Good day, and happy holidays to all of our Cubs Insider readers. I know the Dodgers are doing their best Scrooge job on the rest of baseball, but that doesn’t mean we must stop enjoying the national pastime. Contrarily, we should embrace it. Nothing will be better than beating the Cardinals, Brewers, Mets, and those hated barnstormers from Los Angeles. Andrew Friedman has made this a December to remember by going on a billion-dollar spending spree.
In Chicago, Jed Hoyer is squeezing nickels so tight they’ll eventually melt. I can’t say that I blame him. There is little reason to spend money on any of the remaining free agents. Why not just sit this winter out and see if his farm system is everything he and Carter Hawkins believe it to be? The Cubs should give Christopher Morel a legitimate shot at third base and start Matt Mervis at first every game. There is no point in signing Cody Bellinger and Matt Chapman or trading for Shane Bieber. The playing field has changed dramatically, so Hoyer, Hawkins, and Craig Counsell should find out who’s going to stick and who is not.
That means the Cubs will take a step back in wins but will accelerate the development path of players like Pete Crow-Armstrong, Kevin Alcántara, Matt Shaw, Cade Horton, Ben Brown, and eventually Jackson Ferris and Owen Caissie. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and it beats building an overpaid roster of short-term rentals just to compete for a Wild Card slot and early exit from the playoffs. It’s a great time for Hoyer to find out what he has instead of overpaying for what he needs.
The calculus of the NL Central has changed, too. The Cardinals will eventually regret their odd penchant for investing in older pitchers, and the Reds are also sacrificing a bit of their future to compete in 2024. The Brewers are going to start tearing things apart and the Pirates, like the Cubs, are counting on youth. Any of those teams can win the division with less than 90 wins, so what’s the point of reckless spending?
I’ll close by saying that I hope you all have a pleasant holiday weekend with friends and family. You’ve made my seventh year at CI better than any of the previous ones, and I look forward to discussing baseball with all of you in the coming seasons.
Cubs News & Notes
- The Cubs signed catcher Joe Hudson to a minor league deal, adding to recent additions Jorge Alfaro and Thomas Pannone.
- Hoyer doesn’t seem to be interested in meeting the competitive nature of the league and it may cost him his secondary targets.
- The Cubs are expecting a more consistent season from Jameson Taillon.
Odds & Sods
Screw the Dodgers.
"The Dodgers are pedal to the metal. It's not going to stop."
After reportedly signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto to a 12-year, $325 million contract, our own @JimBowdenGM reports that the #Dodgers aren't done trying to add 👀@Dodgers | #HotStove pic.twitter.com/oeIZQD4xs8
— MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (@MLBNetworkRadio) December 22, 2023
- Milwaukee: The Brewers traded starter Adrian Houser and outfielder Tyrone Taylor to the Mets for right-handed prospect Coleman Crow.
- Cincinnati: The Reds signed third baseman Hernan Perez and RHP Brooks Kriske to minor league deals.
- Pittsburgh: Slugging first baseman Rowdy Tellez insists that the Pirates were his team of choice when he signed as a free agent.
- St. Louis: The Cardinals are still seeking to add another starting pitcher.
The Mets reportedly offered the same contract to Yamamoto that the Dodgers did, but were rebuffed. The Yankees’ bid was $300 million.
Some teams that were in on Ohtani and Yamamoto are also potential suitors for Bellinger and/or Chapman, so it was tough to have meaningful conversations with the position players until they knew whether they were going to allocate significant financial resources to the Japanese superstars.
The RSN model is collapsing, but baseball is doing its best to ensure games will be televised.
Imagine being served a drink by Babe Ruth!
“If it wasn’t for baseball, I’d be in either the penitentiary or the cemetery. I have the same violent temper my father"
The Ruth family saloon decorated for the holidays, with a young Babe Ruth behind the bar helping out the Old Man! pic.twitter.com/cO5mT71tjU
— Jim Koenigsberger (@Jimfrombaseball) December 22, 2023
They Said It
- “They’re elite talent and they should be able to get whatever they can in the market. We just know that there’s hidden costs on those deals. It’s not just the dollars. The front end might feel good. The back end probably won’t feel good. And then if there are players that are coming up that you think you could get some major-league at-bats for — and you got a guy blocking him — that’s not a great result, either. You always have to balance that all out. Some teams just weigh those factors differently than we do.” – Tom Ricketts
- “I don’t think that we want to start calling seasons we don’t make the playoffs good seasons. That’s a consolation prize, and we don’t play for consolation prizes.” – Ricketts
Friday Walk-Up Song
Have fun, but play it safe. Enjoy your family and friends, and thank you for being my online family.