The Rundown: Lockout Dumpster Diving, Stroman Continues to Recruit Correa, Cubs Counting on Coaches to Boost Offense
With a dearth of baseball news and because I have been under the weather for a few weeks, you probably noticed I was missing in action in these parts. Not to worry. I suppose I could have phoned it in with a bunch of “On This Day” posts or told you for the zillionth time that the Cubs still need a shortstop, an outfielder, a hard-throwing starter, and two relievers, but everybody else is doing that, too. So let’s go dumpster diving instead!
I thought I’d look at some players who might be diamonds-in-the-rough. Granted, most of these have limited skill sets, but they’re above average-to-elite. Further, through no fault of their own, each probably comes at a bargain. We’re used to shopping in the land of misfit toys anyway thanks to ownership’s tight purse strings since 2015.
By the way, I do still believe the Cubs should be all in on Carlos Correa and I feel no need to argue my point. I don’t care if Jed Hoyer gives him a 10-year contract. I’ll worry about the 2029-31 seasons when we get there. Give him $110 million for the first three years of a long-term deal with a year 4 opt-out. Problem solved, if only it were that easy.
- Jimmy Nelson – At this point of his career he’s a reliever but he throws hard and misses bats. He’s also injured, so his price tag should be under $1.5 million on a minor league deal. I suppose you could try to stretch him out as a starter, but he would upgrade the ‘pen just in time for the stretch run. That is if Hoyer’s 2022 vision makes the Cubs a division contender.
- Michael Conforto – The free-agent outfielder is an interesting case and this move would be predicated upon the Cubs signing Correa. Like the All-Star shortstop, Conforto is towing a qualified offer. He had a very Cubs-like year in 2021, slashing .232/.344/.729, which was way off his career averages of .255/.356/.824. Similar to Ian Happ, Conforto also had a much better second half, though the former Met has been more consistent over the course of his career than his counterpart. He is a lefty with pop, something Chicago clearly needs.
- Matthew Boyd – His downward trend since 2019 has been spectacularly frightening and he’s injured right now to boot. Boyd won’t be available until June at the earliest, but 2021 offered quite a bit of promise until arm discomfort derailed his season. He exited his last start with a 3.89 ERA and an ERA+ of 109. The Tigers non-tendered the lefty in November and going into his age-31 season, he’s no longer a prospect.
- Eddie Rosario – The anticipated universal DH provides a nice hedge for the league-average 30-year-old. Why? Rosario would thrive in an offense-only role while still giving you some spot outfield starts. The journeyman offers a little pop and a little speed, though the OBP is a little low. Old-timers might remember Ángel Pagán and the two share a similar offensive profile.
- Jorge Soler – The 29-year-old was electric after joining the Braves at the deadline, putting up a 136 wRC+ in August and 126 in September. Soler was outstanding in the NL playoffs with a .948 OPS, then upped that to 1.911 in the World Series. He blasted 48 taters to the tune of a 136 wRC+ in 2019 and the best may still be yet to come, though red flags on defense and a propensity to strike out may limit his earnings potential.
- Dylan Bundy – The hard-throwing righty needs whatever mojo GM Carter Hawkins possesses as the pitcher whisperer. If Bundy can resurrect the tools that made him a number one overall prospect, the Cubs could have their next Jake Arietta. He’s a little too easy to hit and struggles to keep the ball in the yard, but the 29-year-old might just need to be more aggressive in working favorable counts. That said, he doesn’t walk very many batters, so it might just be a matter of pitch sequencing. No doubt this is a reclamation project at best. By the way, Arrieta was also 29 when he figured it all out, though that means nothing.
- José Iglesias – After joining the Red Sox last season, Iglesias slashed .356/.406/.914 with a 148 wRC+ in 64 plate appearances. That is a mirage but makes him intriguing if used as a defensive replacement for Nico Hoerner, Chicago’s incumbent shortstop. There’s no power to the profile, but he’s hit .291 in his career against lefties with a .337 OBP and would be strictly a fallback in case the Cubs can’t sign Correa. That said, with Iglesias, Hoerner, and Nick Madrigal, the Cubs would have three middle infielders who struggle to reach 10 combined home runs. You sign Iglesias for his defense and range, period. Anything else is gravy.
- Andrew Chafin – Just bring back The Sherriff and his 230 ERA+, please and thank you.
Cubs News & Notes
- Veterans David Bote and Jason Heyward project to be much better in 2022, though each could hardly be any worse.
- The Athletic‘s Sahadev Sharma recently reported the Cubs and Padres discussed a trade before the deadline last summer that would have sent first baseman Eric Hosmer to Chicago. Evan Altman broke it down the other day in The Rundown Lite.
- I love that Marcus Stroman continues to urge Correa to sign with the Cubs.
- Trevor Story could be a fallback option if the Cubs don’t land Correa. I do not love Story’s splits away from Coors Field. I’ve said it previously, he profiles more like Patrick Wisdom in those appearances.
- The organization is counting on new coaching voices to be the impetus for better offensive production.
Odds & Sods
Even if we weren’t staring into the void of a lockout, I’m still very apathetic during this portion of baseball’s calendar year. I’ve never once put any faith in ZiPS projections, I have little inclination to read (or care) about the BBWAA and their shady Hall of Fame voting processes, and without a Winter Meetings this year I feel like baseball writing is the equivalent of watching paint dry. If you care about those things you’re a better person than me.
Apropos of Nothing
Has every day this week felt like December 24, or is it just my imagination?
Sliding Into Home
This is the kind of baseball article I refuse to do. Speaking forthrightly, I’d rather be using this time to get healthy.
My Christmas Wish List
With today being the last US Mail day before Christmas, I am still waiting on my bonus check, which was allegedly mailed from Northbrook, IL to Milwaukee on December 13. Absent any funds to buy something for me, I’d instead like to request slower ad load times at some of my favorite baseball sites.
MLB News & Notes
Juiced baseballs in prime time, nationally televised games? Tell me again what a cheater Sammy Sosa was and then ask me if I care. The man belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Huzzah! The Pirates have hired their first uniformed female baseball coach. Congratulations to new baseball development coach Caitlyn Callahan.
41-year-old slugger Nelson Cruz is still booming, still among baseball’s offensive leaders and a philanthropist to boot.
The Rangers and Marlins are among the likeliest suitors for Anthony Rizzo.
The Mets have signed former one-hit-wonder Daniel Palka to a minor league deal. The hits just keep on coming for baseball’s other 29 franchises.
That fabulous Flushing franchise has chosen Buck Showalter to steer their ship. If anything, they’ll win the New York tabloid wars until the Mets implode, which is pretty much a given in any season.
Meanwhile, the A’s have tabbed former player Mark Kotsay to be their new manager.
When Zack Wheat hit the final home run of his career, it took him about 10 minutes to circle the bases.
Negotiations & Love Songs
Crickets. No substantial negotiations will take place until January. Go make nice with your family and friends instead of refreshing MLBTR every hour. I’m convinced Cubs fans are the biggest draw, and that they purposely float non-stories to increase readership. That is my opinion, and not one I can say is shared by my fellow writers or Cubs Insider management (insert old man shouts at clouds meme here).
MLB salaries have stagnated, with the middle class of players being hurt the most.
Manfred put things very succinctly a few weeks ago.
“When we began negotiations over a new agreement, the Players Association already had a contract that they wouldn’t trade for any other in sports,” Manfred wrote when he announced the lockout. “Baseball’s players have no salary cap and are not subject to a maximum length or dollar amount on contracts. In fact, only MLB has guaranteed contracts that run 10 or more years, and in excess of $300 million. We have not proposed anything that would change these fundamentals.”
Today’s Baseball Jones
No matter what you think of him, the best of Slammin’ Sammy is the holiday gift that keeps on giving every year.
We have a national celebrity in our midst here at CI, as Danny Rockett (aka Son Ranto) and his band of merry carolers have gone viral.
Happy Holidays to you all 🎄💙 https://t.co/lWVlFqKtEf
— Carlos Correa (@TeamCJCorrea) December 18, 2021
They Said It
“I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don’t I have the numbers to be inducted?” – Sosa
Thursday Walk-Up Song
I’m Moving Out by Billy Joel. Rizzo has moved out of his North Side digs, much to the chagrin of his many, many fans.