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Paul Sullivan: Cubs hope to shield players from offseason trade rumors. Will it work?

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Cubs veterans looking for clues about their future in Chicago can stop reading now.

President Theo Epstein said Monday he's not interested in reacting to every rumor that pops up on Twitter, the internet or talk radio.

The Cubs entered the offseason with speculation they're shopping catcher Willson Contreras and that former Most Valuable Player Kris Bryant may also be available for the right price.

Yes, the Cubs will be looking to restock the farm system, rebuild on the fly and rebound from another lost September, and the best way to do that is to deal a prominent player or two they've been unable to sign to a long-term deal.

But Epstein doesn't want those players to wake up and see they're trade bait, even if some of them are available.

"While it's true there aren't any untouchables, that's been the case since we got here," Epstein said on the opening day of the general managers meetings at the Omni Scottsdale Resort and Spa. "That's just a universal policy that we have.

 

"The nature of any offseason (is) there are going to be rumors about your major-league players and even your best players, and that doesn't necessarily mean they're true. No one knows how this winter is going to evolve, even us. We have no idea what will be available to us, so take any name that comes up in trade rumor with a mouthful of salt, not just a grain. Not that they come from a malicious place, but sometimes they can have real-world negative consequences for the player and his family. So we're going to do everything we can to operate respectfully.

"These guys whose names keep coming up in trade rumors have done a ton for our franchise and are among the best players in the world. I don't want to do anything to make their lives more difficult. Most trade rumors out there are not true."

Advances in technology have drastically changed the way the baseball offseason develops. Secrets are hard to keep when anyone in the meetings can anonymously text a reporter with a hot trade proposal and see it on the ESPN crawl or on MLBTradeRumors.com in a matter of minutes.

This is not your father's Hot Stove League, and it's not going back to the '80s anytime soon.

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