Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

2015 winter meetingsThis was going to be a “Winter Meetings Rise and Shine” post. Then it was going to be a “Winter Meetings Early Morning” post. Then it was going to be a “Winter Meetings Morning” post. Then it was going to be a “Winter Meetings Mid-Day” post. But I kept getting pushed back by everything going on. If this is your first check-in so far today, I strongly encourage you to catch up on Jason Heyward and the Cubs hereCubs/Braves here, Jason Motte here, Starlin Castro here, Cardinals/Padres trade here, and Aroldis Chapman here.

And now the rest …

  • At last check, the Cubs might no longer be in on Shelby Miller, and Joel Sherman reports that talks between the Cubs and Rays have “cooled,” too. It sounds like the Cubs would still be in on Alex Cobb, but I can’t help but wonder if the Cubs started getting more compelling hits on Javier Baez and/or Jorge Soler yesterday. Marc Topkin wrote another full take on the rumors overnight, and there’s not a ton in there that you don’t already know, but it does seem to underscore just how interested the Rays are in Baez.
  • Joel Sherman mentions that the Cubs still consider Brett Gardner a “Plan B” in center field if they can’t retain Dexter Fowler, both elements of which strike me as odd. Gardner is interesting, but last year was a bit scary for the 32-year-old (in terms of his wrist issue) and can he play center field? Secondly, Fowler is the Cubs’ Plan A in center field? I don’t think I’d quite go that far, though there is interest in a reunion on the right deal. I think the main takeaway here is the implication that the Cubs could be interested in Gardner if other things don’t work out.
  • More Jose Fernandez rumors! And a Mystery Team! … except the Mystery Team in this instance is identified as very likely to be the Astros, so is it really a mystery? Jayson Stark writes that the Diamondbacks, Yankees, and Dodgers have discussed Fernandez with the Marlins, but a mystery team (probably the Astros) is making a “very strong bid” to acquire the young ace. There are no indications at this point that the Cubs are involved, by the way, and the price tag for Fernandez would be so nuts that I still don’t think a deal gets done by any team right now.
  • Jon Heyman writes about Fernandez here, including the Giants in that group of interested suitors, and generally taking a this-could-really-happen tone.
  • Joe Frisaro reports that a dozen teams have checked in on Fernandez with the Dodgers the best fit … if they’d include top pitching prospect Julio Urias and top young infielder Corey Seager and more.

  • The Diamondbacks, by the way, had been known to be a Shelby Miller suitor – though they’ve reportedly backed away – so that’s just one small example of how the Jose Fernandez stuff could be impacting the rest of the pitching trade market. Even if Fernandez is a pipe dream, he’s going to be the top target for a number of teams who won’t want to make any other moves until they know for certain that they can’t get Fernandez.

  • Speaking of Miller, Jon Heyman includes the Orioles as among the teams interested in picking up the Braves’ righty. If true, it makes you wonder whether the Orioles are really listening on Kevin Gausman after all – why deal one young power righty and pay a higher price to acquire another? I guess every arm is different, though. Still, Ken Rosenthal doesn’t see a fit there.
  • The Mets are “optimistic” that they’ll be the team that finally gets Ben Zobrist. If that costs them enough money to take them out of the running on certain center field targets (Fowler, Span, Parra), then it’s good by me, since those guys could eventually factor into the Cubs’ plans. Earlier this week, we heard that the Cubs were still in on Zobrist, and I’ve heard similar things. As I said then, he seems like a tough fit for the Cubs absent some other moves, but we know that they like his skill set quite a bit. Most seem to think Zobrist will make a decision this week, and will choose among the Mets, Nationals, and Giants.
  • UPDATE on Zobrist: Bob Nightengale says he has a four-year, $80 million offer right now, and the Mets are still seen as the favorites. No way the Mets are offering that much, so it makes you wonder if a moneybags team like the Dodgers is trying to go over the top to try and sway Zobrist out West. UPDATE to the UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal and many others were like … nah. He doesn’t have an offer that large. Carry on.
  • Kenta Maeda’s posting will begin today, according to Jayson Stark. Because interested teams are likely to bid the maximum $20 million to win his rights, we’ll probably just hear next about which teams are negotiating with him (if teams tie, they all get to negotiate, with only the team that actually signs him paying the posting fee), and we’ll know that those teams bid $20 million. Then, Maeda could sign just about any time, although he’s technically got 30 days from the end of the posting period (the timing of which I’m not 100% sure) to sign a deal. Two years ago in this situation, Masahiro Tanaka agreed to a deal with the Yankees about 28 days after he was initially posted.

  • What are the Cardinals going to do about their need for pitching? Maybe they’ll be going after Mike Leake.
  • The Indians reportedly asked for A.J. Pollock in exchange for Danny Salazar, which holy smokes. If that’s what they’d want for Salazar, I can’t imagine how much they’d ask for Carlos Carrasco.

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