NL Central Notes: Cubs, Reds, Castillo, Baker,

Yesterday, we learned that the Cubs will contact Padres executive A.J. Hinch about a possible return to managing.  The Cubs obviously have a big focus on player development and Hinch's work with Justin Upton, Max Scherzer, Stephen Drew, and Miguel Montero is likely a plus for the club.  Here's a look at the NL Central as the Pirates get set to do battle with the Cardinals..

  • Tim Dierkes (via Twitter) has talked with multiple agents who see the Cubs spending significant money on a free agent catcher this winter.  That comes as something of a surprise following a solid year by Wellington Castillo, who is still pre-arbitration eligible.  Castillo, 26, hit .274/.349/.397 in 428 plate appearances this season.
  • The Cubs aren't locked on to anyone in their managerial search, but they have serious interest in Yankees skipper Joe Girardi, sources tell ESPN.com's Buster Olney.  Cubs ownership is rather high on Girardi and they're making a strong internal argument to hire him.  Meanwhile, Yanks GM Brian Cashman is scheduled to meet with Girardi's agent today.
  • In the immediate aftermath of last night's loss, Reds GM indicated that Dusty Baker will be back in 2014, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. When asked if there was any question about Baker returning, Jocketty said: “I don’t think so.  He’s signed for another year.” The final call on the veteran skipper will be made by owner Bob Castellini.
  • The Cubs have a plan in place for the future but it will require patience as their top prospects aren't ready for the big leagues yet, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.  President Theo Epstein has indicated that he won't spend a ton this winter and will instead look to fill holes with low-cost signings.

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