Even though the top 100 prospect rankings have been rolling out and Spring Training is just around the corner, the stove, if you can believe it, is still warm. Well, lukewarm.

After all, there a great number of teams with obvious needs and even more free agents still waiting in the wings.

Eventually, deals will get done and rosters will be finalized, but until then, there are rumors and recent deals to discuss. So, let’s discuss them.

  • But the Royals aren’t and – very unfortunately – can’t be done adding this offseason. After the tragic loss of Yordano Ventura a little over a week ago, legitimate baseball questions (which need to be considered, despite the obvious pain and tragedy) have arisen. Namely, who is going to replace Ventura in the rotation? “It’s not at all insensitive,” Danny Duffy said at the Royals’ FanFest. “It’s a question that needs to be asked. We all think it.”
  • One option, according to Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe, is former Cubs starter Jason Hammel. As we know, Hammel is still a free agent after having a mostly successful 2016 season, but has yet to find a home for 2017. And with the Cubs recent signing of Brett Anderson – to say nothing of the team’s decision to decline Hammel’s option – I’d say Chicago is unlikely to be that destination. According to Cafardo, however, the Royals have recently picked back up their interest in Hammel, now knowing that they’ll have to manage without Ventura. Although to be fair, Cafardo also mentions that they may still inquire in trade about the Rays’ Jake Odorizzi and/or Alex Cobb, as well.
  • The Rays may still be looking to add a bat via trade this offseason, specifically at second base (now that Logan Forsythe has been traded to the Dodgers). In exchange for that second base bat, Cafardo guesses, the Rays will likely be offering pitcher Jake Odorizzi in return. Now, the Cubs do have an abundance of infielders and an ever present long-term need in the rotation, but I wouldn’t expect anything else (with that amount of organizational significance) to happen until the trade deadline. Could the groundwork for a future trade be laid now? Sure.
  • According to Cafardo, White Sox reliever David Robertson is “more than available.
  • And speaking of White Sox pitchers, FanRag’s John Perrotto suggests that although “it is all quiet on the Jose Quintana front,” the Sox are still willing to trade the left-handed if someone will meet their asking price. The reported cost is three quality prospects, but there is WAY too much wiggle room in there to speculate on what that might actually mean. And remember, although the Cubs would be thrilled to have Quintana in the fold, there’s almost no way the Sox will make the “Cubs asking price” reasonable enough to execute a deal. Best guess: Quintana is traded to a contending team this July/August. And, depending on that team (and any related trade fallout), there could still be a significant impact to the Cubs.
  • With that said, the Cubs will continue to be – as they always have been – on the lookout for a young, cost-controlled starting pitcher available in trade. And while the Rays’ Chris Archer has risen to the top of that list (well, for Cubs’ fans, at least) over the past year, another name has sort of fallen off: Sonny Gray. Susan Slusser writes that the better Gray is early in the season, the more likely (and quickly) the A’s will be to trade him.
  • And to be quite clear, if he really does bounce back to his pre-2016 form, teams will be lining up for a shot at acquiring him. Just a couple months over 27-years-old, Gray is just one season removed from a 2.73 ERA, 3.7 fWAR, 208.0 IP season with the Athletics in 2015. He recently avoided arbitration with the A’s, by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3.75 million. He’ll be under control through the 2019 season, via arbitration, thereafter.
  • And finally an update on free-agent reliever, Henderson Alvarez:

  • It’s not quite clear if the Cubs are one of the teams who’ve requested Alvarez’s medicals, but it wouldn’t be much of a surprise, given the low-risk, some-upside, add-pitching philosophy. In fact, we discussed the Cubs’ potential interest in Alvarez back in December.
  • The short story: Alvarez posted a 2.65 ERA across 187.0 IP with the Marlins back in 2014, but has been mostly injured (shoulder issues) ever since. However, at just 26 years old, he represents one of the rarely available young starting pitcher types. Pitchers with shoulder issues can rarely be counted on, especially when coming off of multiple lost years, but sometimes you roll the dice, see what happens, and find something useful.

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