The Rundown: Hoyer May Be Finished With Rotation Adds, ‘All Nine’ Romine Retires, White Sox Shortstop Offers to Play for Bulls

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

Odds & Sods

You don’t see very many three-team, 12-player trades in baseball anymore.

MLB News & Notes

The two-year $50 million deal that Justin Verlander and the Astros agreed to has been formally approved by MLB offices.

Former MLB outfielder Yasiel Puig quietly settled claims of sexual assault in 2017.

The Red Sox are among many teams linked to free-agent left-hander Carlos Rodón.

Freddie Freeman is feeling somewhat frustrated that the Braves showed little urgency to sign him before the lockout.

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 Nationals have signed veteran third baseman Maikel Franco to a minor league contract.

Washington has also signed Dee Strange-Gordon to a minor league deal.

Former Cardinals manager Mike Shildt is expected to take a position with the commissioner’s office.

St. Louis is comfortable with Paul DeJong and Edmundo Sosa at shortstop and will not pursue Story.

The Mets have identified Joe Espada, Matt Quatraro, and Buck Showalter as finalists for their managerial opening.

The Flushing franchise is also going to roll out facial ticketing and access controls at Citi Field.

Negotiations & Love Songs

Retired infielder Jerry Harston Jr. is frustrated with the current pace of negotiations between the players and owners.

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

This 520-foot jack by Sammy Sosa against the Brewers in 2003 was the longest home run I’ve ever witnessed in person at Wrigley Field. The pitcher is Luis Vizcaíno, who played for the Cubs in 2009.

Extra Innings

James Triantos does not lack motivation and looks like a younger version of Frazier.

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.

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