The Rundown: Why Wouldn’t You Want Bryce Harper, Hamels Open to Extension, World Series TV Ratings Historically Bad

I didn’t want to write a Bryce Harper post, but then I spent too much time on social media yesterday and I was surprised with the number of people who don’t want the Cubs to pursue the 26-year-old free agent.

Even more surprising were some of the reasons:

“No player is worth $400 million dollars.”

That’s accurate and fair. I don’t think any person is worth that much, but baseball salaries are more a reflection of an internal market rather than the actual talent of the players. Heck, Ryne Sandberg earned about $25 million in his career. That equates to about $43 million in 2018 dollars. Harper may approach that in AAV, though I don’t think someone will pay him quite that much.

“He’s not that talented.”

Harper was worth 9.1 wins in 2015, but has averaged about 3.1 wins against replacement per season for the rest of his career. You are definitely paying in hopes that Harper has yet to reach his peak and that 9 WAR seasons are the rule rather than the exception going forward, but it is a risk.

“The Cubs don’t need another outfielder.”

Actually, they do. They have Jason Heyward, Albert Almora Jr. (when he plays), and 3-4 guys that are capable of playing outfield but are better suited for other positions. The Cubs definitely need a player who is a true right- or left-fielder. Heyward can play a corner or center.  Kyle Schwarber, though he improved a great deal defensively, is still just adequate. Ian Happ, Ben Zobrist, and Kris Bryant are similarly adequate (as outfielders). Signing Harper forces some of those guys back to their natural positions, and for Happ or Schwarber, it likely means a ticket out of town.

“Harper is no Mike Trout.”

Good point – no one is.  Except maybe Mookie Betts.

Cubs News & Notes

The Cubs have positioned themselves as a NL version of the Boston Red Sox in that they are trying to maintain somewhat perpetual success. It is rare that a team wins 95 games and doesn’t win their division, but the front office is determined to put itself in a position to have a chance at a championship every season, and they’ve done that for four consecutive years now.

Could the Cubs get Harper on a one-year deal? Would Harper be interested in that kind of contract? Would the Cubs?

The Cubs declined their $10 million option on Brad Kintzler, who holds a $5 million player-option to play for the Cubs.

Though the Cubs can retain Cole Hamels by picking up his $20 million option for the 2019 season, the pitcher is open to signing an extension to keep him with the team for more than one season, according to his agent.

“Cole enjoyed his experience playing with the Cubs this season,” he said. “We are waiting to hear from them on what they plan to do. We are certainly open to anything that makes sense for Cole and the Cubs going forward. The Cubs told me that Cole was an excellent addition to the team and the clubhouse. We will just sit and wait for a decision.”

Wednesday Stove

Brewers mid-season acquisitions Mike Mosutakos and Jaokim Soria have declined their player options and elected free agency.

The Giants are interested in Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi to head their newly-revamped baseball operations department.

The Indians don’t need starting pitching, so they’ll spend the off season looking for bullpen and outfield help. I still believe the teams match up well in a deal for Schwarber or Happ.

Newly-minted Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen faces a new type of challenge: One concern is more how he will handle business relationships with former clients, notably Jacob deGrom, the likely 2018 National League Cy Young Award winner. The right-hander will be a free agent in two years.

Catcher J.T. Realmuto will not sign a contract extension with the Marlins, according to his agent.

Yankees fans were asked if the team should sign David Price if the hurler elects to opt out of his contract and choose free agency. The answer was a near-unanimous “hard pass.”

Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna underwent what is being described as a clean-up procedure on Tuesday in an attempt to eliminate the persistent tendinitis and inflammation in his right shoulder. He should be ready in time for spring training.

Extra Innings

Baseball has a real problem with declining audiences. The Red Sox-Dodgers series was one of the least watched World Series matchups of all time. Boston’s five-game victory over Los Angeles averaged 14,125,000 viewers on Fox, down 25 percent from last year and the fourth-lowest ever.

Don’t think Rob Manfred hasn’t noticed and won’t look for more ways to cut down on the length of ballgames. The average postseason game took just over three and a half hours to play this year, though that number is slightly skewed thanks to Game 3 of the World Series, an 18-inning affair that lasted 7 hour and 20 minutes. But is length of games really the problem?

Former MLB Commissioner and Brewers owner Bud Selig recently said baseball needs to get back up to speed. He indicated that a game played in 2:45 would be acceptable. Late starting times, long games, and tons of commercials add up to declining viewers.

Whatever the root cause, expect Manfred to be at the forefront of change again this winter.

They Said It

  • “No one remembers game times of the 2013 World Series. Nobody cares. But they know who won.” – Dustin Pedroia
  • “The games are long, but I think they’re action-packed. They’re full of entertainment. If you look at last year’s World Series — and not just because I played in it, but as a fan looking from the outside in — it was probably one of the best World Series that I’ve ever seen. The action, the back and forth, the excitement, having the fans hanging on the edge of their seat. I don’t think they’re going anywhere.” – Justin Turner
  • “Jacob deGrom clearly has established as the best pitcher in baseball. I believe [he] is an incredible talent and I hope to keep him for a long time.” – Brodie Van Wagenen

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Dirty Water by The Standells. Red Sox fans, enjoy your parade today.

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