Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported last night that the Cubs “are believed to have made a qualifying bid” for Albert Pujols.
However, this morning Carrie Muskat of MLB.com spoke to an unnamed Cubs official who “denied the reports.”
Muskat adds that she thinks a Cubs offer to Pujols “seems unlikely” because it “doesn’t fit into what Theo Epstein has said he wants to do in Chicago.”
Most of the speculation about Pujols and the Cubs seems to stem from Epstein meeting yesterday with the first baseman’s agent, Dan Lozano, but as Epstein coyly noted afterward Lozano represents numerous clients in addition to Pujols.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.