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old stove featureThe build up of rumors is once again so extreme that I’ve got to get out an early morning Lukewarm Stove just to keep up with everything. There will be some dedicated rumor posts later today, but, for now, some of the latest …

  • The Jordan Zimmermann Cubs non-rumor made for a pretty crazy night on Tuesday, culminating in rapid-fire, and pretty firm denials from Cubs sources. Well, the denial from Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is even more firm (MLB.com): “It was somebody’s conjecture that had no basis to it and no facts. There was no interaction whatsoever on the subject. How do I react to it? What can you do about it, other than talk to the guy who wrote it and say, ‘What are you doing?'” Oof. Rizzo did go on to add that the Nationals would listen on any deal that could make them better – Zimmermann is a free agent after the season, and is making $16.5 million – and I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that this whole escapade probably worked out fairly well for the Nats. Now, teams know they’ll consider offers for Zimmermann, but they (1) didn’t have to shop him, and (2) didn’t have to tell the world that they’re listening on Zimmermann and potentially strain that relationship. It’s not their fault that this came out, but, sure, since you’re asking, they’ll listen on anyone wink-wink-nudge-nudge.
  • On that rumor and the nature of the current era of rumor reporting, Theo Epstein had some interesting comments to Paul Sullivan, which is worth a read. As a purveyor of rumors, I always feel a little cognitive dissonance in these situations – I am, by definition, a small part of the problem when a rumor, later denied, blows up – but I try to remind myself that (1) my duty is to the readers who really want to read and discuss this stuff in real-time, and (2) I try to present everything as accurately and transparently as possible, without fanning any flames, and break things down for folks in a way that hopefully helps them keep their head. Outside of that, as Epstein said, it’s just the reality of media now – and, ultimately, it’s a compliment to the players who get mentioned in rumors.
  • The Tigers have traded second base prospect Devon Travis to the Blue Jays for outfielder Anthony Gose. It’s a fun trade for a variety of reasons, but the only possible market impact here is that it probably takes the Tigers out of the market for another outfielder. Were they really in that market, though? Torii Hunter, intermittently connected to the Cubs, was expected to move on after the Victor Martinez signing anyway.
  • Speaking of the Jays, Jon Morosi suggests they won’t land Russell Martin, a native Canadian, because they haven’t pulled the trigger on a pricey free agent ever under Alex Anthopoulos. That’s probably not a 100% lock, but let’s imagine that the Blue Jays are out, and the Pirates are out after last night’s trade. Things could be setting up well for the Cubs, if it were down to them and the Dodgers. Yes, the Dodgers have a money printing machine in their basement, but they also have a herculean payroll that they reportedly wouldn’t mind paring back a bit. Then again, what am I say? In recent years, you’re a fool if you’re betting against the Dodgers spending big money, new front office or not.
  • The Padres are listening on starters Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross, and Ian Kennedy (Ken Rosenthal), while looking for offense in return (presumably young offense). The Cubs aren’t trading to get Cashner back, and Kennedy comes with just one year of control. Ross, 27, sure is interesting, though. He’s under control for three more arbitration years, and has seen his strikeout rate and groundball rate get progressively better in recent years. He’d cost a pretty penny in trade, but there’s a lot to like there. Rosenthal mentioned the Cubs, among many other teams, as a possible match.
  • But, hey, who needs Ross, right? The Cubs already poached Donn Roach from the Padres yesterday.
  • The Tigers are listening on catcher Alex Avila, Nick Cafardo reports, but I don’t think there’s a great fit here for the Cubs. Yes, he hits lefty, but his defensive skills seem to be declining (though it depends on which source you ask), he’s never come close to matching his offensive breakout in 2011, he’s a free agent after 2015, and he’s coming off another concussion in a career that has featured many.
  • One year later, it appears that the regretful Orioles are looking to dump starter Ubaldo Jimenez.
  • FanGraphs looks at five potential free agent landmines, none of whom would seem to be top Cubs targets … except perhaps the top guy, Max Scherzer. There is some statistical regression expected, coupled with the effects of aging. Once again, although Scherzer is the better pitcher now, it’s another indication that folks around the game view Jon Lester as the better bet long-term.
  • Joel Sherman writes that there’s a chance the Reds go full-on fire sale this offseason.

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