The Rundown: Rizzo Trade Signals End of Era, Bryant & Kimbrel Should Be Next to Go, Frenzied Deadline Kicks into High Gear

“And don’t speak too soon, for the wheel’s still in spin, and there’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’. For the loser now will be later to win…” – Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin’

Instant Replay

The Cubs lost 7-4 to the Reds yesterday but as the team’s faithful were leaving Wrigley Field, the word suddenly circulated that Anthony Rizzo had been traded to the Yankees. For some, it was a gut punch. For others, it was a sense of relief that Jed Hoyer was finally executing the mercy kill on a team that has straddled the line of stagnant and awful too often in recent weeks. But to all Cubs fans, it signaled the end of an era.

Sure, Yu Darvish was sent to the Padres over the winter and Kyle Schwarber was allowed to walk away for nothing back in November. Hoyer traded Joc Pederson a few weeks ago and just the other day he peddled Andrew Chafin to the Athletics. The trade of Rizzo is on a whole new level, though.

Not only was he the de facto captain and longest-tenured member of the team, but one of its biggest heroes from 2016. Even worse, it indicates that Kris Bryant will likely be traded today, and Craig Kimbrel, too, not that we are expecting either to stay. And though Javier Báez played in yesterday’s game, it’s certainly not a safe bet he will escape Hoyer’s fire sale. The same could be said for any player on this team except Adbert Alzolay and Nico Hoerner.

Everyone who attended or watched yesterday’s game knew something was up when the Cubs debuted their post-deadline lineup, a makeshift array that included Patrick Wisdom at first base, Matt Duffy at third, and Ian Happ in left field. Though the Cubs were out of the game almost from its onset, David Ross turned to unheralded relievers Trevor Megill, Kyle Ryan, and Jake Jewell to mop up. Old standby Ryan Tepera was not available because he had been traded to the White Sox for hope-and-a-prayer lefty Bailey Horn mid-game.

Like the Darvish trade, Rizzo netted a 19-year-old prospect with a high ceiling and little professional experience. Outfielder Kevin Alcantara may be the second coming of Sammy Sosa or David DeJesus, but we won’t know until his MLB clock starts in about four years. Hoyer somehow persuaded Yankees GM Brian Cashman to kick in a serviceable pitcher (at best) in Alexander Vizcaino.

These are depth pieces, more or less, though at least Alcantara is young enough that he has loads of projection. Vizcaino goes to the 40-man, so I am assuming his time with the Cubs will be not much more than a few months, if that.

It appears that the organization intends to build slowly toward its next contending team. There will be no premium free agent signings this winter, and probably not in 2022-23 either. Mr. Hoyer may be vehemently opposed to the idea a full-scale rebuild, but his actions indicate that is precisely what’s happening. Stay close to Cubs Insider for what should be a busy and gut-wrenching day for Cubs fans.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

I’ve got nothing…

Climbing the Ladder

“I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin’. Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world.” – Leon Russell, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall

  • Games Played: 104
  • Total Plate Appearances: 3,817
  • Total Strikeouts: 994
  • Strikeout Rate: 26%
  • Team Batting Average: .227

Reds’ pitchers struck out 12 Cubs’ batters in yesterday’s game. Perhaps we should pause before blaming the core for the team’s inability to put bat to ball. Happ fanned twice and is slashing .181/.296/.332 on the season, though he did have a home run. I would assume he will be non-tendered this winter.

How About That!

The Nationals were yesterday’s busiest team. They traded closer Brad Hand to the Blue Jays for catcher Riley Adams.

Washington also made a trade with San Diego, sending reliever Daniel Hudson to the Padres for two prospects.

The biggest blockbuster of the day involved the Nationals and Dodgers. Washington sent ace Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner to Los Angeles in a package that includes top prospects Keibert Ruiz and Josiah Gray.

The Dodgers also traded for Royals ace Danny Duffy, who is on the injured list with a flexor strain. Their payroll is now $285 million, but that matters little in Los Angeles. Paging Tom Ricketts.

The Red Sox acquired Schwarber in a trade with Washington that netted the Nationals Boston pitching prospect Aldo Ramirez.

Breaking up a championship core is always hard to do, but Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo said he was going to attack this trade deadline, and he has done so with little remorse. That is how you conduct a reckoning.

The Padres will turn their attention to Twins’ starter José Berríos after missing out on Scherzer. The Mariners are said to be their toughest competition.

Due to complications with his health, Cleveland manager Terry Francona is stepping down for the rest of the season.

Here are nine deadline predictions that include the Cubs selling off the rest of their core, including Kimbrel going to the Dodgers.

The Rockies have no plans to trade Jon Gray or Daniel Bard.

Mariners pitcher Héctor Santiago has been suspended 80 games for a positive test of a banned substance.

CBS Sports has an ongoing trade tracker for those trying to keep up with the frenzied deadline.

Thursday’s Three Stars

  1. Andrew Friedman – The Dodgers president of baseball operations obviously had enough of A.J. Preller collecting all the best available players, and though he paid a heavy price, he stole Max Scherzer and somehow convinced the Nationals to include Trea Turner.
  2. Brian Cashman – The Yankees GM and senior vice-president gave up very little in terms of prospects to add Rizzo and Joey Gallo this week.
  3. Mike Rizzo – Please pay attention, Mr. Hoyer. The Nationals’ GM is schooling you in the art of properly and quickly rebuilding a team.

Extra Innings

The Cubs released a wonderful tribute video in honor of Rizzo. Thank you for twisting the knife.

They Said It

  • “This will always be home for me. But like I said, my best friend in the game, Jon Lester, did the same thing and has two special places in his heart. So for these next three months, it’s going to be fun to go right into a race, Seeing the Yankees pull the triggers like this, get (Joey) Gallo, me now obviously, it’s what they do and very exciting. The memories here will last forever and that’s why I always cherished every moment. Now, I’m leaving with no regrets.”Anthony Rizzo
  • “Those guys shaped that [competitive] culture here. It’s pretty special, and no matter what happens this year, how this next couple of days, or the year, concludes, the impact that every single one of those guys has had can’t be overstated.”Ian Happ

Friday Walk-Up Song

Don’t Do It by The Band (Live, from The Last Waltz) – My pleas will fall on deaf ears, but I hope Hoyer doesn’t trade Bryant today.

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