I love postseason baseball, but now that the days are getting shorter and much cooler, I’m ready for the buzz of trade and free agency rumors that kick into overdrive as soon as the World Series ends. Buyers and sellers will escape their cocoons the day after the World Series ends, much to the delight of all baseball fans. With that in mind, I’d like to share a quote by Jed Hoyer I stumbled upon while gormandizing baseball news over the weekend.
“Of course, there will be players in our system that will be used in trade to acquire other major leaguers,” Hoyer told Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic ($). “But having a really good group of young players in the big leagues — the youth, the energy of that, there’s the cost-controlled nature of that, you look around baseball and there’s a lot of young teams, really cost-efficient teams that played well. I don’t want to just think about those young players as the potential to acquire other older major leaguers.”
That stance seems contradictory to success when you look at the rosters of the remaining playoff teams. The Phillies are rolling thanks to the likes of Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, and Nick Castellanos. Justin Verlander, José Altuve, and Alex Bregman have been stars for the Astros. Meanwhile, Adolis García, Corey Seager, and Mitch Garver have been Rangers standouts.
Still, several younger players stepped up in September and October, including Josh Jung and Evan Carter of the Rangers, and Corbin Carroll and Brandon Pfaadt of the Diamondbacks. The Astros seem to roster a solid mix of veterans and younger players every year, and they’ve gone to the ALCS in five straight seasons. I applaud Hoyer’s approach to building his 2024 roster because of Houston’s success. I also dream of an outfield that includes Kevin Alcantara, Pete Crow-Armstrong, and Owen Caissie.
We can only hope David Ross doesn’t impede the plans of Hoyer’s front office, because rookies are the lowest members of the food chain in his clubhouse ecosystem. Ross is on the clock as soon as free agency commences and the imminent youth movement will determine if he is Chicago’s long-term solution to lead the team. The fifth-year manager is going to have to trust Crow-Armstrong, Alexander Canario, Miguel Amaya, and Luke Little a lot more next season. You may as well add Caleb Horton, Ben Brown, Matt Mervis, and potentially Brennen Davis to that list.
If Ross sacrifices big league development to defer to underperforming veterans in 2024, he deserves to be let go after his contract expires. That means he will succeed or fail by trying to win the NL Central with a heavy mix of youth and experience. The Astros set the bar with that brand of roster construction and they look like perennial contenders for at least another five years. Ross therefore needs to do his best impression of Dusty Baker beginning next year if he wishes to remain with the club for the better part of this decade.
Cubs News & Notes
- Bruce Levine reported on Saturday that the Cubs and Kyle Hendricks are trying to work out an extension. Levine also stated that the Cubs will attempt to sign Japanese closer Yuki Matsui.
- Chicago’s biggest needs heading into the offseason are power pitchers and hitters, upgrades to the bullpen, and help at the corners.
- Ian Happ posted a 3.5 WAR in 2023 but took a big step back defensively after winning a Gold Glove in ’22.
- James Triantos continues to excel in AFL action. The infielder is hitting .431/.525/.765 in league play after hitting a double and a home run on Saturday.
- Would you give up Triantos and Little to acquire Tyler Glasnow? I would.
- Dansby Swanson will consult with Hoyer about the team’s offseason plans. I hope he has an in with Shohei Ohtani, but I also wouldn’t mind seeing the Cubs trading for and extending Juan Soto.
- What would a Soto trade look like? Jim Bowden thinks the Guardians could land Soto for Shane Bieber and Steven Kwan. Soto and Bieber are set to become free agents in 2025, so it’s an exchange of rentals with Kwan as the evener.
- Nick Madrigal enters the offseason as Chicago’s incumbent starting third baseman, but the team will be much better if Christopher Morel can stick at the hot corner.
- The Cubs have a giant-sized pool of organizational pitching depth, which is one of the reasons the Red Sox are interested in poaching assistant GM and VP of pitching Craig Breslow.
- That depth will allow the Cubs to concentrate on the bullpen while seeking offensive firepower ($), according to Patrick Mooney of The Athletic.
- Reliever Michael Fulmer had UCL revision surgery last week and will miss the 2024 season.
- Codi Heuer and Brad Boxberger also ended the season on the injury list, but both will begin throwing in mid-November.
- I’m not the only writer who believes that Marcus Stroman will decline his player option.
- Former Cubs manager Lou Piniella is among the Baseball Hall of Fame finalists to be considered by the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee.
Odds & Sods
The legend of Sweet Lou continues to grow…
Had ourselves a day that time. https://t.co/QpoLDBZraV
— Nisei Lounge Chicago (@NiseiLounge) October 19, 2023
- Milwaukee: The Brewers would like to shop starter Corbin Burnes this winter, but the injury to Brandon Woodruff might force Milwaukee to keep its ace.
- Cincinnati: The Reds do not have a single Gold Glove finalist this year, which is not surprising.
- Pittsburgh: One trade proposal suggests that Mitch Keller could be moved to the pitching-rich Braves for prospects AJ Smith-Shawver, Allan Winans, and Braden Shewmake.
- St. Louis: Yadier Molina, who retired after the 2022 season, is reportedly open to joining the Cardinals in some capacity, either in management or as a coach.
How About That!
García is the first player in MLB history to hit a grand slam against the same opponent in the regular season and postseason in the same year. He’s also the first player to hit a grand slam with four strikeouts in the same playoff game.
The Rangers and Astros will meet in Houston for Game 7 tonight in a series where the visiting team has won every game. Today also marks the final day of the 2023 season with more than one baseball game.
The last time Games 6 and 7 of the LCS fell on the same day was in 2020, when 16 teams made the postseason, tightening up the schedule considerably.
Three of the four remaining teams finished with a 90-72 record, but the Rangers hold a tie-breaker over the Phillies should both teams advance. Philadelphia would get four home games if Houston advances. The Diamondbacks finished 84-78 and cannot earn home-field advantage in the World Series.
CBS Sports listed its top 25 free agents including potential destinations.
The Mets, Angels, and Guardians also need new skippers this winter.
San Diego is cutting payroll this offseason.
Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Justin Steele has been nominated for the NL Outstanding Pitcher Award and Cody Bellinger has been nominated for the NL Comeback Player of the Year award.
— Daniel Greenberg (@ChiSportUpdates) October 17, 2023
They Said It
- “[Hendricks] has been one of my favorite Cubs players to be around since we got here. It’s hard to imagine a better teammate. Someone who redefines ‘low maintenance.’ He does whatever the team needs. It’s just a joy to have him around. Certainly, we want to keep him as a Cub for next year and beyond.” – Jed Hoyer
- “We’ve had such a good relationship the whole time I’ve been here. I respect the heck out of them. I appreciate everything they’ve given me, all the opportunities they’ve given me. I have full trust in whatever is supposed to happen, will happen.” – Hendricks
Monday Walk-Up Song
Jolie Holland provides an interesting twist to old-time religion.