Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

old stove featureFor the first time in several years, I believe, we’re due to hit Thanksgiving without a major free agent signing. To be sure, there are rarely a number of huge signings before Thanksgiving, but there always seem to be at least one or two. Last year, for example, Russell Martin signed long before Thanksgiving. I can’t help but wonder if the huge number of quality options in free agency, together with an active trade market, are giving teams and players pause before barreling into an agreement. You don’t want to commit to something too aggressively when something else might pop up in a few weeks if you were just a little more patient

  • In the meantime, the Marlins and Mariners are talking about a trade that would send young outfielder Marcell Ozuna (striker of one of my favorite, and most improbable, homers in 2015) to the Mariners for a young starter. It sounds like the hangup is just how good that starter is going to be, and whether the sides want to expand the deal into something larger. But this is definitely something to watch; if the Mariners pick up Ozuna, together with having already picked up Leonys Martin from the Rangers, you’ve got to figure they’re definitely out on center field options like Dexter Fowler, Denard Span, and Austin Jackson.
  • As expected, Japanese ace Kenta Maeda has asked his team to be posted so that he can come to MLB for the 2016 season. We’ll see if he’s actually posted – it’s a tough market for pitching right now, but Maeda would reach unrestricted free agency after the 2017 season, so his team is running out of time to cash in. Recall, for players coming over from NPB, MLB teams may bid up to $20 million for a player’s rights. If multiple teams bid the maximum $20 million, then each team may negotiate with the player (and only the team inking a deal actually has to pay the $20 million).
  • The Cubs are being connected to at least one Cuban prospect right now, and it’s a 16-year-old lefty pitcher, about whom you can read more at BA. As we’ve discussed, there’s a huge wave of Cuban talent available, and, to the extent the Dodgers don’t literally sign them all, the Cubs should be heavily involved.
  • Given that they shot themselves in the foot there last season, it should be no surprise that the Nationals are pushing to trade both Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen. I’m not sure I see the Cubs pursuing either (Papelbon because of price and potential for choke-related discord; Storen because it was his desire not to pitch in a setup role that led to his falling out in Washington), but it could be an interesting market-mover.
  • Relatedly, the Nats could be looking at Darren O’Day for their bullpen instead.

  • In Jon Heyman’s latest notes column, he leads with rumors that the Dodgers would like to get their $300 million payroll down closer to $200 million. Setting aside the fact that doing so will be utterly impossible in the span of a single offseason, especially when they need to add at least one more starting pitcher … I’ll believe the Dodgers want to decrease spending when I see it.

  • And speaking of the Dodgers, although they’re still looking to retain Zack Greinke, Heyman mentions the increasing perception that their greatest competition is going to come from the Giants. As I’ve said before, the Giants figure to be one of the most aggressive spenders in free agency this offseason, and Greinke certainly makes a lot of sense for them.
  • More from Heyman here on the Cardinals’ interest in Ben Zobrist. They’re going to spend some money this offseason.
  • The Lotte Giants of the KBO received no bids (none at all?) for recently-posted outfielder Ah-seop Son, so they’ll now post third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang instead (KBO teams can accept a posting bid on only one player per offseason). Son looked like the kind of guy who could succeed in the big leagues in some kind of role, and, given how voraciously MLB teams are scooping up international talent, I can’t help but wonder if there was something atypical going on there – for example, perhaps MLB teams knew that Lotte would accept a bid only if it was over $X, and that was too much for all teams.
  • Miscellaneous back-up catcher-type stuff: the White Sox have signed Alex Avila, and the Angels have signed Geovany Soto.
  • He’s going to make for an interesting minor league signing for some team, and the Cubs seem like as good an organization as any to get him going again:

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