Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureSo much more from around the rumor mill …

  • The Indians have announced that outfielder/stud Michael Brantley has undergone shoulder surgery that will cost him upwards of a month or more at the start of next season. Given that they were already looking for an outfielder, and given that they’re conceding that they’re now even more interested in picking up an outfielder, you can probably expect those vague, Jorge Soler-related whispers to pick back up. Setting aside for a moment whether you’re interested in seeing the Cubs part with a potential offensive monster in Soler (whom I’ll remind folks looked like a completely changed hitter after his ankle and then oblique injuries – in a good way, I mean), I do think it’s fair to connect some speculative dots here: the Cubs were rumored to be discussing cost-controlled, high-upside Indians starter Carlos Carrasco at the trade deadline, there is also rumored interest in similarly cost-controlled Danny Salazar, and the Indians are looking for offensively-inclined outfielders. There are conversations here to be had, but it’s always tricky to land on valuations in these situations. Soler’s potential is astronomical … but his results, in total, at the big league level have been mixed (and injured) at best. Carrasco broke out in a big way and has a fantastic contract, but his break out was later in his career, has been limited in time, and he has dealt with injuries. Salazar is younger, and was solid in 2015, but looks a bit more like a very-good-but-not-quite-great guy right now. That’s not to say, of course, that you wouldn’t want Salazar – you definitely would – but it’s a question of valuation.
  • The more the Alex Gordon rumors pop up, by the way, the more and more you wonder about Soler’s availability. As we’ve discussed, there is a series of connected moves here that make a lot of sense, but it can be tricky to pull it all off.
  • Speaking of Gordon, this is a pretty interesting note from Jerry Crasnick, given Gordon’s strong connection to the Royals:

  • We’re still waiting for something solid connecting the Cubs to Zobrist, by the way, after they reportedly pursued him last offseason. It’s entirely possible that it was a fit for 2015 (thinking back to those early months … yes, it would have been a great fit), but less so for 2016 (especially if he’s going to get a four-year deal starting with his age 35 season).
  • Anything is possible, and there’s always at least some grain of salt, but Theo Epstein’s comments on Miguel Montero make it seem extremely unlikely that the Cubs will look to trade him this offseason (ESPN). And, well, why would they? Sure, Montero is due $14 million each of the next two years and that’s money that could be used elsewhere … but the Cubs need a catcher. Maybe you don’t love the bat, but Kyle Schwarber cannot be a full-time starting catcher right now. Willson Contreras hasn’t played above AA and just hurt his hamstring in the AFL. David Ross is an adequate back-up catcher. Why would the Cubs deal Montero, then, to save money? They’d need money to go get another catcher. (Also, in total value, Montero was great last year. Full stop.)
  • Denard Span still figures to be a possible target for the Cubs, and he does check so many boxes … but there’s the hip issue.

  • The Hiroshima Toyo Carp are likely to post ace Kenta Maeda this offseason, but it won’t come for a little while yet, according to Jon Morosi.
  • Generally speaking, Richard Justice hears there’s a lot more early trade chatter than usual at the GM Meetings. I wonder if we’ll get a deal or two actually consummated this week.
  • Jeff Passan’s ultimate free agent tracker at Yahoo (i.e., tracking 191(!) free agents).
  • With Lance Lynn out for 2016, and the rest of the rotation a huge question, you’re going to see the Cardinals be very aggressive in free agency, and perhaps in trade. Just count on it now.

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