Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureSome of the latest from the rumor mill for your Friday afternoon …

  • Kiley McDaniel recently reported – with serious specificity – that the Cubs project to go over their allotted IFA pool when the next signing period opens up on July 2, and now he adds that the Cubs are one of three favorites to sign awesomely-named Bahamian shortstop Lucius Fox, who could wind up getting a signing bonus in excess of $2 million. As we’ve said before, if the Cubs are going to blow out their budget and incur two years’ worth of signing restrictions (that’s the current penalty, pending the new CBA after 2016), they might as well make it worthwhile and get after a bunch of these guys.
  • Speaking of international players, Ben Badler has the latest on two Cubans coming to the United States, including a pitcher who will not be tied to IFA restrictions, and an outfielder who will be so tied (and might have to wait to sign until next Summer, when the Cubs would be restricted again, assuming they do blow out their budget this time around).

  • David Price was tasked with throwing over 50 pitches in a freezing, snowy first inning earlier this week against the Yankees, which was not cool, Tigers. Price is headed toward free agency, and I can’t imagine his representatives will love Detroit being that cavalier with his arm health. A source tells George A. King III that Price is going to prefer to head to the NL once he reaches free agency, because he likes to hit. Those kinds of preferences usually take a far back seat to money, but it’s out there.
  • The Blue Jays have placed catcher Dioner Navarro on the DL with a hamstring strain. Long a trade topic, Navarro hadn’t been playing much behind Russell Martin as it is, and it’s not likely he’ll be traded any time soon now. It’s not clear that the Cubs are all that into shopping Welington Castillo right now in any case, but keeping an eye on the catching market is worthwhile. To that end, it’s worth noting that the Rockies this week optioned Wilin Rosario – also available this offseason in trade – to AAA.
  • Nick Cafardo reports that free agent reliever Rafael Soriano’s agent Scott Boras says calls are increasing on his client. Soriano, 35, had decent numbers in his time in Washington, but generally fell out of favor, and his market never developed this offseason. He’ll join a team eventually, and maybe contribute meaningfully. For now, though, it’s hard to know when and where and for how much.

  • Jon Heyman discussed Soriano in his latest (which we discussed earlier in the Kris Bryant context), but there was no mention of the Cubs among the many listed possibilities, for what it’s worth. It’s not like the Cubs are the only team with bullpen concerns at this point in the year, and most other teams don’t have quality depth theoretically returning at some point.
  • One of the other relievers out there is Jonathan Papelbon, currently contracted to the Phillies for way too much money, and also fairly ready to be traded (CSN). I’m still of the mind that Papelbon makes sense in trade to a team that would not use him as closer, thus preventing his 2016 option from vesting. Papelbon, now 34, doesn’t have the fastball he once did, but he’s still been a very effective reliever in recent years. This Cubs front office has a history with Papelbon, and, while I’m not here to suggest they’d be jumping any time soon to get him, you have to wonder if he’ll be on their radar if the bullpen continues to struggle, and if Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm aren’t back soon (and effective). Papelbon makes $13 million this year, and that’s the big hold-up, since he’s probably worth no more than about $6 or $7 million right now.

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