Jason Heyward is just the beginning of wild trade-rumor season for Cubs

Patrick Mooney
NBC Sports Chicago

The Jason Heyward/Jeff Samardzija/Mark Melancon rumor made so little sense – and San Francisco Giants beat writers shot it down so quickly – that Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer didn't feel obligated to contact the Gold Glove outfielder or the Excel Sports Management team that negotiated no-trade protections into his $184 million contract.

"In that situation, no, there's no need to," Hoyer said Thursday on NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Talk Podcast. "I think everyone realized it was just a fabricated rumor. There are times when maybe if a deal has some real legs – and the player knows it has legs – that it's worth reaching out."

But this is how the echo chamber works now, an idea floated on Twitter gets traction on social media and then posted on blogs and recycled on talks shows and newspaper websites and pushed into Google's search engine.

It will only get louder during next week's GM meetings when agents and reporters stake out the lobby inside a luxury resort in Orlando, Florida. Given a talented roster crowded with young hitters, an obvious need for pitching, an aggressive front office and some financial flexibility, the Cubs will again be in the middle of the action.

"One of the things we've talked about with all of our players is we're in a winning time here," Hoyer said. "We're in Chicago. It's a major market. You're all going to get rumored in trades, and you just have to accept that.

"That's part of playing in a big market, and part of winning. If you're in a smaller market – and not necessarily in that mindset – you can be a player that never has trade rumors. That's probably not going to happen here. Our players have been pretty good at understanding that."

Heyward now has a World Series ring, five Gold Gloves, a .669 OPS during his two seasons as a Cub and full no-trade rights through 2018. The Cubs essentially have three untouchables in their lineup (Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras), a middle-infield combination that would be difficult to break up (Addison Russell and Javier Baez) and three first-round talents repeatedly linked in trade speculation (Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber and Albert Almora Jr.).

"With some rare exceptions," Hoyer said, "probably all of these guys have been rumored at some point. And I think that might have been a good thing for them to not freak out every time someone throws their name out there."

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