What began as a highly improbable outcome sprouted wings of hope sometime around July and really took flight as the 2015 season came to a close. But Jake Arrieta walking away with the Cy Young was anything but a sure bet, what with two very formidable fellow finalists in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. The run-up to the revelation of the award was somewhat tedious, but it was well worth the wait to see Arrieta shield his son before taking a champagne shower from a friend.
Blinking back bubbly, Arrieta celebrated at home in an understated manner befitting his mellow mood. He praised his teammates, namely Rookie of the Year Kris Bryant, and his skipper, Manager of the Year Joe Maddon, before talking a little time to reflect on the Cy Young award and the season, in particular his no-hitter.
“This award…it’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of adjusting, trying to figure this game out and still learning,” a bleary-eyed Arrieta explained. “This game’s very difficult and to do it at a high level is even harder.
“I think everything I’ve been through [the no-hitter] even more special. The grinding through triple-A, being up and down and second guessing myself and wondering if I’m even capable of playing the game at this level.”
The brief interview was punctuated by the popping of corks and honking of horns from excited neighbors, along with congratulations from Arrieta’s wife, Brittany, and the antics of his young son, Cooper, who seemed non too pleased at taking collateral damage from the booze bath.
I’m probably not the most objective voice on the interwebs, so I’m not going to try to argue that Arrieta was the most deserving candidate for this award. In truth, the three finalists were neck and neck and neckbeard in my book. I actually thought third-place finisher Clayton Kershaw was better than teammate Zack Greinke, but the voters didn’t agree. There were no wrong answers, but there were two right ones. And a left. In the end, it was the Cubs’ new ace who collected the most #1 votes en route to the highest point total of the group.
Arrieta was great all year, but it was his mastery of four pitches and dominance in the second half of the season that really boosted him to the top of the pack. The individual awards are nice, but I know Arrieta is more concerned with going after trophies his whole team can share. I’m sure he’ll take some time to enjoy this honor, but then he’s going to get right back to work in preparation for next season.
Zobrist looking for deal, drawing interest
Ben Zobrist is a guy whose name has received no small number of mentions when it comes to the Cubs’ offseason plans. The most recent report on activity surrounding the versatile player involves the New York Mets, who are reportedly “very interested” and have had a “steady dialogue” with Zobrist. Actually, as many as 10 teams may be interested in bidding for his services, though it’s rumored that he’s looking for a 4-year deal with a winning team.
And that makes sense, right? Here’s a guy who’ll turn 35 during the upcoming season and who’s coming off a really solid season with the World Series champs. He’s not just going to take peanuts to play the role of mentor on a struggling rebuild project. Then again, he’s no longer in his prime and may not necessarily be good enough at any one position to merit the asking price. The Mets, who are still considering an offer to Daniel Murphy, might be priced out of the market.
Zobrist can play just about anywhere, though he’s spent more time at 2B (616 games) than any other position. That might not work too well for the Cubs unless they end up clearing some depth at that position via trade. Then again, Joe Maddon’s former charge has also played 453 games in the OF, mainly in right. Should the Cubs part ways with, say, Chris Coghlan, it’d be nice to have a switch-hitter to platoon as needed. Maybe a little pricey for a utility player though.
Chapman could be traded soon
When it comes to pricey, you can bet that Aroldis Chapman is looking to break the bank with a free agent deal after the 2016 season. As such, the Reds have no recourse but to trade him, an inevitability made all the more attractive by the haul the Padres got for Craig Kimbrel.
The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Reds beat writer C. Trent Rosecrans quoted Cindy’s president of baseball ops Walt Jockety thusly:
“Boston was probably a player in it, we talked to them, but we didn’t get close to anything. We’ve been talking to clubs, but I don’t think there’s anything that’s close. Hopefully we get something done with somebody before the Winter Meetings. We’d like to get moving on some things.”
The Winter Meetings kick off on Dec. 7th in Nashville, so that gives the Reds plenty of time to move a man who may well be the best reliever in the game. You have to figure the market is going to be really robust for Chapman, who stands to make around $13 million (based on MLBtraderumors.com’s arbitration estimator) in 2016. The team acquiring him not only significantly upgrades its bullpen, but insulates his potential departure by securing a compensatory draft pick by extending a qualifying offer at season’s end.
Well, that’s assuming the team in question is still in contention down the stretch. If they fall out, they could always flip him again for nice haul at the deadline. According to MLBTR’s Steve Adams, there were as many as seven teams interested in acquiring Chapman, though that number may be a bit lower now:
The Tigers, Red Sox, Astros, Yankees, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays and Nationals have all been mentioned as potential trade partners, though the Tigers and Red Sox have, of course, already picked up late-inning relief help, which could remove them from the market. (Detroit acquired Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers this morning while Boston landed Craig Kimbrel from the Padres in a weekend blockbuster.) Considering the caliber of arm in question, it’s highly likely that other clubs will enter the mix and have already done so while going unreported.
It was kind of nice having the fireballing Cuban stuck in Cincy, where he was generally only deployed for increasingly infrequent save opportunities. A move means the Cubs will have to face him less often, at least in theory, so I hope he ends up with an AL team not based in New York.