Theo Epstein: free agents totally want to come to a 100-loss team

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Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com spoke with Cubs president Theo Epstein. And you can’t say Theo isn’t optimistic about the Cubs’ ability to attract free agents:

“Elite baseball players are really competitive and I think they like the thought of being part of the solution here. Being a member of the team that finally wins a World Series for the Cubs is really appealing. I’ve had a number of players tell me that directly. We have not had to sell our situation much at all.”

“Except for the money,” Theo added in my mind. “We’ve REALLY had to sell them with gobs of money so they won’t do what almost every other athlete does and try to go to the place where they’re likely to win a championship.”

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.