The Chicago Cubs would like some financial relief before jumping into the free-agent market.
Cubs officials are making it clear to agents of both marquee and lower-tiered free agents that they need to shed salary before signing players, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports.
It was reported earlier in the week by Jon Morosi of MLB.com that the Cubs do have some interest in re-signing outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. However, the chances of a reunion happening without some kind of trade preceding it are remote, according to Rosenthal.
Chicago blew past the $206-million luxury-tax threshold in 2019, and currently sit approximately $6-million above the 2020 tax line, according to Rosenthal.
The Cubs are said to be aggressively pursuing trades this winter following another disappointing season. Some of their roster's biggest names, including catcher Willson Contreras, third baseman Kris Bryant, and first baseman Anthony Rizzo, have already heard their names bandied about in rumors.
Contreras and Bryant are both expected to receive significant raises in arbitration, while Rizzo is under contract through 2021 by virtue of two $14.5 million team options.
Castellanos joined the Cubs in a deadline-day deal and absolutely raked during his two months at Wrigley Field, posting a 1.002 OPS with 16 homers and 21 of his MLB-high 58 doubles after the trade.
Multiple other teams are said to be pursuing Castellanos, including the San Francisco Giants.