So you know, “substantive talks” are more than just “kicking the tires,” which in turn is more than someone just being “willing to listen.” Anyway.
Ken Rosenthal says that the Rangers are in said “substantive talks” with the Padres for closer Heath Bell. Given that they’ve basically thrown Neftali Feliz under the bus* during his recent struggles, it should not be at all surprising that they may be interested in Bell.
The Rangers could certainly be the front runners here. The Cardinals were interested, but they were apparently offering Colby Rasmus, so that theory is over. The Phillies were interested too, but there has been no activity there in recent days.
*Question for Nolan Ryan and Ron Washington: Now that you believe that Feliz does not have the mentality or intensity or whatever the hell it is you claim he lacks to be a closer, are you prepared to admit that he should have been a starter all along?
Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.
The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.
Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.
Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”