red Sox or Stephen Drew relented, because the shortstop has finally signed, and is returning to Boston on a deal that will pay him the prorated portion of the $14.1 million he would have received had he accepted a qualifying offer last year. Going into the offseason, he won’t be eligible for a qualifying offer this time around, so at least he got that. As for the Red Sox, they do not receive draft pick compensation for Drew, since he didn’t sign elsewhere, which means the Cubs’ second round pick does not bump back a spot. Hooray!
  • As for the reason the Red Sox signed Drew, it’s primarily because 25-year-old third baseman Will Middlebrooks is on the DL with a broken finger, and was fairly ineffective when he was healthy. With more young infield talent on the way in Boston, folks will start asking whether Middlebrooks is going to be shipped out soon, and, because of the Boston connection, folks will start asking if that means the Cubs will take a chance on him. While you grab talent whenever you can, it’s hard to see a fit with the Cubs, who are working out Mike Olt at third right now, who have Luis Valbuena as a nice complementary infield piece, who have Javier Baez and Kris Bryant knocking on the door, have Arismendy Alcantara needing a future spot, and have Christian Villanueva just kind of hanging out. And even if you could find a spot, you do have to wonder about the annually increasing K rate, and annually decreasing power for Middlebrooks.

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