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NL Central Notes: Starters, Fielder, Hairston, Cordero, Cespedes

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Don't look past the National League Central; the Cardinals are coming off a rather amazing World Series win but are dealing with at least one major free agent issue, Mr. Albert Pujols, the Brewers are almost certainly losing Prince Fielder to the highest bidder, the Cubs are reshaping their club in Theo Epstein's image (but will have to do so under the constraints of the new CBA), and the Pirates and Reds are both coming to terms with their place in the win later/hope later spectrum. Here's the latest:

  • Jocketty says starter is priority - John Fay
    "'I can’t comment of other team’s players, Jocketty said, 'although others are OK talking about ours. I will say we’re looking at improving pitching. The first priority is finding a starting pitcher. If (Francisco) Cordero leaves, we’ll have to look at finding a closer.'"
  • Free-agent decisions loom for Brewers - JSOnline
    "Though the compensation rules changed for 2012 under the new labor deal announced Tuesday, the Brewers still stand to receive draft picks if they offer arbitration to Fielder, Rodriguez and Betancourt and they sign elsewhere."
  • Market for J. Hairston heating up - Ken Rosenthal
    "The Dodgers, Brewers and Giants are among the clubs showing interest in Hairston, major league sources say. Hairston, 35, spent last season with the Nationals and Brewers, posting a .727 OPS in 376 plate appearances, then going 15 for 39 (.385) with four walks and six doubles for the Brewers in the postseason."
  • Report: Bucs ink two to Minor League deals - Jenifer Langosch
    "The Pirates have signed OF/C Jake Fox and RHP Shairon Martis to Minor League deals. The report does not note whether the contracts include invites to Major League Spring Training, but I would guess they do. The Pirates are expected to formally announce these signings before Thanksgiving."
  • Cordero now Type B free agent - Mark Sheldon
    "This could increase the chances that both Cordero and Hernandez do not return to the Reds. They no longer have to offer arbitration to get compensation with the possibility that the player accepts. That is a big benefit to the Reds. And clubs that might want to sign Cordero or Hernandez no longer have to relinquish a first-round pick as compensation, which might make them more attractive to sign."
  • Compensation change on K-Rod; Fielder Will Be Offered Arbitration - Brew Beat
    "The Brewers will definitely offer arbitration to Fielder because they want the Draft picks. We’ll have to wait and see on Rodriguez. The risk is that he accepts, and would be considered signed for 2012 at a salary above the $13.5 million he earned last season."
  • Pirates Still Looking at First Base - Bill Brink
    "The Pirates have filled two of the three main holes in their defense. First base remains the final piece needed. The Pirates can offer salary arbitration to free agent Derrek Lee by Wednesday night in an attempt to retain him. They might also look elsewhere in free agency or via trade, and they have Matt Hague, who starred this season at Class AAA Indianapolis, available if they decide on an internal option."
  • Cubs scouting Cuban defector Yoennis Cespedes; Pena Fits - Chicago Tribune
    "First baseman Carlos Pena fits what Sveum is looking for defensively, and also fits Epstein's profile of a hitter who sees a lot of pitches. But Pena's agent, Scott Boras, is looking to get more than one one-year, $10 million deal that Boras termed a "pillow contract" last December. Bryan LaHair, who is also left-handed and earned Pacific Coast League MVP honors, remains a more affordable option if re-signing Pena isn't in their plans."