We’ve been hearing all along that there’s mutual interest between the Cubs and Nicholas Castellanos, but there’s a huge obstacle standing in the way of a reunion. That would be money, something Castellanos wants more of than the Cubs have to spend. Or rather, than they’re choosing to spend.
Ken Rosenthal wrote for The Athletic that there’s no chance the Cubs re-sign Castellanos as things currently stand with regard to payroll. And it’s not just the big names the Cubs can’t afford, either. Rosenthal says the team is “telling representatives of even low-budget free agents that they need to clear money before engaging in serious negotiations.”
Rosenthal does go on to say that at least one big move seems inevitable, specifically mentioning the oft-rumored trades of Willson Contreras and Kris Bryant. Because of cost and complications with Bryant, among other things, Contreras is viewed as being much easier to move. Since the Cubs are already projected to be over the $208 million competitive balance tax threshold even without adding another free agent, trades are really the only means by which they can either acquire players and/or clear payroll to sign free agents.
Of course, trading the players who’d yield the biggest returns would leave them with a talent void that there’s no guarantee of replacing. I mean, if you’ve got to move one or two key players just to add Castellanos, are you really improving the team? That was a rhetorical question, but the answer is no.
Anywho, the gist of this whole thing is that the Winter Meetings don’t figure to be a bonanza for the Cubs. They may, however, make a splash with an extension for Javy Báez. Unless, that is, they just meet with him to let him know that they’ll need to trade him in order to free up more money with which to extend him. Yeah, that sounds right.