MLB rumors: Cubs still exploring Kris Bryant market; Rockies GM ducks Nolan Arenado questions

Spring training has arrived. Sixteen of the 30 MLB teams have already opened camp and 12 more will do so Wednesday. Late next week Cactus League and Grapefruit League games will begin. Real live baseball is not far away. Until then, here are some stray hot stove rumors to help you pass the time.

Cubs still exploring Bryant market

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Kris Bryant CHC • 3B • 17
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The Cubs are still exploring the trade market, including scenarios involving Kris Bryant, according to The Athletic's Patrick Mooney. Bryant's service-time grievance was resolved last month and the Cubs now know they control him another two years rather than just one. That makes him much more valuable on the trade market.

Of course, the primary motivation for a Bryant trade is money. He'll make $18.6 million in 2020 and upwards of $25 million through arbitration in 2021. The Cubs claim to be cashed out -- they've made nothing but very minor free agent signings this winter -- and trading Bryant would free up payroll and also add good young talent to the organization.

Bridich ducks Arenado questions

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Nolan Arenado COL • 3B • 28
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Rockies pitchers and catchers reported to spring training on Tuesday and all the attention was on the team's star third baseman. A few weeks ago Nolan Arenado said he felt "disrespected," not because he had been named in trade rumors, but because the Rockies did nothing to improve this offseason. Colorado is not surrounding Arenado with enough talent to contend.

GM Jeff Bridich was asked about the Arenado situation Tuesday and he had nothing to say. "Nothing. There is no comment. I haven't had any comment to this point, so we'll move past that. Next question," Bridich told reporters, including Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. One of the greatest players in franchise history is upset and on the trade block. Why should the GM comment on that? Weak sauce, Bridich.

Cubs working to sign Kipnis

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Jason Kipnis CHC • 2B • 27
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HR17
RBI65
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As the Cubbies continue to scour the trade market, the team is also nearing a minor league contract with veteran infielder Jason Kipnis, reports MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. We identified Kipnis and Cubs and a possible match recently. MLB.com's Martin Gallegos reported earlier on Tuesday that the Athletics were among the teams with interest in Kipnis.

Kipnis, 32, has not been even a league average hitter in three years now, though he's a left-handed hitter with some pop, and he plays second base and center field, two positions of uncertainty on Chicago's north side. A minor league contract is a zero risk move and the Cubs appear they will give Kipnis a look in camp. Perhaps there's something left in the tank and he can help as a role player.

Mariners add CarGo

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Carlos Gonzalez SEA • RF •
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HR3
RBI10
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Carlos Gonzalez is not ready to call it a career just yet. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports the Mariners have signed the veteran outfielder to a minor league contract. He'll earn $750,000 at the MLB level. CarGo spent last season with the Indians and Cubs. He turned only 34 in October, believe it or not.

Mitch Haniger underwent core muscle surgery last month and is not expected to return until a few weeks into the regular season. In the interim, the Mariners figure to use Mallex Smith in center field with Kyle Lewis and Jake Fraley on the corners. Gonzalez gives the club a little veteran depth in case the kids struggle while Haniger is sidelined.

Pillar market heating up

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Kevin Pillar BOS • CF • 5
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HR21
RBI88
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The market for free agent center fielder Kevin Pillar is beginning to heat up, reports MLB Network's Jon Heyman. The Pirates and Red Sox are among the teams involved. Pittsburgh traded Starling Marte two weeks ago, and with Alex Verdugo replacing Mookie Betts in right field, Boston has three left-handed hitting starting outfielders. Pillar's righty bat would help.

The Rangers also stand out as a possible landing spot for Pillar, though that is just my speculation. Texas does not have a true center fielder on the roster at the moment and the team is currently slated to roll with Danny Santana out there. Pillar would give the team a solid glove, if nothing else. Either way, it sounds like the veteran ballhawk will sign soon enough.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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