“A true gentleman has no vices, but he allows you your own.” – Michael Sharra
I have a six-step plan to fix the Cubs which is a little radical and will likely upset some fans, but allows Jed Hoyer to retool and save a little money so he can shop the premium section of free agency. It also gives a little boost to the team’s farm system. The moves I’ll suggest will strengthen the rotation and bullpen and, though it removes some longball firepower, the Cubs get three professional hitters in return. My plan also means saying goodbye to Jon Lester.
Let me point out that these are not rumors. Everything that follows comes from my brain and my brain alone. So while the entirety of these deals is more than likely impossible, there may be similar deals to be made with other teams. I’d love to hear your rebuttals in the comments section.
- Keep and extend two members of the core. Of the team’s core players, I believe Javier Báez and Anthony Rizzo are the ones who must stay. That means a possible increase in payroll, but it also means moving some players that may upset you.
- Make a trade with the Royals. Last year the Cubs probably could have swapped Nico Hoerner straight up for Whit Merrifield, but this year I’m not so sure Kansas City would acquiesce. Nevertheless, Hoyer should try. I still believe Hoerner is overrated and struggles against any pitch that’s not a four-seamer. The problem is, if I know this other front offices do, too. There are financial savings here for the Royals, Hoerner is still young and developing, and Merrifield doesn’t represent too big a hit to the Cubs payroll.
- Make a blockbuster trade with the Angels. Get ready to attack, but I’m sending Ian Happ and Willson Contreras to reunite with Joe Maddon and play with Mike Trout in exchange for Dylan Bundy, Max Stassi, Cam Bedrosian, and minor league second base prospect Jahmai Jones. The Cubs get a legit 2-3 starter, a backup catcher to spell Victor Caratini and hold a place until Miguel Amaya is ready, a hard-throwing reliever, and an infield prospect with 60-grade speed and excellent bat-to-ball skills. At 23, Jones just may be a little old to be considered a blue-chip prospect, but the Cubs’ system is deep at middle infield. The salaries work out pretty equally and if the Cubs aren’t going to extend Contreras there’s no reason to keep him. Bundy would give the Cubs three of the top 20 starters of 2020. The Angels could replace Bundy by signing Trevor Bauer.
- It’s time for a crosstown trade. Next, I’m sending Kyle Schwarber to the White Sox for a prospect and a cheap, hard-throwing reliever. The ChiSox get a DH replacement for Edwin Encarnación and the Cubs get salary relief, starting pitching prospect Dane Dunning, and reliever Codi Heuer. I’m not sure Rick Hahn would do this deal, but I do believe the sides could be close enough to make it happen. If not, there are similar trades out there with other teams, like the Yankees or Indians.
- End the Bryant saga by just ripping it from its roots. The Cubs need salary relief and the Mets, under new owner Steve Cohen and his bottomless checkbook, want to win right away. They’re not going to steal DJ LeMahieu from the Yankees and Kris Bryant is their backup target. In this deal, the Cubs would get outfielder Jeff McNeil and hard-throwing swingman Seth Lugo, who can eat innings and provide depth for the rotation. The Cubs would throw in Dillon Maples and minor league prospect Chase Strumpf to make it work.
- Make a big splash in free agency. With the money you save in the Schwarber and Bryant deals, sign George Springer to a five-year, $125 million deal. He is exactly what this team needs.
Though I hate doing potential lineups, here’s how my retooled squad would take the field in 2021, assuming there is no DH in the National League:
- Merrifield 2B
- Springer CF
- McNeill LF
- Rizzo 1B
- Baez SS
- Jason Heyward RF
- David Bote 3B
- Caratini/Stassi C
- Reserves: Cameron Maybin, Jason Kipnis (both on minor league contracts), Ian Miller
- Starting Pitchers: Yu Darvish, Kyle Hendricks, Bundy, Alec Mills, Adbert Alzolay, Lugo, Dunning, Brailyn Márquez
- Bullpen: Craig Kimbrel, Ryan Tepera, Bedrosian, Heuer, Rowan Wick, Duane Underwood Jr.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Iowa Cubs and Myrtle Beach Pelicans could change leagues as MLB restructures the minors.
- Theo Epstein is not interested in a front office position with the Phillies.
- Epstein could be interested in a position with the Mets instead, and an announcement could come ahead of the Winter Meetings. Wouldn’t it be crazy if he signed with New York and then traded for Bryant?
- Hoyer trading Darvish would be quite a shocking development, but it might not be as surprising as you think.
- A mediocre NL Central could make the Cubs retool a little easier than expected.
- Here’s what Cubs fans should be thankful for in 2020.
- Taijuan Walker could be a potential low-cost, high-upside starter for the Cubs in free agency.
- Baseball Prospectus has named Márquez as the organization’s top prospect, though Strumpf was absent from the top 10.
- Strumpf is ranked #9 at MLB Pipeline, though that list has yet to be updated for 2021.
Odds & Sods
Bo Jackson, destroyer of bats and baseballs.
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) November 28, 2020
The Blue Jays are said to be very interested in signing Springer.
The Phillies laid off 80 administrative and front office employees yesterday, giving Black Friday a whole new meaning.
The 2021 free agent class could include four starting pitchers who are likely ticketed for the Hall of Fame once their careers are over: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer, and Justin Verlander.
Many MLB players believe it will be a bleak winter for free agents.
It’s Cyber Saturday and the Cubs Insider store has perfect stocking stuffers for your holiday needs, or if you just want to treat yourself to something that will make you the envy of your friends at your fantasy baseball draft.
Who knew 20 years later that the kid would be one of the highest-paid athletes in all of professional sports?
— CirclinTheBases (@CirclinTheBases) January 20, 2020
They Said It
- “I honestly believe, with the combination of vaccines and treatments and home testing and a few other ways people can be safer, and spreading people out around the ballpark and everything else, I think we’ll be able to get people back in the park. But only time will tell if we get enough people in the park (to fill it). Whether we’ll get 10 percent or 20 percent or 30 percent, only time will tell.” – Tom Ricketts
Saturday Walk Up Song
Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus – What else after all that?