Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

2015 winter meetingsI’m sure it’s like this every year, and I’m sure I tell myself this every year, but … holy crap. I can barely keep up with all this stuff, and we’re barely a couple hours into the Winter Meetings …

  • If you’re looking for Jason Heyward-related encouragement, this ESPN piece from Jesse Rogers and this CSN piece from Patrick Mooney, featuring Theo Epstein quotes, suggest that the Cubs could be looking to get creative, both in trades and in financial maneuverings, specifically so that they can take a serious run at Heyward. That may not sound like much – and, let’s be crystal clear: it’s still a stretch that the Cubs will land him at the end of the day – but at least it’s confirmation that the Cubs are indeed interested in a guy who feels like a perfect fit, and will try to make it happen.
  • Rogers’ piece, by the way, mentions Orioles righty Kevin Gausman as a potential trade target – he’s such an interesting arm that might have been stifled by Baltimore (yes, I know that sounds familiar). He’ll pitch next season at 25, and looks like he has ace-level future potential just waiting to break out. We’ll see if that winds up popping up again in rumors, or if this was a mere one-time mention. The O’s could definitely use bats, though …
  • Circling back to¬†Heyward, although his market is still a little tricky to discern at this point – Cubs, Cardinals, Angels, Giants, at a minimum? – we do know that the Cardinals are interested in retaining their star right fielder. But might they go another direction? Bob Nightengale reports that, in addition to the Royals, who are in active negotiations with Alex Gordon, the Cardinals might be the stiffest competition. With Matt Holliday in the last year of his deal and a liability in left field anyway, Gordon feels like an excellent fit for the Cardinals, who could otherwise cover center and right field with guys like Tommy Pham, Jon Jay, Stephen Piscotty, and Randal Grichuk. Maybe the Cardinals won’t be a serious bidder on Heyward after all.
  • The Tigers are also looking at Gordon, according to Jon Heyman. Are the Cubs? Peter Gammons seems to be the only one pushing that rumor at this point, but you never know.
  • And one more on Heyward, the Angels might instead go after Yoenis Cespedes. I think that sounds good. How about Angels get Cespedes, Cardinals get Gordon (or Chris Davis, or, well, no one), Giants get Justin Upton, and Cubs get Heyward? No other teams are allowed to be involved.

  • Also figuring into that mix of teams, needs, and financial considerations, Ben Zobrist could be down to the Dodgers, Mets, Nationals, and Giants. Your hope, probably, is that he winds up with the Mets or Giants, somewhat limiting their needs to spend aggressively in the outfield.

  • There ARE Jose Fernandez trade rumors rolling around out there, and you can follow along with the back-and-forth weaving of rumors and denials here in this MLBTR post. My best sense is that you’re seeing the Marlins, despite their protestations, willing to listen on Fernandez if it means a franchise-altering return (and, as we’ve discussed, it probably should), given the market for pitching. But, since that’s probably not going to happen right now, I doubt this goes anywhere. But damn if Jose Fernandez trade rumors aren’t the best trade rumors.
  • It sounds like Johnny Cueto, the last remaining top tier starter in free agency, is willing to wait out the best deal. His agent says it was easy to reject the Diamondbacks’ six-year, $120 million offer, and I suspect he will, indeed, do better than that.
  • The Rockies are “open-minded” about dealing Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon, according to Ken Rosenthal. CarGo has a great bat at times, but he’s inconsistent, especially on the road, often injured, expensive, and not a great fit for the Cubs. Blackmon, on the other hand, is cost-controlled, plays adequate center field, runs the bases well, is a high-contact guy, and¬†could be a fit for the Cubs, depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out. As with any Rockies player, you worry a little about translating in a new ballpark, though Blackmon’s skill set seems less reliant on Coors than others.

  • Something to keep an eye on in Cleveland: whispers that Michael Brantley could be out longer than expected. The Indians already needed help in the outfield, and could get even more aggressive there, using pitching as a trade chip.
  • If you missed anything else today, the Dodgers landed Aroldis Chapman and Hisashi Iwakuma, the Cubs and Rays are talking about Javier Baez, and the Cubs are reportedly still in on Ben Zobrist.

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