Some early Spring rumor items to check off …
- Welington Castillo status check: still a Cub. Nick Cafardo writes that there is interest in Castillo around the league, but this isn’t the time of Spring when deals are typically struck. We’ll get into game action, scouts will start doing their thing, rosters will begin sorting (by way of injury or performance concerns), and that’s when teams will get a little more aggressive, in terms of actually having dialogue. Until then, the Cubs will continue to proceed as though they are going to do the very unlikely, and carry three catchers into the season.
- Cole Hamels status check: still a Phillie. But, for now, the Boston/Hamels rumors aren’t going away:
— Michael Silverman (@MikeSilvermanBB) March 2, 2015
- This report from CSNNE adds that it’s still possible the Red Sox could make a move for Hamels before Opening Day, but there’s no urgency on their side.
- The other Phillies ace that could be moved this year is Cliff Lee, about whom Jon Heyman writes here. Lee’s contract is going to be a real hurdle to a deal, though, given that he makes $25 million this year, and has a $27.5 million option for 2016 that he’ll almost certainly want guaranteed before he approves a trade (he can block trades to 20 teams, including the Cubs, and the 9 to which he cannot block trades are highly unlikely trade partners). That makes it really hard to see Lee being traded before midseason, once he shows he’s still the same guy he’s been, at which point the Phillies can hope that his contract suddenly looks almost attractive, given its short term.
- Relatedly, Buster Olney hears that the Phillies continue to be unrealistic about the dollars involved in trying to deal their pricey vets.
- We recently discussed two very intriguing Cuban pitching prospects, Yadier Alvares and Vladimir Gutierrez, each of whom is reportedly not going to be eligible to sign until the next IFA period, which opens July 2 (and in which the Cubs can freely spend once again … but watch out for the Dodgers). While that seems to still be the case for Gutierrez, it’s a little more unclear for Alvares, the pop-up, hard-throwing 18-year-old righty. Kiley McDaniel reports that Alvares may seek a special exemption to be eligible to sign in the current period (which would give him the flexibility to sign now, or wait until July 2; McDaniel suggests infield prospect Andy Ibanez may be considering waiting until July 2, so keep your eyes on that). Ben Badler today writes about the situation, noting that an exemption for Alvares is possible, but it would be a new step by MLB. There’s also an outside chance that Alvares and Gutierrez could wind up ineligible to sign until July 2, 2016. Long story short: these are great prospects, they may become available to the Cubs, so let’s keep following as it unfolds in the coming months.
- The Pirates already have star outfielder Andrew McCutchen locked up for pennies through the 2018 season, when he’ll be 31, but they’re apparently open to extending him even further for a whole lot more money.
- Mark Gonzales writes about the Cubs’ ability to pick up another front of the rotation starter via trade over the next 12 months or so, given the depth of their minor league talent.