Felix Hernandez’s no-trade clause blocks 10 teams, including nearly all high-payroll clubs

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No matter how many times the Mariners make it incredibly clear that they aren’t going to trade their 25-year-old Cy Young winner who’s signed through 2014 the speculation about Felix Hernandez deals doesn’t seem to stop, but perhaps this at least will cause it to die down for a while.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com has learned eight of the 10 teams on Hernandez’s no-trade list: Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Phillies.

Many people assume that players would include teams like the Pirates or Royals on their no-trade lists, but in reality those types of teams are almost never going to actually trade for a superstar player with a big contract anyway. Hernandez including the Pirates on his no-trade list would just be wasting one of the 10 spots, so instead of listing where he’d most like to avoid going he’s instead listing most of the highest-payroll teams.

In fact, of the eight teams Morosi knows about only the Rangers didn’t have one of the 12 highest payrolls in 2010. Hernandez is blocking a trade to the teams he believes are most likely to actually try to swing a deal for him, not the teams he most wants to avoid playing for (although certainly there might be some overlap).

Now can we maybe wait a couple months before there’s another batch of “Will the Mariners trade Felix Hernandez?” columns?

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.