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Levine: Cubs Have Carlos Gonzalez In Their Sights

By Bruce Levine--

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CBS) -- The next step here in the offseason for the Cubs could the pursuit of a run-producing outfielder, be it in the free-agent market or the trade market.

The big-time free agents who are on the Cubs' list are Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon. Both will be due long-term contracts and big paydays. If the consideration of a trade for the Cubs, the name that keeps coming up is Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, a two-time All-Star. Colorado has made it known that it will part with the left-hander power hitter if the trade is right.

Gonzalez, 30, is owed $37 million over the next two seasons before he can become a free agent. With that in mind, both he and his salary fit in the short-term win-now mode of the Cubs without taking away from the long-term goals. Of course, the Cubs would have to be willing to trade away position player depth, and injury has been a key element of disturbance in Gonzalez's career.

Gonzales has had trouble playing a full schedule of games, not playing more than 135 from 2011-'14. He stayed healthy in a breakout 2015 season, playing a career-high 153 games and hitting .271 with 40 homers, 97 RBIs and an .864 OPS. It's never been a question of talent with Gonzalez, as he has a career .290 batting average and .870 OPS.

As the Cubs continue to explore their options at the Winter Meetings, the issue of how many games that Gonzalez will be available for is the key in deciding how much they'd offer the Rockies. It's believed Chicago outfielder Jorge Soler would be a foundational piece of any such deal.

Gonzales will earn $17 million in 2016 and $20 million in 2017.

Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.

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