The Rundown: Cubs Media Network Likely, Cole Traded to Houston, Time for Sosa to Man Up

It’s not often you get to see a walk-off home run in January but congratulations to the Vikings for pulling it off yesterday. And though I am not really a fan of Joe Buck, his call of the final play was pretty amazing.

Big news this weekend in case you were fully immersed in your CubsCon sensory deprivation isolation tank: Gerrit Cole was traded to the Astros in what is being widely viewed as an underwhelming return. On top of that, Addison Reed basically gave himself away to the Twins.

The long-rumored trade of Cole from the Pirates to the Astros was consummated Saturday night, shortly after the team avoided arbitration with the starter by signing him for $6.75 million. In doing so, the defending champions added a cheap, top-three starter without giving up anything critical to their immediate future. In exchange, the Pirates received right-hander Joe Musgrove, who fills an obvious rotation need, a potential closer in Michael Feliz, and a cost-controlled league average third baseman in Colin Moran.

The Bucs also acquired minor league outfielder Jason Martin, who shows some potential, but likely never had a chance to play for a team as deep as the Astros. With the trade, the Astros now project to nearly 104 wins for 2018. Yikes.

The move by was panned by the majority of baseball experts as being lopsided in Houston’s favor, but it’s far more fun to look at the top bloggers for both teams:

I’m not privy to much insider information, but I’m guessing the deal was actually completed last week and the teams waited to see whether Cole re-signed or went through arbitration, while I’m sure the Pirates did their due diligence to see if a better deal existed elsewhere. The relatively low-risk acquisition by Houston tells me that the neither the Cubs nor the Yankees offered a better return, while Astros GM Jeffrey Lunhow saw no need to employ a Jedi Mind Trick or something of the sort to finalize this deal. Certainly a deal headlined by one of Ian Happ or Clint Frazier would have been a better return for Cole, but those players were never likely in play.

Meanwhile, Reed signed with the Twins on Saturday, agreeing to a two-year deal for slightly less than $17 million. This represents somewhat of a steal for Minnesota. I have no way of knowing if other teams offered more money or years, but Reed would have looked good in the Cubs ‘pen at that price. Passing on Reed at that price may demonstrate that this front office is perfectly comfortable with Dillon Maples being an integral part of their relief corps.

Speaking of, make sure you catch Evan’s interview with Maples from this weekend’s festivities.

As the free-agent market stands right now, the Cubs have positioned themselves to acquire a potential top-of rotation starter before spring training. With the Astros likely done adding to their staff, it looks like Chicago and Minnesota have the best chances of signing Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, or Alex Cobb. With demand dwindling, there could be further market correction and this weekend’s transactions could very well push Darvish to the Cubs and Cobb to the Twins. The Cardinals or Brewers could be possible destinations for Arrieta, though if prices drop enough, the Yankees, Rangers, and Dodgers may be interested in each of those players too.

Cubs News & Notes

“It’s a great time to be us,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said Saturday regarding the possibility the Cubs could start their own media network when their contracts with NBC Sports Chicago, ABC-7 and WGN-9 expire after the 2019 season. I’ve been championing this since early 2015 as consumers began bailing on cable TV and other tethered viewing packages.

Television has changed into a niche-oriented deliverable, and the Cubs look to be simply filtering that one step further. A 24/7/365 network dedicated to the team would be a pioneering media offering that could see like-minded teams follow going forward. For fans, it would further cement Cubs baseball as a year-round attraction.

When asked about a possible return of Sammy Sosa to the team’s good graces, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said that Sammy “owes the team a little honesty.” I still contend that it is not Sosa’s alleged PED use that has estranged him from the team, but the fact that he left the Cubs after the first pitch of their final game of the 2004 season. Though I have always felt the Cubs should acquiesce and engineer a resolution to the fractured relationship, I don’t think Ricketts is asking too much. It’s been 15 years. Time to man up, Sammy.

Willson Contreras certainly demonstrated his take-charge attitude in leading the Cubs pitching staff with this quote regarding Jon Lester’s disdain for throwing to first base. Warning, video contains profanity:

Kris Bryant signed a record deal for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Five players avoided arbitration and only Justin Grimm remains unsigned at this point.

Former Cubs catcher Jody Davis will manage the Reds’ AA affiliate at Pensacola in 2018.

Weekend Stove

Sports Illustrated grades the Cole trade.

Parting with top prospects for Cole was not something the Yankees considered according to Pinstripe Alley.

In acquiring Reed, the Twins basically met the market for set up relievers to obtain a bona fide closer.

Twins Daily says it is a two-team race for Darvish now, and sees the Cubs as their only true competitor to land the ace.

Cardinals OF Tommy Pham sees himself as a 30/30 player in 2018 (though he may need to avoid suicide leads against Jon Lester if he hopes to achieve the latter total).

The Sydney Blue Sox needed 22 runs to defeat the Perth Heat in this 41-run barnburner. Yes, I said “needed.”

Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey passed away this weekend at the age of 87.

Monday Walk Up Song

Roll Me Away by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. Baseball is one month away kids.

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