Cubs

Anthony Rizzo: Cubs 'have a sense of urgency' after recent slide

Anthony Rizzo: Cubs 'have a sense of urgency' after recent slide

SAN DIEGO -- Though their massive lead isn’t what it once was, the Cubs remain a confident bunch.

They’re also ready to get back on track.

Still, it’d be hard not to have a little faith in the team’s fortunes seeing as — at seven games — the Cubs still have the biggest lead in the majors. Sure, they’ve played their share of poor baseball lately, losing 15 of 21.

But first baseman Anthony Rizzo said before Tuesday’s All-Star Game he thinks the Cubs are still well positioned in spite of their recent woes. He also thinks that big cushion, one that once sat at 12 1/2 games in the National League Central, may have played a role in the Cubs falling off after a 47-20 start.

“There’s a sense of urgency,” Rizzo said. “Not that there’s not every single day. But you build a big lead, and I don’t want to say we were coasting, but I guess we were. It’s good. You can’t be good all the time in this game. It’s impossible. We’ll be ready for the second half.”

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The Cubs should get a boost from the eventual return of outfielder Dexter Fowler, who has been out with a hamstring injury since June 19. Fowler opted not to participate in Tuesday’s All-Star Game in order to avoid re-injuring himself. But the outfielder — who is hitting .290/.398/.483 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 284 plate appearances — expects to participate in the club’s Thursday workout. He could be activated from the disabled list shortly thereafter.

“(Fowler would) just lengthen our lineup out again and have another professional at-bat,” Rizzo said. “Every single time he steps to the plate he’s going to work the count and give us a good at-bat.”

Rizzo isn’t alone in his confidence. During Monday’s pre-game media session, pitcher Jon Lester suggested the Cubs just need to slow down the roller coaster.

Rizzo agrees. He sees a simple solution as the remedy to a slide that has included series losses to the St. Louis Cardinals, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“We’ve just got to go out and play,” Rizzo said.

Cubs free agent Nick Castellanos reportedly agrees to deal with Reds

Cubs free agent Nick Castellanos reportedly agrees to deal with Reds

Yesterday, it was reported that the Reds were the favorite to ink Cubs free agent right fielder Nick Castellanos. On Monday, it appears those two sides have reached an agreement on a multi-year deal, per The Athletic's C. Trent Rosencrans and Ken Rosenthal: 

Given the Cubs' desire to steer clear of the luxury tax in 2020, the odds of a reunion with Castellanos were always low. The club's recent signing of outfielder Steven Souza only furthered that belief.

To lose him to a divison rival, though, undoubtedly stings, especially considering the gumption with which the Reds have approached the offseason. Cincinnati has also notably added Mike Moustakas, Shogo Akiyama and Wade Miley this winter.

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported the deal is for $64 million over four years and added that the deal includes at least one opt-out.

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Reds are favorite to sign Cubs free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, report says

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USA TODAY

Reds are favorite to sign Cubs free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos, report says

The odds of a Cubs-Nick Castellanos reunion happening have seemed slim all offseason. Although they've been connected to him at various points this winter, bringing back the fan favorite right fielder would require some serious financial gymnastics for the North Siders.

With the Cubs cognizant of the luxury tax, the division rival Reds have emerged as the favorite to sign Castellanos, according to MLB insider Jon Morosi.

The Reds have emerged as the frontrunner to sign free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, one source said Sunday, and there are indications the sides have made progress over the past several days. While Cincinnati is now the favorite to sign Castellanos, the Giants also have negotiated with the 27-year-old in recent weeks.

Because of their desire to stay under the luxury tax in 2020, the Cubs have only made low-cost acquisitions this winter. They were penalized $7.6 million for eclipsing the threshold in 2019; if they do so in 2020, they'll be taxed 30 percent on their overages —  and see their 2021 draft pick drop 10 spots, if they go over the figure by $40 million.

At this point, the only realistic scenario where the Cubs re-sign Castellanos is if they shed salary. However, they've reportedly signed outfielder Steven Souza to a one-year deal, giving them five outfielders (along with Kyle Schwarber, Albert Almora, Ian Happ, Jason Heyward). That might be the biggest indicator of a reunion not being in the cards.

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