Cubs

Cubs Road Ahead: Potent lineups headed to Wrigley

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Cubs Road Ahead: Potent lineups headed to Wrigley

A season full of intrigue finally began for the 2015 Cubs, and David Kaplan and Todd Hollandsworth are getting you ready for what's next with this week's Cubs Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.

After the Cubs finish up their three-game series in Colorado they'll return home for a six-game home stand against two teams expected to contend for the National League crown this season. After facing the always difficult Cardinals and the red-hot Rockies, the Cubs begin a three-game set with the division rival Reds on Monday, followed by three more games with the winners of the offseason in the San Diego Padres.

And against both groups, as Todd Hollandsworth notes, the Cubs pitching will need to be ready for a pair of potent lineups. The Reds, touting Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier, sit atop the National League Central standings as of Saturday night.

"They've got experience and they've got veterans. They've got a lineup to die for, they added Marlon Byrd, Billy Hamilton's off and running," Hollandsworth said. "My goodness gracious, he's on pace to break the all-time stolen bases record in a season. They've got a lot of things going right now."

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The bats won't stop coming when Cincinnati leaves town, as a completely re-tooled Padres lineup will be waiting to produce some runs at the Friendly Confines. This offseason alone the Padres added Matt Kemp, Melvin Upton, Justin Upton, as well as pitchers James Shields and Craig Kimbrel, making them a difficult task later this week.

"This is a team that's looking to contend. If there's one team in all of baseball, outside of our Chicago teams, that was building for 2015 like, 'it's got to happen, playoffs or bust,' it's the San Diego Padres, no doubt about it," Hollandsworth said. "They expect to contend, they're ready to contend, they want to be up there with the Dodgers, they want to be viewed that way. This team is ready."

See what else they had to say in the video above.

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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Brandon Kintzler, Cubs most consistent reliever in 2019, signs with Marlins: report

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USA TODAY

Brandon Kintzler, Cubs most consistent reliever in 2019, signs with Marlins: report

Brandon Kintzler officially won't be back on the North Side in 2020.

Saturday, ESPN's Jesse Rogers reported Kintzler has agreed to a one-year, $3 million deal with the Marlins. The deal includes a $4 million option for 2021.

Kintzler was the Cubs' most consistent reliever in 2019, sporting a 2.68 ERA and 1.02 WHIP (both career highs) in 62 appearances. He was effective against both righties and lefties, the latter of which hit .163 against him.

The Cubs haven't been connected to Kintzler this offseason and have instead accumulated a plethora of low-cost, high-potential relievers. The organization has been extremely cognizant of MLB's luxury tax threshold after surpassing it in 2019 and wants to avoid becoming a repeat offender in 2020.

Kintzler becomes the second reliable reliever to depart the Cubs in free agency this winter, along with sidearmer Steve Cishek (White Sox). Pedro Strop is still a free agent, and while the Cubs have been connected to him, a recent report says the race to sign him is down to the Marlins and Rangers.

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