With the Cubs contending and enjoying skyrocketing revenues, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders why these added resources haven’t translated to extra payroll for the baseball operations department. It’s possible payroll won’t truly rise to the level of other big-market teams until the Cubs renegotiate their next TV contract, which is due to expire in four years. With revenues booming, Wittenmyer reports that president of business operations Crane Kenney has signed a contract extension that will keep him with the organization through at least the 2020 season. Here’s some more from around the NL Central…
- Starlin Castro was told after the season that he wouldn’t be traded, Wittenmyer reports, as the Cubs believe him to be a major building block for their 2016 roster. Castro’s name has swirled in trade rumors for the last two years, most recently in discussions with the Yankees for Brett Gardner just a few weeks ago. If the Cubs indeed do plan to keep Castro (barring an unexpectedly great offer, of course), that would seem to make Jorge Soler the team’s top trade chip among position players.
- Miguel Montero could also be a trade candidate, as Wittenmyer hears from a source that the team is now considering the possibility of moving the catcher to free payroll space. Moving the $28MM remaining on Montero’s deal through 2017 could save enough money for the team to make a big-ticket splurge on the likes of a Jason Heyward. The issue with dealing Montero is that it leaves the Cubs very thin at catcher, as the slugging Kyle Schwarber is still very much a work in progress behind the plate.
- While the Pirates have been interested in Scott Kazmir in the past, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link) believes the rising costs of free agent pitching will put the lefty out of the Bucs’ price range.
- In another tweet from Biertempfel, he hears that the Mets and Orioles “still have at least lukewarm interest” in Neil Walker. Pittsburgh and Baltimore have discussed Walker “off and on” during the winter, while New York is a new player in connection with Walker’s services. The Mets are likely to have a hole at second base with Daniel Murphy’s departure, though Walker’s MLBTR-projected $10.7MM salary in arbitration may be as much of an issue for the budget-conscious Mets as it is for the Pirates.
- The Rangers have shown interest in Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The Brewers are receiving “plenty of action” on Lucroy from several teams but it would take a huge offer to entice Milwaukee to part with the former All-Star.
- From that same piece, Haudricourt opines that it would make sense for the Brewers to trade Jean Segura sooner rather than later. Dealing Segura would open the door for prospect Oswaldo Arcia at the shortstop, and the Crew could use Jonathan Villar and Yadiel Rivera at short until Arcia was ready for the majors. That said, Haudricourt feels Adam Lind is the far more likely Brewer to be dealt during the Winter Meetings.