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— Cubs Baseball for Thinking Fans

Monday, September 30, 2019

Regrets

Even though I was one of the people saying the Cubs should move on from Maddon, now that it’s official I find myself second-guessing how strongly I thought it was the right move.  Obviously, my opinion doesn’t matter at all and this would be the reality regardless of how I felt, but now I feel much less sure that it was the right move.  Maybe I’m just being nostalgic for how great those 5 years were.  I always bristled at the general (or non-Cubs) fan who said keeping Maddon was a no-brainer because of how good the Cubs have been under him and the fact that the next manager is likely to be, at best, less accomplished, and at worst, clearly inferior.  Regardless, I still will always have fond memories of the Maddon era, and not just the absolute highs of 2015-2016.  The 2nd half of 2017 and the NLDS against the Nats were also great, and there are plenty of guys who likely wouldn’t be who they are without him as a coach (mainly Javy; a lesser or more insecure manager would have tried to change Javy in a lot of ways that would make him less fun and likely not nearly as good). 

However, all good things end, and so now the question is who’s next.  I really have a hard time understanding why David Ross is such a wide-spread favorite - I mean, I “get” how popular he was (though honestly, I really don’t understand the why of that either), plus the Cubs have given him tons of free PR.  Maybe there’s a scenario where he is the best choice, but I’ll have a hard accepting it initially unless the Cubs are a lot more open in their interview process than I expect them to be.  I feel like Joe Girardi has not so quietly been publicly campaigning for this year since the Yankees fired him, and I don’t think I’d have much of a problem with him.  If the Cubs really are serious that the team needs some sort of culture change, it probably rules out “future managers” like Will Venable and Mark Loretta, though I the Cubs have been grooming both to be candidates.  There probably is a lot to be said for targeting a coach from outside the org, especially if they’re coming from one of the teams that have been successful lately (meaning, someone from the Astros, Dodgers, or Red Sox).  I have to think at least Tommy Hottovoy is safe - the Cubs have plenty of precedent in keeping pitching coaches across managers - and maybe even the hitting staff is safe too (if only because they’ve changed guys there every year for 3 years now).  Maybe that ends up ruling out Girardi and has them leaning towards a first time guy.  I’d absolutely love Francona, if the Indians decided they needed a change, too. 

Sometime in the next month or so, maybe I’ll be ready to do some sort of season recap, but I’m not there yet, plus they’re likely to hire a new manager well before any player moves start happening.  In the meantime, any rumors I see I’ll be sure to post here.  If nothing else, it’s time to move on from that cursed thread.

Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: September 30, 2019 at 09:21 AM | 160 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: November 14, 2019 at 02:23 PM (#5901166)
Given my complaints about Cub drafting under Theo - I heartily endorse ANY outside personnel brought in to fix things... I think random phone book names could do as well :-)

Assuming above means 2012 to 2014 Cardinal drafts - those were pretty solid drafts... some of the guys ultimately flopped; but there are a fair number of post 1st round guys who were relatively well-thought of prospects.... at least well regarded enough to be trade chits of value.

Fun fact - one of those 2012 draftees was Rowan Wick... though - he was drafted as a catcher (moved to the mound in 2015).
   102. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 11:51 AM (#5901425)
Dan Szymborski's 2019 postmortem on the Cubs. I think he's got it pretty much right, aside from the now-standard-Fangraphs prescription of "THEY MUST SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON FREE AGENTS!!!"
   103. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:18 PM (#5901438)
Yeah, it's a fine line to thread when talking about the Cubs and spending and I don't think anyone really consistently does a good job with it. On the one hand, the Cubs were one of 3 teams to pay the luxury tax last year (BOS/NYY) and Cot's puts the final tax payroll at ~$240mil. The Cubs tax payroll was only $193mil in 2018 (under the tax line), so even though they didn't spend big in FA (just Kimbrel during the year) they did spend quite a bit more this year. On the other hand, you have Ricketts saying dumb #### like "they're out of money" and everyone always talks about budget "constraints" - which although real, are self-imposed and do contract a lot of the talk during the rebuild/own network stuff*, not to mention how much more money the Cubs are absolutely making now as opposed to when the Ricketts took over.

On another hand, the Cubs have some pretty obvious needs that do line up with significant FAs; the farm is still relatively weak so it's certainly "easier" to fix holes by throwing money at it. On yet a different hand, the Cubs current FO's record in FA is mixed at best, especially at the high end. So I get the idea of saying the easiest way for them to improve next year is to spending even more money, but also acknowledge the context of how much they're already spending.**

*I have yet to see a single writer acknowledge the complete 180 when talking about spending under the new network. I've posted about it before, but they said just last offseason the new network would have an immediate impact on payroll; now, they're saying it may never have that impact. Things change, sure, but this is pretty extreme.
**Cot's puts the Cubs current tax payroll, including projected arb awards at $187.4mil, so the Cubs will definitely be spending more this year in FA/trades than last, if only to fill out the roster.
   104. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:27 PM (#5901442)
Oh, and Mike Napoli is the new QA coach. And Mooney confirms the Cubs are looking into Shogo Akiyama.
   105. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:31 PM (#5901445)
On yet a different hand, the Cubs current FO's record in FA is mixed at best, especially at the high end.
Exactly. Fangraphs largely lives in an ideologically-driven fantasy world where teams have unlimited budgets and should sign veteran FAs to righteously lavish early-2000s contracts. But, whether they think it's legitimate or not, the approach is never (again) going to be "Well, the big-money players we've signed already are working out pretty horribly, so we'll just spend a bunch more money on other aging FAs and hope to make up for it!" Plus, as you note, the homegrown core is already getting expensive. The fix here, to the extent it's even possible, is in player development.
   106. Quaker Posted: November 15, 2019 at 12:57 PM (#5901452)
Does Contreras for Merrifield make sense?

Think the Athletic said Merrifield might cost one IF and OF but didn't mention who.
   107. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: November 15, 2019 at 01:05 PM (#5901453)
Wittenmeyer is saying the Cubs and Javy are negotiating an extension. He's been the guy people have speculated would be the most likely to be locked up. I sure hope it happens.
   108. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: November 15, 2019 at 01:06 PM (#5901454)
Merrifield is a guy who makes a ton of sense for the Cubs - and has for a while; I don't know if Contreras makes as much sense for the Royals though.
   109. Quaker Posted: November 15, 2019 at 02:13 PM (#5901481)
Perez still has two more years and hadn't been as bad as I thought prior to missing 2019.
   110. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 15, 2019 at 03:00 PM (#5901500)
Perez has a lot of wear and tear on his body - maybe a C/1B/OF timeshare between him and Contreras? The Royals don't have anyone at 1B, do they?
   111. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: November 15, 2019 at 04:22 PM (#5901526)
It maybe makes sense that an AL would get more value out of Contreras since he could get a day off from catching but keep his bat in the lineup. OTOH, the Royals are an unsually poor fit in this regard because they already have a nearly full time right handed hitting DH.
   112. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: November 15, 2019 at 04:29 PM (#5901531)
In addition, I think Contreras would have less value to a team further away from contention; he could very well reach FA before the Royals are in playoff contention again (it's a similar reason the Royals would consider dealing someone like Merrifield in the first place).

That's not to say the Cubs couldn't both trade away Contreras and trade for Merrifield, just in separate deals.

   113. Walt Davis Posted: November 18, 2019 at 05:14 PM (#5902142)
Yeah, surely the Royals would only trade Merrifield for a bunch of prospects. Otherwise, he's good and fairly cheap so if they think they can compete over the next few years, don't trade him. They will need a Perez replacement in a couple of years so I could see Amaya being part of a deal -- Hoerner and Amaya might actually get it done. Trading Willson elsewhere for prospects then shipping those and Amaya to the Royals might work. Hoerner looked better than I expected and maybe he's ready to take over 2B in which case we need to focus on a CF (which Merrifield might be able to handle).

Not much to say on Dan's elegy. He could have been harsher on a few things, cheerier about others. His early Darvish projection is encouraging. And while I understand "spend, spend, spend" can't always be the answer, there are too many holes to fill from within or through trade. Or at least likely -- I suppose Happ or Almora could suddenly turn into the players we thought they might be, Hoerner already mentioned. But as we stand right now for 2020, no CF, no 2B, no 5th starter and I'm not sure there's a single reliever we can have faith in -- Kimbrel, Wick, Ryan could be pretty good or a big problem and that still leaves 2-3 key spots to fill. And of course it's not like LF and RF are manned by titans of the game.

What we really need to do is rip off the next Marlins for the next Yelich or the next O's for the next Arrieta. I suspect Cherington is too sharp but I'd certainly give him a call about Marte.

   114. Walt Davis Posted: November 18, 2019 at 10:35 PM (#5902207)
For mild clarity -- Hoerner, Bote, Happ is probably enough "could be good enough" 2B coverage that it should be the bottom of the priority list but I'm not opposed to a really good one falling into their laps anyway.
   115. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: November 20, 2019 at 08:41 PM (#5902829)
Cubs have added C Miguel Amaya, RHP Tyson Miller, RHP Manuel Rodriguez and INF Zack Short to the 40-man roster, which now stands at 36.



Rodriguez is only in A ball, so they must know something.
   116. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: November 22, 2019 at 10:23 AM (#5903126)
Callis on the Cubs farm system.

---

Eno Sarris on Akiyama and projecting him (plus the link to this profile). That 2nd link seems a little down on his CF defense, but Sarris's projections are pretty nice (.306/.373/.433). Cubs could keep Almora around as a platoon partner/defensive replacement for him.

---

It's nice to see the Brewers lose Grandal, regardless of how his contract eventually turns out.
   117. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: November 22, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5903139)
Jayson Stark @jaysonst

Aside from Gerrit Cole, I'm not sure there's a more coveted FA starter right now than Cole Hamels.

His agent, John Boggs, told me they're now up to 14 teams that have checked in on Hamels.

Boggs wouldn't discuss teams or terms. But ... (continued)

Jayson Stark @jaysonst

Teams that have talked to him say he's seeking a 1-year, Donaldson-esque deal at a high AAV or a 2-year deal north of JA Happ (2 years, $34M). Also open to 3 years at a lower AAV.

Hamels has been linked to Phil & SD. But logical fits include Min, Angels, StL, Atl, Mil, Hou, etc


I still wonder if he would have accepted the QO. I'm sure he's getting more attention not having the draft pick compensation attached.
   118. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: November 22, 2019 at 12:18 PM (#5903160)
I think Hamels would have accepted the QO.... Don't forget - his 2nd half was pretty poor. At the ASB, I thinking he was a no doubter, but by the time the choice had to be made, I think the Cubs made the right choice.

On Manuel Rodriguez/other adds -

He's only in high A, yes - but he's also 23 (he was a fairly late signing out of Mexico). He's supposedly got a MLB-ready fastball that sits in the 95-98 range with good movement. He had a bit of a sheen when the Cubs signed - but collapsed in 2018 when he started walking the world. He recovered nicely in 2019. I very much suspect that someone like Baltimore or Detroit would have picked him just for purposes of a cheap live arm lottery ticket for the bullpen (FWIW, he's strictly a reliever).

Amaya isn't MLB ready, but he's a premium prospect - so protecting him was/is a no brainer.

Tyson Miller hit a wall (and then some) when he moved to Iowa from AA, but he's probably the top Cub rotation prospect behind Alzolay, so he was inevitable, too.

Zack Short is basically a David Bote clone, except he can play SS full-time.

One surprise left off is Dakota Mekkes... He's a really big guy with a somewhat tough motion to track - one of those big pitchers who feels like he's releasing the ball a lot closer to you, the hitter, than he is. He's always had control problems, though... and while his movement is supposedly pretty good, his velocity is nothing special (low 90s). Anyway, he was/is probably ticketed as a AAA-MLB shuttle guy for the bullpen. My guess is that his upside really isn't enough that anyone will bother with him...

Beyond that... especially if the Cubs are looking to trade Contreras - there's at least one catcher (Jhonny Pereda - no that name is not misspelling) I'm surprised they aren't protecting. Pereda grades out as a glove-first backup C, so it's not like he'd be a huge loss (I think he'll be a 6 year FA after next year anyway). PJ Higgins is another C some folks thought the Cubs would protect (he can also play various IF positions). Oscar de la Cruz was once a high profile INTL arm -- but he got a PED suspension, so his stock has fallen considerably....

My guy Trevor Clifton also exposed...
   119. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: November 22, 2019 at 04:11 PM (#5903273)
Callis on Rodriguez:
Manuel Rodriguez, RHP, Cubs
Purchased from the Mexican League's Yucatan Lions for $400,000 in July 2016, Rodriguez has yet to pitch above Class A Advanced. But Chicago didn't want to risk losing him after he used a 94-98 mph fastball with crazy armside run and a power curveball to strike out 29 of the last 72 batters (40 percent) he faced this season.


BN wrote about him too:
But Rodriguez reminds that in the Rule 5 process, stuff reigns supreme, and he absolutely possesses real prospect stuff. While I would have leaned towards the greater certainty that Dakota Mekkes offers, it’s undeniable that Rodriguez offers an upside not matched by many other relievers in the system.

He will head to Double-A Tennessee to begin the 2020 season, and hopefully he will finally get some batted ball luck to allow the results to match the stuff. The Cubs front office clearly had reason to believe that if they didn’t roster Manny that another team might poach him, and with plenty of 40-man space, they didn’t want to let it happen.


Obviously there's a chance he's in the pen at some point next year.
   120. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 02, 2019 at 06:58 PM (#5905038)
Can confirm that the Cubs have avoided arb with RHP Jarel Cotton via a 1-year, $640K non-guaranteed contract. He was just over the Super Two eligibility line. Has a Minor League option.


Worth a shot, low risk.

Cubs non-tender Addison Russell and Danny Hultzen.


Wonder if they try to resign Hultzen to a minor league deal. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out, Addison.

They've also tendered six arb eligible players: Almora, Baez, Bryant, Contreras, Schwarber and Kyle Ryan. Along with Russell being non-tendered, Danny Hultzen was too. 40-man at 36
   121. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 03, 2019 at 10:46 AM (#5905173)
“We decided to non-tender Addison Russell today simply because the role we expected him to play for the 2020 Cubs was inconsistent with how he would have been treated in the salary arbitration process,” Epstein said in Monday’s statement released by the Cubs. “In the year since we decided to tender Addison a contract last November, he has lived up to his promise to put in the important self-improvement work necessary off the field and has shown growth as a person, as a partner, as a parent and as a citizen. We hope and believe that Addison’s work and growth will continue, and we have offered our continued support of him and his family, including Melisa.”


I find it a little interesting that Theo goes out of his way to say he's being released because he'd be overpaid. On the one hand, I think it's probably coming from a good place that the Cubs have been publicly consistent with their, let's call it character rehab process with Russell. That is not to say the Cubs handled it perfectly - Maddon of course did the worst job of all - but I think they've been much more open with some of the "expectations" they had for him, and most of all, they consistently acknowledged the victim and tried to appear supportive of her*. On the other hand, I'm extremely cynical and think a lot of that character rehab was PR; they kept him when they thought he could help them win and they're cutting him now because he's not good enough to be worth the bad PR.

*Although, honestly, a part of me wonders if she really enjoys the Cubs mentioning her anytime they talked about her ex.
   122. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 03, 2019 at 10:47 AM (#5905175)
Passan:

The Chicago Cubs have been, according to various executives, "aggressive," "manic," "motivated" and "obvious" in their desire to trade someone. Or someones. The Cubs are going to make a move. They're just not sure what yet.

Contreras is the name bandied about the most, partially because at $5 million or so as a first-time arbitration-eligible player, he's cheap and comes with three full years of control. Bryant, who turns 28 in January, is only four months older than Contreras but could cost quadruple the amount as a third-time-eligible player.

Because Bryant is so costly -- and because there's a risk, albeit slight, that an arbitrator could rule in his favor that the Cubs manipulated his service time and award him an extra day of service, giving him free agency after this season -- teams are hesitant on him. And that complicates matters, because a former MVP going on the trade market for a team with aspirations to win in 2020 is as weird as it sounds. It's simply the calculus these days, in which the balance between now and next is ever-harder to strike.

It's why Rizzo's name comes up in discussions. He seems untradable. The likelihood of the Cubs moving him certainly is lower than the others. But even he could move in this climate.

The Cubs know they need to be creative. They also know the first move they make is perhaps the most important and will set the tone for their winter.
   123. Red Voodooin Posted: December 03, 2019 at 06:06 PM (#5905384)
Chicago is "still pursuing" free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi.
   124. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 03, 2019 at 06:46 PM (#5905396)
The Chicago Cubs have been, according to various executives, "aggressive," "manic," "motivated" and "obvious" in their desire to trade someone. Or someones. The Cubs are going to make a move. They're just not sure what yet.


Sounds like all the ingredients needed for a disaster recipe to me!

Jeebus, this is like me at every roto trade deadline where I'm not totally out of the money but clearly not the favorite to win the league... and it's also how I end up doing stupid things like trading for late era Eric Milton...
   125. Red Voodooin Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:32 PM (#5905690)
Couple ex-Cubs signed contracts today:

Reliever Carl Edwards Jr. and the Seattle Mariners finalized a one-year contract on Wednesday with a $950,000 guaranteed salary.


Left-hander Cole Hamels signed a one-year, $18 million contract with the Atlanta Braves, the team announced Wednesday.


Hamels signed for pretty much precisely what the qualifying offer would have been had the Cubs extended one.
   126. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 04, 2019 at 04:47 PM (#5905698)
Mentioned it in the Wheeler thread -- but I'm not so sure that A)Hamels doesn't take the QO and B)he signs at least as quickly if he also cost a pick...

   127. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 04, 2019 at 05:16 PM (#5905704)
When it was rumored he might be after 2/$40, it was probably likely he would have declined so that's when I wondered if the Cubs f'ed up by not offering. Considering he signed for this, he probably would have accepted - if he had signed for this but it took until February, I'd say he would have declined. So while it's just money, I don't think I hold it against the Cubs for not making the offer.
   128. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 04, 2019 at 05:41 PM (#5905715)
Oh, me neither... Plus - the fact is that the QO comp pick would have been a sandwich round between 4 and 5.... so - figuring in the other comp round, we're probably talking about something like a ~150th overall pick.

Now... there's certainly value to that.... but my views on the Cubs post-1st round performance clear (new drafting regime though) and it probably wasn't worth the risk regardless.

I'm mainly just backing off my "totally right call not to offer" in favor of a more lukewarm "meh, maybe it would have worked out..."
   129. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 04, 2019 at 05:55 PM (#5905719)
Fair enough, I'm the opposite. I was wishy-washy before, now I'm pretty comfortable with them not offering.
   130. Red Voodooin Posted: December 04, 2019 at 09:03 PM (#5905753)
You don't offer a guy a QO in hopes he turns it down so you can get a pick, you offer it if you think they guy is worth the $18 million it would cost when he accepts (and if you can afford it all things considered). Clearly his market value was the QO, but I guess the Cubs have other ideas about what they will do about that missing 5th starter.
   131. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 05, 2019 at 12:50 PM (#5905936)
Sure you do - teams do it all the time.

Of course, you have to do the calculus of not being screwed IF he accepts...

But - the Giants probably preferred the pick over Will Smith back at 18m... Worked out for them.

The Dodgers last offseason would have preferred Ryu walk... it's why they then traded Alex Wood - but obviously, that all worked out gloriously for them.

The Phillies a few years back with Jeremy Hellickson were very much interested in trading him at the deadline, couldn't find a taker with prospects, figured they'd pocket the pick... but he accepted and then turned to worthless dust.

   132. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 09, 2019 at 11:01 AM (#5907033)
Robothal:
In any case, a big move or two seems inevitable. The Cubs were one of three teams to exceed the $206 million luxury tax threshold last season and already are $6 million above the $208 million threshold for 2020, according to rosterresource.com.

A reunion with free-agent outfielder Nicholas Castellanos? Not a chance, at least for the moment. Club officials are telling representatives of even low-budget free agents that they need to clear money before engaging in serious negotiations.


Last year, I kinda didn't believe they'd be that cheap, even after the Smyly dump/Hamels option pickup. Unlike last year, there seems to be quite a few more worthwhile guys in the "low-budget" bucket.

Sharma/Mooney:
As unthinkable as it once sounded, the possibility of the Cubs trading Bryant cannot be dismissed.


Handcuffed by the budget imposed by ownership — as well as mistakes in free agency and the draft — Epstein had to try and upgrade the roster last offseason by spending as little as possible. The bargain shopping led to the additions of Daniel Descalso, Brad Brach, Xavier Cedeño and Tony Barnette, who combined to produce -0.6 WAR (FanGraphs) for the Cubs.

There were already strong signals that this will be another winter of austerity for Epstein’s baseball operations department, which might force the Cubs to move money in order to make a significant deal for a free agent, the way picking up Cole Hamels’ $20 million option last offseason first required the Drew Smyly salary-dump trade.


During a recent panel discussion with Sports Business Journal, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts acknowledged that the team missed its budget for the Wrigley Field renovations by “around 100 percent.” That aligns with what the Cubs had already confirmed publicly, from an initial projection of $545 million to an estimated $1 billion cost for the entire development.

Those construction costs — combined with the uncertainty of when Marquee Sports Network will realize its full economic impact with widespread distribution on the region’s cable systems — are factors in setting the baseball operations budget, which will ultimately benefit from those long-term investments.


I mean, ugh.
   133. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 09, 2019 at 02:44 PM (#5907157)
Are they counting "buying every building in a two-block radius" as part of "renovating" the field?
   134. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 10, 2019 at 11:49 AM (#5907419)
Lots of rumors about Bryant and certain teams asking about him. I've seen the Braves, Nats, and Phillies mentioned as teams that are interested/have inquired. There's been nothing to shoot down or counter those rumors, like there have been for the Indians/Lindor (last rumor was they're keeping him until at least midseason) and Red Sox/Betts. Which makes me afraid the Cubs are actively looking to move him. Which I hate.

I can talk myself into why dealing Contreras right now wouldn't be a bad move (internal replacement+veteran backup) even though I don't want to trade him, but I see absolutely no reason to trade Bryant that doesn't boil down to the owners being cheap. Either they don't want to pay him this/next year, or they know they have no interest in paying him when he's a FA; maybe he's already told them he has no interest in being here long term, but I doubt that because it'd be against his public comments and Boras never would want to eliminate a potential bidder. There's almost no way they'll get enough back to offset his loss for at least this year and most likely next. The Cubs really do have a chance to compete the next couple of years and trading Bryant doesn't help that. Period.

Sitting at the head of a table with a half-dozen local reporters, Epstein addressed one of the main impediments the team faces as it attempts to reshape the roster: Kris Bryant’s service-time grievance. With the Winter Meetings in full swing, Epstein had hoped that a decision would have come down by now. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

“I think we’re fairly confident in what the outcome is going to be, but the timing I guess is a bit frustrating,” Epstein said. “It’d be nice to know. We’re at the Winter Meetings and there still hasn’t been a ruling. But I understand these things take time. Certainly, it’s not going to be more than a couple weeks away, but it’d be nice to have that final confirmation. But we’re operating with what our understanding of what the likely outcome will be and moving forward that way.”


If he were gonna be a FA in a year, I could see a little more reason to trade him now rather than lose him for nothing, but I still wouldn't do it.

The Cubs may not be spending big in free agency, but they’re closely monitoring where players end up, particularly third basemen Anthony Rendon and Josh Donaldson. Wherever those two players land, the Cubs hope to be able to market Bryant to the teams that have been left out.


Both of those are from Sharma. That sure reads to me like they are planning on trading him.

The Dodgers have been connected to Rendon and Donaldson and have made it clear that Justin Turner is willing to move off third base if it serves the purpose of improving the overall roster. But multiple sources indicated Los Angeles could be turned off by the dollar amount they would have to commit to get either player, which is expected to be more than what Bryant makes over the next two seasons.

If that proves to be the case, the Cubs would likely focus their attention on trying to get the best possible deal from a Los Angeles team that still has one of the strongest farm systems in the game. The Cubs would love to get a package headlined by infielder Gavin Lux or pitcher Dustin May — the dream would be both — but the Dodgers appear to have no desire to part with either, especially Lux. It’s possible the Dodgers would then try to shift the Cubs’ attention to a deal centered on Alex Verdugo, who would be an immediate fit in center field.


I think I'd be sick if they traded him to the Dodgers.
   135. Quaker Posted: December 10, 2019 at 12:36 PM (#5907455)
Have a feeling this is going to drag on past the meetings. If they're going to make a (dumb) move, I wish they'd just do it and get it over with.
   136. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 10, 2019 at 01:24 PM (#5907476)
Well, considering they're waiting for Rendon and Donaldson to sign, it surely doesn't seem like anything is happening soon.

Bleacher Nation @BleacherNation

Paraphrasing Jeff Passan on ESPN: Everyone in the lobby believes Kris Bryant is the guy who is gonna move. But the Cubs aren't going to trade him unless it's a huge offer.

Bleacher Nation @BleacherNation

More @JeffPassan on ESPN1000, he's heard the Padres connected to the Cubs on Willson Contreras, but the ask is absurd.
   137. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 10, 2019 at 02:56 PM (#5907525)
I can talk myself into why dealing Contreras right now wouldn't be a bad move (internal replacement+veteran backup) even though I don't want to trade him, but I see absolutely no reason to trade Bryant that doesn't boil down to the owners being cheap.

The relationship between Bryant and the team might be pretty bad for reasons we can all guess. Bryant is the team's union rep so he probably thinks about economics more than most...

Both of those are from Sharma. That sure reads to me like they are planning on trading him.

If it's true the Cubs are waiting for those guys to find homes before trading Bryant away then I guess they do not plan on having an impact player at third base in 2020. So it's tough to see how moving Bryant won't be part of making the major league team worse in 2020.

   138. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 10, 2019 at 03:22 PM (#5907534)
IDK... I don't want to trade Bryant just to "we must make a big trade!" - but he's just not really the guy I'm dead set on "Cub for life" as I was a few years ago.

His defensive numbers are slipping... Offensively, he certainly bounced back last year - but that's still well off his MVP highs that increasingly look like his peak.

Don't get me wrong - he's still quite good enough to be "best player on a good team"... I just cannot help but feel like he's a wee bit of a disappointment. I readily admit that feeling is predicated on him becoming Arod or something and that's a ridiculously unrealistic expectation. But - all things considered (position, age, contract/team control) - are there 20 players you be happy to do a 1 for 1 swap for? I think there are... and that feels disappointing.
   139. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 10, 2019 at 03:23 PM (#5907535)
Fine, you're crazy, but fine. Who plays 3b next year if you trade him?

Name the 20 guys.
   140. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 10, 2019 at 03:40 PM (#5907540)
Mike Olt is available.
   141. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 10, 2019 at 03:59 PM (#5907549)
Without spending too much time on the list --

Trout, Bregman, Bellinger, Betts, Lindor, Yelich, Acuna, Soto, and Rendon *feel* like no brainers/no argument names... that's 9. Bogaerts and Arenado... 11... Do you think Devers has proven himself or do you want to see another season? Semien? Moncada? Torres? Alonso? Altuve? Machado? Suarez? Springer? Chapman?

That's without looking at the pitching leaderboards (Would you take Cole or deGrom straight up for him?)

Granted - it's fair to say that some of those guys would be upside deals (i.e., Moncada and Torres and Alonso and Chapman- show me another season).

But - is there *really* a difference between KB and some guys I didn't list? Freddie Freeman? Harper?

Kris Bryant is an all-star caliber 3B and a potential MVP candidate... So is Nolan Arenado....

I said upfront that it's unfair to have expectations of a guy being a Trout/Arod/etc "best player in baseball" year-in and year-out... Being one of the ~20 best year-in and year-out is no small feat either.

All I'm saying is that it comes down to salary and roster construction.

In an MLB-wide roto draft, would Kris Bryant be picked in the top 20? Maybe... maybe not... he'd be a bottom half of the 1st round/early 2nd rounder.

   142. Quaker Posted: December 10, 2019 at 04:16 PM (#5907555)
Projected for 17th in position player WAR according to Steamer on FG.
   143. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 10, 2019 at 04:24 PM (#5907562)
Projected for 17th in position player WAR according to Steamer on FG.


Which sounds fair.... like I said - ~20 players you'd trade 1 for 1.
   144. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 10, 2019 at 04:27 PM (#5907567)
If Eugenio Suarez promises to hit for the Cubs like he hits against the Cubs, I'll take that deal in a heartbeat.
   145. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 10, 2019 at 04:34 PM (#5907568)
Be wary of the Jeff Blauser fallacy :-)
   146. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 11, 2019 at 02:03 PM (#5907832)
Been thinking of my response here, and it's a hard one because I spouted off without really considering contract status/cost.

Trout, Bregman, Bellinger, Betts, Lindor, Yelich, Acuna, Soto, and Rendon *feel* like no brainers/no argument names... that's 9. Bogaerts and Arenado... 11... Do you think Devers has proven himself or do you want to see another season? Semien? Moncada? Torres? Alonso? Altuve? Machado? Suarez? Springer? Chapman?

Trout of course, Bregman yes, Bellinger yes, Betts/Lindor see below, Yelich begrudgingly yes but not as obvious as implied here (same age, better def versatility for KB but obviously a much, much better contract situation), Acuna/Soto yes, and Rendon no (he's a FA, so don't we kinda have to see his contract?).

XB's career year wasn't as good as any of KB's first 3 (and doesn't grade out that good defensively) and not even a full year younger, so no. Semien, hell no; older and last year looks pretty clearly like a career year. Moncada would be purely an upside play and only would be considered because he's cheap for a while, otherwise no. Torres, painfully, yes. Alonso - GMAFB, but sure, he's cheap for the next 5 years. Altuve - older and maybe already declining; locked in for a while on a contract not that bad, but probably no although I'm less solid on that. Machado - #### no; I thought we're considering contracts here? Suarez - he's locked into a nice extension, but you're just ####### with me now, right? Springer - at 29, his year last year would be Bryant's 4th best and he's a FA a year before KB, so no. Chapman - I guess that depends on how confident you are on the defensive numbers, but I think no.

So Betts/Lindor. Betts is a FA this year, so you probably wouldn't swap them straight up for next year but you'd think about it if you thought it'd help you sign him, unless you really truly think Bryant is past his peak and you roll the dice. I agree you take Lindor because he's on the same FA timeline and higher floor.

Projected for 17th in position player WAR according to Steamer on FG.

I think that's a pretty conservative prediction, all things considered. If Bryant really is injury prone and/or more likely to play though it and thus have decreased production, than his ceiling is pretty limited. Through my biased eyes, he still produced at an elite level, both of the last 2 seasons, when healthy. He just wasn't healthy for long stretches (which definitely is a concern).

I understand why some would say he's been a disappointment, but I don't really think big picture he is if you don't hold the injuries against him (YMMV). Which is also why I think it's a mistake to trade him now - his value is lower than it should be (unless the Cubs know something we don't) and there's no obvious replacement. If he were himself next year for the whole year, they're way closer to contention than they'd be with whatever they got back (including all the guys above I poo-pooed in the off chance the Cubs were to get one of them back in this hypothetical 1-1, and even some of the ones I said yes to).
   147. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 11, 2019 at 02:28 PM (#5907849)
I don't want to belabor the point (but I will anyway!) -- but for example:

Suarez - he's locked into a nice extension, but you're just ####### with me now, right?


Why would you think I'm kidding? Suarez and Bryant are the same age and offensively - have been virtually equals the last 3 years... Suarez has been more consistent (and trending up) - Bryant had a better 2017. Defensively? Suarez still looks like a plus defender... Bryant appears to declining.

Now, hey - if you want to say that Bryant was a (deserving) MVP 3-4 years ago... OK. But then - we're back to my point. That increasingly looks like Bryant's peak, not a plateau and not a launching off point for something better. Even if the contracts and team control were equal... Bryant or Suarez? I'd argue it's pretty close to a coin flip. You can make the case that Bryant might be a wee bit better offensively (he's a better baserunner), but I'd probably counter that Suarez's defense makes up the difference (and probably a bit more).
   148. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 11, 2019 at 05:07 PM (#5907923)
Suarez and Bryant are the same age and offensively - have been virtually equals the last 3 years

They were similar last year offensively - 131OPS+/135wRC KB and 134OPS+/133wRC. Which seems to have been a bit of a breakout for Suarez (at least in the power dept) and also a disappointing year for Bryant. You said 3 years, and that's not as close because of how good KB's 2017 was (and the was pre-breakout). But we're taking future right? Steamer put Suarez at a 112wRC+ projection (which is around his career) and Bryant at 129 (which is below his career, understandably so). So no, I don't think they're that close offensively, definitely not a coin flip if contracts were equal.

Suarez appears to be a small plus defensively and Bryant a small negative, depending on what number you look at. That seems well within the error range to me that I would not a significant difference (I wouldn't aruge Saurez is better but I also think Bryant's versatility at least cancels that out).

Now, Bryant appears to declining. and That increasingly looks like Bryant's peak, not a plateau and not a launching off point for something better are things I'm not close to agreeing with, especially considering the injury concerns. I would in fact expect Bryant to easily outperform Suarez next year - meaning at least 1 win.

Maybe I'm being to generous/optimistic about him, but based on that and some of those guys you listed, you're way too reliant on just last year.
   149. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 11, 2019 at 05:19 PM (#5907926)
Anyway... both to prove that it's not so much that I hate KB and want to trade him AND to satisfy all you guys who keep asking for more updates about Zonk's OOTP Cubs dynasty while we await either a massive trade of Rizzo, Bryant, and Contreras for magic beans and/or the big offseason news of Darren Oliver getting an NRI...

I'll have you know that the Cubs are now at the trading deadline in 2023. We are shooting for tying the Yankees record of 5 consecutive WS titles this October. Yet, this dynasty only has three players remaining who were in the organization when this spectacular run began in the spring of 2019: Kris Bryant, Ian Happ, and Nico Hoerner... and Happ is likely to walk as a FA this offseason.

Bryant signed a 9 yr/200m extension after 2019 - though, the 2027 and 2028 seasons are team options at 24m and 24.5m (with 7.5m buyouts). Incentives (MVP 750K and 250K for being an AS) can add another 1m to what amounts to ~23-24m salaries. He's been a pretty consistent 6 WAR player, durable player... a wee bit of a Saberhagean even/odd thing - OPS+ of 137, 151, 133, 150, and 125 this year.

Happ has been very good - starting in 2019, posting 2.5 WAR, 5.6 WAR, 6.3 WAR, 5.2 WAR, and 3.1 so far in 2023... Even more valuable - he played RF more or less full-time in 2020, moved to CF for 2021 when Almora crashed and burned, then shifted to 2B in 2022 when I acquired Christian Yelich in his walk year, and has played all three OF spots this season as I've got quite an OF logjam. I'd b happy to bring him back, but he's looking for a 10/240 deal and that just isn't going to happen. He still strikes out too much, the constant position shifting hasn't helped his defense, and I'm likely to just pocket the comp pick.

Hoerner got unfortunately buried by roster crunches -- so 2023 is the first time he's been given the full-time job (he shuttled between AAA and the big leagues as a utility guy the prior two seasons) and he's hitting 337/410/485.

What happened to everyone else?

Kyle Schwarber mashed 37 HRs with a nice 267/388/555 line in 2019... but he had a dreadful 1st half in 2020. I traded for the aforementioned George Springer in the 2019 offseason - which together with the emergence of former Phillie Dylan Cozens, made Schwarbs expendable (to Seattle for flotsam). He's bounced around ever since - and is now basically Pete Incaviglia, DH'ing for the Orioles on an NRI.

Anthony Rizzo I desperately tried to extend - he had a career year in 2019, winning the MVP, posting 9.3 WAR... but his extension demands were just outrageous - 40m a year. So I had to let him walk after 2021 (which made both Mr. Ricketts and the fans very angry at me).... but time has proven me right - he's just not a 9 WAR player. The Dodgers gave him 5/190 - and he's been good, but basically standard-issue Rizzo good, if not a nice consistent parabola as he ages back to his early/mid 20s level production.

Willson annoyed me by rejecting a perfectly fair extension (roughly arb buyout at about 3/40). He got moved to Philadelphia in exchange for JT Realmuto. I happened to have a pretty nice stable of catching prospects, so it was basically a walk-year + comp deal. Contreras then signed an extension with Philly at basically the same money I offered.... and he's been... well, bad Willy. He had a nice 2021 (269/337/439, 117 OPS+) - but otherwise, has been around 220/300/400.

Javy - which OOTP for whatever reason tags as a Milton Bradley-style malcontent - got traded after 2019 to the Angels for Andrelton Simmons (hoard those comp picks!) and Griffin Channing. This was a great trade... Channing is a solid 2/3 SP - Simmons was an all-star and GG.... while Javy has basically turned into Alex Gonzalez... he still hits HRs, but OBP hasn't been above .300 since he left.

Almora had a really nice 2019 - even made the ASG... and then completely fell apart in 2020. Got demoted to the minors, non-tendered, and hasn't been back in the majors since.

Heyward, I managed to foist off on the Nats for Jon Lester (dealt at the deadline in 2019... too many SPs) in the 2019-2020 offseason for some spare parts. He's been... Jason Heyward... bad Jason Heyward at that.

On the pitching side... As noted - I actually traded Lester at the deadline in 2019 because I had a surplus of SP, but more - because I was trying to go overslot on a 2019 draftee (ironically, IRL Cubs draftee Ethan Hearn) and needed to free up some salary. I then reacquired Lester that offseason to get him to 200 wins.

Hamels walked - but WITH the QO (he won 22 games) - after 2019 and basically did what you'd expect a late 30s SP to do...

QUintana, I let walk after 2020... he signed with the Phillies for 5/150 (Philadelphia has become an ex-Cub dumping ground) and has continued to be basically... Jose Quintana... a solid 2/3 rotation member, but certainly not worth 30m.

Chatwood... I released after 2019.

Darvish I traded in a package for Kenley Jansen. He was cromulent for the Dodgers in 2019... Got hurt in 2020... and then released...

   150. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 11, 2019 at 05:37 PM (#5907933)
In somewhat new Cubs news, Rizzo's agent announced they approached the Cubs about an extension for Rizzo (FA after 21), and said the Cubs weren't interested at this time. Considering he went out of his way to announce that, I get the feeling Rizzo was bummed/hurt/upset since he's talked about wanting to be a Cub rest of his career. I'd love for him to resign, but also totally understand why he wouldn't be a priority since his deal is so team friendly the next 2 years and the other extension guys are all in arb. Hoyer responded saying they had exchanged ideas and were pretty far apart and he sounds disappointed the agent went public.
   151. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 11, 2019 at 07:13 PM (#5907953)
If there is any current member of the team that I really want to be a Cub For Life* - I think it would be Rizzo.

Of course, per above and the Zonk OOTP stuff - I wouldn't support giving him 8/300 or anything.... but he's the guy I'd overpay for on "intangibles" (not just clubhouse intangibles, but team/city intangibles).

Lord knows this only sets you up for heartbreak later on with such stuff - but he seems like a genuinely great guy. The sort of person who may not even be your best friend, but if you were asked for a job recommendation or he wanted to date your sister or whatever, you'd think about it and say "Yeah, actually... he's one of the finest men I know. Hire him/date him/etc."

Value-wise? He's got a real steady Eddie Murray feeling to him... Willie Stargell is another comp that comes to mind.

Some OOTP tomfoolery aside, when I let him walk after 2021, he signed elsewhere for 5/190. BUT - that's after a 9 WAR/174 OPS+/MVP 2020 (followed up by a standard issue Rizzo 4-5 WAR/145 OPS+/got some votes). If he did that IRL, I don't think you get him for 5/190....

He'll be 32 the year after the existing contract (+option) expires. Would he go for something like an ~8-10 year/200m? 225? 250? Should the Cubs?
   152. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 11, 2019 at 07:14 PM (#5907954)
*Yeah, whatever.... more like a Jed Hoyer for life.
   153. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 11, 2019 at 07:20 PM (#5907956)
I think I would do 10/225. 10/250 would be a coin toss. Play around with bonuses, opt-outs, deferred money and the whatnot as you will.... but I think I'd do a Cub for life at somewhere in the neighborhood of 22 to 25 mil amortized appropriately over the rest of his career.
   154. Red Voodooin Posted: December 11, 2019 at 10:28 PM (#5907981)
If the Cubs are interested in locking somebody into "Cubs for Life" status, the dude is Kris Bryant. Out of one side of our collective mouths we're splitting hairs between whether Bryant projects as the 17th or 10th best position player going forward, at the same time we're talking about offering 10/250 to Rizzo who projects next year at 30-35 and is on the downside of the aging spectrum, and the elephant in the room is Javy Baez who everyone seems to expect will be the guy offered a fat extension, who barely cracks top 50 - a few slots above Schwarber.

Kris Bryant is the best baseball player in the Chicago Cubs organization today, he's been the best for several years now, and he certainly projects to be the best going forward for the next 6-8 years.
   155. Zonk is UP-playing! Posted: December 12, 2019 at 08:29 AM (#5908018)
The Steamer projections that put Bryant 17th (4.8 WAR) and Rizzo lower (4 WAR) look like they're entirely due to positional adjustments.... Rizzo's wRC+ projection is 135. Bryant's is 129.
   156. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 12, 2019 at 11:06 AM (#5908070)
154 - yeah, I tend to agree.

I think I would do 10/225. 10/250 would be a coin toss.

We talked about last time you threw that out there. That's a terrible idea. He's owed $34mil for 20/21, so you're essentially suggesting giving a plodding, 32 year old 1b with recurring back problems a 8yr/190-215mil extention that takes him to when he's 40. I'm all for goodwill and acknowledging the fact that he's been underpaid for some time, but that's not the way to do it; in fact, a contract like that makes it more likely he ends up either elsewhere or seen as an annoying albatross during those last x years where he's not playable.

EDIT: Cot's had a lower number for Rizzo's 20/21 options. $16.5mil, not $14.5mil.
   157. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 16, 2019 at 11:20 AM (#5908959)
he certainly projects to be the best going forward for the next 6-8 years

Bryant's size makes me especially cautious about his future.

Maybe he can be a reasonable corner OF at 35, IDK.
   158. Moses Taylor, glorified meat shield Posted: December 17, 2019 at 01:37 PM (#5909318)
Is it just his height you're concerned with or his build? Is it because he plays 3b now or is there something that indicates tall players don't age well? IOW, there's nothing about Bryant specifically - outside of injuries, and in his favor none appear to be nagging or repeating one such as back problems - that makes me think he'd be at a greater risk of declining outside normal aging curves.

---

Morrow has agreed to a minor league deal with the Cubs, which I think is great. Very low risk, but possibly high reward. It's not likely he'll be healthy much, if any, of next year, but if he is the odds are pretty good he'd be a difference maker.

---

No real new rumors of note that I've seen, but some speculation from a Sharma chat:

Sahadev S. 23h ago

@Michael K. I don't really like doing percentages, because my general feeling is that unless I hear wind that something is done or close to it, that a deal won't happen. but i'd say that with what we're hearing, the odds of a KB trade are greater than Willson, which is something that changed over the last few weeks. not 100% sure why it changed, but my guess is that they have a better sense of potential value on the market for both guys now and perhaps KB isn't as low as they thought. That's educated speculation, I don't know that for sure.


I'll just state again, I still don't get why trading Bryant instead of Contreras (again, they really don't have to trade either!) is better for the 2020/2021 Cubs.
   159. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: December 17, 2019 at 02:50 PM (#5909339)
Is it just his height you're concerned with or his build? Is it because he plays 3b now or is there something that indicates tall players don't age well? IOW, there's nothing about Bryant specifically - outside of injuries, and in his favor none appear to be nagging or repeating one such as back problems - that makes me think he'd be at a greater risk of declining outside normal aging curves.

The combination of third base being hard on the body generally along with his height. There's not much of a data sample there to work from but (for one example) there were lots of Troy Glaus comparisons for Bryant coming out of college and Glaus was a (not quite as) good player whose career nosedived around age 32. If we're talking about a 6-8 year timeline, that is.

I'll just state again, I still don't get why trading Bryant instead of Contreras (again, they really don't have to trade either!) is better for the 2020/2021 Cubs.

Andy Dolan with The Athletic speculated in a not-so-tongue-in-cheek way that the Bryant trade rumors (and relief at not trading him away) are occupying the fan base instead of all the free agents the Cubs aren't pursuing.

My real fear is that the Cubs do nothing and then get themselves painted into a corner where they feel the need for a DO SOMETHING trade. I will be disappointed if the 2020 version of the Cubs is worse on paper than the 2019 club, however, that seems pretty inevitable with or without a trade.
   160. Walt Davis Posted: December 18, 2019 at 10:25 PM (#5909790)
the elephant in the room is Javy Baez who everyone seems to expect will be the guy offered a fat extension, who barely cracks top 50 - a few slots above Schwarber.

1. You read the comments differently than I -- I read the speculation/hope is that Javy is the guy most likely to sign a "reasonable" extension. Such an extension would probably only cover the last 2 arb years and 2-3 FA years, meaning he's only guaranteed through ages 30-31. I could be wrong, maybe folks are suggesting the Cubs should wrap him up for something like 10/$250-300 which would be doubtful in a baseball sense.

2. Steamer's projections are kinda nuts. Javy has put up 12 fWAR and 14 bWAR over the last 3 seasons. He's proven he's at least a very good SS. That's one of the better players in baseball.

3. Steamer's projections are just odd. If you run a simple Marcel on Javy's wRC+, you get a projection of 116 and, turning 27, Steamer projects him to just 106 ... while projecting a small improvement in BB and K rates. They whack him 20 points of BABIP and about 10 points of ISO. Meanwhile, for Schwarber, also turning 27, they do the exact opposite. His Marcel wRC+ projection is around 115 but they project him to 123. His Marcel BABIP is about 274, they project 288. He set a career-high 282 ISO last year and they project him to just miss it at 274 (Marcel about 262). Last year he set a career-best +14 runs on offeense at fWAR and Steamer projects him to improve on his best by 4 runs -- that's just silly.

So they project Schwarber at 27 to be the best player he's ever been and Javy at 27 to be nearly the worst (once we pro-rate for playing time). I don't see how either projection is justified. Javy "should" project around 3.5-4 and Schwarber around 2-2.5. For Schwarber I will say that it looked like he might have figured out how to maximize his offense in the second half last year but I refuse to put too much faith into a half-season.

On the Cubs and payroll -- being just over the lux tax is dumb, it's like having your toe just over the 3-point line. Last year they either should have gone way over or reset. Now they seem stuck in the same spot and again seem to be dithering over which side to end up on and how to get there.
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