NL Central Rumors: Cubs Extensions, Cardinals, (

The Cubs’ trade of

cleared $62MM from the books over the next three years, but Russell Dorsey of the Chicago Sun-Times writes in his latest mailbag column that it’s still unlikely the team will agree to a contract extension with any of its pending free agents prior to the start of Spring Training. Each of Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant is set to hit the market next year, and while the latter of that trio has seen his name prominently circulated in the rumor mill, Baez and Rizzo have broadly been considered extension candidates. A long-term arrangement could come together once camp is underway, Dorsey notes, but only if the “right situation presented itself.”

Of course, given that no deal has come with Baez despite years of negotiations and that Rizzo already has already signed one team-friendly deal, it’s hard to see either player inking a deal that heavily favors the Cubs. The fact that both players are coming off down seasons only further muddies the matter. Both players have considerable career earnings already and may prefer to bet on a personal rebound rather than selling themselves short after a lackluster 2020 showing.

More out of baseball’s Central divisions…

  • In his latest Q&A with readers, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals aren’t actively pursuing rotation upgrades outside of a potential reunion with Adam Wainwright. The Cards aren’t being particularly aggressive in their efforts to re-sign either Wainwright or fellow franchise icon Yadier Molina, per Goold, instead continuing to wait out a glacial free-agent market. Should Wainwright ultimately sign elsewhere, the Cards might pivot and look for a low-cost deal with a comparable veteran, but they’ve “continued to position themselves as a team that will reduce payroll,” Goold writes.
  • The Tigers are expected to be among the teams on hand for free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber’s showcase in Florida on Wednesday, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News tweets. It figures to be a well-attended event to watch Kluber, a two-time American League Cy Young winner in Cleveland who endured injury-plagued years in 2019 and ’20. A fractured forearm limited the longtime workhorse to 35 2/3 innings in his last season as a member of the Indians, and then he threw just one frame last year as a Ranger while battling shoulder issues. Still, the 34-year-old looks to carry plenty of appeal as a buy-low candidate. In Detroit’s case, the 34-year-old could help improve a rotation that received dismal production from Matthew Boyd and Michael Fulmer last season, perhaps while mentoring much younger hurlers such as Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning.

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