old stove featureHope you’re enjoying your Saturday. So many rumor bits to get to …

  • A couple big things popped up yesterday – the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija, the Yankees and Mets and Starlin Castro and Brett Gardner (later poo-poo’d) – and Jesse Rogers opined on them both, and I generally agree with his thoughts on each. One thing I found interesting was his comment that the Cubs would like to keep both Starlin Castro and Javier Baez on their own big league roster heading into 2016. Patrick Mooney suggested, similarly, that the Cubs are open to having Starlin Castro start the season as their everyday second baseman. I think everyone would concede that, if the right trade for pitching comes up, Castro (or Baez) could be moved. But it’s interesting to see a message emerging that amounts to, “No, seriously, we’re OK with keeping them both.” I’d love for the Cubs to add a cost-controlled, impact starter in trade … but, for me, I would also be OK with the Cubs keep both Castro and Baez heading into 2016.
  • (Also in the ESPN piece from Rogers, a quote from Jake Arrieta on Samardzija joining the Cubs: “There’s going to be a lot of teams wanting him. I think a guy like him would make our team better.” Why do I point that out? It made me chuckle in light of Samardzija’s comment after Scott Feldman was traded away (in the deal that netted the Cubs none other than Arrieta, himself) in 2013: “I don’t think this team improves by trading Scott Feldman.” I don’t think there was anything intentional in Arrieta’s comment – I’m just saying it struck me as humorous phrasing.)
  • Ken Rosenthal wrote about a variety of interesting topics in this column, but one bit that stuck out in particular: geography could play a role in where Ben Zobrist signs, perhaps preferring to be close to his home in Nashville. The closest team that might actually pursue him? The Cubs.
  • We recently talked about how much top reliever Darren O’Day is seeking in free agency, and Jerry Crasnick reports that the Dodgers are in on him big. From where I sit, the Dodgers have got to be the prohibitive favorite on a guy like O’Day in a market bereft of quality relievers – they can afford to pay him huge money over four years for his impact in the next two. They have a clear bullpen need, and it’s just money. Not every team will be able to fit O’Day into their budget.

  • Speaking of which, you’ve probably noticed the wave of low or no-risk potential bullpen additions by the Cubs in the last couple weeks – Ryan Cook, Andury Acevedo, Jack Leathersich, Spencer Patton. That’s obviously by design, as this front office has had a great deal of success putting together decent bullpens using these kinds of pieces, together with discarded vets. It sounds like that’s going to be the primary plan again in 2016 for the Cubs based on Theo Epstein’s comments in this CSN article. Spending on free agent relievers is on the Cubs’ list, according to Epstein, but it’s not as much of a priority as some other areas. The Cubs haven’t had a lot of success with their pricey free agent reliever signings, so maybe it’s just not their forte anyway (though I’d point out that they never went after the elite tier of free agent relievers – not that they had reason to until this year).

  • Back to the ill-fated Castro/Gardner stuff: The New York Daily News report is now offering that the Yankees are still possibly interested in Castro, but not for Gardner, whom they believe should fetch a higher price (mmm, ok, good luck with that) like, for one named example, Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (did I already use “good luck with that”? what’s an hilariously stronger version of that quip? insert it here).
  • The Dodgers are still heavy on getting Zack Greinke to return, but Bob Nightengale says they’re also really into Jordan Zimmermann.
  • Will the Cardinals splurge on a big-time free agent this offseason? Sure seems like they could stand to add an impact guy or two (and they’ve got the money), and Jon Morosi reports they’ve talked to Scott Boras about Chris Davis. The soon-to-be-30-year-old is a tricky one, because, although he’ll could get more than $100 million, it’s hard to know what you’re getting in return – the star he was in 2013 and 2015, or the average or worse player he was in 2014 and 2012?
  • The Cubs are almost certainly not going to be in on Yoenis Cespedes, but I wonder if they received one of his hype books anyway.
  • The Astros are reportedly “hell-bent” on acquiring a closer. They’ve got a ton of prospect depth and there are still several available closers for trade, so maybe they’ll get something done.

  • Interesting stream of tweets on the Marlins and Marcell Ozuna, though I don’t think there’s a match there with the Cubs:

  • Remember when Danny Hultzen was a top prospect? You might not, because it didn’t last too long, thanks to a series of serious arm issues. Now he’s been DFA’d by the Mariners. Given the troubles with his shoulder, he might wind up clearing waivers and just being outrighted to the minors.
  • The A’s DFA’d starter A.J. Griffin, whom you might remember as a decent starter for the A’s a couple years ago, but who underwent Tommy John surgery and then dealt with shoulder issues the following year. Susan Slusser hears from Griffin that he’s over the shoulder issue – termed tightness – so we’ll see if some team takes a 40-man roster shot on the 27-year-old.

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