old stove featureIf you missed it last evening, we touched on the biggest part of Ken Rosenthal’s latest – the Cubs have checked in on Kenley Jansen, but that doesn’t mean they’re going all out. Read up on my thoughts here.

It’s a busy rumor mill Sunday, actually …

  • There was much more Rosenthal’s piece, though, that was a little more appropriate for a Lukewarm Stove. For example, Rosenthal says the Cubs are looking for a left-handed hitting center fielder to complement Albert Almora Jr. so that the whole weight of that position isn’t immediately thrust upon him.


  • That’s good and fine by me in the abstract (let’s see how things play out across the rest of the roster before throwing stones), but one thing I’d say is that I’m not sure the Cubs necessarily need that additional guy to be a center fielder. With Jason Heyward able to play center, and when you don’t have Almora in the lineup, you can just shift Heyward over to center and then play whoever else on the corners. The main rub as I see it with adding another outfielder is this: if Javy Baez is a semi-regular starter, then your outfield options are Ben Zobrist, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Jorge Soler, Matt Szczur, and Albert Almora Jr. And that’s before you add anyone else. Accommodating all of those players is fine and doable, especially with rotations, maximizing match-ups, and maximizing rest. But adding another semi-regular to the mix? It’s only plausible if a player or two are moved out (which is possible, of course). If not that, then the Cubs could conceivably add a purely 4th/5th outfielder type (don’t they already have that?), but if they aren’t going to bring back Dexter Fowler to be THE center fielder and to lead off, then I’d probably rather see the Cubs roll with the robust group they’ve already got.
  • Joel Sherman notes, among many other Yankees items, that the number one item on their offseason wish list is Aroldis Chapman. Obviously we’ve heard of the interest before, but it’s interesting to see it so starkly like that. Wonder who the Yankees will be bidding against? The Cubs, I’d expect, would be willing to have Chapman back, because of course, but it’s become fairly clear that they won’t be spending $100 million on a closer at this point. In other words, Chapman’s camp will have to look to another team if they want to bid up the Yankees. The Dodgers, perhaps?


  • Speaking of the Dodgers, extremely interesting stuff from Jeff Passan, which is very logical for both teams, and also could dramatically shake up not only the offseason, but also the NL playoff races in 2017:

  • We’ll be keeping our eyes on that.


  • Back to Sherman’s piece for a bit: he speculates that the Yankees could shop 33-year-old outfielder Brett Gardner (in whom the Cubs reportedly previously had interest, at least for a Starlin Castro swap) and starter Michael Pineda (the big righty whose peripherals scream YES PLEASE – I am so ready to dig in on him deeper if an actual rumor pops up).
  • Gardner is owed $26 million over the next two years, and Pineda is projected to get about $7.8 million in 2017, his final year of arbitration before free agency. Gardner’s bat has fallen off in recent years, and he probably can’t play effective center field anymore, but with Jason Heyward and Albert Almora able to cover that spot defensively, it’s not a stretch to be able to fit Gardner into a rotation in the corners as discussed in the bullet above (*IF* you were predisposed to wanting Gardner in the first place, a predisposition I’m not sure I have). If the Yankees (yes the Yankees – even Brian Cashman admits he had to move Brian McCann to open up some payroll space) wanted to clear a little salary to open up some other free agent moves, it’s fair to wonder if a Gardner/Pineda package would not necessarily net an enormous return – and, if that’s true, might a team like the Cubs be interested? To be clear, I am 100% speculating (and also far, far more interested in Pineda than Gardner, and I think Pineda is far, far less likely to actually be made available).


  • Nick Cafardo writes about the many big contracts that could be moved this offseason, including should-have-been-Cy-Young Justin Verlander, who turns 34 next year, and is owed $28 million per year for the next three seasons (plus a vesting option for 2020). Verlander still has a lot left in the tank, but I’m not sure the Cubs will have the financial flexibility to absorb a deal like that (remember: the spending restrictions tied to the original sale of the team to the Ricketts Family are in place through 2019, and that is also the year the current TV deals expire – so, if you’re wondering when the Cubs should REALLY have maximum spending ability, it’s 2020 and beyond (sorry).) There are other interesting starters mentioned in the same breath – Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez – but their teams would have to eat so much salary to make them palatable (even to a relatively wealthy, long-term-starter-needy team like the Cubs) that those deals almost never actually come together.
  • There’s so much more in Cafardo’s piece worth checking out. One exec tells him that the 2/$20M price tag we so frequently hear associated with rehabbing closer Greg Holland (in whom the Cubs reportedly have interest) would be a surprise if any team paid that. Also very interesting: an exec told Cafardo that in his team’s conversations with the White Sox, Jose Quintana was the starter that didn’t come up (i.e., may not be available). But that would imply Carlos Rodon, the young lefty with huge upside, could be available. Of course, whether the White Sox would even consider trading him to the Cubs, and whether the Cubs could put together the right package … we start going down a mostly fantasy wormhole.


  • Remember that Jonathan Singleton extension that everyone decried as a rip-off to the player? The one he signed for cheap before he’d even played a game in the big leagues? Well the Astros just put him on outright waivers after some disappointing years. Like I said at the time: the teams are taking on risk, too, when they sign early extensions, even if the dollar figures are low. And the player gets a life-changing guarantee, regardless of whether – as in this case – the performance never comes through. Although we probably won’t see any pre-MLB extensions from the Cubs any time soon, I bet pre-arbitration extensions will once again be a big subject of conversation this offseason for the many young players on the roster.
  • The Cardinals signed lefty Brett Cecil to a four-year deal with a no-trade clause yesterday, if you missed it. Yes, the reliever market is going to be pricey.
  • If you’re looking to show off your combo love for BN and championships, a reminder that we’ve got four new beautiful shirts in the BN store that you should check out (also, today only, you can get free shipping on two or more items with the code 2GIFT):

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