The Rundown: Cubs Acquire Intriguing Reliever, Castellanos Last Man Standing, Jeter and Walker Get Call to Hall

Now that Marcell Ozuna has signed with the Braves, Nick Castellanos is the last man standing from the group of major free agents. I would have thought Castellanos would have a deal with someone early, given that his market seemed much more robust in November than it does now. Some are theorizing that the outfielder is holding out for an opportunity to return to the Cubs if/when Theo Epstein can move some salary.

I find it hard to believe the Cubs would still consider the bat-first right fielder, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense given the team’s financial state. Unless you are a proponent of moving Jason Heyward to center field, Castellanos really doesn’t have an open position with the Cubs. Sure, Chicago was able to fit him in for two months at the end of last year, but they needed a short term offensive spark to give them a shot at the playoffs. A three- or four-year commitment to man right field on an everyday basis seems a bit risky, especially when it would keep Heyward in center for the life of his contract.

The Ozuna signing probably takes the Braves off of the potential suitor list for Kris Bryant as well. Atlanta gave the outfielder a one-year deal worth $18 million, which lines up pretty closely to what Bryant will earn this year, and seems to have pushed them to their payroll ceiling. Ozuna may have gotten better offers, but he gets a chance to win a championship and cannot be saddled with a qualifying offer after this season when he enters free agency again.

Circling back to Castellanos, I said in August that he was likely going to get a three-year deal worth about $40 million from somebody, and I’ll stick to that. He doesn’t have much leverage anymore, and unless he truly has some kind of handshake deal in place with the Cubs, his only option may be to sign with the Rangers. It’s possible the White Sox, Reds, Cardinals, and Giants would be interested if his price drops any further due to lack of demand.

Cubs News & Notes

Wednesday Stove

Derek Jeter and Larry Walker are the 2020 inductees into the Hall of Fame. Jeter fell one vote short of being a unanimous selection and Walker received 76.6% of votes, nudging just past the minimum requirement.

The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved a resolution yesterday urging Major League Baseball to strip recent World Series championships from the Astros and Red Sox and award them to the Dodgers.

Red Sox and Astros players reportedly received immunity for cooperating in the investigation by MLB into the sign stealing scandal.

Corbin Smith of NBC News thinks the scandal has been absurdly overblown.

The Brewers stadium naming rights will officially transfer from Miller Brewing to American Family Insurance starting with the 2021 season. I wonder if the organization will start selling PBR then. Could make me a Brewers fan. Not really.

The Yankees are the early favorites to be the best team in baseball this year.

Former MLB outfielder Shawn Abner was sentenced to prison yesterday for abandoning his ailing 14-year old dog and letting him die.

Almost 75 years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, the pathways for African-Americans in our national pastime are as blocked as ever.

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who has been battling knee injuries, suffered a “severe setback” yesterday. The 36-year-old has been limited to just 31 plate appearances over the last two seasons and has been rehabilitating with the hopes of returning mid-season.

Apropos of Nothing

In case you have been wondering about the regular Tuesday section where I review new vinyl purchases, I have had to budget those purchases out while I have been sick. New Music Tuesday will return sometime in March or April. I know this is a baseball blog, but the section seems popular among readers.

Extra Innings

This could be interesting and worth monitoring.

They Said It

  • “I know there hasn’t been much for you guys to cling on to this winter. Other teams have been making moves and we haven’t. But, I just want you to know that the work is there, the commitment is there, the desire to get deep into October every year is there and we’re not going to be satisfied until you guys feel like you’re on top again. So, bear with us, hang in there. I appreciate the support. I also appreciate the criticism and being held accountable when it’s appropriate.” – Theo Epstein

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Mandolin Wind by Rod Stewart. Being sick during the winter is never easy and this poignant number by Stewart is a wonderful coping mechanism. Such great hyperbole and a nice reminder of the joys of music as mental therapy.

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