Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureAs I wrote earlier today, I don’t see Kyle Schwarber coming up in any credible rumors this offseason, but, then again, all it takes is a team to ask for him in discussions. And teams wanting Schwarber is entirely plausible, because obviously. So, then, I guess you might see Schwarber’s name popping up in spots like the Lukewarm Stove this offseason, it’s just that I’d expect those mentions to be followed by “… but the Cubs aren’t interested.”

Some of the latest from the rumor mill …

  • Buster Olney notes the extreme volume of talent available this offseason, and notes that the loaded free agent class could be further diluted by the availability of some intriguing young players in trade (he mentions Sonny Gray, Yasiel Puig and Andrelton Simmons as hypothetical examples). It’s worth keeping this in mind as we head into the offseason, as it could create opportunities for patient, thoughtful teams to get great deals if they play their cards right. And, heck, it might not even require patience: “We love you, Free Agent Pitcher X, but we’re engaged in trade discussions on a couple arms we like at least as much, and if Trade Team Y agrees to pull the trigger before you sign Team-Friendly Offer Z, we’re going to have to go that direction.”
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was on The Score last Friday, and he discussed the Cubs’ attempts to land pitching at the deadline this year (recapped here at the CCO). Given how the season played out, with the Cubs making a run in the playoffs, Hoyer conceded that the front office did think about whether they made the right decision not to pursue pricey rentals. Given where they stood in the division at the time, they preferred to pursue pitchers with control going into 2016 and beyond. I still think they made the right decision with the information they had, but I do understand anyone who looked at the playoff rotation and felt some pangs of disappointment. But, off the Cubs go into the offseason, and they’ll be sure to be adding starting pitching.

  • Jon Heyman’s latest notes gets into a whole lot of interesting rumor stuff, including (1) pitchers like David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, and Jordan Zimmermann should be considered by the Cubs; (2) the Red Sox might be shopping for young, quality starters in trade (not unlike the Cubs, so keep an eye on that, because the Red Sox definitely have the chips to land just about anyone); (3) the Indians could be targeting an outfielder in trade (which, yes, squares with reported previous interest in Jorge Soler); (4) Heyman believes Jason Heyward will try and get more than Jacoby Elsbury’s $153 million deal, and approach $200 million (given his age, 26, and consistent, if unspectacular, track record, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him get near $200 million); (5) the Giants may focus their free agent pitching pursuits on retaining Mike Leake and/or going after Zack Greinke; and (6) the Nats may be looking to trade Jonathan Papelbon (obviously) and Drew Storen this offseason. The latter could be intriguing for a Cubs team that should be looking to add a back-end arm in the bullpen. Then again, it’s not like the Cubs are going to go out of their way to import a closer … which is what Storen is likely going to want to be if he’s moved, since that’s what created the waves in Washington in the first place.
  • Nick Cafardo’s latest also has a bunch worth checking out, as he spoke with eight Major League personnel about various free agents, noting a semi-consensus that seven years and $210 million is “fair” for David Price. As I’ve hinted at before, I, too, think that’s where the Price sweepstakes end up, and it’s hard to see that being the best use – when consolidated like that in a single pitcher – of the Cubs’ limited funds. Johnny Cueto could be in the $150 million range, which also seems far too steep, given the risks in his usage, and inconsistency of his recent performances. One interesting bit was the thinking that Alex Gordon might be in the three-year, $36-$38 million range, which seems like an absolute steal, even for a glove-first corner outfielder. There’s quite a bit more in there worth checking out.
  • Remember Kenta Maeda? He was the Japanese righty who was almost-but-not-quite posted last offseason, and then wound up winning the NPB’s award for the top pitcher this year. Although he’s not regarded as highly as Yu Darvish or Masahiro Tanaka were, many still believe Maeda, 27, can be a quality middle-of-the-rotation arm in the big leagues, and he may be made available this offseason.

  • And speaking of posting, Korean outfielder Ah-Seop Son will be posted this offseason, adding to an already interesting outfield market. Son is a corner outfielder, so he doesn’t fit into the Cubs’ most obvious outfield need, but you never quite know how these things will shake out.

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