Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

With rumors about the Chicago Cubs and Jonathan Papelbon swirling in recent days, tweets like this from Joel Sherman deservedly will get some attention:

An obligatory caveat there, of course, is that scouts watch teams – big league and minor league – all the time for reasons that may or may not have anything to do with trades. I’ll give Sherman the benefit of the doubt there, though, and infer that he’s heard a touch more than merely the Phillies have scouts that have seen some Cubs minor league games. That wouldn’t really mean much.

Given the recent rumors, there’s probably some smoke here. Still, it’s very early in trade season, and when you review the potential playoff races in each league, there aren’t too many teams you can rule out just yet. That means there are still a host of potential buyers that could emerge in July, and it’s possible that the Phillies may hold out for now unless they get a really compelling return.

One thing that could help the Cubs: I’m told Papelbon can block trades to 18 teams, and the Cubs are not on his no-trade list. So, even if the Phillies want to wait on the market, their options might not expand considerably. And, of course, there’s always the threat of more sellers emerging than expected.

For now, we continue to watch and follow. The Cubs’ bullpen has been great of late, but with Neil Ramirez still rehabbing in Arizona, Yoervis Medina working on things at Iowa, and Rafael Soriano not available for quite a while, a high-quality addition would still be welcome.

Papelbon hasn’t pitched since June 7, by the way, though that likely has more to do with the way the Phillies’ recent games (losses) have played out than the recent uptick in trade chatter.

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