The Rundown: Cubs Land Zobrist and Trade Castro, Braves Trade Miller to AZ, Rumors for Days

Top Of The First

Well, the big news as far as Cubs fans are concerned was the signing of free agent 2B Ben Zobrist and the subsequent trade of Starlin Castro to the Yankees for swingman Adam Warren and PTBNL Brendan Ryan. Ryan is a player to be named later because the Cubs don’t have room for him on the 40-man roster as the team sits, so his acquisition will be made official after the Rule 5 draft. I expect the Cubs to cut him loose eventually, valuing the roster spot more than the $1 million owed Ryan for the 2016 season.

Oh yeah, Atlanta exercised baseball’s version of the Jedi Mind Trick yesterday, getting the Diamondbacks to horribly overpay for SP Shelby Miller.

Cubs Sign Zobrist

A slow Winter Meetings sprang to life when Zobrist agreed to a 4-year, $56 million dollar deal just after the dinner hour. It appears that a deal had been in place for some time but the Cubs were slightly handcuffed financially, as their series of moves yesterday were interdependent on the other. As the team sits right now, Zobrist is the full time second baseman and part time super utility player because…

Cubs trade Starlin Castro To the Yankees

The Cubs offset some of the salary owed to Zobrist by moving SS/2B Starlin Castro and the remaining $38M on his contract to the Yankees minutes after announcing the Zobrist signing. One hopes that more moves are coming because the Cubs probably could have received more for Castro had they waited for the market to come to them. But make no mistake, this trade was all about freeing up money.

Don’t sleep on Warren though. He has four decent pitches and his sinker and slider are plus efforts. Pitching coach Chris Bosio works well with pitchers who keep the ball low and helping Warren find a little more movement on his fastball could make him a candidate for a 4 or 5 slot in Chicago’s rotation. You can find more details on Warren at this article by Eno Sarris of Fangraphs as well as Evan Altman’s article here at Cubs Insider.

The acquisition of Warren may even allow the Cubs to shop Jason Hammel and possibly Jorge Soler because…

The Cubs Are Apparently Trying To Acquire Jason Heyward

We’ve heard about it for three straight days and there is probably some genuine life to the rumor. Jon Morosi is the latest to join in on the fun.

Cardinals fans, however, are none too happy at the prospect of the Cubs going Heyward hunting.

Diamondbacks Acquire Shelby Miller

Bravo and high praise to the Atlanta Braves front office. First they inflated Miller’s value by rejecting numerous offers from other teams stating that they weren’t shopping Miller. Then they played a game of chicken with Arizona while the Diamondbacks tried to work out a deal for Miami’s Jose Fernandez. Miller’s value quickly escalated and Arizona caved, sending shortstop and first overall pick Dansby Swanson, OF Endy Inciarte and minor league pitcher Aaron Blair to the Braves for Miller.

The Diamondbacks also received left-handed relief prospect Gabe Speier. I guess Speier was the equalizer. Arizona has now traded their last three first round picks to Atlanta, and they lost this year’s first round pick for signing Zack Greinke. Yes, they are all in.

Swanson would have been more than enough for Miller in my opinion. I guess we know why the Cubs dropped out of discussions for Miller late Monday night.

Fact, Fiction, Truth or Rumor

Zobrist chose the Cubs over the Mets because of his history with manager Joe Maddon and because of Chicago’s closer proximity to Zobrist’s home in Nashville. Mets GM John Ricco was “disappointed” after personally reaching out to the Cubs’ new second baseman before he signed. Apparently Mets manager Terry Collins reached out to the super utility player via text message as well.

On the heels of the Shelby Miller trade, the market for Jose Fernandez has escalated to very uncomfortable levels. Joe Frisaro of reports that the Marlins asked the Dodgers to include not one or two but all three of Julio Urias, Joc Pederson and Corey Seager in addition to another pair of players.  Remember, Fernandez is not available. Or is he? For a franchise-altering return I’d say Fernandez is available.

The Giants, Angels, Tigers and Royals are showing the most interest in free agent OF Yoenis Cespedes so far. I don’t think Cespedes will sign anywhere until Heyward sets the market. The outfield market has been slow to develop while teams hope to remain in on Heyward.

Seven to ten teams are showing interest in Miami OF Marcell Ozuna. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Cubs in on Ozuna.

The Cubs have allegedly expressed interest in Colorado Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez, whose home/road splits are a bit concerning. That rumor comes courtesy of Bruce Levine, who I fear found an old note from the July trade deadline in his Tuesday trousers and tweeted it as currently topical. I found nothing from any other reporters regarding Gonzalez at this year’s meetings.

The Orioles are reportedly willing to go as high as $150M on a (presumably) six or seven year contract to retain first baseman Chris Davis. Davis is the top power bat available on the open market.

Jerry Dipoto couldn’t go a day without making a trade, so he acquired Oakland right-hander Evan Scribner.

More Dipoto: The Mariners and Brewers are close to a trade for 1B Adam Lind. Based on splits, Lind is strictly a platoon player so I don’t expect a significant return, especially since Lind only has one year left on his contract.

The Indians and Rangers are both in talks to sign free agent OF Rajai Davis.

Now that the Diamondbacks have traded for Shelby Miller they have turned their attention away from free agent SP Mike Leake. Leake may find a new home in St. Louis.

It looks like the White Sox and Athletics have nearly completed a trade that would send Brett Lawrie to Chicago for two prospects, though nothing is official as of this writing. The teams have agreed in principle and are deciding on the players being shipped to Oakland.

Bottom Of The Ninth

Very strange Winter Meetings so far. News and rumors come in furious flurries and then nothing happens for hours on end. There is irrational exuberance in the marketplace and whether teams are buying players with cash or prospects we are seeing some pretty hefty numbers exchanged. Far too many wallflowers at the meetings so far, and hopefully that will change on Wednesday. It has been horribly slow compared to 2015.

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