The Cubs are eyeing their own television network for when their current deal expires in 2020, writes Jesse Rogers of ESPN. If the team goes the route of running their own network, they could launch something as soon as 2018. For now they continue to talk to outside suitors. President of business operations Crane Kenney said, “as we have conversations, which are ongoing, if someone offers us something dramatically better we’ll look at it.” He also noted that ongoing issues in the cable universe would be monitored.
Here’s more from the NL Central:
- Theo Epstein sees himself “staying in the exact same role for a long time,” reports Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Epstein’s contract with the Cubs expires after the 2016 season, but it doesn’t sound as though there’s any chance he’ll go elsewhere. Notably, ace pitcher Jake Arrieta is the club’s only unsigned arbitration player. Per Epstein, “I’m more worried about the team. Honestly, I want to take care of the players first, and then we’ll go from there.” Reading between the lines, it sounds like owner Tom Ricketts and Epstein may resolve their talks once Arrieta’s contract is finalized.
- The Cardinals hope catcher Yadier Molina will be available for Opening Day, but they’re hunting for backups just in case, writes Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Molina had a setback recovering from a thumb injury which has put his early season status in jeopardy. The team does have reliable backup Brayan Pena on the roster, but the only other catcher on the 40-man is minor leaguer Mike Ohlman.
- Jon Niese could be Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage’s next project, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Searage has developed a reputation as a pitching “wizard” after working with Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, J.A. Happ, and others. The Pirates have benefited greatly from Searage’s tutelage as they’ve maximized the value of their buy-low trades and free agent pitching contracts. I’d add that Juan Nicasio is another reclamation project to watch.