The Cubs are one of a handful of clubs without a closer and it appears that they could turn to the trade market to fill the role.
According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs are eying deals for Nationals relievers Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard among other possibilities. Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post confirms the report and adds that the Nationals are expected to listen on Storen.
Storen struggled as a set-up man this past season, posting a 4.52 ERA in 68 appearances while even spending some time in the minors. Meanwhile, Clippard was his usual dominant self, putting up a 2.41 ERA and 73/24 K/BB ratio over 71 innings. Both pitchers are due raises in arbitration this winter.
Kilgore categorizes the talks as “extremely early,” but sees outfielder Nate Schierholtz and left-hander James Russell as possible fits with Washington.
Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.
The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.
The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.
In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.