As a Cubs fan for the better part of five decades, it’s often difficult for me to acknowledge baseball conversations that comingle the Cubs and Mets. Both teams had crossed streams several times before Jed Hoyer traded shortstop Javier Báez to Flushing in July and now both appear to be pursuing some of the same available players, be it El Mago himself or Steven Matz.
As Evan Altman wrote last night, the Cubs are “definitely pursuing Matz,” and could potentially sign a (not necessarily “the”) pitcher before the end of the week. Chicago is allegedly interested in a slew of the remaining starters, as are the Mets, and Hoyer may have to act fast if he intends to find innings-eaters before all that’s left from baseball’s annual winter feast are turkey entrails and Aunt Ginny’s untouched jello mold. That’s a nice way of saying Jake Arietta and Zach Davies, at least based on their 2020 seasons.
Hoyer had plenty of time to pick off any of the players New York is interested in, including Báez and Marcus Stroman, as the woebegone franchise was operating without a true baseball executive for two full months. Alas, the head start may not have helped. It’s been rumored Billy Eppler intends to strike quickly and often in free agency. Because he will be unable to trade from a position of strength until he has had a chance to do a full analysis of his entire organization, the new Mets GM is reportedly focusing on free agent acquisitions only.
I’m not sure if a preponderance of activity among available pitchers has spurred Chicago’s front office to get a little more aggressive, but it seems to this point Hoyer and his entourage have enjoyed semi-hibernation since the World Series ended. Other than claiming Wade Miley off of waivers, the Cubs have stuck to procedural moves. Perhaps Hoyer thought the threat of an imminent work stoppage might slow the market, or maybe he believed there could be handfuls of bargains as soon as baseball resumes.
Once Anthony DeSclafani re-upped with the Giants, however, I’m sure Hoyer decided it was time to light his own hot stove. Arrieta, Davies, and a host of other below-league-average pitchers may be getting a little too close for comfort.
Matz would be a fine catch, even somewhat of a coup if Hoyer can pull it off. Chicago has so many holes in its lineup it may be difficult to convince a premium player to trust his process. That said, it just takes one guy to commit, and then it could be Katy bar the door. Who knows? Maybe signing the former Met could lead to a reunion with Báez and a deal with Stroman. That would be a nice way to exorcize 25 years of New York demons that started with that dreaded 1969 season.
Cubs News & Notes
- Matz is expected to sign with some team this week.
- Carter Hawkins added depth to his roster when the Cubs acquired Guardians reserve outfielder Harold Ramirez for cash considerations.
- Bryce Harper wants Kris Bryant and other premium free agents to know that they should trust their agents all through the offseason process, even if it means waiting out a work stoppage.
- If the National League does agree to a designated hitter starting in 2022, one of these three ex-Cubs could be perfect to fill that role on a full-time basis.
- Alfonso Soriano is in great shape and looks like he could still play, though he looks a lot more like a linebacker than an outfielder.
- Sammy Sosa is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the last time and it is unlikely he will receive the necessary votes for election.
Odds & Sods
This could have been a scene from the movie Brewster’s Millions had Hollywood done a remake of the most underrated baseball movie of all time. Wouldn’t it be great if Tom Ricketts was forced to spend all of his money? Maybe that’s what happened up until 2016.
— John Vincent (@JohnVincentLive) November 20, 2021
It was no surprise, but Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini was named AL Comeback Player of the year. Mancini did not play in 2020 while battling stage 3 colon cancer, but he beat the disease and went on to blast 21 home runs and 71 RBIs with a .255/.326/.432 slash line over 142 games this season.
Anaheim also acquired utility player Tyler Wade from the Yankees for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Two former employees of the Nationals are suing the organization for wrongful termination, claiming they were illegally fired due to MLB’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Unless something breaks, I’m going to take a two-day sabbatical and resume The Rundown on Friday. I wish you all the best for Thanksgiving, and my hope is that each of you and your loved ones enjoys a safe and happy holiday.
Nelson Velázquez discussed changing from a leg kick to toe tap and how he plans to carry over his success this year into next season in a one-on-one with Lance Brozdowski of the Marquee Sports Network.
They Said It
- “[Kris] and Jess [Bryant], they have a great head on their shoulders, and they’re great people, and they have a great family. So I think they have all the communication they need. They’ve got Scott Boras, of course. He’s an incredible agent, just to be able to throw things up at him. He’s seen it all. Kris is going to be OK, anywhere he goes or [in] anything that he does.” – Harper
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
Comin’ Home Baby by Mel Tormé – I am adopting this classic by “The Velvet Fog” as my official Thanksgiving song.