There has been speculation about the Cubs pursuing Orioles shortstop Manny Machado in a deal that could cost the North Siders their current shortstop, Addison Russell. But Russell told Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription required) and other reporters Saturday that he’s not sweating those rumors. “As far as the trade rumors, if it happens, it happens. But I really don’t pay them any attention,” he said. “The only time I really even hear about them is the media bringing it up to me.” Unsurprisingly, the 24-year-old Russell also made clear that he’d like to remain with the Cubs, who originally acquired him from the Athletics in a 2014 blockbuster with the Athletics. Russell has since emerged as a solid starter, not a superstar like Machado, but trading him to acquire the latter would mean surrendering his three-plus years of control for a few months of control over Machado. Of course, it would also boost the Cubs’ World Series chances for this season, thus creating a conundrum for Chicago’s brass if it actually does discuss a Machado-Russell trade with Baltimore.
In other NL news…
- The Dodgers’ rotation took another hit Sunday when left-hander Rich Hill landed on the disabled list, but ace Clayton Kershaw seems to be nearing a return. Kershaw, on the DL since May 6 with a biceps injury, threw a bullpen session Sunday and could be one away from going on a rehab assignment, Pedro Moura of The Athletic was among those to report. Kershaw may even be able to rejoin the Dodgers as early as next weekend, manager Dave Roberts suggested to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
- Like Kershaw, Reds righty Anthony DeSclafani is making progress as he works back from his own injury – a left oblique strain. DeSclafani, who previously missed all of last season with a sprained UCL, made a successful start at Double-A on Saturday and could be just two more rehab starts from returning to the majors, Brian Scott Rippee of MLB.com writes. Before injuries derailed his career, DeSclafani was an effective starter in Cincinnati, where he combined for 308 innings of 3.74 ERA/3.79 FIP ball from 2015-16. If the 28-year-old’s anywhere near that good upon returning, it would be a boon for a rebuilding Cincy club that has struggled to find quality starters. The Reds’ DeSclafani-less rotation has posted a horrendous 5.66 ERA dating back to last season.
- In the wake of outfielder Juan Lagares’ season-ending injury, the Mets are experimenting with young first baseman Dominic Smith in the grass, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com tweets. Smith, 22, lined up in right field at the Triple-A level on Saturday and could emerge as an option there for the Mets, who – thanks to injuries to Lagares and Yoenis Cespedes – “don’t have many outfielders,” manager Mickey Callaway noted. “When Lagares got hurt, we had to start thinking outside the box.”