javy baez cubsKeeping you informed about the Chicago Cubs’ rumors that connect them to the Tampa Bay Rays right now is an extremely delicate balance. On the one hand, I want to share and dissect everything that is legitimate and interesting (and, indeed, both front offices have acknowledged that they have recently spoken). On the other hand, I don’t want to so aggressively dwell on this particular breed of rumors so as to tacitly suggest to you that something is definitely going to happen.

The reality is, much like it was with the Cubs and Mets for the better part of two years, big trades involving notable players are rare. Yes, in the aggregate of 30 teams, they happen several times in an offseason and many more times in June, July, and August. But when you focus on two particular teams and a particular grouping of players, any trade is far more unlikely to happen than likely, despite the fact that there have been rumors upon rumors upon rumors this offseason.

So, as I dabble in these continued Cubs-Rays rumors, please don’t mistake that as me saying: boy howdy, something’s about to happen! (I’ll tell you – or at least surmise more directly – if and when that’s the case.) I’m just keeping you apprised of something that really is going on at some level, would be potentially very impactful to each organization, and is interesting to think about, in any case.

All right. We good? Ok. Now the things …



If you remember back through all the layers and reincarnations of these Cubs-Rays rumors, you’ll recall that the very first serious iteration had the Rays wanting Javier Baez. According to Marc Topkin, that hasn’t changed. In writing about the Steve Pearce signing, Topkin notes that the Rays’ offseason is probably at a close now, which is what Michael hinted at in a Lukewarm Stove last week. One possible exception to that, Topkin says, is if the “long ongoing trade talks with the Cubs” result in a trade. Moreover, Topkin says that the target would be Baez moreso than Jorge Soler. That aspect, I’d guess, would be all the more true after the addition of Pearce.

The vibe there in Topkin’s piece, then, is much like what we’ve been sensing on the Cubs’ side for a while: maybe something surprising comes together given all the conversations, but the expectation is that, right now (this offseason), a deal will not be completed.

I can’t decide if it stands in contrast to, or supplements, a report from Bruce Levine this weekend on The Score (as noted by the CCO). There, Levine mentioned that, among the Cubs/Rays conversations has been a whopper of a deal involving six or seven players, that could see the Cubs landing a starter like Jake Odorizzi, a reliever like Jake McGee, and a non-Kiermaier outfielder like Desmond Jennings.

Although I’m sure the sides have vaguely discussed all kinds of arrangements, and I’m thus hesitant to shine too bright a spotlight on this one (again: big trades are, by definition, unlikely to actually happen), I do think this particular one bears mentioning because it’s the kind of large deal we’ve speculated about for months. Indeed, that specific trio of names has come up when we talk about Cubs/Rays, because it nets the Cubs (1) a cost-controlled younger starter who can help beyond 2016, (2) a sure-fire late-inning reliever to add to the mix, and (3) a right-handed-hitting outfielder who can back-up center field with quality defense.



So, while I can’t speak to the veracity of this particular rumor, I can say that, at some level, it would make sense.

But, of course, any deal like that comes with a steep price, and it could mean names like Baez, Soler, Contreras, and Torres, in some combination. And as we’ve gone over many times, I’m just not sure right now is the time for the Cubs unload from that group of young, quality, impact positional talent. The Cubs can always be patient with what they already have, see how the first few months of the season play out, and then re-assess at the Trade Deadline.

It’s fun to dream on huge, seven-player trades, so, by all means, keep dreaming. I think it’s more likely, though, that the Cubs make another small move or two this offseason to shore up the roster (probably via free agency), and then we hear many more rumors about the Cubs and Rays as we get into June and July.

 




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