Cubs

What not paying the luxury tax means for Cubs and Alex Cobb

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USA TODAY

What not paying the luxury tax means for Cubs and Alex Cobb

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Cubs are not projected to pay the luxury tax this year after staying under Major League Baseball’s $195 million threshold, a source with knowledge of the team’s financials said Monday, a significant development as they chase high-profile free agents and reload for another World Series run.

As the general manager meetings opened at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, a USA Today report incorrectly identified the Cubs as one of six teams expected to pay the competitive balance tax in 2017, which can have consequences in the draft and on the international market.

But the Cubs are now looking at a calculation around $183 million for this season, minimizing a variable if they sign someone like pitcher Alex Cobb, who is expected to turn down the one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Tampa Bay Rays and has expressed interest in reuniting with manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Jim Hickey in Chicago.

In this scenario, the potential cost for the Cubs to acquire Cobb would now include giving up their 2018 second-round draft pick and $500,000 from their international bonus pool.

As part of the collective bargaining agreement, if the Cubs had exceeded the luxury tax and signed Cobb, they would have lost their second- and fifth-highest draft picks and $1 million from their international bonus pool.

This status also means that if Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and All-Star closer Wade Davis decline their qualifying offers and sign elsewhere as free agents, the Cubs will receive two third-round draft picks.

The Cubs had a 20-percent luxury tax on last year’s championship bill, with the Associated Press reporting the payment was just under $3 million. If the Cubs had crossed the threshold for a second straight season, their tax would have risen to 30 percent, and then escalated to 50 percent if it happened for a third consecutive year.

But now the penalty level would be reset back to 20 percent – just in time for what is shaping up to be a spectacular class of free agents next winter.

Addison Russell hospitalized Sunday due to allergic reaction

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USA TODAY

Addison Russell hospitalized Sunday due to allergic reaction

Addison Russell was briefly hospitalized Sunday night after suffering an allergic reaction, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Russell, 24, suffered an allergic reaction to something he ate in the Cubs' clubhouse after the team's 9-7 win over the Rockies. He stayed in Denver overnight and spent a couple of hours in a hospital for observation.

Despite the situation, Russell said he felt much better by the time he got back to the team hotel. He flew to Cleveland Monday and said that he felt normal, according to Wittenmyer.

Russell entered Sunday's game as a pinch hitter and finished the day 0-for-2 at the plate. He is hitting .219 for the season.

The Cubs open a two-game series against the Indians Tuesday. Russell said Monday that he thought he would be good to play Tuesday, but only time will tell if that is the case.

Javier Báez sets a screen on DJ LeMahieu in Sunday's win over Rockies

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USA TODAY

Javier Báez sets a screen on DJ LeMahieu in Sunday's win over Rockies

It's no secret that Javier Báez is a wizard defensively. While he has yet to win a Gold Glove, Báez is a human-highlight reel, consistently making ridiculous plays on defense for the Cubs.

Báez took his defense to the next-level in Sunday's win over the Rockies. With Nolan Arenado at the plate, Báez started standing in front of LeMahieu, blocking the latter's vision of Victor Caratini's signs for pitcher José Quintana.

Báez would return to a more "natural" shortstop position before each pitch, eventually returning to block the 6-foot-4 LeMahieu's vision. The two players got into a semi-heated discussion over Báez's tactic, with second-base umpire Vic Carapazza stepping in to intervene. 

After the game, Báez explained the situation to reporters. The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and cubs.com each had a version of the story.

"I don't know if it was the pitch or the location, but they were doing something," Baez said. "I'm 100 percent sure. 

"We got to protect our team, our pitchers. This game is hard enough. If they're going to do it, don't do it to our face, because we're going to do something about it."

While LeMahieu denied stealing the Cubs' signs Sunday night, Báez said LeMahieu told him to "change the signs" at one point.

"Right after the strikeout, I said to the outfield, 'You see the difference when they don't know the signs?'" Baez said. "And then [LeMahieu] said something. … We won the game, and the series."

While it is almost impossible to tell if LeMahieu was actually stealing signs, Báez's team surely appreciates his action.

"That was old-school right there,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “They’re trying to give the location or signs, and Javy’s blocking. I loved it. I’ve never seen that before."