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Friday, December 20, 2019

Being cheap is not a plan

I think, after the way this offseason has gone and reading this and this that I think I’m ready to state that I believe the Cubs main - and maybe only - goal this offseason is to get under the luxury tax.  They will, and are already trying to, spin it as a reset or restocking so they don’t fall off a cliff after 2021 and all the FAs.  They are using this past season’s failure as an excuse to not seriously invest any more into this version of the team, and an excuse for why they’ll end up trading someone like Bryant or Contreras. 

The Cubs have spent a lot of money the last few years, that’s true.  They also saved a lot during the rebuild - which I was fine with at the time, and still am - but they’ve always used the carrot of even more future spending (more money from the remodel, more endorsements, more money from their own network, etc) and every single time they walk it back later on.  I realize that the Ricketts - like virtually every other owner in every sport - are trying to make as much money as possible from the team even though they’re absolutely swimming in money already and even the more excessive luxury tax penalties wouldn’t dent their net worth.  So I don’t think I feel like they “owe” me to spend more on the team, but I absolutely reserve the right to be absolutely furious when this will likely be the second year in a row that the team refuses to address obvious holes with just cash. 

Of course, Theo and the FO deserve plenty of blame for the Cubs being in this situation.  They absolutely nailed the first part of their plan, and have slowly been undermining the continued excellence part of it.  I don’t really feel the need to rehash any individual move*, but in total they’ve done more good than bad although it appears they’ve been trying to even that out the last few years.  I don’t know if they hamstrung themselves with their poor moves and had the rug pulled out from under them on expected ability to spend (either to keep adding or to correct prior mistakes).  I was pretty strongly against making any sort of FO change when we were going through the end of season collapse, but if the Ricketts don’t trust them to spend their money maybe that’s a vote of no confidence and the Cubs would be better off long term with a new direction. 

I hope everyone enjoys super utility guy Hernan Perez, who’s really just another version of Descalso, and that’s just more bad money after bad. 

*Even though the most obvious and painful one is the Torres/Chapman one that I am still on some level ok with because of the 2016 title.  YMMV

Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 20, 2019 at 11:45 AM | 101 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 20, 2019 at 01:16 PM (#5910184)
Reading Sharma these days is just depressing:

The Cubs had clear needs last winter — a veteran hitter and bullpen help — and were forced to address them by searching for undervalued players who came on the cheap. Instead of aggressively pursuing quality relievers like Zack Britton or Andrew Miller, Epstein added Brad Brach, Tony Barnette and Xavier Cedeño. Daniel Descalso was the lone position player added in place of Tommy La Stella. The four players combined to produce -0.6 WAR, according to FanGraphs.

---

The problem with last winter’s lack of activity was never about the Cubs not adding Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, just like this winter isn’t a failure because they didn’t try to sign Anthony Rendon or Gerrit Cole. But not being able to afford Alex Claudio is troubling.

Before Claudio signed with the Brewers for $1.75 million, the Cubs had made it clear they were interested. But they needed to clear money first, so he signed with Milwaukee.


But the Cubs apparently can’t afford Hernández. Nor could they scrounge up the money to sign Eric Sogard, who also signed with Milwaukee for $4.5 million.

So who is in their “minor-league deal” price range? Joe Panik is a name that has come up.


Ugh.

But for the second offseason in a row, the Cubs are unable to aggressively improve a club that has clear flaws but high potential. Instead, they’re left waiting out a market that’s beginning to pass them by. It just doesn’t seem like the way a team like the Cubs should be operating.


Yep
   2. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 21, 2019 at 12:22 PM (#5910286)
Cubs have signed right-handed pitcher Ryan Tepera to a one-year split deal. $900K if he’s in the bigs, $300K in the minors. He has an option remaining. 40-man at 39


That'll teach me to be pessimistic.
   3. base ball chick Posted: December 21, 2019 at 12:39 PM (#5910293)
being cheap IS a plan, because the idea is not winning - i mean, if it happens to happen it happens,
the plan is to make as much money for the owners while hopefully screwing the players as much as possible
   4. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: December 21, 2019 at 01:19 PM (#5910304)
I was pretty strongly against making any sort of FO change when we were going through the end of season collapse, but if the Ricketts don’t trust them to spend their money maybe that’s a vote of no confidence

Or the refusal to spend has nothing to do with the front office, and would be the edict from up high regardless of who were the key guys in the front office.
   5. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:41 AM (#5910568)
My point there, Dag, is more that the Cubs are saying (or being rumored to say), they can't sign *anyone* until the shed salary. If they're really missing out on guys signing for just a couple million, it implies to me that the Ricketts don't trust the FO - in addition to deciding they're not going to spend any more.
   6. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:48 AM (#5910577)
We're seeing a pretty standard Theo team at this point. Good build up. Some mistakes in FA. Everything dries up and the team is maxed out on payroll.
   7. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2019 at 10:54 AM (#5910580)
Everything dries up and the team is maxed out on payroll.

The Cubs should not be maxed out at $220M. They can clearly afford to go all the way to the last threshold ($248M) and beyond. If they're not spending the extra $28M that costs only money, that's a choice to be cheap.
   8. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2019 at 11:00 AM (#5910585)
Certainly but Theo had to have been aware of what his future payroll limits were going to be. He rolled the dice several years ago and he and the team are now paying the price of those gambles in 2016 through 2018. In a lot of ways GM and or Presidents shouldn't be on the team for more than 5 years. Virtually none of them build the organization for the long haul. They can't. Virtually none of them will be around past 5 years if they don't succeed within those 5 years. So you might as well set up your team with the expectation that every 5 years there will be a completely new system in place. Either that or it is the same system but with new personnel manning it.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 23, 2019 at 11:29 AM (#5910607)
The Cubs should not be maxed out at $220M. They can clearly afford to go all the way to the last threshold ($248M) and beyond. If they're not spending the extra $28M that costs only money, that's a choice to be cheap.
What’s that thing the people you always vote for say about being good at spending other people’s money?
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2019 at 12:16 PM (#5910623)
What’s that thing the people you always vote for say about being good at spending other people’s money?

Are you claiming the Cubs would not be wildly profitable with a $248M payroll?

Anyway it's your (Cubs fans) money the Ricketts are pocketing, rather than spending on the team. My team finally opened their pocketbooks.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2019 at 12:19 PM (#5910624)
Certainly but Theo had to have been aware of what his future payroll limits were going to be.He rolled the dice several years ago and he and the team are now paying the price of those gambles in 2016 through 2018.

He rolled the dice, and won. Big. The Cubs have to be seeing massive increases in revenue and profits since the 2016 World Series.

I would guess Theo expected that if he won the big prize, the Ricketts would let him spend some of that largesse on improving the team. He apparently was wrong, but that's wasn't a bad assumption.

I guess I should be happy given how the Ricketts family will be spending some of that money in 2020.
   12. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2019 at 12:32 PM (#5910631)
It ain't my money their pocketing. Their pocketing Fox's money which was given to them by the likes of Fifth, Third Bank, Chevy and Nike. None of whom I have given any money to.
   13. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2019 at 12:44 PM (#5910635)

He rolled the dice, and won. Big. The Cubs have to be seeing massive increases in revenue and profits since the 2016 World Series.


He didn't really roll the dice for 2016. Or I should in some ways he didn't have to.

Lester wasn't really a huge gamble at the time of the signing. The vast majority of his time with the Cubs would be at the beginning of the supposed youth cycle. 2015 to 2018 for him. Not really a big gamble to sign him. Heyward was the big sign before 2016. The gamble there was long term not the next two to three years.

During the season he of course makes some big moves that cost the Cubs future talent and the Cubs win it all in 2016 so its hard to view it as Larry Andersen for Bagwell when you have the flag. After 2016 they then tried to do a bunch of things that don't really pay off while continuing to grow the payroll. Yu Darvish, Kimbrel, traded Eloy for Quintana, traded Soler for one season of Davis. It's the mid to post 2016 decisions that failed to keep the party going for years by draining talent and bloating the payroll for the most part (outside of Heyward's contract).
   14. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 06, 2020 at 10:50 AM (#5913210)
Kaplan (sorry):

Kris Bryant's pending service time grievance has hampered the Cubs ability to trade the former MVP. Consequently, it's hindered their ability to accomplish much this offseason. People around baseball believe the Cubs trade demands are far out of line with what Bryant’s value is in the marketplace.

“The Cubs' asking price for Bryant is a joke," a former GM said. "They want nearly ready major league talent at the level of a Gleyber Torres type or close and there is no chance a team is going to give them a package of those caliber of players.

"I like Bryant but he is not a Top 30 player in baseball in my opinion. He is mediocre at best as a defender at third base. His swing has changed dramatically since 2016 and I question if he is truly 100% healthy. Sure, he has ability and he is a big, strong man but his offensive impact is nowhere close to what he looked like when the Cubs won the World Series."

Multiple people in baseball echoed that sentiment. They don’t see the same impactful offensive player Bryant was in 2015 and 2016, and they believe that the Cubs are in a very difficult spot to turn the team around.

"It is getting late in the offseason and Contreras will not bring you the return that they are asking for and what they are asking for is obscene," the same executive said. "Yes, he’s a really good player but the Cubs want a king’s ransom for him and I don’t see them getting that back.


A lot to unpack there. First, I'm at least glad to hear the Cubs are asking for a ton back for either Bryant or Contreras. If other teams don't want to pay a bunch for them, it's a pretty good sign the Cubs shouldn't be trading them anyway.

I can somewhat see the argument people are trying to make about Bryant, even though I disagree with that assessment of him. That, plus the Cubs not having anything resembling a decent replacement in house for him, is more than enough reason to not trade him. OTOH, I don't see why there'd be nearly as pushback on a Contreras deal, though the quotes on that one aren't as strong.

Next, I absolutely do not believe the Cubs are asking for a Gleyber level player back because there really aren't many, if any, other guys that you can really say are comparable. If that person is really trying to equate Victor Robles and Torres, they're a ####### moron.

Lastly, I think it totally makes sense why there hasn't been a Bryant trade yet while Donaldson still hasn't signed and 2 of the teams left are in on both guys (Braves/Nats) and everyone is still waiting for the ruling on his service time grievance. What I still have a hard time really understanding is why the Cubs have been completely unable to do anything else while this is in limbo. I mean, I know what they're saying, but it's still meant that this has arguably been a disastrous offseason and almost nothing - save a team really deciding to trade the Cubs Gleybar+ for KB - can save.
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 06, 2020 at 11:09 AM (#5913216)
They want nearly ready major league talent at the level of a Gleyber Torres
Just to pick a name at random.
   16. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 06, 2020 at 11:47 AM (#5913223)
Sigh....

Let's not use "Gleyber level player" as shorthand.

I may still be in the minority regarding the value of 27 regular season innings and 15 (6 run) innings of postseason baseball meant for the 2016 team.... but there is no need to trigger me.
   17. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 06, 2020 at 03:02 PM (#5913291)

Lastly, I think it totally makes sense why there hasn't been a Bryant trade yet while Donaldson still hasn't signed and 2 of the teams left are in on both guys (Braves/Nats) and everyone is still waiting for the ruling on his service time grievance. What I still have a hard time really understanding is why the Cubs have been completely unable to do anything else while this is in limbo. I mean, I know what they're saying, but it's still meant that this has arguably been a disastrous offseason and almost nothing - save a team really deciding to trade the Cubs Gleybar+ for KB - can save.


It doesn't make sense that the Cubs have been entirely paralyzed by this delay. If the entire offseason plan revolves around trading Bryant then it's hard to be optimistic about the 2020 Cubs.
   18. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 06, 2020 at 03:42 PM (#5913314)
Yep, exactly.
   19. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 06, 2020 at 04:16 PM (#5913326)
If you want to be a bizarro optimist - and keep in mind, I'm the guy who thinks people are overrating the value of KB a bit to wee bit - then the paralysis would be a good thing.... because it means everyone else is spending their money, and if Donaldson signs soon.... there might not be any reasonable takers for Bryant regardless of which way the grievance pans out.

   20. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 06, 2020 at 06:55 PM (#5913371)
Passan:
Free agent spending* stragglers this winter:

Cubs: $0
Pirates: $0
Rockies: $0
Mariners: $2.95M
Orioles: $3M
Royals: $3.6M
Indians: $6.25M
A's: $7.5M
Giants: $9M
Red Sox: $9M
Dodgers: $10M
Rays: $12M
Cardinals: $13M
Astros: $15M

* Counts major league contracts, not split deals


Wonderful list to be on top.
   21. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 06, 2020 at 07:13 PM (#5913376)
The only signing I think I might have liked the Cubs in on is that Japanese CF (Rays, I think?).

Sure, sure.... say Cole or Strasburg (can we even say Strasburg), but I'm not sure I'd have wanted to top either of those offers anyway.

Despite my statements on KB's relative value, I just want to be clear that I don't favor trading him either. Despite the doldrums this team seems to be in, I'm actually of a mind that the best path forward is to see if Baez/KB/Rizzo/Willy/Happ/Schwarbs can all put up a over-median prime season and getting some kind of magic from the various highly paid pitchers already on the roster.

I guess I kind of resigned myself to a "Let's see what things look like in June" 2020.
   22. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 06, 2020 at 07:20 PM (#5913378)
Cubs have signed infielder Carlos Asuaje to a minor league deal. He has a chance to make the team as their 26th manwith a solid spring. Lefty hitting second baseman with an option remaining.
   23. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: January 06, 2020 at 07:36 PM (#5913382)
For those of you who enjoy losing yourself in my OOTP escapism fantasies, though.... I'll offer up this treat for people who want a BIG move.

After nabbing my 6th straight WS title in 2024, breaking the MLB record of 5 consecutive titles, I just made the biggest trade of my OOTP dynasty. I just traded likely Rookie of the Year Alvin Guzman (276/356/446 with gold glove defense in CF at age 22), WS MVP Riley Greene (313/375/498 with 29 HRs and one more pre-arb year remaining), Braden Shewmake (310/385/538 in a Zobristian super-utility role as a 27 yo, but also with one more pre-arb year), and my 2021 1st rounder Jonathon Childress for Vlad Jr and two prospects.

Vlad Jr will be 26 in his last arb year in 2025.... and he's also supplanted Mike Trout as the best player in baseball. He's led all of baseball in WAR in 2021, 2022, and 2023 - and won the triple crown last year at 375/446/696 with career high 51 HR, 149 RBI, 11.9 WAR.... The prospects the Jays tossed in are legit - IF Chris Barker was their 2022 1st rounder (3rd overall, top 10 MLB prospect - but he's a Royce Lewis-type HSer) and Juan Padilla (their 2023 1st rounder - 12th overall, but an SP out of college in a weak draft who figures to be more of a safe mid-rotation guy).

Added to the scenario - I still have Kris Bryant under contract for 2 more years (plus two options with hefty buyouts) and I'm pretty happy with Brendan McKay playing 1B on days he's doesn't pitch..... so I'm going to be moving lil Vlad to LF, at least for now.

So, without a position for Vlad....

11.9 WAR 25 yo at 21m scheduled to be a FA after 2025 for a 22 yo 3.5-4 WAR CF with two pre-arb years, a 23 yo 4.5-5 WAR corner OF, and a 2-2.5 WAR IF in his last pre-arb year. The SP prospects cancel out.... if it weren't for a more or less fictional Royce Lewis.... that's an interesting sort of trade that I'm not sure I win or lose.... but we'll see.
   24. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 06, 2020 at 07:39 PM (#5913384)
Reds signed him. They got outbid by the ####### reds.
   25. Meatwad Posted: January 06, 2020 at 09:09 PM (#5913400)
Do we really need to give the home crowd another chance to be rascist? Besides that deal was announced before the new year.
   26. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 07, 2020 at 11:29 AM (#5913522)
I...what? Fukudome was a long time again, and I don't recall Darvish having many issues. Regardless, that's a terrible reason to not sign someone.
   27. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 07, 2020 at 01:29 PM (#5913575)
Cishek to the White Sox, and not for that much (1yr, essentially $6mil with a $6.75mil option year). I did find it a little weird him and Kintzler (and less so Strop) were still unsigned for this long; almost had me wondering whether the Cubs had been trying to get them back but had effectively gotten them to wait out whatever moves the Cubs wanted to make first. It was a dumb, long shot idea, that is even less true now.
   28. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 07, 2020 at 01:48 PM (#5913582)
Couple Cubs notes from Passan:

Bryant would fit well in either spot [WSH or ATL]. Interested teams do want to know the result of his grievance against the Cubs that would send him to free agency after this year instead of after the 2021 season. It's a tough case to win, and the ruling from an arbitrator is expected within a couple of weeks, according to sources.

Arenado would work with Atlanta or Washington similarly well, although, according to sources, conversations with the Braves have gone nowhere, and the Nationals haven't focused on acquiring him. As the Colorado Rockies search for potential trade partners, two teams in particular have intrigued them, according to sources: the Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cubs would make sense if they move Bryant. They are not primed for some sort of a rebuild as much as a refresh or reboot -- an always-difficult needle to thread, particularly if they hope to dip under the luxury-tax threshold. One source characterized the Cubs as doing due diligence, as they've done throughout the winter with myriad trade conversations, but the notion of trading catcher Willson Contreras and a higher-priced, underperforming player in an Arenado deal, then flipping Bryant to revitalize a mediocre farm system, squares in the short and long term. The Nationals' best trade piece, middle infielder Spencer Kieboom, would be a perfect anchor for a Bryant deal if the Cubs didn't already have Javier Baez at shortstop and rookie Nico Hoerner at second base.


Similar to our crazy ideas about Rendon before he signed with the Angles, I could imagine a possibility where the Cubs traded Bryant for help elsewhere while replacing him with Arenado and being better off in 2020 and going forward. Throwing Contreras into the mix as a trade piece for Arenado is a new and interesting wrinkle.

Thinking out loud here...Bryant for prospects* saves them ~$20mil this year, then Heyward**/Contraras for Arenado (Cubs would absolutely be taking on all of NA's deal if they're dumping Heyward, so perhaps they're even paying down some of Heyward's $86mil deal in this situation) only costs them ~$10mil more (depending on any money changing hands), which they spend some on the bullpen/veteran catcher. That definitely accomplishes the goal of shaking up the team, but isn't saving them money and now there's another position without a player (RF). So they've have to get at least one major league ready position player back in any Bryant deal, sign some low cost lottery ticket type, or somehow dump more money (like Chatwood) in the deal (or elsewhere) and resign Castellanos***.

*ATL would probably net them at least one pitcher back who maybe can go into the rotation now and another prospect (or 2) lfurther away. WSH would either be Robles or Kieboom (if him, Nico goes to CF and Kieboom to 2b, right?) plus maybe something else lower or further away.
**It has to be Heyward, what other disappointing contract is there that makes sense? Chatwood isn't enough of a savings, if they wanted to dump Quintana they could have just declined his options (and considering his option for next year definitely still has positive value; I guess if it's Quintana that implies the Rockies paying a good portion of Arenado's deal, right).
***Everything seems to indicate he'd really rather be back, and the Cubs would like him but it doesn't fit now with both spot to play and money.

I'm trying to imagine what would be the best case end result if this admittedly insane Arenado thing went anywhere and it's fun to picture if only because it's fun to picture *something* happening.
   29. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 07, 2020 at 02:50 PM (#5913617)
I can definitely get behind the Moses plan up to and including Castellanos in RF (assuming Robles could be acquired to fill the CF void). If the Cubs actually traded away Contreras/Heyward/Bryant and received Arenado/Robles & signed Castellanos I think I could muster up some optimism about the team.

The rotation would be:

Hendricks
Lester
Darvish
Quintana
Chatwood/Alzolay

Ideally, you would prefer some more depth here because the odds one of those first four names breaks down are pretty good.
   30. Quaker Posted: January 07, 2020 at 06:29 PM (#5913682)
Small point: Quintana is a FA after this season. 2020 was his last option year.
   31. Walt Davis Posted: January 07, 2020 at 07:28 PM (#5913699)
His swing has changed dramatically since 2016

I'm intrigued to read a "professional" saying this because while I can't tell you how, it does seem like Bryant generates a lot of weak contact for his kind of hitter. Or more than he used to. I'm not sure it is true (outside of 2018) since HR/FB and LD% have been pretty steady but it does seem to my eyeball that there are too many times when he just sorta lays the bat on the ball, hitting a lot of weak flyballs and only the occasional short fliner that dropped in, presumably to avoid a strike. And, probably over-reaction on my part, it seemed to happen a lot in key situations with guys on base. Maybe it's just that his pop-up rate jumped to 15% last year and maybe that's just a fluke. Anyway, there just seemed to be a number of times last year when he got a pitch I thought he would rip and he dinked it.

So let's see what statcast says. (To be clear, I am pretty skeptical that the public statcast stuff has a lot to tell us on individual players beyond the regular stats -- just too much variation.) His barrel %age was around 11.5 in 2015-16 and has been around 9.5% the last 3 years and that's not good. Average EV was over 89, has dropped to 87 or below. Launch angle was 19-20 in the first two years, lowered in 2017-18 but back over 19 in 2019 ... maybe not a great combo with the drop in EV though. His hard hit % is well down. Still, by xBA, xSLG and xWOBA, his 2019 wasn't far off his 2015 so, in theory, he's replaced Ks with weaker contact and come out about even.

On the swing profile, he swings at more stuff up in the zone than the average but he also makes contact up there. He continues to swing over a lot of low stuff when he swings at it (about average). He swings through more stuff in the middle of the zone than average but he often crushes it when he hits it. I didn't notice any big differences between 2015 and 2019 but if it's possible to do side-by-side for the same player, I didn't figure it out.

They have some sort of similarity tool that compares players by "hitter profile" (barrel, solid contact, flare, etc. plus Ks) -- I have no idea if this has any predictive value but let's hope not. The RHBs closest to him are Canha, DeJong, Carson Kelly, Aguilar, Hunter Dozier and Todd Frazier. This seems only available for 2019 but the sims list goes 67 deep and the really big boys are nowhere in sight. The best 2019 hitters on the list and near the bottom are Gleyber (sorry Zonk) and Muncy. Other than that, I don't think anybody tops his 131 OPS+ and most are well below it.

I would guess Theo expected that if he won the big prize, the Ricketts would let him spend some of that largesse on improving the team. He apparently was wrong, but that's wasn't a bad assumption.

I agree more than disagree but back before 2016, Theo had a quote along the lines of "I got together with the team's financial guys and they were able to figure out some ways to fit in Heyward, Lackey, Zobrist, etc." Reading between the lines, that sounded a lot like the financial guys were saying "you can spend it now or you can spend it later but not both." Their opinion probably should have changed after a revenue jump following 2016 but apparently did not. I think there's a good chance Theo knew this was coming -- but he likely expected that the relative bargains of Bryant, Russell, Baez, Torres (still on the Cubs at the time of the quote I think), Schwarber, Happ, etc. would mean that didn't matter so much. Alas, a possibly reduced Bryant and a surprisingly good Baez is pretty much all we have to show for that now.

Anyway, I obviously could be misinterpreting but I think the finance guys were telling him this day was coming.

   32. Red Voodooin Posted: January 07, 2020 at 07:36 PM (#5913701)
I suppose scenario where we trade Bryant for several shiny objects AND trade Contreras for Arenado WHILE ALSO dumping Heyward AND re-signing Castellanos, well that would make us a better team, theoretically, next year and beyond.

But I doubt that comes to fruition, and I've been slowly talking myself into being okay with essentially running the same 84-win team out there next year and hope it can become a 92-win team.
   33. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 08, 2020 at 10:36 AM (#5913815)
I agree more than disagree but back before 2016, Theo had a quote along the lines of "I got together with the team's financial guys and they were able to figure out some ways to fit in Heyward, Lackey, Zobrist, etc." Reading between the lines, that sounded a lot like the financial guys were saying "you can spend it now or you can spend it later but not both." Their opinion probably should have changed after a revenue jump following 2016 but apparently did not. I think there's a good chance Theo knew this was coming -- but he likely expected that the relative bargains of Bryant, Russell, Baez, Torres (still on the Cubs at the time of the quote I think), Schwarber, Happ, etc. would mean that didn't matter so much. Alas, a possibly reduced Bryant and a surprisingly good Baez is pretty much all we have to show for that now.

Anyway, I obviously could be misinterpreting but I think the finance guys were telling him this day was coming.


In all honesty, I think that story keeps changing. I do remember talk in the 2015/2016 offseason that pretty much said the Cubs spent more of their money for that offseason and the next at that point (the Heyward/Zobrist/Lackey deals) with the implication being not to expect much after the 2016 season. I don't recall it meaning something that would impact later years, at least not then. I don't recall any specific comments after the Chatwood/Darvish signings about that taking up money from future years either.

Last offseason, when they weren't spending any real money and were trying to take the pressure off them going after Harper/Machado, there was a very specific quote I remember, but can't find at the moment (but will keep looking) that said their new network would make an *immediate* impact in the payroll. Then after the season ended, it was the exact opposite. So, who knows...
   34. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 08, 2020 at 04:43 PM (#5913978)
I like seeing Javy as the overall leader in MLB here (also future Cub Arenado :) ).

---

Athletic:
Thus far, the market hasn’t been what the Cubs had hoped, with sources and multiple reports confirming the sky-high asking prices for Kris Bryant and Willson Contreras. But Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer have never been so hell-bent on changing the roster that they would settle for anything less than a massive haul for Bryant or Contreras.

Whispers that Kyle Schwarber is being discussed in various trade scenarios continue to linger. But nothing appears imminent on that front. As badly as this team may need personnel changes, the stars need to align for Epstein to pull off what he really wants.

---

Drastic change still could be a possibility in the coming days and weeks. An arbitrator’s anticipated ruling in Bryant’s service-time grievance — combined with Josh Donaldson’s upcoming free-agent decision — should provide some clarity. There is the possibility of a long-term deal for Javier Báez, which would finally give Cubs fans some good news this winter.


The rotation would be:

Hendricks
Lester
Darvish
Quintana
Chatwood/Alzolay


From that same article:
Starting pitchers (5)
Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, José Quintana, Tyler Chatwood

Also on the 40-man roster: Jharel Cotton, Alec Mills, Colin Rea, Adbert Alzolay, Tyson Miller


I'd argue Darvish is the #1 if he's the same guy as the 2nd half of the year, but Quintana really need to have a better (contract) year (and I'm much more confident in the Darvish part being true than the Q one). After the top 4, I think you almost have to be ready for the 5th-9th (or whatever) spot to give you at least 50 starts and probably as many as 75. I like a fair amount of what we saw from Mills last year, and Rea was really good in AAA. Best case is Alzolay taking a step forward again (in health, not just performance) so that he can be counted on to take one of the guaranteed spots in 2021 with so many of those guys leaving. Athletic predicts the Cubs will try to sign another "buy-low starter with upside."

The bullpen, like any bullpen, can be really bad with the current mix with some ok potential.
   35. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 08, 2020 at 06:14 PM (#5914001)
And Marquee still isn't available that widely yet, most importantly to my current options (Dish, Comcast, YouTubeTV).
   36. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 10, 2020 at 01:11 PM (#5914557)
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan 37m

Third baseman Kris Bryant and the Chicago Cubs have settled on a one-year, $18.6 million deal, a source familiar with the agreement tells ESPN.


Almora got $1.575mil. Nothing yet on Javy/Schwarber/Contreras/Ryan.
   37. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 10, 2020 at 04:18 PM (#5914657)
Javy $10mil.
Schwarber $7mil.
Contreras $4.5mil.
Ryan $975K.

$550k under MLBTR guesses. Maybe that frees them up for another split deal on some random scrub.
   38. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 13, 2020 at 12:16 PM (#5915101)
So that puts the 2020 Cubs payroll at $188,435,000 though it's a $209,433,333 for luxury tax purposes ($1,433,333 over the threshold). I don't think this does much for the random scrub signing since the white elephant remains in the room. Or something.

   39. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 14, 2020 at 09:12 AM (#5915517)
Cubs traded Tony Kemp to the A's for Alfonso Rivas, who is a 1b who was a recentish draft pick. Doesn't look like he has much power or anything.

Kemp was making the minimum, so this doesn't result in any savings.

---

If the Cubs really are that close to the tax level and are intent on getting under, they could definitely do that without doing anything drastic (like they could eat some money to dump Chatwood or something). Of course, that would also mean the roster wouldn't get any further major league guys. And it would also mean you think there's a good reason to get completely out of the tax.
   40. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 15, 2020 at 04:39 AM (#5915873)
Now that Donaldson has signed with the Twins (side note, good for them), the Cubs can hope to start a bidding war for Bryant between the Nats, Braves, and Dodgers. Well, once his grievance is finally decided that is. I still am not happy about that potential course of action, but at least the Cubs aren't limited to one suitor.

I also don't like the idea of the Cards sniffing around Arenado. No matter how good his contract is or isn't, he's a good player and would be a really good get for them.
   41. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 17, 2020 at 06:46 AM (#5916824)
“We want to be one of the teams that are expected to make the playoffs,” Ricketts said. “You saw what happened last year — (a) wild-card team won the World Series. We’ve been preaching that. We’ve been telling that story every year. The idea is to be consistent and put a quality team on the field. That’s always the No. 1 goal.

“First of all, payroll doesn’t solve all your problems. The top payrolls last year didn’t even make the playoffs, and we were one of them. Our baseball spend will be at the top — or among the top teams — every year going forward. We’ve developed the resources here to be consistent on that.

“The real question is: Can you put the resources in the right place to win the division or to make the wild card? That’s where Theo and Jed are working very hard to make sure that we have the right team on the field for next year. CBT is a real factor. It’s not the defining factor of this offseason. What we’re going to do with CBT is not something we discuss publicly.

“But fans should know there is a cost if you keep your payroll high enough long enough. You’re paying money into the league, which ultimately goes to other teams, and you can lose draft position. It’s a factor. It’s not the defining factor of the offseason.”

On FA:
“I’m not going to go into that,” Ricketts said. “That’s really the Theo department. But we still have a long time before baseball starts, too.”

If the unknowns about Marquee and the cost of the Wrigley Field renovations haven’t been a huge hindrance to this offseason, then why haven’t the Cubs signed a major-league free agent yet?

“That’s a question for Theo, in many respects,” Ricketts said. “Once again, (it’s) going back to the fact that just spending money doesn’t guarantee you wins. We also understand (that) as we’ve had this core of talent, every year they have built-in raises through the arbitration model, so a lot of the financial resources are going to the players that we already have, which is great. That’s the way it works.

“There’s no magic free agent out there, anyway. You look at what happened last year with the Padres or the Phillies and it doesn’t always solve your problems.”


Wrigley cost overruns:
Ricketts said: “The fact is that our preliminary assessments — before we had a pretty good look at what the situation really was at Wrigley — (showed) it was going to be $300 million or something in that range. It turned out to be $740 million in the end. But no one could have known in advance the level of the issues we were going to find.

“It did not affect the baseball budget. We financed it. One of the things we did was we sold pieces of the team. We paid for it by selling off assets, selling off equity in the team. That effectively covered the expenses that we didn’t anticipate — that we could not have anticipated — early on.”


generously copied and pasted from here
   42. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 17, 2020 at 12:16 PM (#5916912)
“That’s a question for Theo, in many respects,” Ricketts said. “Once again, (it’s) going back to the fact that just spending money doesn’t guarantee you wins. We also understand (that) as we’ve had this core of talent, every year they have built-in raises through the arbitration model, so a lot of the financial resources are going to the players that we already have, which is great. That’s the way it works.

At this point, the only possible interpretation of the Cubs' offseason is that they have to trim payroll and Plan A is to do it by moving Bryant once the arbitrator's decision comes down.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: January 18, 2020 at 06:49 PM (#5917247)
Being $1.4 M over the threshold is like shooting with your toe over the 3-point line, just dumb. Either reset or go way over.
   44. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 22, 2020 at 04:12 PM (#5918421)
I'm sure they could pay like 90% of Chatwood's deal to get under the tax. I do think it's pretty amazing - in a bad way, of course - how this Bryant grievance may have totally torpedoed the entire offseason. Obviously, in my opinion is was a faulty plan to base everything off moving him in the first place and they might be better off with the status quo rather than a reshaped roster that was reshaped just to say it was reshaped.

---

BA's top 100 prospects are out. Marquez is 37, Nico 40, and Brennan Davis 94. I'm a little surprised Amaya isn't on it this year (IIRC he was around 90ish last year, and last season seems like it should have shot him up rather than down). Davis is a guy that could really start to shoot up these listings this year. INAPP, but I feel like Marquez and Davis are definitely the high ceiling types the Cubs have missed lately while Nico and Amaya are more of the solid pros with higher floors but not high ceilings.

From last month, but here's BA's top 10 Cubs prospects:
Brailyn Marquez, LHP
Nico Hoerner, SS/2B
Brennen Davis, OF
Miguel Amaya, C
Chase Strumpf, 2B
Cole Roederer, OF
Ryan Jensen, RHP
Ethan Hearn, C
Riley Thompson, RHP
Cory Abbott, RHP

I guess it's a little interesting Alzolay has completely fallen off that listing too.
   45. McCoy Posted: January 22, 2020 at 04:27 PM (#5918426)
It's amusing that the "shrewd" move back in 2015 that would allow the Cubs to keep him an extra year has cost them a chance to compete in 2020 and lead to Bryant being off the team even sooner than if they hadn't have messed with his service clock. Chickens. Home. Roost.
   46. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 22, 2020 at 04:29 PM (#5918427)
I guess it's a little interesting Alzolay has completely fallen off that listing too.

Yeah, the first thing I noticed as well. What the hell?

I'm a little surprised Amaya isn't on it this year (IIRC he was around 90ish last year, and last season seems like it should have shot him up rather than down).

I guess he had a rough time in the AFL, but still.
   47. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 22, 2020 at 04:38 PM (#5918429)
It's amusing that the "shrewd" move back in 2015 that would allow the Cubs to keep him an extra year has cost them a chance to compete in 2020 and lead to Bryant being off the team even sooner than if they hadn't have messed with his service clock. Chickens. Home. Roost.

Unless they lose the grievance - which most people don't think they will - this is completely wrong.

EDIT: I should add, the longer it takes for the ruling, I guess the better the chances are the Cubs do lose and he's granted FA after this season. It still sounds unlikely, but doesn't mean impossible. So, yes, you'll be right if Bryant is granted early FA. Regardless, it's still a stretch to say that this is the main reason they won't (or might not) be competitive this year; that's much more on the FO and ownership.
   48. The Yankee Clapper Posted: January 22, 2020 at 05:27 PM (#5918447)
Being $1.4 M over the threshold is like shooting with your toe over the 3-point line, just dumb. Either reset or go way over.
Re-setting can be a multi-year process with the first step being just getting to the lower tax thresholds. That would seem preferable to trying to do it all in one year by dumping still valuable but expensive players.
   49. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 24, 2020 at 02:53 PM (#5919099)
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Free-agent outfielder Steven Souza close to deal with #Cubs, source tells The Athletic.

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Will be a major-league contract when completed . . .

Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal

Souza, close to agreement with #Cubs, did not play last season after injuring his left knee in the second-to-last exhibition of the spring. He sustained a torn ACL, LCL and partial tear of his PCL and posterior lateral capsule.


So Theo is allowed to spend some money even without having shed any salary. What took so ####### long?

As for Souza, I mean, he seems kinda like Descalso to me, expect he's not coming off an unexpected career year. IOW, he's a 4th OF/PH type, which to be fair, the Cubs bench is terrible right now. This gets a solid meh from me.
   50. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 27, 2020 at 09:59 AM (#5919509)
Kintzler to Marlins, 1yr/$3.5mil. Castellanos to Reds for ~4/$64mil. Both are completely reasonable deals, and while you could make the case against signing them, considering the timing of the signings and the amounts, well, I'm kinda pissed again at the Ricketts for deciding it's not worth trying to pay to add to this core.
   51. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 27, 2020 at 10:32 AM (#5919527)
What took so ####### long?

He was non-tendered to save his club the $4 million salary. He isn't spending much here.

I'm kinda pissed again at the Ricketts for deciding it's not worth trying to pay to add to this core.

I thought it was understood Castellanos was waiting for the Cubs to make him an offer. I wonder if the club told him they can't do it or if he just got impatient? I think you can make the case against signing Castellanos but that Kintzler deal looks very reasonable, inexpensive and fits a need. That's fairly concerning.

Theo is only signed through 2021. I wonder if he is going to leave on his own.
   52. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 27, 2020 at 10:46 AM (#5919537)
He was non-tendered to save his club the $4 million salary. He isn't spending much here.

I just meant that's the first bit of guaranteed major league money the Cubs spent this offseason. Going back to post 1, the Cubs weren't able to (allowed to?) match the Brewers offer of $1.75mil for a RP, so, I think my question still stands.

---

FWIW, from Keith Law's recent chat:
Dan on Oahu: Keith- congrats on your move to the Athletic, I had been on the fence about subscribing but jumped on the bandwagon as soon as I saw the move and it’s well worth the price of admission. What would be a reasonable return to the Cubs for Bryant from either the Braves or Dodgers? Same question for Arrenado?
Keith Law: I heard from one exec that the Cubs weren’t really talking Bryant with suitors. This was a club that, in theory, would be in his market.


---

I thought it was understood Castellanos was waiting for the Cubs to make him an offer. I wonder if the club told him they can't do it or if he just got impatient? I think you can make the case against signing Castellanos but that Kintzler deal looks very reasonable, inexpensive and fits a need. That's fairly concerning.

Yeah, that was my impression as well. Castellanos does have an opt out after this year.
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 27, 2020 at 10:49 AM (#5919539)
Castellanos to Reds for ~4/$64mil.

Don't the Reds already have like 5 OF?
   54. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 27, 2020 at 11:01 AM (#5919546)
I heard from one exec that the Cubs weren’t really talking Bryant with suitors. This was a club that, in theory, would be in his market.

I still think he's getting traded. I'm not sure the Cubs can wait until a deadline deal to do it. If the team is in contention and they clear payroll at the expense of the ML roster in July that will probably go over worse with the fans than doing it now.

At this point (or after the arbitrator's ruling) it might be easier to sell a Bryant trade than their last resort Chatwood option to get under the threshold. As strange as it sounds the Cubs might need Chatwood more than Bryant this year since their already weak pitching depth is further eroding this offseason.
   55. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 27, 2020 at 11:11 AM (#5919553)
And if the Cubs say #### it, and don't pull the trigger on the one big move to get under the luxury tax next year then 2021 will possibly be even more difficult to get there.

The Cubs shed money on Lester ($10 million), Chatwood ($13 million), and Quintana ($10.5 million) but will have the following major contributors getting arb raises:

Bryant
Baez
Schwarber
Contreras
Almora
Bote
Caratini
Happ

Plus, that's with the departure of two starting SPs which are really expensive to replace on the FA market.

If the Cubs are intent on resetting the luxury tax penalty they had better do it this year.
   56. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 27, 2020 at 12:06 PM (#5919581)
MLB Pipeline has their top 100 prospect list out.

Nico is 51, Marquez 68, Davis 78, and Amaya is 95.
   57. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: January 27, 2020 at 12:21 PM (#5919584)
major contributors

Almora
Bote
Caratini
Happ
I mean, I'm sure they're nice guys in the clubhouse and all...
   58. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 27, 2020 at 12:57 PM (#5919612)
FWIW, I don't agree with the larger point, but...

Bote signed an extension, so we already know his raise is only $460k. Almora could be a non-tender candidate unless he really improves; even then, it'll be a small amount most likely. Caratini and Happ would be in their first year of arb. OTOH, the Cubs are counting pennies these days, so it all probably does matter.
   59. Red Voodooin Posted: January 27, 2020 at 01:33 PM (#5919624)
As strange as it sounds the Cubs might need Chatwood more than Bryant this year since their already weak pitching depth is further eroding this offseason.


This sounds strange because it is insane.
   60. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 27, 2020 at 01:55 PM (#5919634)

Bote signed an extension, so we already know his raise is only $460k. Almora could be a non-tender candidate unless he really improves; even then, it'll be a small amount most likely. Caratini and Happ would be in their first year of arb. OTOH, the Cubs are counting pennies these days, so it all probably does matter.


I mean, that's my point [sorry about Bote, I misread the Cots spreadsheet]. These are guys whose production can't really be replaced more cheaply so the Cubs either let them walk and make the team marginally worse; or they eat into their budget.

The bigger looming payroll issue for 2021 is the absence of internal options for the starting rotation. The Cubs will need to replace Chatwood and Quintana - and even that assumes Lester is still taking his turn every five days. How much space do they have for that under the lux tax after arb raises?
   61. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 27, 2020 at 02:00 PM (#5919636)
This sounds strange because it is insane.

I don't think it's likely to be a correct statement; but I don't think the possibility can be dismissed out of hand.

Who would take Chatwood's place right now? Alzolay (if healthy) or Alec Mills? How many guys in the organization right now stand between Alec Mills and sub replacement level starter?
   62. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 27, 2020 at 02:31 PM (#5919655)
Colin Rea is probably right there with Mills/Alzolay for the 6th starter/swing role competition. Tyson Miller and Cory Abbott look like they'll probably be in the AAA rotation so I guess they're options.

I'm sure there are some veteran starter types out there still that could end up signing late/cheaply to fill a spot if needed. None are great, but I'd say the dropoff from Chatwood to one of them is probably a lot less than from Bryant to Bote. So I'll side with insane, though I know where you're coming from...
   63. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 27, 2020 at 02:37 PM (#5919661)
Who would take Chatwood's place right now? Alzolay (if healthy) or Alec Mills? How many guys in the organization right now stand between Alec Mills and sub replacement level starter?

Andrew Cashner, Chad Bettis, and Trevor Cahill are unsigned right now. Is Chatwood that much better than any of them?
   64. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 27, 2020 at 03:28 PM (#5919680)
Is Chatwood that much better than any of them?

Yeah, I think so. His FIP last year was significantly better than any of them (way better than Cahill) and he has fewer question marks about durability than Cashner or Bettis.
   65. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 28, 2020 at 10:45 AM (#5919863)
Cubs are kicking the tires on Scooter Gennett, who would be a perfectly reasonable low risk type of signing. As I said in the other thread though, the fact that both him and Souza fit that mold is the disappointing part.

---

Theo is only signed through 2021. I wonder if he is going to leave on his own.

Meant to comment on this yesterday but got distracted. I think I'd be surprised if Theo stayed on; he made such a big deal about the 10 year thing when he first came to the Cubs that I believe that was probably his plan all along (and the 2 5 year contracts he signed fit nicely there). I have nothing against Hoyer per se, but assuming Theo does leave and the Cubs don't have some sort of miraculous turnaround in their development pipeline in the next 1.5 years, I'd rather the Cubs look outside the org for the new FO. They should really consider raiding the TB FO this time. I don't want to give the Ricketts any ideas about being that cheap, but that is an org that's built a pretty sustainable model regardless of who's running the ship. Friedman has been just fine with his expanded budget - although you could always find specific things to pick on there - but I'm mostly interested in their ability to consistently develop talent while being competitive and winning virtually every trade they make.

While I defended the FO during the collapse last year and put a lot of blame for the stagnation the last 2 offseasons on the ownership, the FO has absolutely struggled quite a bit lately. I'm still not ready to throw them overboard - and unless they end up trading Bryant for peanuts at some point this year, don't think any result for this season really would have me calling for their heads next offseason (maybe if Ross is such a buffoon/moron that it's obvious how blind they were in hiring him is another reason I'd consider calling for Thed's firing).
   66. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 28, 2020 at 12:54 PM (#5919916)
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan

Reliever Jeremy Jeffress and the Chicago Cubs are in agreement on a one-year, $850,000 major league contract, sources familiar with the deal tell ESPN. Jeffress can earn an additional $200,000 based on games pitched.


Theo's drunk and has his dad's credit card.
   67. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 28, 2020 at 02:21 PM (#5919959)
In truth, I think the Cubs are doing it for the PR as they have now technically made multiple signings. Jeffress and Souza aren't making people happy but it beats defending the fact you signed zero players.
   68. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 28, 2020 at 03:22 PM (#5919972)
Maybe, but that's some pretty expensive PR if they don't get under the tax; expensive because they'd still pay the tax/repeater penalties and expensive because it sure feels like too little/too late and if this is a change in course they missed better chances to improve earlier this offseason.

To reiterate, there's nothing wrong with bargain shopping/fishing for veteran bounceback candidates - which definitely applies to Jeffress, Souza, and Gennett (if they do sign him); even Morrow fits in that bucket. If they all hit, that will end up costing maybe $6mil total; they won't, so they probably are out less. But unless (until?) they get under the tax line, they're actually costing more than their salary.

Another thing, the Cubs 40 man is at 39 not including Souza or Jeffress, so they'll be trying to pass another one of their offseason minor league RP adds through waivers again (guys like Travis Lakins or Trevor Megill or Casey Sadler or Ryan Tepera or Dan Winkler; they sure have a lot of scratch off ticket types, they got CD Pelham through waivers just last week).
   69. Nasty Nate Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:17 AM (#5920145)
Bryant loses grievance

A song: Grievance in Chicago
   70. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:34 AM (#5920149)
Now the offseason can start, right?
   71. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:36 AM (#5920150)
Now the offseason can start, right?

Pitchers and catchers report in 13 days.
   72. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:37 AM (#5920151)
In all seriousness, what the #### took so long?
   73. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:46 AM (#5920153)
Damn. I was hoping he'd win. (Sure it's good for the Cubs that he lost, but they clearly were playing games with service time).
   74. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:49 AM (#5920155)
Right, and I sorta agree with that. If nothing else, it surely will prove to be a major point of discussion in the upcoming CBA talks.
   75. Kiko Sakata Posted: January 29, 2020 at 11:09 AM (#5920159)
In all seriousness, what the #### took so long?


Is there any chance that this was the arbitrator saying, "Okay, technically what you did fell within the rules, so I can't rule against you, but what you did was bullshit, so I'm going to slow-walk it to at least screw you over a little bit"?
   76. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: January 29, 2020 at 11:18 AM (#5920162)
Does anybody know when the held the actual hearing? I found an article that said the party's briefs were due December 20.

EDIT: It looks like the hearing began in October and "resumed" the first week of November. So if December 20 was the last time a party submitted evidence or arguments that's 40 days before the decision was announced.

To me that would indicate they took Bryant's case fairly seriously.
   77. Dag Nabbit at ExactlyAsOld.com Posted: January 29, 2020 at 10:52 PM (#5920379)
Is there any chance that this was the arbitrator saying, "Okay, technically what you did fell within the rules, so I can't rule against you, but what you did was bullshit, so I'm going to slow-walk it to at least screw you over a little bit"?

This occurred to me as well ... but, it's an odd way to screw the Cubs over by making it harder for them to trade the former MVP on their roster.
   78. Charles S. is not doing chainsaw bears any more Posted: January 30, 2020 at 09:44 AM (#5920422)
In all seriousness, what the #### took so long?

By waiting this long, the arbitrator gets the ruling to last for seven years instead of six.
   79. SoSH U at work Posted: January 30, 2020 at 11:53 AM (#5920481)
This woman agreed with the thread's basic premise:

RIP Joanne
   80. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: January 30, 2020 at 02:32 PM (#5920557)
Too little, too late, Joanne. Strop signed with the Reds today. He signed for about double what Jeffress did in guarantees, and I'd guess both have the same number/types of question marks. This one bums more out more than it should though. If the Reds are actually better than the Cubs this year - which is definitely possible - it's gonna be hard for me to sports hate them.
   81. Meatwad Posted: January 30, 2020 at 09:57 PM (#5920669)
I had hadnt realized strop was a FA, i will miss him. One of the best rf pitchers ever!
   82. Meatwad Posted: February 02, 2020 at 10:14 PM (#5921249)
For the cubs that is. We have a week til spring training cant wait for bassball.
   83. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: February 04, 2020 at 10:24 AM (#5921482)
Didn't we get basically this exact same story last offseason?

On the one hand, it's good to know that the FO is constantly evaluating areas where they need to improve behind the scenes. Player development very clearly had fallen behind, and hopefully this will generate results with the next round of prospects and future Cubs.

On the other, this is pretty pathetic to try and use this again to spin a disastrous offseason of little to no change after the FO publicly said it was necessary. It's also pretty damning how far they've likely fallen behind that they feel the need to publicly tout how much they've changed this offseason.
   84. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 04, 2020 at 10:33 AM (#5921485)
Here's Hoyer's take on the offseason:

“The activity of our offseason isn’t indicative of how much we’ve been on the phone and have been working,” Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer told ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers as part of a Q&A session. It has been a quiet winter in Wrigleyville, as the Cubs have been limited to minor league signings and a couple of low-cost MLB contracts as the club is seemingly operating with a very limited amount of available payroll. The Cubs have yet to make any major acquisitions or trade away any big in-house contracts to free up more luxury tax space, though while Hoyer admitted “this is obviously likely to be one of our less active offseasons,” more transactions could be on the horizon. “We’ve been incredibly active making calls and exploring options,” the GM said, adding that he expects “the trade market will continue to be an active place well into February.”
   85. McCoy Posted: February 04, 2020 at 10:45 AM (#5921490)
So busy work. Got it.

Reminds me of a cook I had many years ago. Our kitchen's prep area was behind the main line and you could see over the equipment to either area. Myself and the executive chef (I was a sous at the time) were talking in the prep area and he needed some work done. He looks over to the main kitchen to see who was available. Carl had his back to us and appeared to be chopping so he picked another guy. I smiled and afterwards went up to Carl and told him I knew what he was doing. He was standing there air chopping with nothing in his hands to look busy. That's the Cubs.
   86. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 04, 2020 at 12:37 PM (#5921520)
I smiled and afterwards went up to Carl and told him I knew what he was doing. He was standing there air chopping with nothing in his hands to look busy.
Hey, chopped air is a $50 entree at some of the best restaurants in New York and L.A.
   87. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 04, 2020 at 02:03 PM (#5921558)
I believe them that they have worked hard to get something done. I question whether they have been realistic about what they can achieve and whether their intransigence has painted them into a corner.

Hoyer's argument is that they are not lazy but possibly incompetent. I'm not sure that's better.
   88. Der-K: at 10% emotional investment Posted: February 04, 2020 at 02:10 PM (#5921559)
I won't defend what the Cubs are doing (and not doing!) but I think the Jeffress signing was a nice buy low move.
   89. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: February 04, 2020 at 02:25 PM (#5921565)
Oh, sure. The Souza move is also defensible and a decent buy low fit.
   90. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: February 04, 2020 at 06:21 PM (#5921641)
Jordan Bastian @MLBastian

With a potential opening at second base, Cubs have been in contact with free-agent 2B (and Chicago native) Jason Kipnis. Had .446 SLG vs RHP last season, compared to .342 vs LHP. Former teammate of new Cubs coach Mike Napoli.


Jordan Bastian @MLBastian

Cubs have been looking at possible lefty bats to help at 2B. Bote and Hoerner are the main in-house options. Things could also change for roster if trades occur between now and Opening Day. Cubs have also been linked to FA Scooter Gennett in reports.


They've already signed a handful of similar guys to minor league deals - Hernan Perez, Carlos Asuaje, and Corban Joseph. Not to mention this is basically Descalso's job on the roster. Chop, chop, chop.
   91. Meatwad Posted: February 05, 2020 at 02:19 AM (#5921747)
With the return for Betts I can see why the cubs kept Bryant, winning the NL just got a lot harder.
   92. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: February 05, 2020 at 09:48 AM (#5921814)
I'd like to see them sign Kipnis... what they need is pitching, especially in the bullpen, but Kipnis coming home would be nice and while the Cubs are clearly falling back to an 85 win team, yaneverknow.
   93. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: February 05, 2020 at 10:26 AM (#5921849)
I don't mean to degrade Kipnis - he'd probably immediately be the best of that lefty 2b bunch.

As for the bullpen, there isn't anything left out there that's a clear upgrade on what they have, right?
   94. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 05, 2020 at 10:55 AM (#5921885)
Here are the remaining RPs from the MLBTradeRumors free agent tracker.

Just to pull a couple names, there are guys like Colin McHugh, Addison Reed, and Jared Hughes who would be upgrades, I think (I have no idea if they're healthy). Plus a number of guys who were good relievers just a couple years ago.

The question I don't have a feel for is just how good the Cubs bullpen is looking. They lost Cishek, Kintzler, and Strop this offseason. Chatwood is probably moving to the rotation. Who knows what they will get out of Kimbrel.

So who is likely to be make the opening day roster for the bullpen? Kimbrel, Ryan, Tepera, Wick, Jeffress, Winkler, Mills, Alzolay?
   95. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: February 05, 2020 at 01:08 PM (#5921980)
Locks - Kimbrel, Wick, Jeffress, Wieck, Ryan (and Chatwood if he's not in the rotation).
I think Underwood is out of options, so he might have a good chance to stick. I'd bet Mills is the long guy (if he doesn't beat out Chatwood for 5th spot). Then the last spot (or 2 if Underwood doesn't stick) will be any of the minor league free agents you listed or I listed in post 68 (or maybe Maples). I'd be surprised if Alzolay isn't starting in AAA to start the season. Maybe the best case for the Cubs is that Morrow gets healthy at some point and joins the pen sometime during the season*

I have to think, that for the most part, those guys the Cubs mass signed were instead of guys like Reed or Hughes (or maybe Jeffress was instead of them) and the Cubs are projecting those options are better. As I said, I don't think any of those guys are clearly superior to anyone they already have. Cishek and Kintzler would have been, Strop probably.

*Laugh if you want, but if healthy - as unlikely as it is - he's by far the best guy they could add.
   96. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: February 05, 2020 at 01:10 PM (#5921982)
Waiting for the full ZIPS piece to run at FG today, Szym teased it yesterday.

Quick thoughts - ZIPS is more confident in CF and 2B (and Lester) than I am, but I'm more confident in Bryant and Contreras.
   97. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: February 05, 2020 at 01:23 PM (#5921992)
Morrow gets healthy at some point and joins the pen sometime during the season*
'Shyeah! And monkeys *might* fly out of my butt.
   98. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: February 05, 2020 at 02:15 PM (#5922021)
I'd be surprised if Alzolay isn't starting in AAA to start the season.

It's an interesting conundrum. Alzolay threw 114.1 professional innings in 2017, then 39.2 in 2018, and 81.2 in 2019. So even under the best case scenario you are not going to ask him to make 30 starts. So do you use in AAA to try and stretch him out as a future starter? That burns up a lot of his available innings pretty quickly. Or do you decide it's better for him to be with the major league club and a good enough pitcher to help you right now? In which case he probably has to try and help you out of the bullpen rather than the rotation.
   99. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: February 11, 2020 at 06:34 PM (#5923704)
Cubs signed Kipnis to a minor league deal and he gets a NRI.

In his article about the opening day roster yesterday, Sharma stated Descalso was making the team because of his guaranteed money. I'm not sure why we should assume that - though I guess it probably isn't likely the Cubs would just eat that contract only to add another mil or so for one of these veteran NRI types.

I guess I should put together a new thread soon to talk about ST and the roster battles. But you know, that's not exactly that riveting quite yet.
   100. Due to the leadership of Zonk... Posted: February 12, 2020 at 09:23 AM (#5923790)
Kipnis was a nice story in the 2016 WS... I'm glad to see him come home and have a shot at playing for the team he grew up rooting for.

With the team obviously looking like an 85 win "hope lots of things go right" - I'm pretty much settling on hoping for good stories and guys I can root for... If this team goes anywhere in 2020, it won't be the 106 win, curse-breaking juggernaut.... Its route will be more of the 1989 fun team of career years and surprises.

That can be fun, too.
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