I usually reserve this section for my opinion on the current state of the Cubs, but I’m going to call an audible today. The A’s are officially moving from Oakland to Las Vegas and the landscape of baseball will change dramatically before the end of this decade because of it. The new stadium is expected to open in 2028 and the Athletics have one year left on their current lease at the Oakland Coliseum. They would like to be baseball nomads starting with the 2025 season.
Coincidentally and significantly, the Rays will begin playing in their new stadium in ’28 and AFI Field in Milwaukee is going to get the stadium upgrades necessary to keep the Brewers from relocating. The league will undoubtedly next pivot toward expansion to 32 teams and could move swiftly on that front. Nashville is nearly a slam dunk to get one franchise, and five other cities — Montreal, Salt Lake City, Portland, Oakland, and Charlotte — are competing for the other opening.
Once expansion is finalized, realignment will follow. The league could go to four eight-team divisions or eight four-team divisions, just like the NFL. The universal DH, the balanced schedule, and expanded playoffs are the strongest indicators that MLB is preparing for a 32-team league. Rob Manfred has stated he’d like to eliminate the American and National Leagues in favor of conferences, also like the NFL.
I’m not going to attempt to guess what realignment would look like, but geographically-based conferences seem to make the most sense. That would change existing rivalries, an interesting novelty that I think would eventually dilute those matchups. Manfred and the league owners who support him have no problem homogenizing the game as long as it increases revenues and reduces expenses.
One would hope Manfred does his best to keep the Cubs’ existing rivalries with the Cardinals and Brewers intact. If four-team divisions are the consensus, maybe they’ll add the White Sox in there as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing the New York teams share a division, and the same goes for the Orioles and Nationals. The oddest geographical division might include the Diamondbacks, Rockies, A’s, and an expansion team if Salt Lake City gets a franchise.
Cubs News & Notes
- Jed Hoyer could target Corbin Burnes if the Brewers go into sell mode as expected.
- The Cubs are also interested in Japanese pitcher Shota Imanaga per ESPN’s Jessie Rogers.
- Hoyer’s penchant for secrecy could help in his attempt to sign Shohei Ohtani. I have a strong suspicion Ohtani will sign with the Cubs, something I’ve told industry peers since last year’s Cubs Convention. Ohatni’s reps have stated that leaks will not be tolerated.
- Several Chicago’s players were stunned by the news that Craig Counsell was replacing David Ross.
- Counsell will soon discover the complexities of managing the Cubs instead of the Brewers.
- An important facet of the Counsell hire is that it is a long-term contract. The Cubs aim to contend over the life of that deal and won’t mortgage their future entirely to prioritize a single season.
- Baseball America says the Cubs cannot trade for Juan Soto without including Cade Horton. I disagree. Soto’s market could be inflated due to a dearth of decent free agents, but the Padres will have to eat a lot of salary to get a premium prospect package.
- Speaking of BA, Kyle Glaser provided an in-depth look at some of Chicago’s prospects in his recent farm system chat. Here’s what Glaser said about Matt Mervis: “He was a bit too rotational in his swing when he got to the majors and it hurt him. He still has plenty of bat speed, solid swing mechanics, and lots of power. He just needs to do a better job of staying through the middle of the field (he also probably needs to sit against lefties.)”
- Horton and Pete Crow-Armstrong are among the top 25 rookies for 2024.
- The Cubs are not listed among the favorites to sign Matt Chapman.
- The Giants are among a handful of teams interested in Cody Bellinger.
Odds & Sods
All you needed was a disclaimer during baseball’s formative years.
Shibe Park – crazy sign pic.twitter.com/BnLiqbHOpT
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) November 17, 2023
- Milwaukee: The Brewers are fielding offers for star pitcher Brandon Woodruff, who will most, if not all, of the 2024 season.
- Cincinnati: Joey Votto is no longer a Red and deserved a better ending to his career with the team.
- Pittsburgh: 2023 No. 1 pick Paul Skenes is a candidate for the 2024 NL Rookie of the Year Award. Crow-Armstrong is no longer listed among the potential winners, which means 19 hitless MLB plate appearances are enough to fall off of everyone’s radar.
- St. Louis: The Padres are actively trying to move Scott Barlow today, and the Cardinals are a team of interest. Package him with Soto and send both to the Cubs.
Jon Heyman of the New York Post explained that he spoke with “two experts” about contracts free agents could sign this offseason. One of those individuals forecasted that Ohtani would ink a 10-year deal worth $400 million that would allow him to potentially opt out after one season. Heyman also expects Bellinger to get $240 million on an eight-year deal.
The league is considering a reduced pitch timer when runners are on base.
Atlanta will host the 2025 All-Star Game.
Seiya Suzuki is good at baseball.
Seiya Suzuki's six triples this season ranked first among the Cubs.
His 57 total extra base hits in 2023 are the most by a Japanese-born Cub, a record previously held by Kosuke Fukudome (54).
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) November 16, 2023
They Said It
- “Great relievers are great friends to managers at the back end of the game. Nobody asked me about putting Devin Williams in a game ever or Josh Hader. You don’t get questions about that. So I understand that. But I think teams are composed differently and they’re made up differently. You take advantage of the strengths of your players. Find their strengths, understand their strengths, and listen to their strengths.” – Craig Counsell
- “One hundred and sixty-two games is a marathon. In our game, the decisions you make are rewarded over the marathon. And players, frankly, are rewarded over the marathon. In short playoff series, we have luck in our game. You control less in really short stints in this game. It forces aggressiveness in managers, I think. The mindset you have to take into the playoffs is aggressiveness. You still have to trust your great players. But with an aggressive mindset.” – Counsell
- “We’ll have a lot of trade discussions. We’ll meet with a lot of agents [about potential free agents]. But most importantly for me was it’s not about selling ’24 and what it means; it’s about selling this next wave of talent. This next run. I think that that’s important. It’s not just about one year — it’s about a lot of years.” – Hoyer
Friday Walk-Up Song
Sending you into the weekend with a stone groove.