Cubs

It finally happened: Jon Lester does the unthinkable, picks off a runner at first base

It finally happened: Jon Lester does the unthinkable, picks off a runner at first base

It finally happened. 

In the fifth inning of Saturday's Cubs-Cardinals game at Wrigley Field, Jon Lester did the unthinkable and picked off a runner at first base.

After reaching base via a two-out walk, Tommy Pham took a huge lead at first.

The Cubs ace surprised everyone — including Pham — when he actually threw (lobbed, actually) the ball to Anthony Rizzo, who tagged the Cardinals outfielder out.

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Here's video proof:

https://twitter.com/_MarcusD2_/status/871088547591225344

"Anthony was really goading him along there to try to do it and he did it," Maddon said. "That’s pretty solid moving forward."

Ken Rosenthal: Giants viewed as top-bidder for Nicholas Castellanos

Ken Rosenthal: Giants viewed as top-bidder for Nicholas Castellanos

As the budget-conscious Cubs figure out their 2020 payroll, an NL West team has emerged in the race to sign free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal (subcription required), a team interested in Castellanos views the Giants as the top-bidder for the outfielder's services.

The Giants recently named Cubs front office assistant Scott Harris as their general manager, so San Francisco has some ties to Castellanos. The Giants 2020 luxury tax payroll is currently projected to be $186 million (per Roster Resource) so they could sign Castellanos without going over MLB's $208 million threshold.

Castellanos was a stellar addition last season after the Cubs acquired him at the trade deadline. He posted a .321/.356/.646 line with 16 home runs and 21 doubles in 51 games. That performance upped the 27-year-old's value entering free agency.

The Cubs are looking to get under the luxury tax threshold to avoid being penalized a second straight season. Signing Castellanos would complicate this, but the Cubs are still pursuing him, as they could potentially sign him and clear payroll in a corresponding move.

But if it turns into a bidding war, the Cubs may find themselves unable to bring Castellanos back.

Padres connected to Willson Contreras, but asking price is 'absurd'

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USA TODAY

Padres connected to Willson Contreras, but asking price is 'absurd'

If the Cubs trade any of their core position players this offseason, the expectation is they'll receive top-of-the-line prospects and/or controllable, impact big-league players in return.

Tuesday, ESPN's Jeff Passan appeared on NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan's radio show — Kap & Company. According to Passan, the Padres have been connected to Willson Contreras, but the Cubs' asking price for the catcher is "absurd."

The Padres are looking to add a starting catcher and have one of MLB's top farm systems. They'd be a solid trade partner for Contreras, but the Cubs aren't going to trade him if they deem the return package to be inadequate.

From the Cubs' perspective, it makes sense to ask for an "absurd" package for Contreras. He's 27, a back-to-back All-Star starter, under contract through 2022 and only projected to make $4.5 million next season.

The Cubs don't need to deal Contreras this winter, but they'd be foolish not to listen to any inquiries for him — or any of their core players. They can always say no, but there's the chance they get blown away by an offer, too. 

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