Cubs

Cubs on the mend: Soler takes BP, Olt begins rehab stint

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Cubs on the mend: Soler takes BP, Olt begins rehab stint

The Cubs may be getting some reinforcements soon...even after Kyle Schwarber heads back to the minor leagues.

Several players from the Cubs' Opening Day roster are on the mend, including Jorge Soler, who is out of his walking boot and with the team on their current road trip.

Soler, nursing an ankle injury, took batting practice before Friday's game against the Twins in Minnesota. Soler was sidelined June 1 after stepping on the first base bag awkwardly in Miami.

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Mike Olt began a rehab assignment Friday night in Double-A Tennessee. Olt broke his wrist after he was hit with a pitch and has been out since the second week of the season.

With Kris Bryant now up in the big leagues and looking like he belongs, there won't be much playing time at third base to be had for Olt. So will he see time at other positions as he rehabs his injury?

Cubs manager Joe Maddon admitted he's not sure what the plan is for Olt at this time, though the 26-year-old slugger does have an option left and can remain in the minor leagues without having to pass through waivers first. 

"I have not had that discussion. I don't know what the gameplan is," Maddon said before Friday's game in Minnesota. "That's not an edict for me. Of course, you'd like to see him play more than one position, but I don't know what the exact plan is beyond him healthy."

Hard-throwing reliever Neil Ramirez is also on the road back after shoulder discomfort. He tossed a perfect inning of relief Wednesday with Double-A Tennessee.

"I guess Neil threw the ball well," Maddon said. "That's good. ... We got a bunch of good little things going on right now."

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Ramirez is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in five games (three innings) for the Cubs this season, but hasn't pitched with the team in more than two months (his last appearance was April 15).

He had a 1.44 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 50 games last season while working his way into a late-inning role during his first big-league season.

On top of all that, right-hander Jacob Turner is also on the mend, making two rehab starts with Double-A Tennessee so far while working back from an elbow injury suffered in spring training.

Turner has given up just two runs in nine innings so far and threw five shutout innings Sunday for the Smokies.

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The Cubs traded for Turner last year when the Marlins placed him on waivers and he struggled to the tune of a 6.49 ERA in eight games (six starts) down the stretch in Chicago.

But he's still only 24 and was a former Top 20 prospect after the Detroit Tigers took him ninth overall in the 2009 Draft. As the Cubs try to solidify the back end of their rotation, maybe Turner could find a way into the Cubs' plans once again.

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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