Cubs

Marlins getting in on Garza action now

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Marlins getting in on Garza action now

Those who are expecting Matt Garza to stay with the Cubs may want to re-think their stance.

A half-day after the Tigers were reported to have interest, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports writes the Miami Marlins are now interested in the 28-year-old starter. This coming after the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays have all displayed varying levels of interest.

Rosenthal says the Marlins are looking to continue their active offseason by trying to add a complementary pitcher to ace Josh Johnson and top free-agent pickup Mark Buehrle.

After losing out to the division-rival Nationals for Gio Gonzalez, the Marlins may feel more pressure than ever to acquire another starter.

According to Rosenthal's sources, the Marlins are willing to give up Christian Yelich, one of their top prospects. Yelich, a 20-year-old outfielder, was the Marlins' first-round pick in the 2010 draft and put up monster numbers at Single-A in 2011, his first full season in pro ball.

The Marlins also may be willing to give up third baseman Matt Dominguez, first baseman Gaby Sanchez, outfielder Chris Coghlan and reliever Jose Ceda.

Not all of those guys would be in the deal for just Garza, obviously, but a package of several could be in the discussion.

After the Cubs have traded for Ian Stewart, it would appear Dominguez is not too high on the team's wish list. But then again, if Stewart continues to struggle at the plate, it would help to have such a guy waiting in the wings. Dominguez could also use more seasoning in the minors.

Coghlan had a stud rookie season, but has dropped off the map since then, thanks in large part to a variety of injuries.

The Cubs have been linked to Sanchez already this offseason and he could be a good option as the first baseman of the future.

Ceda has only dabbled in the Majors, but dominated in the minors and at 24, could turn into a closer someday.

Yelich would be the main part of any deal, one would figure, as he seemingly has the highest upside of those players mentioned.

The problem with this all is the Cubs would be giving up by far their best pitcher and receive no starting pitching in return, if this report is accurate. That fact alone may mean it could be harder for the Marlins to acquire Garza, as it would put Theo Epstein and his crew in a tight spot pitching-wise both immediately and down the road.

Carlos Zambrano might be a better fit for Ozzie Guillen's Marlins if they're interested in one of the Cubs starters.

No momentum yet on potential Cubs-Zobrist reunion

No momentum yet on potential Cubs-Zobrist reunion

SAN DIEGO — Theo Epstein's front office has a lot of difficult decisions to make this winter, but Ben Zobrist has yet to come up with his own tough answers.

The 2016 World Series MVP is currently a free agent after wrapping up his four-year deal with the Cubs. He played a major role on the team in September following a four-month absence to deal with a family matter. 

Zobrist, 38, said at the end of the season that he was unsure if he would call it quits after an impressive career or return for another season on the diamond. More than two months since he last put on a uniform, he still has not reached an answer:

If he does play another season, it would have to be in the right situation for his family. He's made enough money in his career and accomplished plenty — including hoisting a couple championship trophies — but he clearly still had the drive and desire to play, as he said in his September return.

The Cubs figure to be on the short list of teams that would make sense for Zobrist given the mutual familiarity, a home in Chicago and how the entire organization supported him as he stepped away from the team to address his personal life.

It would seem to fit from the Cubs' perspective as well, since they talked all season long about how they missed Zobrist's professional at-bats and his presence inside the clubhouse. 

But there is no traction on the reunion front at the moment.

"I haven't talked to him recently," Epstein said Monday. "I've talked to him since the season ended, but it was more just checking in on his family. As far as baseball, he hadn't made a decision at that point. He was gonna wait a while before deciding what to do. He left open the possibility, but that was it."

The Cubs have an avenue for playing time next season at second base and potentially in the outfield for Zobrist and they are currently searching for leadoff options. He proved he can still play at his advanced age by hitting .284/.388/.377 in September after months away from the game. He isn't an everyday guy anymore, but can still provide value as a role player.

If Zobrist decides to give it one more go, the price would have to be right for the financially-hamstrung Cubs, but a reunion would make a lot of sense for both sides.

Angels' search for catching help could lead them to Willson Contreras

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USA TODAY

Angels' search for catching help could lead them to Willson Contreras

Could we see a Willson Contreras-Joe Maddon reunion in Los Angeles?

According to Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times, the Angels are “heavily engaged in the catcher market,” and are having “active conversations with two teams” regarding a trade for a catcher.

Torres didn’t specifically mention Contreras, but he’s one of several Cubs who have been linked to trade rumors this offseason. The Cubs aren’t looking to enter another all-out rebuild, but they’re keeping the future of the organization in mind following a disappointing 84-win season.

The Cubs farm system has grown barren of impact talent. They’ve struggled to develop big-league starting pitching under team president Theo Epstein. Their payroll is projected to exceed MLB’s luxury tax threshold for a second straight season, meaning they’d encounter a 30 percent luxury tax on their overages and see their draft position drop 10 spots, should they exceed the $208 million threshold by $40 million or more.

Trading Contreras — who’s projected to make $4.5 million via arbitration next season — won’t solve the financial problem. However, trading him could net the Cubs the type of blue-chip prospects they desperately need to replenish their farm system.

Contreras is also under team control through 2022, so there’s not a huge rush to deal the two-time All-Star. But if the Cubs sense he’s unlikely to sign a contract extension now or in the future, they must do their due diligence on him and see what they could acquire in a potential trade. The same is true for Javier Báez, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber.

The Angels have one top 100 prospect, (outfielder Jo Adell — No. 5 overall), according to MLB Pipeline, so what Los Angeles could offer the Cubs is questionable. Epstein and Co. won’t trade their backstop for the sake of doing so, especially if they deem any offers to be unsatisfactory.  

Contreras hit .272/.355/.533 with 24 home runs and 64 RBIs last season. He’d be a major addition for the Angels, whose catchers posted a combined .221/.293/.344 slash line with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs. The 27-year-old also has a special bond with former Cubs/current Angels manager Joe Maddon.

Contreras posted a heartfelt good-bye to Maddon on Instagram after the Cubs announced they weren’t retaining the manager for 2020. Contreras later commissioned a painting of he and Maddon as a gift for his former skipper.

Monday, Maddon said it’s “weird” to hear Bryant and Contreras mentioned in trade rumors, adding that he likes both players. 

The Angels aren't definitively linked to Contreras and Epstein recently advised to take rumors with a "mouthful of salt." But considering the Angels are reportedly seeking a catching upgrade, it won't be a surprise to see that change soon.