Other than claiming Wade Miley off waivers from the Reds and picking up his 2022 option, the Cubs have made mostly procedural and front office moves so far this winter. Now that Jed Hoyer has his executive team in place, look for the Cubs to begin filling the holes in their current roster.
On Hoyer’s long list of needs are a couple of power starters, a shortstop, an outfielder, some bullpen help, and roster depth. Depending on how the CBA negotiations work out, the front office may also be scouting for a full-time DH. They already have plenty of in-house options, including Frank Schwindel and Willson Contreras, at least on a part-time basis.
The front office has a newer, low-key look heading into 2022 that is strong on analytics and scouting, something the organization has lacked at least a little in recent years. That’s not to say Hoyer and his entourage of Carter Hawkins, Ehsan Bokhari, and holdovers Jeff Greenberg and Craig Breslow represent the latest iteration of Revenge of the Nerds, but crunching numbers and maximizing value will be the staff’s M.O. as they work to build Chicago’s next championship roster.
Sure, that sounds a little more corporate-speak than most of us may like and the interpretation could mean almost anything when it comes to spending money, but it sounds like Hoyer will weigh risk versus reward a little more than Theo Epstein did when he ran the club. So while we probably shouldn’t take that as meaning the executive team will approach this winter with the miserly personality of Ebeneezer Scrooge, Tom Ricketts does still set the budget and disperse the necessary funds. Most teams that suffer biblical financial losses don’t start burning up their monetary reserves on one whimsical shopping spree.
Moves like the Miley pickup will probably be the norm, which is to say we shouldn’t expect any long-term, nine-figure deals unless Hoyer is comfortable with the downside risk as those contracts age. The offices at Clark & Addison are brimming with pride thanks to Hoyer’s deft ability to rebuild his farm system over the past year and the team’s next core will consist of mostly homegrown players. That’s something we should all embrace, even if it means some growing pains in 2022 and ’23. If you’re expecting Hoyer and Hawkins to buy a world championship this winter, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.
In fact, the organization may continue to acquire long-term prospects if they feel they are better off trading players like Contreras, Ian Happ, and Kyle Hendricks, assuming none will be around when the Cubs are truly considered contenders again. Miley could be moved at the trade deadline to add to Chicago’s wealth of good-to-great minor leaguers. By now, we’re all numb to those types of deals, so the shock and awe of trading any of those players should pale in comparison to the moves that sent Yu Darvish, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo packing.
The CBA negotiations are bound to have an impact and any extended work stoppage will probably leave the Cubs focusing more on the 2023 season. No one is expecting the Cubs to win the World Series next year, so there’s nothing alarming about that. It doesn’t take an expert in analytics or mining players on the open market to see the path Hoyer has chosen. At least he has a plan and, though his options remain fluid due to a lot of evolving market factors, it’s nice to see he and his associates intend to remain committed to the process.
Cubs News & Notes
- Talk of the Cubs making a run at free-agent shortstop Corey Seager grows louder on the daily and could be much more than idle chit-chat.
- Adding velocity to the team’s pitching staff is the number one priority of Hoyer and Hawkins this winter.
- RHP Riley Thompson is among the toughest Rule 5 decisions facing all 30 MLB teams.
- Teams have until November 19 to add eligible players to the 40-man roster to protect them from being chosen in the Rule 5 draft. Nelson Velazquez, who torched AFL pitching all month, is among the notable prospects the Cubs must add to avoid being exposed to the draft.
- Jason McLeod is apparently not in the running for the still-vacant Mets GM/president of baseball operations position.
- Re-signing Bryant is not a top priority for the Giants this winter, though that may just be an effort in gamesmanship to get the third baseman and his agent, Scott Boras, to soften their terms.
Odds & Sods
Adam Wainwright threw a perfect strike to put a dunk tank clown into the water over the weekend. It would have been better had he thrown his signature curve. Nevertheless, cue “Monster” by Mumford & Sons, for either Wainwright or the clown.
From the Front Office
“We’ve had a lot of very similar profiles over the last few years, and there’s always that question that you can’t really prove, but is there a degradation among the staff if you have too many guys throwing two-seamers and control-command guys? At some point are you comfortable when you’ve seen that a couple of days in a row?” – Hoyer
Breaking: Eduardo Rodríguez has agreed to a five-year, $77 million deal with the Tigers that features another $3 million in performance incentives. He also has a full no-trade clause and can opt out after two years.
The GM Meetings ended last week with no hint of a CBA resolution.
With 15 days and a few hours left until the current agreement expires, league owners and players are conducting business as usual but are more than likely planning for a work stoppage.
The owners’ latest arbitration proposal could incentivize less interesting baseball.
An extended lockout could lead to a frenzied, down-to-the-wire free agency window, much like the NFL and NBA.
Louis Head, who was sent down and called up from the minors 12 separate times this season, has been traded from the Rays to the Marlins for a player to be named later and/or cash considerations. The trade frees up a 40-man roster spot for Tampa Bay ahead of Friday’s Rule 5 deadline.
The Rays also traded utility player Mike Brousseau to the Brewers for minor league pitcher Evan Reifert. Brousseau will be added to Milwaukee’s 40-man roster, while Reifert gives Tampa Bay another open spot.
The Yankees are at the 40-man limit and will need to do some maneuvering in order to add players this winter. Players who could be exposed to the Rule 5 draft include catcher Josh Breaux, outfielder Everson Pereira, infielder Oswaldo Cabrera, and pitcher Randy Vasquez. Look for the Yankees to be active ahead of any potential December 2 lockout.
“Talkin’ Softball,” a parody of Terry Cashman’s “Willie, Mickey & The Duke (Talkin’ Baseball)” from the closing credits of The Simpson’s episode “Homer at the Bat” is my favorite off-season baseball song.
They Said It
- “Our whiteboard is full, I guess is probably how I would say it. And as we think about moves, we used so many players last year. Adding not only starting pitching but innings in general and making sure we have enough pitching is such a big priority.” – Hoyer
- “I want to create a culture of winning and inclusion. I also want us to be excellent decision-makers and excellent player-developers.” – Hoyer
I promised an extra song today since I neglected to include the Walk-Up Song section on Friday. Start your Monday morning with “She Sells Sanctuary” by the Cult, which is way better than the strongest cup of coffee you might find.
Apropos of Nothing
Though I’m usually glued to the telly watching football on Thanksgiving Day, I have an added bonus this year in Peter Jackson’s “Get Back” streaming on Disney Plus. The upcoming three-part documentary covers the making of The Beatles “Let it Be” and the band’s preparations for what would become their final live performance atop the roof of the Apple Corp offices at 3 Savile Row in Central London. The footage has been restored in glorious HD and I’m sure it will be repeat viewing for a large number of fans, including me.
Monday Walk-Up Song
The Beatles Rooftop Concert in its entirety, though not in HD and with no outtakes. The set includes the songs “Get Back,” “Don’t Let Me Down,” “I’ve Got a Feeling,” “One After 909,” and “Dig a Pony” and a reprise of “Get Back.” By my count, that adds up to 10 songs in today’s Rundown. You’re welcome.