The Rundown: Cubs Reportedly “Seriously” Pursuing Ben Zobrist, May Have Interest in James Shields

With the New Year upon us and the holidays in the rearview mirror, let’s get on with baseball shall we?

I hope everyone had a great past couple of weeks. Mine was spent with family and friends, and I even managed to move into my first house without anything going terribly wrong.

Now that I’m settled (and semi-unpacked), I’m ready for baseball to get up and running again.

Cubs news has been fairly scarce recently, but some rumors are beginning to surface. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Cubs (as well as the Giants, Nationals and Angels) are “seriously” pursuing infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist.

We have heard rumblings about Zobrist being traded from the Rays throughout the offseason, but this may be the first we’ve heard of a direct connection to the Cubs. I’ve been behind this idea for a while now, as it seems to make sense because of the Joe Maddon link.

Cafardo says the Rays are looking for a top and mid-level prospect for Zobrist. The Cubs’ glut of prospects will have to be used as trade chips at some point — they’re not all making it to the Bigs with the Cubs. Whether any are dealt for Zobrist remains to be seen. I, for one, hope it happens.

In the same article, Cafardo also links the Cubs to RHP James Shields. I like the veteran starter a lot, but I’m not sure it would be a wise move to sign him.

Ken Rosenthal writes that Shields is expected to receive at least a five-year deal for $110 million. That would be a big commitment for the Cubs, especially after the Jon Lester signing.

Shields is 33, would cost a compensation draft pick, and has pitched a whole bunch of innings. I would be surprised if the Cubs land him. The Marlins, Diamondbacks, Giants, Red Sox, Padres and Royals all appear to be out on Shields, according to Rosenthal.

Other notes

* In really sad news, ESPN’s Stuart Scott passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was only 49. I don’t watch much ESPN anymore, but I always felt that in its heyday, Stu Scott and Rich Eisen were two of the best co-hosts on SportsCenter.

* MLB is “highly unlikely” to adopt a pitch clock in 2015, according to Jon Morosi. The clocks were used on a trial basis in the Arizona Fall League as an option for quickening the pace of games. I still don’t see the clocks ever being instituted in MLB. If baseball is going to shorten games, I think it’ll come in some other form, such as having batters keep a foot in the box or making intentional walks automatic.

Playing catchup

Some news tidbits you may have missed over the past couple weeks:

* The Cubs have shown interest in free-agent infielder Stephen Drew, according to Jon Heyman. Somewhat of a surprise, for sure. With the trade for Tommy La Stella, and now this rumor, it looks like the Cubs are preparing for an outcome in which Javier Baez isn’t performing as we once hoped.

* Exciting Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada still hasn’t been cleared to sign with an MLB team, and Cubs fans can continue to hope he doesn’t sign by July (in which case the Cubs could then theoretically sign him). Baseball America recently posted a video on the young phenom.

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