Addison Russell was made available in various Cubs trade talks over the offseason. a rival official told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It should be noted that “made available” is quite different than openly shopping a player, as it isn’t any surprise that the Cubs at least explored the possibility of moving Russell or other notable names over the course of the winter. Theo Epstein even said during his end-of-season chat with reporters that his team would consider trading from areas of depth to address other needs, though it’s interesting to note that the Cubs have yet to make any trades this offseason, instead turning to free agency to add starting and relief pitching. Russell, for his part, considers Chicago’s position player depth to be “a beautiful thing,” and is pleased to still be in a Cubs uniform.
Here’s more from around the NL Central…
- Lorenzo Cain was very intrigued by the idea of once again playing for the Brewers and they became his top choice in free agency, the outfielder tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In fact, “once I saw their interest was for real,” Cain said the Brewers became his only choice for contract talks. “Honestly, when we engaged Milwaukee, my focus was on them the entire time,” Cain said. “We told them we were only going to negotiate with them at the time. That’s the way I wanted it….we continued to push forward and found a way to get it done. I had a number I wanted to get to, and Milwaukee got to that number.” Cain ended up signing a five-year, $80MM contract with the Brew Crew, and though “some other teams jumped in toward the end” of negotiations, Cain “knew [Milwaukee] would be the most comfortable fit for me. I don’t need to be in a big city. I played for a small-market team in K.C. I get more joy out of beating big-market teams. It puts a smile on my face.”
- David Freese had some frank opinions about the Pirates’ recent lack of success, telling reporters (including Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) that more “urgency” and “accountability” is needed within the Bucs’ clubhouse. “The last two years, we haven’t done as well as we could have because of our environment,” Freese said. “That’s what I think. I walk in every day, and it’s not in the air. The demand to win just hasn’t been in the air. That’s what you need. You can say all you want about how we’re going to win, this and that, but if you don’t walk in and you don’t feel it and you don’t see it in people’s eyes, it’s just not going to work.” The piece is well worth a full read for a different take on the Pirates’ struggles, as Bloom notes that Freese’s criticisms differed from recent comments made by Josh Harrison and Sean Rodriguez that indicated more frustration towards the front office.
- Colin Moran suffered a concussion and a facial fracture after a fouling a ball into his left eye last July, and it is quite possible that the injury changed the course of the young infielder’s career. Moran was dealt to the Pirates last month as part of the Gerrit Cole trade, and Astros GM Jeff Luhnow tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Moran might still be an Astro today had he gotten a longer chance to perform last summer, rather than being sidelined just two games into a midseason call-up. “I think he would have hit .300, I think he would have hit for power,” Luhnow said. “We might not have traded him because we might have wanted to figure out a way to keep him on our club.” Interestingly, it’s also possible to speculate that a healthy and productive Moran would’ve been traded from Houston much sooner, as Moran was reportedly involved in the Astros’ talks with the Orioles about Zach Britton at the July trade deadline (though an injured Houston pitching prospect was the primary reason the Britton deal was scuttled).