The Rundown: Brewers Light Hot Stove, Cubs Exercise Patience, More MLBPA Rumblings, Smyly Has Yu’s Number

Current mood of Brewers’ GM David Stearns, am I right?  That may be the first time I’ve ever lead off with a link and I hope that’s not some kind of journalistic faux pas (Ed. note: I’m not even sure what a fox paw is, so I let it slide). I think yesterday’s flurry of moves by the Brewers was even more shocking after reading Evan’s follow-up to Jon Greenberg’s “Fallow Winter” piece for the Athletic.

Epstein, possibly representing the same choice of emoji as our favorite free agent starting pitcher, spent some time with Greenberg (subscription required/recommended) pondering the lack of player movement this winter and admitted he and his staff are just as puzzled as we are.

Meanwhile, Stearns was kicking tires and lighting fires, which, while under a slight bit of duress, allows me to write this:

  • Epstein: “We’re all saying to each other, ‘I can’t believe nothing has happened’ and we’re discussing reasons why.”
  • Stearns: “Hold my beer.”

For the record, I despise the “hold my beer” posts. Sue me.

Unless you’ve had no internet access for the past 24 hours, you know that the Brewers traded for Marlins OF Christian Yelich yesterday and then almost immediately announced that they had agreed to terms with free agent OF Lorenzo Cain, a player the Cubs were reportedly pursuing. For you WARheads, Milwaukee added about 7-8 wins yesterday while the rest of baseball continues at the pace of a Shaolin Monk.

Furthermore, the Brewers broke the unwritten moratorium on three-year limits for this winter’s free agents, collusion-theorists be damned. Though it has been said that Yu Darvish will sign this week, I can’t imagine that he will settle for anything less than a five-year deal now. It may take a six-year contract to land the pitcher. We can probably assume the same for Jake Arrieta. So it’s possible that Stearns made things a little tougher for Epstein in his pursuit of a starter. And if Cain’s signing opens the free-agent floodgates as some analysts have predicted, I’m sure Scott Boras is primed and ready.

Without pointing anybody out specifically, allow me to present a few facts before getting to the Cubs portion of this post:

  • The NL Central is now a three-team race, and the Cubs-Brewers rivalry is a very real thing.
  • For those making fun of the Brewers for sending four prospects, including top prospect Lewis Brinson, to Miami for Yelich, please remember that Epstein and Hoyer have jettisoned nine prospects for pitchers Aroldis Chapman, Justin Wilson, and Jose Quintana in the past 18 months. In fact, the returns for Yelich and Quintana are pretty similar.
  • I would have traded any four players from Milwaukee’s farm system for Yelich. This trade is a steal for the Brewers and I am a “prospect guy.”
  • Cain’s contract exceeded predicted expectations in terms of years and dollars.

Is a reactionary move coming from the Cubs’ front office? I wouldn’t bet on it, but, by hook or by crook, the Cubs will get a starter in the next few days.

Cubs News & Notes

Despite yesterday’s big moves, the Cubs are still better than the Brewers. For now.

Twins officials say they have been told that Darvish is still considering Minnesota, but they also believe that a potential Cubs offer will be tough to beat.

The Cubs invited 19 players to their spring training major league camp yesterday, including infielder Mike Freeman, pitcher Thomas Hatch, and recently-acquired catcher Chris Gimenez. Also on the list is OF Jacob Hanneman, who has apparently found his way back to the team after being waived by the Mariners. Pretty Eyes received an invite as well. Swoon.

If the Cubs want to move on Chris Archer to fill out their rotation, any one of Albert Almora, Javy Baez, Addison Russell, Ian Happ or — God forbid — Kyle Schwarber could be used to build a package to trade for the Rays’ number one starter. Blah, blah, blah, blah.

ESPN’s Davie Schoenfield sees the Twins as the best bet to sign Darvish and indicates the Cubs probably won’t land any of the remaining top ten free agents.

The Cubs announced uniform numbers for Brandon Morrow (15), Tyler Chatwood (21), and Drew Smyly (11). I wonder what it will cost Darvish to get Smyly’s number?

Thursday Stove

Scott Boras slammed MLB for creating a non-competitive cancer.  “We have to get rid of the noncompetitive cancer. We can’t go to our fan bases and sell the promise of losing to win later. That is destructive to our sport because it has removed one-third of the competition.”

Jose Reyes re-upped with the Mets. I bet New York City is lit this morning.

After spending $193 million over the past two seasons on free agents Mike Leake, Brett Cecil, and Dexter Fowler, the Cardinals are a little gun-shy about re-entering the free agent market this winter.

Former Cardinals OF Randal Grichuk thinks manager Mike Matheny gets a little too much credit for the team’s success. Hard to define “success” as coaxing 83 wins out of a .500 team. What I’m saying is the rest of us already know Matheny is the most overrated manager in baseball, so welcome to the club, Randal. Redbirds Rants immediately defended the Cardinal’s skipper.

Despite yesterday’s activity, MLB players believe the value dispute between owners and free agents will last long enough that a number have discussed the possibility of staging a free agent training camp to mimic their typical spring work, according to sources. This is potentially a huge story, so keep an eye on it. I wonder if they would participate in intrasquad games or schedule tilts with college teams.

Jeff Passan has more regarding the MLBPA:

Friday Walk Up Song

Hot In The City by Billy Idol. Maybe the hot stove is officially lit now. Maybe. I love me some Idol, but this is one cheesy video, friends.

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