Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureWe’re still a good month or so away from the rumor mill really heating up, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting things on which to check in …

  • The big rumor of the week had Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki meeting with his agent to discuss whether to push the Rockies to trade him. Whether by result of that meeting or the swirl of rumors that surrounded it, Tulowitzki has come out publicly to say that he will not demand a trade. Even after his various injuries, and even with $100 million+ left on his contract, the 30-year-old shortstop still has plenty of trade value. So, given where the Rockies are right now, it shouldn’t really matter whether Tulowitzki wants a trade or not – the Rockies should be aggressively shopping him. We’ll see if they are by next month. The Cubs won’t be involved, obviously, but the impact here could be market shifting in a lot of ways we can’t yet predict.
  • Of course, one of those ways is already predictable: if the Mets come after Tulowitzki, as they’ve long been speculated, then the persistent Cubs-Mets infielder-pitching rumors would probably die down somewhat (though not quite completely, as you could argue adding Tulowitzki might make the Mets even more interested in picking up another bat). The latest out of New York, though, has the Mets not interested in Tulowitzki, given his health concerns, the expected price, and his contract.

  • Ken Rosenthal urges the Reds and Brewers to consider retooling this year, and considering offers for just about anyone on their rosters. Should either team do so, they’ll make for interesting trade partners around the league – Gomez, Cueto, Leake, Braun, Chapman, Lucroy, Garza, Lohse, etc. – and could be among the hottest sellers at the Trade Deadline. How much that would directly involve the Cubs depends on the various organizations’ willingness to deal within the division (and needs/fit, of course), but it’s going to impact the Cubs in a big way regardless: if the Brewers and Reds both sell off heavily, that could make the bottom of the Central disproportionately weak in the second half, theoretically helping a team like the Cubs (and the Pirates) relative to the rest of the Wild Card contenders. Of course, if there is aggressive selling by a couple teams in the East or the West, the same will be true there for teams like the Giants, Padres, Marlins, and Mets.
  • There’s nothing here but suggestions (rather than rumors), but Dan O’Dowd offers some thoughts on trades contenders should be considering. He suggests the Cubs go after lefty Scott Kazmir of the A’s, and righty Jonathan Papelbon of the Phillies – both likely to be on the market this year – to shore up the rotation and the bullpen, respectively. As far as these kinds of suggestions go, I don’t think it’s crazy. I’ve discussed Papelbon before, and the unique fit there (it really comes down to whether the Cubs could pull it off for virtually no cost). As for Kazmir, who has revitalized his career, he is pitching well again at age 31, and makes $11 million in the final year of his contract. He’s very much the kind of rental I could see the Cubs going after at midseason if they need an arm (the Cubs can’t keep all of their prospects, and a number of really interesting ones have to be put on the 40-man roster after this season, lest they be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft). For now – in mid-May – try not to get too hung up on the specific names of trade targets for the Cubs. Instead, just keep the idea of going after a rental in the back of your mind. I like it.
  • To that end, you should check out this piece on the Cubs’ rotation by Mauricio Rubio, Jr. over at BP Wrigleyville. There are very likely to be needs in this rotation by the time mid-season rolls around.

  • The Cuban free agent market continues to explode, and Jesse Sanchez has the latest. There are almost too many names to follow at this point in a general way, so it’s safe to say generically: if the guy is a total free agent, the Cubs will give him a look. If he’s subject to IFA restrictions, the Cubs won’t be involved unless he signs after July 2 when their penalties reset.

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