The Rundown: Pitching Pickings Pretty Slim, Cubs Reportedly Interested in Stroman, Shortstop Also Position of Need, Franco Extension Could Be CBA Tell
We’re well past Halloween but the zombies in Jed Hoyer’s rear-view mirror are gaining ground. The walking dead in question are the inferior free-agent pitchers that come armed with substandard fastballs and all kinds of other blemishes and question marks. If Hoyer and new GM Carter Hawkins truly intend to buy a couple of starters, it’s looking more and more like they’re going to be shopping for retreads and reclamation projects, particularly if the front office is looking at hurlers who still have a little gas left on their fastballs.
If you have an appetite for top-50 guys Jon Gray, Carlos Rodón, Yusei Kikuchi, and Danny Duffy, you’re in luck because all are still available. You can add Dylan Bundy to that list, too, though he’s well outside the list of potentially premium starters. Unfortunately, none of those free agents are capable of fronting a rotation outside of Pittsburgh or Baltimore. The Rangers are said to have a “legitimate interest” in Gray, by the way.
Talk about your Thanksgiving Day leftovers. I’m not sure there is enough salt and mayonnaise available to make a palatable sangwich with any of that.
As quality pitchers come off the board, it’s looking more and more like Chicago’s 2022 rotation will consist of Kyle Hendricks at No. 1 with Wade Miley following, two pitchers to be named later at Nos. 3 and 4, and Adbert Alzolay as the Cubs’ back-end starter. If you add two of the four mentioned above, is that enough to get the Cubs into next season’s tournament? No one would blame you if you have doubts.
If Hoyer and Hawkins want to explore the trade market, they have just one asset with which to acquire a stud starter. That would be Willson Contreras, but who is going to catch next year and beyond? The inability of the front office to find quality pitching has to make extending the backstop a much higher priority. Personally speaking, I see more offensive regression ahead for Contreras and I’m sure I’m not alone in that thinking, which makes a new contract difficult to gauge.
Tyler Glasnow is reportedly available, but he won’t pitch next season and will likely cost less in prospects next winter. Some team may overpay to stash the 28-year-old righty for a year, it just shouldn’t be the Cubs. Reports indicate Tampa Bay is asking for two top 10 prospects for Glasnow and outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, so let’s hope Hoyer exercises a little restraint. If the Rays are truly motivated sellers, that price will drop substantially once next season has started.
To be perfectly frank, the Cubs should have signed somebody by now to strengthen their rotation. Another year of crafty, soft-tossing, veterans won’t do much to sell free agent position players on Hoyer’s promises. Even if the Cubs somehow make the playoffs, can Hendricks and Miley give them an edge in a Wild Card game or Division Series? You probably know the answer to that without me leading you any further.
Steven Matz might have helped, but he signed with the Cardinals. It’s doubtful that Robbie Ray and Kevin Gausman are considering the Cubs, Marcus Stroman will probably want too much money, Clayton Kershaw is likely to stay put with the Dodgers, and Zack Greinke can barely top 90 mph these days.
The zombies are circling and it’s not pretty. Somewhere Zach Davies and Jake Arrieta are smiling. That is, if they’re not also chasing Hoyer.
Cubs News & Notes
- Catching prospect Miguel Amaya could miss all of 2022 after reportedly needing Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.
- The Cubs are among the teams reportedly interested in Stroman.
- Hendricks said he is excited to have Miley as a teammate.
- Hoyer has cleaned up the colossal mess left behind by Theo Epstein but now must work to get up to speed in filling his roster holes.
- Frank Schwindel said he attributes his success in 2021 to the confidence Chicago’s front office showed in him.
- Even after beefing up their rotation, Chicago may need to rely heavily on their bullpen in ’22, and the good news is that relief pitching remains a strength.
- Nico Hoerner has been inspired by current and former teammates’ charity work in the Chicagoland community and plans to add to that legacy.
- The Cubs need a shortstop in addition to rotation help, and Javier Báez or Marcus Semien might look good in royal blue pinstripes for the next 3-5 seasons if Hoyer and Hawkins are willing to meet either’s demands.
- Would you trade Contreras to the Marlins for once-promising pitcher Jesús Luzardo? I wouldn’t, but I could be persuaded if Maimi added outfield prospect JJ Bleday (unlikely), starter Max Meyer (won’t happen), or catcher Joe Mack (disco!).
- Caleb Kilian is still pretty excited about his performance in last weekend’s AFL championship game.
- Thanksgiving memories are very special to Cubs’ legend Fergie Jenkins.
- Nelson Velázquez is still playing baseball and will head to Puerto Rico to play winter ball. I need a job covering that league. Maybe Cubs Insider will put me on assignment.
Odds & Sods
Jomboy Media dropped a video about the Wrigley Field experience that’s worth your time, but it’s going to make you miss summer. It was 20 degrees in Chicago this morning. Timing, guys, please and thank you.
Wander Franco is set for life after signing an 11-year $182 million extension with the Rays.
A club option for a 12th year would make the deal worth $223 million.
Franco’s extension may signal that a mandatory salary floor is coming in the next CBA.
Didi Gregorius could be the answer to the Yankees’ shortstop issues.
Starting pitcher Alex Cobb could be a sneaky good free agent signing for some team.
The Giants have placed outfielder Alex Dickerson on release waivers, making him a free agent.
Noah Syndergaard wants to exact some payback for the “ridiculous” comment shortstop Carlos Correa made about Derek Jeter.
Most MLB insiders expect the A’s to trade corner infielders Matt Chapman and Matt Olson this winter.
Which shortstop would you pick to start your team? It’s gotta be Ernie Banks, right? You couldn’t go wrong with any of these Hall of Famers.
Luis Aparicio, Ozzie Smith, Robin Yount, Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken Jr. pic.twitter.com/xJsnNzLoWp
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) November 26, 2021
They Said It
- “Basically, they met with me, they said, ‘you’re our guy and you’re gonna play every day at first base. I’ve never been told that before. Just the confidence they had in me allowed me to go out there and not have to worry about looking at the lineup and seeing if I’m playing or not or tracking when the lefty [is] gonna be throwing and seeing if I’m in the lineup or not. They just said, ‘we’re riding with you, go do your thing.’ That’s the first time I felt the confidence from the organization and that makes it a lot easier as a player to go out there and do your thing.” – Schwindel
- “It was one of those days where kind of all of your stuff feels like it’s on. I felt like all my pitches were working. I was throwing a lot of fastballs early on and I started mixing the other stuff and it started to come. You just go one inning at a time, one pitch at a time, and then you look up and it was really cool.” – Kilian
Friday Walk-Up Song
Something by The Beatles – I caught a touch of the love bug the other day. When in doubt, go Harrison, right?