The front office may be done with the heavy lifting this off-season but may not be done tweaking the roster with less than a month before pitchers and catchers report to Mesa.
The Cubs pulled off the deal with the Astros Monday for Dexter Fowler and checked another area off the off-season wish list. While deals for Cole Hamels or Jordan Zimmermann or Stephen Strasburg, if the two Nationals’ pitchers are even available, seem very unlikely at this point, the Cubs still have two players on the roster that teams have shown interest in this winter.
A long pause by Jed Hoyer in Monday’s conference call with the beat writers hinted at the Cubs making more moves, beyond possibly dealing Welington Castillo and/or Travis Wood. ESPN Chicago noted when Hoyer was asked about adding another starting pitcher to the roster, he paused “just long enough for observers to read into his comments.”
Hoyer indicated the team is “always active” and “always going to be engaged in different conversations to upgrade the team.” Hoyer said he thinks the roster will look similar to the way it does now when Spring Training begins.
According to Patrick Mooney, before acquiring Dexter Fowler the Cubs “didn’t have much room left in their budget.” And multiple reports pointed out the front office is not looking to trade any of the team’s top prospects which would take them out of the running for Cole Hamels or any other top of the rotation starters that could be available.
During the convention, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer did not rule out the team opening camp with three catchers on the roster. Hoyer said that there have been conversations with other teams about Welington Castillo but nothing has been compelling and the team is not in a rush to move him. Epstein and Hoyer said Castillo gives the team much needed depth in case there is an injury in Spring Training to either Miguel Montero or David Ross.
Castillo’s absence from the convention, when he was scheduled to attend, only fueled the rumors that a deal could be on the horizon.
According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are shopping Welington Castillo. Hoyer told Gordon Wittenmyer the team has not “had any real compelling trade discussions on Wely at this point.” But he added the Cubs are “ready to re-engage talks if that changes.”
If the Cubs are able to move Castillo or Wood it would free up some payroll as was indicated by the Sun-Times. By agreeing to terms on contracts with Welington Castillo and Travis Wood, teams know exactly how much either player will cost for the upcoming season.
Welington Castillo avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms on a $2.1 million contract and Travis Wood is signed for $5.685 million.
While the rumors quieted on interest around the league for Travis Wood, reports from the Sun-Times, Comcast SportsNet and ESPN Chicago indicated the Cubs could move the southpaw.
Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg
Jon Heyman and Jim Duquette reported Mike Rizzo is not looking to trade any of his starting pitchers. The Nationals plan on keeping Zimmermann, Strasburg and Doug Fister to put the team in the best possible position to win it all in October.
John Perrotto reported Monday that Stephen Strasburg is available and both the Nationals and Strasburg feel “it is time to move on.”
Speculation ran rapid on what it would take for a team to acquire Strasburg. If the Cubs were interested, a deal could start with Javier Baez according to FanGraphs. But as Jeff Sullivan said, it’s unlikely Strasburg will be traded.