Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureYes, I dare say the rumor mill is heating up quite a bit …

  • This weekend’s big rumor had the Cubs still talking to the Phillies about Cole Hamels, and subsequent reports had the Cubs, among other teams, scouting Hamels’ start yesterday in Miami. Two things to note about that: (1) we’ve said it before, and I’ll emphasize it again: teams scout other teams all the time, and there isn’t always a whole lot of meaning there; and (2) the Marlins’ starter was Dan Haren, another pitcher very much on the block. Haren is more of a back-end depth rental type, which may wind up the path the Cubs take.
  • Speaking of which, Bruce Levine writes about the Cubs’ efforts to find some starting pitching, and mentions that they may go after pitchers “such as” Scott Kazmir, Ian Kennedy, and Bartolo Colon. Those are awfully specific names, though Levine doesn’t quite say those are the specific arms the Cubs are pursuing. We’ve heard a great deal about Kazmir already this year, but not as much about Kennedy and Colon. Each of the Padres and Mets would probably be happy to part with the remaining salaries for Kennedy and Colon for a relatively small prospect cost. The Mets, in the Wild Card race, may be less interested in aiding the Cubs, though. Kennedy, as I’ve mentioned before, could be a nice buy-low fit for the Cubs, paired with an outfielder like Wil Venable to meet a couple of the Cubs’ needs. Kennedy, who is making $9.85 million this year, is mostly pitching as well as he always has with one huge exception: tons and tons of homers. Maybe it’s a very specific problem, or maybe it’s a fluke.

  • Dennis Lin reports that it is “expected” that Kennedy will be dealt, and the Padres are also considering moving James Shields, Tyson Ross, and/or Andrew Cashner.
  • Kazmir, by the way, pitched well in his first start after the break (recall, he left his final start before the break early), and a report indicates he appeared healthy.
  • Peter Gammons suggests that the Cubs, among many other teams, remain in the mix to deal for Ben Zobrist. That’s not the first in-season connection between the Cubs and Zobrist, who would give the Cubs so very many options (he could spell Starlin Castro, Addison Russell, and Dexter Fowler – as three examples – giving them rest against tough match-ups and keeping his own bat in the lineup).

  • Back to Hamels for a moment: Joel Sherman writes about the impact of the Phillies’ front office turnover on whether Cole Hamels will be dealt, and lists the Dodgers as the frontrunner if he is.
  • To the extent the results in his last couple starts have underwhelmed and got you thinking about an injury, that doesn’t seem to be a prevailing belief:

  • Rival officials tell Buster Olney that they expect Craig Kimbrel and James Shields to be dealt by the Trade Deadline. It’s what the Padres should do, I suspect, but it would be awfully jarring if they actually did.

  • On Shields, whom we’ve discussed as a not-quite-a-fit for the Cubs (unless the Padres eat substantial salary), Olney hears that the Padres may have to eat upwards of $20 million of what remains on his deal after this year ($63 million for 2016-18) to make him palatable. If the Padres do that, I start to get intrigued – though I’d want concerns about Shields’ velocity decline this year allayed first.
  • Reds ownership has finally given the green light to a broad sell-off, according to John Fay, who says everyone except Todd Frazier is on the table. I very much doubt the Cubs will be in on Johnny Cueto (perhaps the priciest rental moved this year), but I could see interest in Mike Leake and some tire-kicking, at a minimum, on Aroldis Chapman. Who wouldn’t check in on Chapman?
  • The White Sox are ready to listen, per Ken Rosenthal, and impending free agent Jeff Samardzija seems the most likely to go. Samardzija sure did have a lot of success in the Cubs’ pitching infrastructure. Just sayin’.
  • Nothing to add to this tweet, just keep it on your radar:

  • The Pirates are interested in Justin Upton, according to Jon Morosi, but Upton was just pulled yesterday with some back/oblique tightness, and he’s been pretty bad over the past month and a half. The Cubs were briefly linked to Upton (which would shock me), and it’ll be interesting to see what the Padres are able to get for a guy who has tons of upside in a weak offensive market … but who comes with a bunch of performance/health question marks.
  • The Red Sox just DFA’d defensively-inclined backstop Sandy Leon, which probably won’t wind up meaning anything for the Cubs, but given that they may not be able to keep Taylor Teagarden (he cannot be optioned back to Iowa, and has the right to elect free agency if he’s outrighted), maybe they explore this. With Miguel Montero on the shelf, it would be fantastic to somehow get a guy like Leon at AAA Iowa, just in case.
  • A reminder that, if you want maximum coverage at the Trade Deadline, we’ve first got to do some good for Make-A-Wish:

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