Cubs’ president Theo Epstein sees opportunity with the additional wild card

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MLB made expanded playoffs official yesterday, a decision which will undoubtedly have a major impact on how general managers will approach things leading up to the trade deadline this year. We are likely to have more buyers than ever before while players on the handful of sellers could come at a premium cost.

New Cubs’ team president Theo Epstein talked about the new dynamic with Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com yesterday:

“We still set out with the same goal of winning the division, but clearly it makes the bar of qualifying for postseason play lower and more attainable for teams that are kind of in that building phase. It’s a good thing.”

The Cubs plan to discuss a contract extension with Matt Garza during spring training, but he could be a major trade chip if the two sides fail to make progress. The 28-year-old is under team control through the 2013 season. However, Epstein is hopeful that the Cubs could be position to be buyers at the deadline.

“Hopefully, we’re in a position at the trade deadline where we’re looking to add that final piece to get us in a better position for postseason play,” Epstein said. “If things don’t go our way, and we’re not, then the landscape is always defined by how many teams are looking to add and how many teams are willing to move a piece.

“Does an additional playoff team change that? Sure, sure it does. It changes that dynamic. But I’m not going to go into it expecting the club to be sellers. I think we’re trying to play our best possible baseball we can to put ourselves in a position to be in contention at the deadline. But if you’re selling at the deadline, by definition it’s been a failed year.”

Head over to CSNChicago.com for more of Mooney’s exclusive interview with Epstein.

Red Sox place Chris Sale on 10-day disabled list

Chris Sale
AP Images
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Red Sox southpaw Chris Sale is headed back to the 10-day disabled list, per an official announcement on Saturday. It appears Sale is still suffering from a bout of shoulder inflammation and will require a longer recovery period than initially expected. He was activated from the DL just last Sunday and pitched one start against the Orioles, after which the Red Sox had some concerns about sending him out for another start against the Rays this weekend. Though the team has not named a replacement starter for Sunday’s series finale, MLB.com’s Ian Browne speculates that Rick Porcello could get the nod in Sale’s place.

Sale, 29, looked sharp during his first outing off the disabled list, fanning 12 of 16 batters across five innings of one-hit ball and paving the way for Boston’s 4-1 win against Baltimore. It’s not clear exactly what aggravated the lefty’s condition this time around, nor how long the club expects to be without him, but the move is retroactive to Wednesday and it’s possible that he’ll be ready to handle another start by next Saturday, when the Red Sox are scheduled for a rematch against the Rays in Tampa Bay. Sale has posted exceptional numbers when healthy, decorating his seventh consecutive All-Star campaign with a 12-4 record in 23 starts and an NL-best 1.97 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and league-best 13.5 SO/9 through 146 innings.

In a corresponding move, right-handed reliever Brandon Workman was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket. This will be the 30-year-old’s third stint in the majors this season. He’s looked even steadier at the major-league level than he did in Triple-A, with a cumulative 2.59 ERA, 2.6 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 through his first 24 1/3 innings in 2018.