Lukewarm Stove: Shields Heating Up, Moncada Favorites, More Cuban Defectors

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Lukewarm Stove: Shields Heating Up, Moncada Favorites, More Cuban Defectors

Chicago Cubs

old stove featureCan we call today a flurry of activity? Relative to the past couple weeks, anyway? There are a ton of James Shields rumors, the Cubs are probably going to sign Pedro Feliciano, the Cubs definitely claimed Drake Britton off of waivers, and Carlos Villanueva signed with the Cardinals. Those are things, right?

And there’s more …

  • Speaking of Shields, the rumors aren’t dying down. Although he was connected to the Cardinals earlier, Derrick Goold says the team’s preference remains to let Carlos Martinez take a job in the rotation, rather than signing Shields. Does that count the Cardinals out, then? Hopefully yes, but it’s not like some don’t have questions about whether Martinez can succeed as a starter, and it’s not like having Villanueva in the fold is going to preclude another addition. We’ll see.
  • Buster Olney reports that Shields’ agent has indicated a resolution is coming soon. Olney adds, however, that it likely won’t be with the Giants, who haven’t re-engaged Shields (even though they do make a lot of sense for each other). Jon Heyman says the team isn’t likely to be the Yankees, Angels, Red Sox, or A’s, either. Andy McCullough says the Royals aren’t really into it anymore, either. The Marlins might still be in, though, according to Joe Frisaro. We’re running out of obvious destinations. So, something like Padres, Tigers, Blue Jays and a couple deniers that are actually involved? Or a total out-of-nowhere team? Almost nothing would surprise me at this point, given how this has gone.
  • The Cubs are also not connected to Shields by any current, credible rumors, though Phil Rogers is still contending that signing him could work for the Cubs (I assume he meant “Castillo” in that tweet, by the way). He concedes, though, that the big stumbling block is that getting Shields now could take the Cubs out of the market for a younger, (possibly) better starter next offseason.
  • Something to keep an eye on with respect to Shields/Padres: Jeff Passan mentioned earlier that the Padres could still be interested in Cole Hamels, and Bob Nightengale has said that there are still five or six teams trying to trade for Hamels (though none has come up with a winning package yet, obviously). The Cardinals have been connected to Hamels recently (the Cubs, too, but not for a long time, and mostly not since signing Jon Lester), so I still wonder if there are some intertwined storylines going on here.
  • As for the other big name free agent – that would be newly-freed-up Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada – it sounds like Ben Badler agrees with our general sentiment that Moncada’s free agency simply came too soon for the Cubs (and Rangers) to have a realistic shot at convincing him to wait until July to sign. It sounds like Moncada wants to sign very soon anyway.
  • With which team, you ask? Well, it sounds like the favorites remain the Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox (Passan (who’d previously included the Cubs in the favorites list, but doesn’t this time), Gammons). Jesse Sanchez also has those teams as the top three, in that order, followed by the Padres and Tigers.
  • Buster Olney is hearing that it could be the Dodgers, though, who flex the most muscle to get Moncada. The Yankees and Red Sox are already over their IFA spending limit (and thus subject to penalties for the next two years), while the Dodgers are not. So it’s an additional consideration for them, though obviously Moncada is a unique opportunity.
  • Two other Cuban players left the team during the Caribbean Series, one of whom is a top 19-year-old pitching prospect. You can read about Vladimir Gutierrez here, but remember: even if the Cubs are interested, they wouldn’t be able to sign him (assuming he gets more than a $250,000 bonus) until July 2. Now that the process for free agency for Cuban nationals is much quicker, all Gutierrez must do is establish residency outside of Cuba and he’s good to go. That might take only a couple months.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.