I took a day-long break from baseball and social media yesterday and missed all of the shenanigans revolving around Nolan Arenado and a potential trade to the Cubs. Whichever team acquires Arenado is going to have to include a young catcher in the deal. Because Chicago has more catching depth than any team in baseball, including Willson Contreras, Victor Caratini, and Miguel Amaya, it’s not surprising that a marriage between the Cubs and Rockies seems like kismet to some.
But before you get too excited, you should probably pump the brakes just a bit.
First, Arenado has a full no-trade clause and he signed an extension with the Rockies last year because he genuinely loves playing in Colorado. He can also opt out of his contract after the 2021 season, which leaves the Cubs in potentially the same situation they are with Kris Bryant.
Then there’s Chicago’s payroll, and, in case you haven’t been reminded enough, the Cubs have yet to hand out even one dollar of guaranteed money this winter.
Oh yeah, the Cardinals seem to be pretty hot for Arenado, too.
Our @MLBBruceLevine just reported the Cardinals trade offer he heard for Nolan Arenado would be newly acquired Matthew Liberatore, Dakota Hudson, Carlos Martinez, and Tyler O'Neill. Good luck topping that offer, anyone.
— M@ (@MattSpiegel670) January 11, 2020
An incredible offer by St. Louis, if true. It doesn’t solve the big black hole at catcher for the Rockies, though.
Now let me whet your appetite a tiny bit. How would you like to see a Cubs lineup that has Arenado at third and Nicholas Castellanos in right field? I don’t believe for a second that Theo Epstein believes Bryant can play center field, so any notion that the North Siders could enter the 2020 season with both Bryant and Arenado in the same lineup seems preposterous. But if you include Jason Heyward and a prospect or two — say Chase Strumpf and Adbert Alzolay — in a trade with the Rockies using Amaya or Contreras as the bait, sign Castellanos, and then trade Bryant for a starting pitcher and a center fielder, things start to get interesting.
Then again, in my head, heart, and within the deepest depths of my soul, I truly believe the Cubs’ opening day lineup in Milwaukee this March will look almost the same as the one that started the 2019 season in Texas.
Cubs News & Notes
- Since winning the World Series in 2016, relief pitcher Steve Cishek has been the most productive free agent the Cubs have signed. They’ve also failed to extend any of their players in the interim except Kyle Hendricks and David Bote.
- In case you are wondering what an extension might look like for Javier Báez, our EIC Evan Altman breaks it down for you.
- Though the Cubs signed all of their arbitration-eligible players, there are a lot more moving parts to Bryant’s deal than simply stating the two parties avoided arbitration.
- Bryant’s service time grievance continues to hover over the team like a black cloud.
- The front office spent $42.66 million to get all of their arb-eligible players under contract for 2020.
- Per Roster Resource, the team now projects to about $214 million in total AAV, which is roughly $6 million over the $208 million CBT threshold.
- Kyle Schwarber has been ranked as baseball’s eighth-best left fielder, just below Joc Pederson of the Dodgers and just above David Peralta of the Diamondbacks and Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees. The rankings are based on player performance over the last two seasons, offensive and defensive metrics from both advanced data and traditional numbers, and analysis by the MLB Network research team. Stanton had just 59 at-bats in 2019.
- Anthony Rizzo was hit by 27 pitches last season to lead all of baseball. He will enter the top 20 all-time if he gets plunked just 12 times in 2020.
- The Rockies have interest in free agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Colorado currently has three catchers on their 40-man roster, Tony Wolters (64 OPS+ last season), Drew Butera (13 OPS+) , and Elias Díaz (61 OPS+). Lucroy had 60 plate appearances with the Cubs in ’19, with a 48+ OPS.
Apropos of Nothing
Colin Cowherd had a 1/1024 chance of this happening, according to my math.
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) January 12, 2020
Updates on Nine
- Though the White Sox have had an impressive winter, and even assuming they are good enough to win the AL Central or make the playoffs as a Wild Card entry, are they still good enough to compete with AL juggernauts like the Yankees and Astros? Lucas Giolito was the only starter with an ERA+ that was better than league average last season. Dallas Keuchel and Gio González offer two positive reinforcements, but the staff could be similarly mediocre in 2020 if Giolito regresses. For those who don’t remember, the White Sox originally drafted González in 2004.
- Nationals ace Max Scherzer is 35 years old and entering his 13th season. He’s thrown 37,253 pitches in his career and that type of usage amplifies with age. Still, Scherzer has been training in Florida since Christmas and announced he’s ready to go for 2020.
- Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman has a unique offseason workout plan that includes proximal stability exercises.
- Folks in Colorado believe that an Arenado trade is inevitable at this point. I’ll admit it’s odd that the Cubs have been connected to the superstar third baseman as much, if not more, than any other team, but potential suitors also include the Cardinals, Nationals, Braves, and Yankees. The Rockies need a catcher, so I’d imagine Contreras is what keeps Chicago in the Arenado lottery. It might be easier to simply extend Bryant.
- Stephen Strasburg wasn’t exactly thrilled with the MLB video release that recaps the 2019 World Series. “Clearly, the [narrator] thought Houston was gonna win.”
- Though the Nationals lost third baseman Anthony Rendon to the Angels in free agency, team GM Mike Rizzo believes current options options at the hot corner, including Starlin Castro, Asdrúbal Cabrera, and Carter Kieboom, can keep the team competitive enough to contend this season. All are more accustomed to playing middle infield, however.
- Gerardo Parra commemorated his participation as a member of the 2019 World Series champion Nationals with a very unique tattoo that includes the championship trophy and Baby Shark wearing red-tinted glasses. Parra will be playing in Japan this season.
- The Cardinals and A’s are reportedly showing interest in free agent catcher Matt Wieters.
- Boston owner John Henry believes that higher spending clubs like the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, and his Red Sox need to reset their CBT limits at least every three years. “This focus on CBT resides with the media far more than it does within the Sox,” Henry said. “I think every team probably wants to reset (the luxury tax) at least once every three years — that’s sort of been the history.”
Javy Báez led all infielders with +19 Outs Above Average last season … over Arenado, Simmons, Chapman, everyone.
He makes so many different kinds of great plays — range, hands, arm, you name it: pic.twitter.com/OYgZi7Lodn
— David Adler (@_dadler) January 10, 2020
They Said It
- “Obviously you want more guys like Kris Bryant on your team to make this the best team [the front office] possibly can this year and long term.” – David Ross
- “Theo and I are talking all the time, and certainly when he and ownership want to discuss [a Bryant extension], our ears are open, no doubt.” – Scott Boras
Sunday Walk Up Song
Feel it Still by Portugal. The Man – This playful song sits at number four on my top 10 of the decade and, despite 271 million YouTube views, is one of those tunes that one tends to know and not know at the same time. That it is equally forgettable and unforgettable is a testament to the sorry state of music and its general failure to market its better artists.