NL Central rumors & news: David Freese, Jeff Samardzija, Rafael Furcal

Dilip Vishwanat

We've got minor injuries, major injuries, contract discussions and more. Catch up with all the rumors and news from the National League Central.

The St. Louis Cardinals are making the news for all the wrong reasons - injury reasons. No team wants to face injury adversity this early in the year, but the Cardinals are working on ways to get around it. The Chicago Cubs, on the other hand, are trying to get all Tampa Bay Raysish with Jeff Samardzija. It's just not working out yet. Here are your NL Central news and notes:

  • David Freese is feeling tightness in his lower back. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Freese's back problem is minor and not causing much issue. It's still something to keep an eye on.
  • Matt Garza's trade value is still bottomed out right now. He is working on getting better as soon as possible, but Garza has not even been cleared to throw off a mound yet, says Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. The Cubs have made no secret of their desire to trade Garza, but last year's elbow injury and this spring's setback are sure to throw a wrench in the club's trade plans.
  • Although they have Russell Martin, Bucs Dugout says the Pittsburgh Pirates are looking for catching depth. They are apparently looking for minor league catchers who would likely be used in a stop gap role if there were a serious of injuries on the Major League roster.
  • Rafael Furcal has officially undergone Tommy John surgery. So, if there were any delusional hopes that Furcal would get a second opinion give up on Tommy John and suddenly recover, those hopes are now dashed. The fight for the Cardinals' new shortstop is officially on. It seems the Cardinals are intent on using internal candidates to fill the role, but they may eventually look to the trade market.
  • The Cubs are trying to operate on a budget - much like the Rays. To do so, they have to lock their young players up. As we covered earlier today, the Cubs have offered Jeff Smardzija a decent early contract, but the two sides are not close on an extension.
  • Hiram Borgos was fighting for the Milwaukee Brewers' fifth spot in the starting rotation. He looked like he might have a shot and participated in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico. However, as Brew Crew Ball covered, the Brewers have decided to option Borgos back to Triple-A.

The NL Central could get competitive this season depending on how the Cardinals bounce back from injuries and how the Brewers fare in the first half of the season.

So, who's your pick to win the division?

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