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MLB rumors: Cubs could reunite with Anthony Rizzo; Matt Shoemaker nearing deal in Japan

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Major League Baseball’s owner-imposed lockout may have caused the offseason to freeze, but that hasn’t stopped the occasional rumor from slipping through concerning what teams intend to do if and when the league and the Players Association ratify a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Below, you can find all of Monday’s rumors, news, and notes from the wide world of baseball.

Could Cubs pursue Rizzo again?

The Cubs made one big splash before the lockout was imposed, signing starter Marcus Stroman to a multi-year contract. Chicago is expected to be in the running for top free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa once the lockout is lifted, but they might also have interest in a familiar face.

According to Bruce Levine of The Score, it’s at least “possible” the Cubs could attempt to reunite with first baseman Anthony Rizzo on a short-term deal. Here’s what Levine said in whole, per a Bleacher Nation transcription:

Levine: I’ve heard that’s possible. I’ve heard that it’s not out of the realm of giving a two or three-year contract. What if you heard, once the lockout ends, that the Cubs signed Rizzo to a two-year, $40M contract with a third year option. Would that be shocking to you?

Rizzo spent parts of 10 seasons in Chicago, where he hit .272/.372/.489 (130 OPS+), played good defense at the cold corner, and parlayed his personality into achieving fan-favorite status. The Cubs traded him to the Yankees at the deadline in exchange for Kevin Alcantara and Alexander Vizcaino as part of Chicago’s rebuild. 

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Rizzo, who is rumored to be of interest to the Braves as well, entered the offseason ranked by CBS Sports as the No. 22 free agent available this winter.

Shoemaker to sign with NPB team

Veteran right-hander Matt Shoemaker is nearing an agreement with the Yomiuri Giants of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, according to Sung Min Kim’s translation of a Sports Hochi report.

Shoemaker, 35 years old, has not enjoyed much success in the majors in recent seasons because of injuries and poor performance. Dating back to the start of 2018, he has amassed a 5.51 ERA (79 ERA+) and a 2.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 34 appearances (29 of them starts). Shoemaker pitched in 16 games last season for the Minnesota Twins, that mark represents his personal high since 2016.

Prior to Shoemaker’s recent dismal run, he had established himself as a solid big-league starter. From 2014-16, he started 71 games and accumulated a 3.80 ERA (100 ERA+) and a 4.30 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He even finished second in Rookie of the Year Award voting in 2014, losing out to José Abreu

Earlier in the lockout, CBS Sports reported on the notable players who were leaving MLB for Asian leagues, either NPB or South Korea’s Korean Baseball Organization. Here’s a useful quote to keep in mind:

“The amount of information and data teams are getting on players overseas is as vast as it’s ever been,” the agency source said. “It’s pretty easy for a guy to bet on his stuff and go to Japan, or wherever, and double the amount of money they were offered stateside in a season.”

We’ll see if Shoemaker can indeed rebound and find himself back in the majors come 2023.

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