Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureWhew. It’s been a crazy, busy day (and if Ken Rosenthal is correct, the Pirates may make another trade yet this evening, for a reliever). The Pirates dealt for Aramis Ramirez. The Astros dealt for Scott Kazmir. The Cubs were connectedtwice – to David Price. The Cubs were connected to Mat Latos. I offered to wear a Cubs rally bucket hat for 38 hours.

And now here’s a deluge of other stuff that I couldn’t get to until now, much of which probably would have gotten its own post if not for the rest of the craziness. I do so love this time of year …

  • Mark Gonzales writes that, with Javier Baez getting back into games (beginning as early as this evening in Arizona), it’s possible other teams will be scouting him closely to see if there’s any lingering effect from the broken finger. Baez, 22, was having a huge year at Iowa when he was injured, and, although you wouldn’t think a broken finger could derail his ability or value, there’s probably a really huge range of opinions on just how much value Baez has, given his extremely high ceiling and the low floor he showed last year in his big league debut. In other words, if Baez does come up in trade talks, other teams are going to want to have as much information on him as possible. I’d be surprised if Baez is dealt this month, and, I certainly don’t think the Cubs should deal him right now unless they get a significant return. Absent that, I’d rather see Baez get back to Iowa next week, continue to demonstrate that he’s made certain adjustments at the plate, and then come up and contribute in some way to the big league club down the stretch. Let’s not forget: before he was injured, Baez had started playing third base, and appeared to be on the cusp of a return to the Major Leagues.

  • With all the Price buzz today, it’s easy to forget how much Cole Hamels buzz was building in previous days. Ruben Amaro remains confident that he’ll get high value for Hamels, or he simply won’t trade the lefty. He almost seems to be giving a sales pitch in that article, arguing that the three years left on Hamels’ deal makes him much more attractive than, for one example, Price, who will sign for much more and much longer in the offseason.
  • And, to that end, Dave Kaplan reports that the Cubs are still involved in discussions with the Phillies on Hamels, but Price has not yet been made available by the Tigers – and, if and when he is available, it’s not the Cubs’ preference to trade elite young talent for a pricey rental. We’ve heard that latter theme before, and it resonates with what we’ve believed to be true for several weeks: the Cubs are, realistically, looking at a chance at a Wild Card right spot right now. Giving up elite young talent for a better chance at the Wild Card game (and a slightly better chance in the playoffs thereafter if you make it that far) is probably not the right move for this team at this time. If the price comes down or a middle-tier rental looks more attractive? Then I could see the Cubs going the rental route (indeed, I still think that’s more likely than a deal for Hamels). I’ll have more on Hamels, specifically, later.
  • More on Price:

  • Jeff Passan reported that the Indians were willing to listen on Carlos Carrasco, a very good 28-year-old starter on a fantastic contract. Ken Rosenthal later confirmed, but said it would take a “haul” to get him. Clearly. The question I have: why would a small market club be willing to move Carrasco in the first place? Do they know something about his arm that other teams don’t? Is this all a smoke screen (the Blue Jays were specifically mentioned as having talked to the Indians about Carrasco – are they trying to drive down prices elsewhere)? Seems strange. But, sure, if Carrasco is really available, that’s a guy you have to explore.
  • In the same vein, Ken Rosenthal hears from rival executives that Braves are “quite open” to listening on righty Julio Teheran. Again, he’s a young guy with upside on a very team-friendly deal. I’m not sure why the Braves would move him – which makes me a little leery – but sure, explore it.
  • And, Buster Olney hears that the Orioles are willing to move young righty Kevin Gausman, who, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem to be getting a fair shake in the organization. You’d love to see the Cubs explore that, but it sounds like what the Orioles are looking for is immediate upgrades to their big league club – not necessarily something the Cubs can help them with right now.
  • Oh, and still more on Price:

  • I’m still tempering my expectations there, because, as I’ve said, I don’t think the fit is ideal right now. However, I leave open the possibility that the Tigers decide they absolutely want to move Price for whatever they can get (and save the rest of his salary), and the Cubs, in a suddenly buyer-friendly market, decide to be opportunistic.

  • I also have this question about the Tigers, although they did lose today:

  • Once again, the market for pitching sure does seem to be in the Cubs’ favor:

  • Olney lists a minimum of 11 starters and just 6 teams. Obviously each group is quite possibly broader or narrower than he mentions – it’s a bit more nuanced than simply saying these guys are all available and these teams are all getting pitchers – but it underscores the market. It’s not a seller’s market for starting pitchers. If the Kazmir deal today demonstrated anything, it’s that the market – right now – seems to be pretty fairly valuing rental arms.
  • Jon Heyman offers a variety of notes worth scanning. The Cubs come in for a mention in connection to Ben Zobrist, but it’s relatively generic, and includes lots of other teams, too.
  • After weeks of speculation:

  • There are so many fits for the Cubs, as we’ve explored before multiple times, and, if the Cubs decide to go the conservative upgrade route, I still think they could do a lot worse than an Ian Kennedy/Will Venable package deal. Sexy? No. But it addresses the Cubs’ needs, gives them a lot of upside with Kennedy (who’s really good, and could positively regress by pure better luck in the second half), and probably wouldn’t cost too much in prospects. Rosenthal adds that the Padres’ needs are at shortstop and in center field. And Jayson Stark adds that the Padres are listening “more intently than ever” on Justin Upton and Kennedy, and other teams say the Padres would “love” to move James Shields.
  • The Cubs were previously connected to Mets lefty Jon Niese – an OK back-end option, but probably not considering his contract – but this doesn’t make a trade seem very realistic:

  • Hisashi Iwakuma is yet another free agent starter after this season, and, with the Mariners looking out of it, you could see him coming on the market … but Joel Sherman hears Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is hesitant to sell.

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