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Report: Cubs will make big push for Alex Cobb

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The Cubs are looking for help on all fronts this winter, particularly when it comes to their pitching staff. Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports that the team is seriously pursuing free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, and while it’s not the first time the two have been linked in offseason rumors, Levine speculates that a deal could happen prior to the Winter Meetings on Monday.

Cobb, 30, rejected a $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays last month. He made a successful comeback in his first full season post-Tommy John surgery and is reportedly seeking a four-year deal, which has the potential to keep the Cubs’ core rotation intact for the next 2-3 years. Granted, the righty’s recent history of elbow injuries doesn’t exactly make him a sure thing for any rotation, and the Cubs still appear to be up against several other suitors, including the Yankees. Should they manage to ink him to a contract prior to Monday’s free agent frenzy in Orlando (giving up their second-highest draft pick and $500,000 in international bonus pool money to do so), Levine notes that it could give them some added leverage as they try to secure more pitching depth over the coming week.

Of course, the Cubs’ offseason wish list extends beyond the rotation, especially in the absence of closer Wade Davis. Levine lists free agent right-handers Addison Reed and Brandon Morrow as possible bullpen targets, even as Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets might try to re-sign Reed in 2018. Morrow, meanwhile, has already drawn interest from the Giants and Dodgers, though he’s expected to command a shorter, cheaper contract than Reed this offseason.

Padres trade Brad Hand, Adam Cimber to the Indians for Francisco Mejia

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Diego Padres have traded closer Brad Hand and reliever Adam Cimber to the Cleveland Indians. In return the Padres are getting top catching prospect Francisco Mejia.

Hand, the Padres’ All-Star closer, has a 3.05 ERA and 65/15 K/BB ratio and 24 saves over over 44.1 innings of work this season. In addition to helping an Indians bullpen which has struggled mightily this season, Hand will provide an insurance policy for the next two seasons given that both Andrew Miller and Cody Allen are due to hit free agency this winter. Hand, meanwhile, is under contract for this year and next for a total of $13.5 million, with a $10 million club option for 2021.

Cimber is another fine reliever who, along with Hand, suddenly transforms the Indians’ bullpen. He’s a 27-year-old rookie, but he’s been a very useful one this year, posting a 3.17 ERA in 42 games, with a K/BB ratio of 51/10 in 48.1 innings. He’s pitched even better than that of late and has been particularly hard on righties. He’s under team control through 2023.

In Mejia, the Padres are getting the Indians’ top hitting prospect. A catcher — though not necessarily a great defensive one — Mejia has struggled in brief stints in the big leagues thus far but is a .291/.344/.438 hitter in six minor league seasons and, at times, has shown star potential. He turns 23 in October.

A nice piece for the Padres in the long term and an immediate upgrade to the Indians’ bullpen in the short term. In short: a baseball trade.