Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureThe GM Meetings kick off tomorrow in Boca Raton, Florida, and it’ll be an opportunity for baseball’s front offices to get together in person and discuss the offseason that lay ahead. Although there’s not always a ton of activity┬áthe week of the GM Meetings, discussions are quite often had that lay the groundwork for future deals, both on the trade side and free agent side. And, thus, you typically see rumor activity tick up considerably. There are also various official MLB meetings throughout the week, so it’s possible you could see league-wide news, too (rules, CBA chatter, etc.).

So far, for the Cubs, we haven’t exactly been lacking for rumor activity, so maybe there won’t be much change this week in that regard. I’d argue, though, that we have lacked for some clarity. Sure, this front office isn’t going to show its hand completely *and* they like to leave multiple avenues open. But I do think it’s realistic that we could, this week, get a better sense of just how widely they’re considering the free agent pitching market, whether they’re willing to use resources on free agents in the outfield, and whether they’ll be able to put together a palatable trade for a younger, cost-controlled starter.

Stay tuned this week. We’ll do our best to keep you apprised of the angles worth following. In the interim, some Sunday night stove …

  • Ken Rosenthal got folks buzzing with his report on the Cubs and David Price, but his opener to the hot stove season was actually loaded with interesting rumor bits. Among his questions: with Stephen Strasburg a year from free agency, would the Nationals consider dealing the righty? If so, you can freely assume the Cubs would be incredibly interested. But, the thing is, why would the Nats deal him? They’re competitive right now, too, they don’t really need to recoup value before he leaves, and they’re probably going to lose Jordan Zimmermann this offseason (as well as Doug Fister, but they arguably lost him back in April). By the way: Strasburg in free agency next year at age 28? If he’s healthy this year? In a weaker starting class? Dude is gonna get paaaaaaaaid.
  • Rob Bradford talks about the Red Sox’s first round pick next year – 12th overall – and how that spot could make them less likely to go after a qualified free agent. Indeed, it’s almost impossible to see the Red Sox giving up that pick to sign any non-elite free agent. I’d add that it’s going to make them all the more likely to go after top free agents who could not be made a qualifying offer like, say, David Price.
  • Patrick Mooney writes about the Cubs’ center field options and it reads like, although Dexter Fowler and Denard Span remain options, Austin Jackson may not be.
  • Bruce Levine says the Cubs are doing homework on both Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon – and why wouldn’t they? It’s one thing to concede that they are tricky fits for the Cubs (Gordon, because he’s a certain corner outfielder; Heyward, because he might be paid upwards of $200 million), and it’s another thing to not consider them at all. Depending on where their price tags go, I can make an argument that either is a good use of Cubs resources, despite their strong positional core (because then some of that core could more easily be parted with in a deal for pitching). We’ve heard Heyward and Gordon rumors before. We’ll see if they continue.

  • Something Buster Olney points out, among other thoughts on various free agents: some in the market are commenting about the fact that the Royals batted Alex Gordon 8th in the playoffs (with the implication being they’re down on his bat, and, turning 32 next year, other teams should be wary, too). Setting aside the fact that I wouldn’t really read anything into a Ned Yost lineup, Gordon posted a .786, .702, and .836 OPS in his three rounds of the playoffs this year. Gordon is not a masher with the bat, and if you’re expecting him to be, you’ll be disappointed anyway.
  • Olney also believes that Jeff Samardzija might have more to gain than almost any other player from taking a one-year deal and re-establishing value (especially when you consider the pitching market this year versus next year*). Otherwise, Olney thinks he might not get a big-time five-year deal right now. (Samardzija and the Cubs was the rumor discussed earlier today.)
  • It sounds like the Mets aren’t considering shopping any of their Harvey/deGrom/Syndergaard/Matz quatro, but that shouldn’t be a surprise, and they’ll look to improve in the infield and in center field other ways. According to that Newsday report, they are looking at Dexter Fowler, Denard Span, and Gerardo Parra in center field.
  • He’s not really intending to make THIS point, but I couldn’t help but notice the phrasing (“likely”) Buster Olney chose when referencing the Cubs’ future pitching:

  • Keith Law ranks the top 50 free agents, and offers his thoughts on players’ values. Much of where Law would land on the top guys is under most projections, which could be Law underestimating the market, or could simply be a matter of him feeling that many of these guys are overvalued, even in the current environment. He’s got Dexter Fowler as the 8th best free agent available, by the way, a spot ahead of Johnny Cueto, and he rates Austin Jackson (15) a spot ahead of Denard Span (16). Food for thought.
  • *(Did you follow the asterisk all the way to the bottom? Another stray thought on the pitching market being so deep this year, and projecting to be so very thin next year: wonder if we’ll see a handful of guys signed to long-term deals this offseason, only to be shopped next offseason as alternatives to the thin market. If I’m a starter this offseason and I’m considering signing with a team that doesn’t mind shopping guys so soon after signing a long-term deal, I’m really pushing for a no-trade clause.)

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