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Report: Cubs in on Ben Zobrist, talking to Yankees about Starlin Castro

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With Ben Zobrist reportedly nearing his decision time, the Cubs could be looking to free up time for the super super-utilityman by sending Starlin Castro to the Yankees, FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal reports.

The Yankees have second base open for Castro and wouldn’t be overly afraid of the $38 million he’s owed over the next four years. They could even send Brett Gardner back to the Cubs, matching up the salaries (Gardner is owed $38 million for the next three years or $48.5 million for four). It’s doubtful the Yankees would do that as a straight-up deal, though.

Newsday’s Marc Carig confirmed with a source that the Cubs are very much in on Zobrist.

Zobrist is close to deciding on his next team, and he’s indicated that he’d like to play one position primarily, preferably second base. The Cubs could make that happen, though the same goes for the Mets and Nationals. FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi reports that Zobrist has a four-year offer in hand.

UPDATE: The New York Post’s Joel Sherman says Gardner is not involved in the Cubs-Yankees trade discussions.

UPDATE 2: Rosenthal reports that Zobrist is choosing between similar offers from the Cubs and Mets.

 

 

 

Report: Mets interview Dave Littlefield to fill GM vacancy

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Marc Carig of The Athletic reports that the Mets have interviewed Dave Littlefield to fill the club’s GM vacancy. The position hasn’t exactly been a popular one for potential candidates, with many preemptively taking their name out of consideration.

Littlefield, 58, was the Pirates’ GM between 2001-07. It didn’t exactly go well. The club never won more than 75 games during his tenure. Littlefield was also infamous for the 2003 Rule 5 draft in which he carelessly left several valuable players unprotected, including Chris Shelton and José Bautista. Littlefield was also criticized for trades he made (e.g. Aramis Ramírez) and for trades he didn’t make (e.g. Kris Benson for Ryan Howard).

In the time since, Littlefield worked as a scout for the Cubs, then for the Tigers. Since 2015, he has worked as the vice president of player development for the Tigers. Littlefield’s successor, Neal Huntington, went on to have more success which didn’t help Littlefield’s cause any. Huntington was also comparatively much more open to analytics.

The Mets’ interest in Littlefield isn’t surprising. There are plenty of up-and-coming GM candidates — like Ben Cherington — the Mets could target, but Fred Wilpon (pictured above) want that. They want someone malleable who will adhere to payroll constrictions. Mets ownership’s involvement is an issue for the younger, analytics-oriented executives, Matt Ehalt of The Record reported earlier this month. Ehalt wrote, “There are rumblings that several candidates with progressive, analytics-oriented approaches do not believe they will be able to operate as they please should they take the Mets job, according to a source. That hesitation played a factor in why former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington bowed out of the mix, per the source.”

You have to feel bad for Mets fans, who seem relegated to having to root for a middling ballclub once again. And you have to feel bad for the likes of Brandon Nimmo, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, who will once again have to perform for a team that doesn’t have competing as its chief priority.