Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureThe draft is in the rearview mirror, which means the rumors – if not yet the action – are going to heat up considerably. Here’s a taste …

  • Dealing with the loss of a number of players, including third baseman David Wright for an undetermined period of time, Newsday reports that the Mets have talked with the Brewers about Aramis Ramirez. The Brewers are certainly ready to sell – and the sooner they do, the better for the NL Central (because of the imbalanced schedule, terrible teams at the bottom of the division can help Wild Card contenders like the Cubs and Pirates). Of course, just two days ago Adam Rubin reported that the Mets were not interested in Ramirez. So we’ll see how this plays out.
  • Also in that Newsday piece, the Mets are increasing their efforts to trade Dillon Gee and/or Jon Niese, presumably because their rotation is already overcrowded and they’d like to open a spot for pitching prospect Steven Matz. I think it’s unlikely that the Cubs would be looking for an arm like that at the back of their rotation, though I suppose you never know what might happen in the coming weeks. Instead, I think it’s worth following because the Cubs might wind up pursuing other starting pitching (maybe rentals in a nearby tier), so there could be some collateral impact.

  • Another also: each of the Newsday and Rubin pieces mention Ben Zobrist as a possible Mets trade target. Since Zobrist might be one of the Cubs’ top targets next month, that, too, bears monitoring.
  • Although the hot reliever news for the Cubs was the Rafael Soriano signing, and the hot rumor is the Jonathan Papelbon one, there’s a specific mention in this Tribune article of the Cubs possibly looking at Ryan Cook, an A’s reliever who had been excellent three years running before falling back a bit this year.
  • Relatedly, Bruce Levine tweeted that, even after Soriano, the Cubs are still looking for more relief help in trade. That would square both with interest in Papelbon and in Cook, among other options out there.

  • Mark Gonzales mentions that a couple scouts asked about Junior Lake on a recent road trip, suggesting that there are teams watching, if nothing else. Lake has always had tantalizing upside, and it’s possible that a rebuilding club would be interesting in taking a chance to give him a lengthy look as a starter in a low risk deal (i.e., don’t expect him to net a huge return, or to be the main component of a trade for a quality big league piece). For now, the Cubs likely will keep holding onto Lake, though, at least until Jorge Soler is fully back and healthy (assuming Chris Denorfia stays healthy, and assuming Matt Szczur remains a decent 6th outfielder option).
  • The quality of Cuban prospects that are likely to be eligible to sign in the 2015-16 IFA period – the one in which the Cubs will reportedly blow their budget – is absolutely shocking. Just read this from Ben Badler and see how many first-and-second-round-caliber talents there are. It’s incredible. Folks were annoyed that the Cubs blew their 2013 budget, making them unable to sign Yoan Moncada? Pfft. Not only was that the worst kind of hindsighting, it also now looks like it’s flat wrong. This is the class to be in, and the Cubs could get some serious talent if they’re willing to spend. Once the calendar flips to July 2 and this next period opens up, things could get nuts.
  • Certainly plausible:

  • It’s also possible, especially with respect to Correia, that the Phillies are just taking a low risk flyer on a guy who could create trade value come late July. Low probability on that, but also low cost.

  • Will the Yankees try to sign Bryce Harper?!? Um … in 2019 when he’s a free agent? Yup, those are real articles right now.

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