The Rundown: Cubs Have Many Options for Improving Roster, O’Neil Finally Gets Overdue HOF Induction, Concerns Exist About Correa’s Back
It could be some time before the owners and players reach an agreement in their collective bargaining negotiations, and Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins still have some work to do once the offseason resumes. The front office duo has made significant upgrades to the roster in almost deliberate fashion, but the team still has some holes that need attention. The two executives have earned a solid B for the moves they’ve made so far, even if the overall grade still stands as incomplete.
Chicago has made five moves this winter:
- Claimed Wade Miley off waivers from the Reds and immediately exercised his $10 million option for 2022.
- Acquired Harold Ramírez to serve as a platoon outfielder and bench depth.
- Signed Yan Gomes to a two-year, $13 million contract to serve as a backup to starting catcher Willson Contreras. Gomes also gives Hoyer and Hawkins some flexibility in case they decide to trade Contreras.
- Added Clint Frazier on a one-year deal to provide outfield depth.
- Signed starting pitcher Marcus Stroman to a three-year contract, giving Chicago’s rotation a huge boost.
The Cubs still need a flame-throwing starter, a shortstop, and possibly an outfielder, the additions of which would go a long way toward building the necessary depth to be a viable playoff contender. Several rumors have attached Carlos Correa to Chicago and one has indicated the Cubs and the Yankees are co-favorites to land the superstar infielder. Even if Hoyer and Hawkins meet Correa’s reported demands, they should have enough money to sign a decent outfielder.
Assuming the Cubs do sign Correa, it’s likely Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, and Nick Castellanos would be a little too expensive to add. Hoyer may not want to bring back any ex-Cubs anyway. Seiya Suzuki may be an option, but the Cubs aren’t listed as one of the current favorites to sign the Japanese import. Then again, Chicago wasn’t considered a likely destination for Stroman. Available options include Jorge Soler, Michael Conforto, Eddie Rosario, Andrew McCutchen, Tommy Pham, and Joc Pederson.
The front office may have to go the trade route to get an exciting starter and they have the ammunition to get a top-of-rotation candidate if they are willing to move a premium player like Contreras, Ian Happ, or Brailyn Márquez. When the Dodgers acquired Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Nationals, Washington received top pitching prospect Josiah Gray, catcher Keibert Ruiz, and minor league depth pieces in Gerardo Carrillo and Donovan Casey.
Hoyer and Hawkins probably don’t want to trade from the top of their minor league system. However, if the two truly believe in the futures of DJ Herz, Caleb Kilian, and Jordan Wicks, moving Márquez or Adbert Alzolay, along with catching prospect Miguel Amaya, could provide the necessary pieces to put the Cubs into World Series contention. That type of package might be enough to acquire Frankie Montas and Matt Olson from the A’s if Chicago is also willing to include an additional piece or two. With decent infield and outfield depth, adding a player like Nico Hoerner, Kevin Made, Ed Howard, Chase Strumpf, or Cole Roederer as lottery tickets to any potential deal might be enough to get something done.
A blockbuster trade like that could allow Frank Schwindel to serve as the team’s designated hitter and would allow the Cubs to forego signing an outfielder, relying on a rotation that includes Jason Heyward, Rafael Ortega, Happ, Ramírez, and possibly Frazier. Brennen Davis could be an option as early as Opening Day, too.
Cubs News & Notes
- Longtime Cubs scout, coach, and instructor Buck O’Neil was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.
- O’Neil garnered votes on 13 of the 16 ballots cast by the Hall of Fame’s Early Baseball Era Committee.
- Hoyer admittedly changed strategy to get more aggressive once he saw other teams rushing to sign players before the lockout
- One MLB Insider believes the Yankees won’t be able to sign Correa because they’d rather extend Aaron Judge this winter.
- With minor league infield prospects Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe nearing the majors, New York may want to allocate their financial resources to other areas of need.
- If the Cubs do sign Correa, they may have to send a letter of thanks to Javier Báez.
- A lower back injury and an unwillingness to provide access to medical reports could hinder Correa’s ability to land a record-breaking contract.
- Stroman is doing his part, too.
- Frazier’s fiancée, Kaylee, is pretty amped up about attending games at Wrigley Field in 2022.
- Reports have surfaced that the Braves have checked in on former Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.
Odds & Sods
The Savannah Bananas truly know how to show appreciation when you order team merchandise from their website.
MLB News & Notes
In addition to O’Neil, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Miñoso, Tony Oliva and Bud Fowler earned election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday via the Eras Committee process.
Miñoso earned praise from Oliva for his MLB accomplishments and his work with mentoring Cuban-born players.
Dick Allen fell one vote shy of election into the Hall of Fame.
Former Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig isn’t very happy with baseball media these days.
Correa, Bryant, and Schwarber top the list of the best available remaining free agents.
The Yankees have reportedly contacted the Rangers about trading for shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
Justin Verlander is still technically a free agent and stuck in CBA limbo because his two-year, $50 million deal has not been made official.
From the Bargaining Table
The league has presented the players with several non-negotiable topics in CBA discussions.
Like Bud Selig before him, Rob Manfred should be considered the poster boy for negotiating in bad faith and collective bargaining poisoning, which segues nicely into the next point.
In a guest column for Yahoo Sports, Smith College professor of economics Andrew Zimbalist indicated that the media has done a great job of raising the temperature of ongoing talks “with incendiary rhetoric” while covering contract negotiations.
The current labor dispute comes down to the same issue that’s roiled manufacturing unions in recent years: A pay structure where young workers may never make as much as those with more tenure.
Today’s Baseball Jones
A 99 mph heater and a knee-buckling breaking ball proved to be much too much for a flailing Astros team in this May 1998 start by Kerry Wood, one of the all-time best performances in MLB history.
O’Neil talking about legendary players Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson is baseball storytelling at its finest.
Buck O’Neil discussing Satchel Paige facing Josh Gibson. #CongratsBuckHOF pic.twitter.com/zZpQXV7lt6
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) December 6, 2021
They Said It
- “You can’t just make plans and not alter them if things change. Clearly, the pitching market was moving very quickly.” – Hoyer
- “The city [of Chicago] has been incredibly welcoming on socials, and I’m excited. This fan base is incredible, so I can’t wait to pitch here.” – Stroman
- “I think [the Cubs] definitely want to win now.” – Stroman
Monday’s Walk-Up Song
Full Force Gale by Van Morrison – A nasty Nor’easter, one equivalent to the storm that caused the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in November 1975, is expected along the western banks of Lake Michigan today. That’s two walk-up songs to keep you warm on a gloomy Midwestern Monday.