With tonight’s earlier rumor that the Cubs and Padres had been talking about Starlin Castro, there was something of an large-scale attention shift – seemed to be, anyway – toward those two teams. And things got mighty exciting.

Among the notable tweets:

Unpacking all of that: as we discussed earlier, because of his contract (not to mention velocity and command issues this year), Shields doesn’t seem like the best fit for the Cubs.

Ross, on the other hand – what with his two more years of arbitration control after this year, his age (28), and his stuff – does seem like a perfect fit for the Cubs. Of course, that’s true of many teams, which means the price would be substantial. Ross makes just $5.25 million this year, and will probably be in the $8-9 million range next year, and $10-12 million the year after that. For a guy with ERA/FIP/xFIP figures in the 3.20 range each of the last three years, that presents a whole lot of surplus value.

Ross does sometimes have control problems (walk rate up to 10.9% this year) and he does lean heavily on his slider (sometimes a harbinger for future arm issues), but he’s got an elite groundball rate (an insane 63.3% this year) and an excellent strikeout rate (25.2% this year). The guy has been a stud.

If the Cubs are truly targeting Ross, it’s hard to see Castro being the center piece of that deal, though it’s conceivable Castro could be involved together with other players (perhaps more on both sides, given how many Padres fit for the Cubs). You would have to brace yourself for some of the Cubs’ top prospects (and possibly Javy Baez) being involved in those conversations. For a guy who could fit so well for the Cubs this and next year (and the next), though, it’s something you have to consider.

We’ll see where this goes. Things are certainly getting interesting.

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