The Cardinals (Dexter Fowler), Rangers (Carlos Gomez) and Nationals (Eaton) no longer need a center fielder. And there is a glut of corner-outfield bats available for those who don’t view McCutchen in the middle of the diamond. So the only place McCutchen is likely to move now is to one of the outfield corners in Pittsburgh. It’s a good thing this general manager (Neal Huntingdon) and this manager (Clint Hurdle) are so adept at the art of people skills. They’ll need all of those skills to convince McCutchen he’s as beloved as ever in Pittsburgh.

Game Youth Danilo Gallinari Jersey They’ve already traded Wade Davis (for Jorge Soler). The question now is how many deals like that are yet to come? The consensus among teams that have talked to the Royals is that they are likely to trade no more than two additional players from their core, with Lorenzo Cain/Jarrod Dyson/Danny Duffy probably atop that list.

Fowler is the first free agent to sign with the Cardinals after ending the previous season with the Cubs since Mark Grudzielanek did it in the 2004-05 offseason. The Cardinals and Cubs open the 2017 season on April 2 in St. Louis (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).

Unlike last season, the Cubs will prepare depth starters at Triple-A Iowa for when they’re needed in the big leagues. For example, lefty Rob Zastryzny is likely to start the season in the minors, even after an impressive stretch as a reliever in 2016.

“Guys with [minor league] options really have to force their way onto the team, or else they’re valuable depth for us,” Epstein said. “Right now, we need more depth in the starting rotation than we do in the bullpen.”

Youth Cam Atkinson Jersey Along with Zastryzny, Epstein identified Jake Buchanan, Aaron Brooks and (minor league pickup) Seth Frankoff as starters from within the organization the Cubs would like to call upon if needed. They’re looking for more from outside as well.

Epstein didn’t dismiss the idea of taking someone in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. Although the Cubs pick late, they have an opening for a long man, preferably a lefty. As the organization struggles with its pitching depth, as well as finding the right trade for a young arm, the Rule 5 draft is one way to replenish.