Cubs

The Cardinals are absolutely coming after the Cubs now

The Cardinals are absolutely coming after the Cubs now

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Cubs may not be looking over their shoulder, but the Cardinals are hot on their tail. 

St. Louis pulled off a whopper of a trade on the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings, setting the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort abuzz Wednesday afternoon by trading for stud outfielder Marcell Ozuna from the Miami Marlins.

Ozuna just turned 27 last month and is under team control for the next two years. He finished 15th in National League MVP voting last season after hitting .312 with a .924 OPS, 37 homers, 124 RBI and 93 runs scored.

He has made the All-Star team two straight seasons and also won a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove in 2017.

The move gives the Cardinals arguably the most dynamic outfield in the NL, with Tommy Pham (who finished 11th in NL MVP voting last year) expected to slide over to center field full time and Dexter Fowler filling out whatever other corner outfield spot Ozuna doesn't take.

Those three players — Pham, Fowler, Ozuna — will likely make up the heart of the Cardinals order for at least the next two seasons.

In return, the Cardinals' full package hasn't yet been announced, but it is reported to be a haul:

Right-handed pitching prospect Sandy Alcantara is one of the names heading back to Miami:

The 22-year-old Alcantara was ranked the Cardinals' No. 4 prospect by Baseball America last month.

Ozuna is the latest addition in a busy offseason for the Cardinals, who have added pitcher Miles Mikolas and Luke Gregerson on free-agent deals. Gregerson figures to slot in as a late-inning option (possibly even serving as closer) while Mikolas will join the rotation.

The Cardinals are still reportedly in on the game's top available closers, including Wade Davis. They lost pitchers Lance Lynn, Zach Duke, Seung Hwan Oh and Juan Nicasio to free agency this winter.

The Cardinals and Marlins already engaged in repeated talks earlier this offseason regarding a possible Giancarlo Stanton trade, but the slugger ultimately turned down a deal, citing a lack of desire to play in St. Louis. He was later dealt to the New York Yankees.

It's been three years since the Cardinals made the playoffs and despite 169 wins the last two seasons, have finished a combined 26.5 games behind the Cubs in the division. 

The last time the Cardinals made the postseason, they were ousted by the Cubs in the 2015 NLDS when Joe Maddon's team was still forming their winning ways.

Albert Almora Jr. was all over the Coors Field outfield

Albert Almora Jr. was all over the Coors Field outfield

Coors Field is 415 feet in dead center. That makes it one of the biggest outfields in the majors.

Albert Almora Jr. was busy covering a ton of that big outfield in a three-game series. A day after immitating Willie Mays, Almora made a trio of tough catches in Sunday's series finale.

In the first inning he tracked to his right and leaped to make a grab to rob Nolan Arenado of extra bases and an RBI. The next inning he robbed Noel Cuevas in a near carbon copy of the previous catch.

In the ninth, Charlie Blackman hit a ball deep into the gap, but Almora showed his range by getting to the ball just a few steps before the wall. He made the catch part look easy, even if crashing into the wall wasn't his most graceful moment.

That play ended up being huge considering the tight finish in the ninth inning. The Rockies had the bases loaded before Arenado was tagged out at home following a wild pitch. Arenado was originally called safe, but was called out after the umps looked on replay. Had Blackman reached to lead off the inning, the 9-7 final could have been very different.

Watch all three catches in the video above.

Kris Bryant leaves Cubs-Rockies game after getting hit in the head with a pitch

Kris Bryant leaves Cubs-Rockies game after getting hit in the head with a pitch

It was a scary scene at Coors Field on Sunday afternoon.

Kris Bryant left the series finale between the Cubs and Rockies early after getting hit in the head by a pitch in his first at-bat of the game.

Immediately, manager Joe Maddon ran out of the visiting dugout to hold onto a visibily dazed Bryant. Trainers looked at the Cubs third baseman for about a minute before helping him exit the game.

The Cubs say Bryant passed all tests and will continue to be evaluted.

Cubs hitting coaches Chili Davis and Andy Haines were ejected for protesting immediately after Bryant got hit by the pitch.

UPDATE: The Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales reported that Bryant is expected to travel with the team to Cleveland, but there doesn't appear to be more of an update yet.