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old stove featureThe 2014 MLB Draft is behind us, which means, among other things, the 2014 MLB Trade Season is nearly upon us. That’s, of course, not an official thing, but you know what I mean.

  • Hey, there was a transaction this weekend: Kendrys Morales finally has a team. And it’s … the Twins? Well, they needed a bat, and find themselves five games out in the AL Central (albeit in last place), so I guess I can see some sense. He gets $7.6 million. There’s probably almost no impact on the trade market here, as it relates to the Cubs, but I think I could come up with something if I tried hard enough: the Twins are unlikely to be in the market for a significant upgrade via trade (especially in the rotation, where the Cubs’ best trade chips are), so it’s better that they got Morales than a team that might now otherwise look to the trade market to improve its roster in whatever way possible. Hashtag: stretch.
  • Speaking of free agents disrupting the trade market, Cuban defector Rusney Castillo is finally a free agent (represented by Jay-Z and Roc Nation Sports, incidentally). The 26-year-old outfielder (discussed here previously) will soon work out for teams, and is something of a tweener to outside observers, who aren’t sure if he’s a sure-thing starter in the big leagues, or a fourth outfielder/utility type. If he’s a clear starter, it’s not hard to see the Cubs interested, given their lack of impact talent in the outfield now or in the near-term future. They’ve got money that wasn’t spent in the offseason sitting on the sidelines for this kind of thing, but it all depends on how their scouts view Castillo. He’s 5’9″ 180 lbs, and is more speed than power. You can see a video of him in action here at BA.
  • (There’s also pitcher Jorge Despaigne, who looks very interesting, but whom Ben Badler doesn’t believe will be in a position to sign before July 2. Since he’ll be subject to signing restrictions at that point, and since the Cubs will be prohibited from spending more than $250,000 on any individual player, he’s probably not on the Cubs’ radar, barring a surprising change in his eligibility to sign over the next week. Players cannot sign between June 16 and July 2, so it’s this week or bust for Despaigne. All of this makes me wonder about pitcher Raicel Iglesias, who has been in the process of becoming eligible to sign for quite some time. Like Despaigne, Iglesias is 23, which could be a problem for him if he doesn’t sign in the next week – although, previously, Cuban players age 23 and older could sign with an MLB team without being subject to IFA restrictions, that changes this year, and the age limit is bumped up to 25.)
  • Former player Gabe Kapler is evolving into something of an “in” writer/thinking/pundit these days, so I regard his thoughts on the game a shade better than I would the thoughts of just any former player. I suppose it doesn’t hurt that the thoughts I’m currently regarding bode well for the Cubs:

  • Most importantly, Kapler’s right about what Hammel is doing. In his 15 starts with the Cubs, Scott Feldman certainly did some good things: 3.46 ERA, 9 Quality Starts. But the advanced metrics weren’t quite as impressive: 3.93 FIP, 3.83 xFIP, 17.8% K rate. You could poke some holes if you were inclined to do so, and yet the Cubs still managed to snag Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop, and some small international pool slots for Feldman and Steve Clevenger. Sure, Arrieta and Strop were gambles, but they were gambles that had already reached the big leagues (unlike pure prospects). Considering that Hammel’s numbers are far better across the board (far better ERA and FIP, better xFIP, far better K rate, better BB rate, etc.), considering that the contracts are identical, considering that both guys had some injury concerns, and considering that Hammel has a more established track record of high level success, it sure seems like he should fetch the better haul (if the Cubs do wind up trading him).
  • Although the Trade Deadline is still more than a month and a half away, it’s worth pointing out: Feldman was traded on July 2, which is just a little more than three weeks away. Like I said in the preamble: trade season is nearly upon us.
  • (Aside: Although the Cubs figure to be July 2 traders again (that’s the day the next international signing period opens up, and the first day IFA bonus slots can be traded), I think their focus on that day will be dealing away an IFA bonus slot or two, since they’ll be heavily restricted in how they could use them if the Cubs kept those slots (thanks to their spending binge last year). )
  • The Phillies are telling folks their entire roster is for sale, according to Nick Cafardo. It’s no surprise, but there’s group of pieces now on the market. Mostly-not-serious question: wonder if they’d move Cole Hamels for a reasonable price? His performance has trailed off just a bit (though advanced metrics still look good), but he’s fairly pricey going forward: $22.5 million per year from 2015 to 2018, ages 31 through 34.
  • The Orioles, who’ve been linked strongly to the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija, are having some health woes in their rotation: expected mid-season starter Johan Santana just went down with a torn achilles, and starter Miguel Gonzalez just hit the DL with an oblique issue.

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