“I won’t let you down. So please don’t give me up…because I would really really love to stick around.” – George Michael, Freedom ’90
Thanks to Wednesday’s rainout and yesterday’s day off, it almost feels like baseball season has ended for fans of Chicago’s North Side baseballers. That’s certainly not the case, though it was nice to hop off that train for a brief respite. That mini-vacation put the focus squarely on Willson Contreras and his arbitration hearing, which was avoided when the two sides agreed to settle for $9.625 million.
There’s nothing wrong with a midpoint settlement because it means the two sides are pretty much in agreement on the player’s worth. As Evan Altman pointed out yesterday, opposing teams now know what they’ll owe Contreras if the Cubs do decide to trade him, but inching a step or two forward, an amicable agreement sets a nice tone for potential contract extensions.
Though the backstop seems to be the team’s best trade chip ahead of the August 2 deadline, a paucity of frontline starters means that might not necessarily be the case. Wade Miley should be in high demand if he’s healthy, and Jed Hoyer could theoretically deal Kyle Hendricks and/or Marcus Stroman. The Mets, Yankees, Twins, Cardinals, Braves, Mariners, and White Sox will all be seeking additions to their rotations.
The market for relievers is always inflated this time of year and Hoyer has a couple of bullets in David Robertson, Mychal Givens, and Rowan Wick. Any team with playoff aspirations would love to acquire any of those bullpen assets, and Roberston is acutely aware that he’s likely to be pitching elsewhere soon.
“[The Cubs] have a good track of guys coming here, having success and then going on to sign multi-year deals,” Roberston said the other day. “It’s a formula they have going here now. Especially the guy who maybe had an injury or had a tough year. Get him on a decent deal here, then they work their way out of it and find their old rhythm.”
It’s almost as if the closer signed knowing the Cubs would flip him at the deadline, and that kind of transparency gets around the league in a positive way because it means Hoyer is honest during negotiations. David Ross admitted that’s Chicago’s way of doing business at this stage of their rebuild.
“[Hoyer and Carter Hawkins] are doing their research to find out if someone is a fit and if we can help them improve,” the manager noted. “And then we’re able to deliver that message when we talk to them. It’s part of the recruiting process, here’s how we feel we can help you. Whether it’s something you’re on board with or not, it’s something we want to know before you come here.”
If Hoyer wants to build his next contending team around Contreras, he has more than enough pieces to add to his chest of exciting prospects. In fact, the values for Hendricks and Stroman might actually be inflated a bit thanks to baseball’s current demand-side economics. You may not like expanded playoffs, but it certainly widens the market for the game’s available talent. At the end of the day, Contreras would love to stick around anyway.
“To be honest, if it happens, it happens,” the veteran catcher said. “I know the deadline’s coming. I’m not trying to think about it. . . . If I happen to get traded, I hope it’s to a good team that has a chance to go to the World Series. Or if a trade doesn’t happen, I’ll be happy to stay and keep competing with my teammates. As of right now, I’m still a Chicago Cub, and I’m proud of that.”
Cubs News & Notes
- Despite reaching an agreement with Contreras, the Cubs are still expected to trade him this summer (video).
- Bleacher Report dropped its initial 2022-23 free-agent rankings and Contreras is listed at No. 4 overall, while Aaron Judge was named the best player available.
- The Yankees are rumored to be targeting Robertson.
- All-Star balloting has begun and rookie Christopher Morel could use your write-in votes.
- Morel is among the best in baseball at hitting with two strikes.
- Though P.J. Higgins made a mid-career switch to catching, his pitch-calling abilities have been a real asset to Chicago’s pitching staff.
- Clint Frazier makes his return to New York tonight and he got a few things off his chest regarding his tenure with the Yankees. The outfielder/DH has hit .313 since his return from the IL.
- Miley will be activated from the IL to start tonight’s game at Yankee Stadium.
- Jon Lester is contributing to Chicago’s current rebuild by being a pitcher-whisperer to second-year starter Justin Steele. I think the bigger story is that Lester believes in Steele’s abilities. That’s a heck of an endorsement.
- The abject lack of power by Nick Madrigal is a bit more concerning than initially expected.
- It’s no wonder the Cubs are allegedly linked to infielders Trea Turner, Carlos Correas, and Xander Bogaerts in way-too-early free agent predictions.
- Jim Callis of MLB.com has once again linked third baseman Cam Collier to the Cubs in his latest mock.
Odds & Sods
Dave Parker had ultimate swag.
"If you hear any noise it's just me and the boys boppin" ~ Happy 71st Birthday to Pittsburgh #Pirates legend Dave Parker! "The Cobra" was born in Grenada, Mississippi on this day in 1951. #MLB #Baseball #History pic.twitter.com/RHNJx4DmMU
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) June 9, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“Locked and loaded – that’s why I said we really need to fight to relate.” – Silversun Pickups, Lazy Eye
Through his first 161 games as a Cub, Patrick Wisdom has hit 40 home runs with 92 RBI and has scored 86 times with an OPS of .805. He also has 228 strikeouts in 590 plate appearances. If Contreras is traded at the deadline, Wisdom, Frank Schwindel, and Ian Happ would become the defacto leaders among Cubs who get regular playing time. Those three, plus Nico Hoerner and Seiya Suzuki would be Chicago’s best offensive options, assuming Hoyer continues to collect minor league players.
How About That!
MLB is experimenting with baseballs in the minors to find the best sticky substance.
Ángel Hernández is claiming that the league has been manipulating reviews to disadvantage minority umpires.
Don’t sleep on the surging Braves in the NL East or Wild Card battle. Atlanta won its eighth straight game Thursday night.
With two outs in the 6th inning and following a wild pitch that moved Freddie Freeman to second base, La Russa instructed lefty reliever Bennett Sousa to walk Turner after working to a 1-2 count. Max Muncy followed and blasted a three-run homer.
In an article for the New York Post, Jon Heyman said he believes this year’s trade deadline will be a bit of a letdown. He listed the Cubs as one of seven teams that will be sellers.
Thursday’s Three Stars
- Shohei Ohtani – The two-way star is a statistics devourer on the days he pitches. Yesterday he was 2-for-5 with a home run and pitched seven innings of one-run baseball as the Angels finally ended their 14-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over the Red Sox.
- Shane McClanahan – The Rays starter tossed eight masterful innings at the Cardinals Thursday, punching out nine batters while improving to 7-2 on the season.
- Muncy – The slugger returned from the IL to batter the White Sox with a home run and five RBI as the Dodgers downed Chicago 11-9.
Happ, who has also been mentioned in trade rumors, would like to remain with the Cubs his entire career. Give Bleacher Jeff the assist if that happens. Maybe we can ask Jeff to sit in the right-field bleachers the next time Juan Soto comes to Wrigley Field.
Awesome interview between @thekapman and @ihapp_1. Ian discusses wedding planning, his interest in business, journey to the MLB, and life off the field. Ian has been an invaluable partner to Obvious Shirts.
— OBVIOUS SHIRTS® (@obvious_shirts) June 10, 2022
Friday Morning Six-Pack
- If the Cubs need to add a power hitter to their lineup, perhaps they should consider Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Tight end Cole Kmet also went yard and tackle Teven Jenkins flashed some hitting chops as well.
- The Bears got caught popping the pads earlier this week, and therefore I think it’s safe to conclude they’re going to be a fun bunch to watch this season.
- Every morning when I wake up, gas is even more expensive and there’s no end in sight.
- The White House is pushing to make EVs the standard mode of transportation, which I suppose is partially a deflection from runaway fuel costs and record inflation.
- If you were hoping LeBron James might go away once he retires, he’s dead set on building an ownership group to bring an NBA team to Las Vegas.
- “Some people have no idea what they’re doing, and a lot of them are really good at it.” – George Carlin
They Said It
- “This is the best place in the world to play baseball with this fanbase. I would love nothing more than to be a Cub for life.” – Happ
- “That’s big-time pop and those guys are hard to find. I remember my first season, 2020, hearing about this guy who was lighting up the alt site. You hear about this Wisdom guy [and then] you see what everybody loved about him, his phenomenal defense, his heads-up base running. When you’re at an alt site and there [are] no fans – and you’re competing against the same guys and coaches are raving about your work — it just says something about who you are as a person and a player.” – Ross
Friday Walk-Up Song
Her roots lie in punk but P.J. Harvey provides just enough of a hook and some dirty, distorted guitar riffs to hide that a bit. That said, it’s not too difficult to see the influence of a band like the Sex Pistols, but with just enough Patti Smith to soften its edges ever-so-slightly.