Jed Hoyer has stated on more than a few occasions that the Cubs would like to add some power pitchers to their rotation, but if he is going to follow through on that promise it’s not likely to happen in free agency. The president of baseball operations has improved the rotation with the additions of Wade Miley and Marcus Stroman, neither of whom is considered a hard thrower.
Reclamation projects and bounceback candidates remain an option as the front office prioritizes the other holes to fill on the roster. The Cubs still need a shortstop, a reliever or two, and a backup infielder. Assuming they sign one of Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, and neither is a guarantee, it might be better to focus on building a stronger bullpen.
Hoyer said as much late last week.
“We’ve talked about how we want to diversify arm angles and pitch mixes,” Hoyer said in a piece published by Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic ($). “[It’s] certainly something in the bullpen we’ll focus on, and if we add additional starters, it’s something we’ll focus on. Ultimately, Stroman’s overall ability and talent trump that.”
“I would not rule out continuing to look for innings,” Hoyer said. “But that said, I think we’ll turn our attention elsewhere on the roster more.”
That could mean Correa, who won the Platinum Glove as the best overall defender in 2021. The Cubs seem to be set at outfield with the additions of Clint Frazier and Harold Ramirez, not to mention the anticipated ascension of Brennen Davis. Hoyer also found his backup catcher when he signed Yan Gomes. Those all feel like peripheral additions though. One would think Hoyer has at least one big move left once the lockout ends and, though it’s been stated they’re in on Correa, nobody knows to what degree.
That doesn’t mean the next move has to be a splurge in free agency. It was reported that the Cubs and Padres discussed a deadline trade that would have brought Eric Hosmer to the Friendly Confines. Because the front office would be taking on almost $60 million in salary, it is presumed San Diego would have included a premium prospect. Perhaps that means shortstop CJ Abrams, a defensive standout with tremendous range, arm strength, and game-changing speed. Abrams can hit, too, and the Padres have long-term infield options in Fernando Tatis, Jr., Jake Cronenworth, and Manny Machado.
Because the Padres may move Tatis Jr. to the outfield, it’s doubtful they’d part with Abrams. San Diego does have some exciting young pitchers in MacKenzie Gore, Justin Lange, Adrián Morejón, and Ryan Weathers. I’d prefer Lange if it was my choice, but if the Cubs can get Abrams they almost have to make that move.
A deal like that makes more sense to me than trading with the Reds to acquire Tyler Mahle by agreeing to take on the contract of Mike Moustakas. I like Mahle a great deal but he has just two years of control left, so why take on his last two arb years plus the $34 million owed on the bad contract? To me, that’s like paying the starter $25 million a year because Moustakas offers negative, declining WAR.
If the Cubs think they can be a World Series contender in the next two years, that kind of move looks a lot smarter. In reality, Chicago may not be at that point until 2024 at the earliest, so a longer-term option feels a little more agreeable.
Cubs News & Notes
- Stroman is already defending Cubs fans on social media.
- Wrigley Field PA announcer Jeremiah Paprocki will have his microphone enshrined in the MLB Hall of Fame.
- “All Nine” Andrew Romine has announced his retirement after an 11-year journeyman career.
- The Cubs have named Johnny Washington as their new assistant hitting coach.
- Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts, Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz, and White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf presented their cases for stadium sports betting yesterday.
Odds & Sods
You don’t see very many three-team, 12-player trades in baseball anymore.
MLB News & Notes
The NBA’s Chicago Bulls have been forced to postpone two games due to a COVID-19 outbreak, so White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson has offered his services to temporarily fill in. That’s one way to get paid during a lockout.
The Flushing franchise is also going to roll out facial ticketing and access controls at Citi Field.
Negotiations & Love Songs
The lockout isn’t bad for baseball’s popularity yet, and could actually have a positive force on fans of the game due to concentrated news coverage once teams can re-enter negotiations with free agents.
One way baseball can solve its tanking problem would be to reverse the order of the draft (subscription to The Athletic required). In the proposal offered by writer Jayson Stark, the 10 best teams to miss the playoffs would get the top picks, followed by the 10 worst teams, and then the 10 playoff teams.
Today’s Baseball Jones
James Triantos does not lack motivation and looks like a younger version of Frazier.
— James Triantos (@JamesTriantos) December 14, 2021
They Said It
- “Infield defense is always important, but that’s certainly something we’ll talk about a lot over the next few weeks.” – Hoyer
- “We talked at the beginning of the offseason about how we had financial flexibility, really, for the first time in a while because we didn’t have a lot of guys at the end of arbitration. We always planned on using that financial flexibility.” – Hoyer
Monday Walk-Up Song
Poor People’s Store by Shinyribs – I’m not 100% accurate but I believe some of baseball’s owners are thrift shopping this holiday season after the biblical losses of the last two years.