“While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime, I took a heavenly ride through our silence. I knew the moment had arrived for killing the past and coming back to life.” – Pink Floyd, Coming Back to Life
The Cubs’ core has had quite a reawakening during the current homestand. Anthony Rizzo has homered in his first at-bat in each of the last three games and Kris Bryant had a home run last night, too, his second of the week. Javier Báez had that epic walk-off single against Amir Garrett the night before last. Jed Hoyer may be intent on breaking up the band, but it appears the trio wants us to remember more of the good times and a lot less of the bad before leaving.
Sure the Cubs lost 7-4 last night, but the storylines surrounding the team these days hardly have to do with wins and losses. It was reported yesterday that Hoyer has had discussions with the Giants and Rays about Bryant. Rizzo has been tied to the Red Sox so much in recent days it’s almost puzzling he’s yet to be moved.
Kris Bryant – Chicago Cubs (18)
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) July 28, 2021
Sources: The #SFGiants have spoken with the #Cubs about Kris Bryant, and the Cubs are evaluating 24-year-old catcher Joey Bart as one candidate to be requested on their side of the talks. Bart has a .904 OPS this year at Triple-A. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 28, 2021
All of that may have some validity or it may just be posturing. Hoyer reportedly asked the Giants about No. 2 prospect Joey Bart, a power-hitting catcher drafted in 2018. If Bart has been discussed, one would think San Francisco is more interested in Craig Kimbrel. It’s also possible Giants’ president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi wants multiple players, perhaps Bryant and one of Ryan Tepera, Zach Davies, Patrick Wisdom, or Matt Duffy. Bart would certainly give the Cubs some protection if they cannot extend Willson Contreras before the end of next season.
A deal with the Rays seems unlikely given the remainder of Bryant’s salary, which is about $6.8 million. However, if Hoyer trades Kimbrel and/or Tepera, and possibly Rizzo, he could eat some salary to facilitate a deal with Tampa Bay that would net Chicago better prospects.
In the meantime, Bryant didn’t mince words about his future beyond this week and into next season. The 2016 MVP said he would love to return to the Cubs this winter in free agency.
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” Bryant replied when asked if he’d be willing to sign with the Cubs after the season. “I love this place. It’s all I’ve known. The familiarity of being here and this city and the people make it a lot easier to say, ‘Yeah, of course, I’d love to play here.”
That’s well and good, but if the team really wanted to keep their best player beyond this year they’d have already signed him to an extension. A hometown discount is unlikely, if not impossible, especially if Hoyer trades Bryant before Friday. Once he hits the open market, and all factors being equal, the third baseman is going to sign with whichever team offers him the most money and security. The penny-pinching Cubs hardly seem to be a fit.
With a little more than 48 hours left before Friday’s 3pm CT deadline, expect Bryant and Kimbrel to be at the forefront of any rumors. As far as the future, if the Cubs intend to compete any time soon, someone is going to have to teach Adbert Alozlay to keep the baseball inside the park.
Cubs News & Notes
- Alzoaly gave up home runs to the first two lefties he faced, Jesse Winker and Joey Votto. A couple of innings later, Votto took the rookie starter deep a second time. The young righty has allowed a league-worst 23 homers in 18 starts, all but four to left-handed hitters.
- Bryant said he’s ready for whatever happens between now and Friday.
- A source confirmed that Bart has not been part of any discussions between the Giants and Cubs, which seems obvious given the lack of desire by front offices to move top prospects.
- Jeff Passan of ESPN offers a number of destination possibilities for Kimbrel, Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez, the most intriguing of which has Kimbrel headed to the Dodgers. Any combination of Keibert Ruiz, Kody Hoese, Bobby Miller, and Miguel Vargas would be a nice return. I’d probably pass on Gavin Lux, and I doubt Los Angeles moves Ruiz.
- Rizzo is “keeping the faith” that he’ll remain with the Cubs.
- The White Sox are reportedly kicking the tires on a couple of Cubs relievers, including Kimbrel and Tepera.
- The Cubs optioned Keegan Thompson to Iowa, where he will be stretched out to work as a starter. When ready, Thompson and Justin Steele could fill any holes in the rotation if Hoyer trades Davies, Trevor Williams, or Kyle Hendricks.
- This is a fantastic example of a reporter taking a non-story and running wild with it. Báez is on record as saying that he wants nothing more than to remain with the Cubs.
- A Brewers billboard is going up in Chicago just ahead of the August 9-12 series between the two rivals at Wrigley Field. For those who don’t know, Milwaukeeans have been calling Wrigley “Miller Park South” ever since their tiebreaker clash in 2018.
Odds & Sods
I can’t put my finger on it, but something seems slightly off about Andrew Chafin. The beloved reliever penned a thoughtful but typical tribute to Cubs fans before jetting out west.
Your newest A’s reliever pic.twitter.com/cCFWuV6Jrw
— Matt Kawahara (@matthewkawahara) July 28, 2021
Climbing the Ladder
“Today I don’t need a replacement, I’ll tell them what the smile on my face meant. My heart’s going boom boom boom. ‘Hey,’ I said, ‘you can keep my things they’ve come to take me home.'” – Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill
- Games Played: 102
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,746
- Total Strikeouts: 977
- Strikeout Rate: 26.1%
- Team Batting Average: .227
It’s amazing that Bryant continues to smile and carry himself with grace through all the rumors. His post-game presser may have been his greatest performance of last night.
How About That!
Seattle GM Jerry DiPoto traded his best reliever to the Astros with both teams fighting for a postseason berth and to a man, Mariners players are plenty pissed off that Kendall Graveman is now pitching for the enemy. “He hasn’t come down here,” a player said of Dipoto. “He sits up in his suite, playing fantasy baseball, and rips apart our team without telling us anything.”
The Yankees and Reds made a trade yesterday, with relievers Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson headed to Cincinnati. It opens two roster spots for New York, which indicates it’s likely the Yankees have another deal or two nearly completed.
An alleged elbow issue has thrown a monkey wrench into contract discussions between the Mets and first-round draft pick Kumar Rocker. The two sides have until August 1 to agree to a new deal or the Mets will forfeit the pick.
The Nationals could challenge the Cubs as one of the biggest sellers of premium players this week.
Washington starter Stephen Strasburg won’t be traded this week. The 2019 World Series hero has opted to undergo surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, ending his season after just five starts.
The Red Sox are among eight teams to which Max Scherzer will accept a trade. The Nationals’ ace has a no-trade clause, and the Mets are surprisingly on his okay list, though it’s doubtful Washington would trade him to New York.
The Rays are unlikely to trade for Scherzer or Bryant, though they are frequently mentioned as potential suitors for each.
The Mets are desperately seeking starting pitching.
The Pirates are expected to continue unloading players. They’ve already made three trades in the past 48 hours.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Austin Riley – Atlanta’s young third baseman was 2-for-6, both hits home runs including a grand slam, and plated six runners as the Braves beat up on the Mets 12-5.
- Omar Narváez – The Brewers catcher and noted Cubs’ killer led the Brewers to a 9-0 win over the Pirates, going 2-for-5 with a homer and four RBI.
- Sam Hilliard – The Rockies’ outfielder was 3-for-3 as the DH with two runs, a long fly of his own, and three RBI, temporarily snatching the “greatest player in the game” mantle away from Shohei Ohtani. Colorado blasted the Angels 12-3, Ohtani also homered, and yes, I’m jesting about Hilliard.
Why hasn’t this man been extended?
They Said It
- “I need to start using the other side of home plate a little more, so the hitters can have a different view of the ball and aren’t always looking middle-inside when I’m facing them. If I start giving lefties more different looks at the ball, going backdoor slider, using the changeup more like I did today at the end of the game with the lefties, I feel that I’ll have a little bit more room to go inside with my other pitches.” – Adbert Alzolay
- “The lefties – that’s been a thing for [Alzolay]. We’ve got to figure out a way to improve on that. The cutter and slider, everything’s coming in to [left-handed hitters]. Commanding down and away in general I think is something that we can improve on.” – David Ross
- “I’m just ready for whatever chapter’s next. If it’s a continuation of my chapter here with Chicago, that would be a great story. If it’s not, then you do whatever you can for whatever team you’re playing for and be thankful for what we had here.” – Kris Bryant
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Take Me Home by Phil Collins – One should expect the velocity of trades to increase substantially as we get closer to the deadline, and that last hour on Friday should offer news at a feverish pace.