12:41PM: The White Sox and Red Sox are two of at least seven teams interested in Kimbrel, 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine writes, while the White Sox have also scouted another Cubs reliever in Ryan Tepera.
10:49AM: The Cubs completed another trade last night in sending Andrew Chafin to the Athletics, setting the stage for what should be a very busy week of transactions for Chicago in advance of Friday’s 3pm CT trade deadline. Many of the biggest names remain, and rumors continue to circulate about where these top names could land.
Closer Craig Kimbrel is drawing much of the buzz, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Padres are among the teams interested in the veteran reliever. While many of the Cubs’ most notable trade chips are rental players, Kimbrel is controlled through the 2022 season due to a $16MM club option. He also has around $5.5MM remaining in salary for this season, so he isn’t an entirely inexpensive proposition for a team looking at the right-hander as just a rental.
This is a particular factor for a team like the Padres, who are facing a luxury tax overage for the first time in franchise history. Team ownership is willing to make that leap beyond the $210MM payroll threshold, though the Padres are naturally exploring ways (such as unloading Eric Hosmer’s contract) to avoid the tax if at all possible.
The Red Sox “have at least had preliminary conversations ” with the Cubs about first baseman Anthony Rizzo, ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan reports, which seems like a natural fit considering how little production the Sox have received from the first base position this season. Boston is the first team officially linked to Rizzo on the rumor mill, as Passan writes that Rizzo’s market “is not so robust” since he is a veteran position player who is a free agent after the year.
In fact, there has been more speculation about Rizzo possibly staying with the Cubs rather than leaving, even though extension talks in Spring Training failed to produce a new contract. Recent reports suggested that the Cubs would look to again discuss extensions with both Rizzo and Javier Baez prior to the deadline, but NBC Sports Chicago’s Gordon Wittenmyer reports that “no extension talks are happening with” either player.
This doesn’t mean that either will be traded, however. In fact, Wittenmyer hears from sources around baseball that the Cubs will be keeping both Baez and Kyle Hendricks beyond Friday’s deadline. (MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported last night that the Cubs weren’t looking to move Hendricks and that a trade was unlikely.) It isn’t quite as firm about whether or not Rizzo could remain or be dealt to Boston or another team, but if the first baseman is kept, Wittenmyer writes that the Cubs will again look into extending both Rizzo and Baez before they reach free agency this winter.