The Cubs are kicking the tires on James Shields

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David Kaplan of CSN Chicago.com reports the Cubs are “kicking the tires” on free agent James Shields.

Shields was reported to have several offers in hand already and at a point where he is going to make a decision at the end of this week, so they had best get kicking fast. If they do manage to add Shields, though, it will have represented a pretty big overall upgrade for their rotation this winter, what with the additions of Jon Lester and the return of Jason Hammel.

Also, if they add another pitcher, it could mean that Travis Wood — currently fifth on the Cubs’ depth chart — is the odd man out. To that end, Kaplan says that Chicago could trade Wood before spring training.

Ronald Acuña Jr. reaches a rare home run milestone

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Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 40th home run in today’s 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. In so doing he become only the third player to hit 40 homers at age 21 or younger, joining Hall of Famers Mel Ott and Eddie Matthews, who hit 42 and 47, respectively, before turning 22. Ott was only 20 in fact.

Home run marks are a dime a dozen this year, of course, so maybe you want to discount Acuña’s accomplishment. Even if you do, though, you can’t discount his wheels. He didn’t have a stolen base this afternoon but he does have 37 on the year and has over a week to swipe three more. If he does he’ll become a member of the exclusive 40/40 club. It’s only current members: Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano.

The Braves win clinches at least a tie for the NL East title. They’ll clinch the division outright if either they win or the Nationals lose tomorrow.