The Rundown: Cubs’ Options After Harper/Machado, World Series Underway, Other Notes

What’s the backup plan if the Cubs fail or decide not to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado? Know going in that each will likely idle for most of the winter, hoping teams continuously outbid each other. That means some early bargains could be had for other players. If Clayton Kershaw declares for free agency as expected, we are talking about imminent stagnation once free agency starts on November 1st.

How about signing Marwin Gonzalez? He fits the mold of the bat-first multi-position player the Cubs seem to love. He can play any infield or corner outfield position and is probably looking at a four-year, $70 million deal.

Would they consider Josh Donaldson? They’d have to move Kris Bryant to LF and probably trade Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, and/or Albert Almora to sign him, but based on recent injury history and last year’s nearly non-existent market for players of Donaldson’s age and ilk, he could be had on the cheap. And trading those aforementioned mainstays probably nets the Cubs some decent bullpen arms. Donaldson will likely sign a one- or two-year deal for about $16 million per year.

Michael Brantley, anyone? The oft-injured 32-year-old outfielder will surely be tempted to sign as early as possible given that waiting for Machado and Harper could be disastrous. In normal years I’d bet the Cardinals would be all over Brantley, but they seem set at outfield. He could be a fit for the Braves, though. I could see him getting three years and $50 million or so this winter.

How about Andrew McCutchen? He only seems 50 years old (he’s just 32), but has always hit well at Wrigley and loves playing there. Just make sure Jason Heyward (or whoever plays CF) can cover the ground McCutchen no longer can. He is likely looking at a deal similar to Donaldson’s.

My point is, for what the front office would spend on Harper and/or Machado, they could go after some pretty good depth pieces. That being said, they were deep to a fault this past season, so maybe paring some of the depth from the roster in conjunction with a big signing could be a good thing. When your beautiful landscaping gets too thick, its harder to maintain; the bigger plants start starving the smaller ones, the fringes die, and weeds start sprouting in their place. It gets downright ugly if you just ignore it and hope for the best. See what I’m saying?

Let’s just presume Harper or Machado will cost $35 million per year to whichever team signs either. Could you find a better way to spend that money if you ran the Cubs?

If it was me I’d do everything I could to sign Harper, and then trade two of Happ, Schwarber, and Almora Jr. to build a lights-out bullpen. Harper is 26, he is entering the prime of his career, and would give the Cubs lineup the best 2-6 hitters in baseball. Apologies to the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros.

World Series Game 1

It seems so cliched to say that an unsung hero emerges in every championship setting, yet this morning the baseball community is buzzing about the exploits of a backup infielder who at one point was supposed to be the heir apparent to Derek Jeter in New York.

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers is the team’s hottest hitter this postseason, slashing .364/.440/.500/.940 in seven postseason games, but manager Alex Cora elected to pinch hit for him in the 7th inning. He replaced his best hitter with his worst, Eduardo Nuñez, who entered Tuesday slashing .188/.278/.250/.528 in five postseason games.

Three run homer, game over. The Red Sox beat the Dodgers 8-4. Matt Barnes got the win in relief while Kershaw took the loss. In what had all the earmarks of a classic pitcher’s duel. Kershaw and Chris Sale combined to face three 5th inning batters last night without recording an out.

As baseball is wont to do these days, Game 1 of the World Series became a battle of attrition involving both teams’ bullpens. Twelve pitchers were shepherded to Fenway Park’s mound, delivering 308 pitches through 8 1/2 innings in a game that took just under four hours to complete. Kershaw and Sale, who allowed 17 of the 39 batters they faced to reach base, combined to allow eight runs in eight innings (five by Kershaw).

Perhaps David Price and Hyun-Jin Ryu will bring their “A” games tonight. If not, another bullpen game should bring out the best of both offenses in Game 2 and for he rest of the series. Boston is really on a roll, averaging over six runs per game this postseason by attacking opposing pitchers in all facets. The Red Sox have scored 21 runs via the homer and 43 without the benefit of a homer.

Game 2 from Boston begins at 7: 09 PM CT tonight.

World Series News & Notes

Cubs News & Notes

Almost time to light that hot stove. An NBC Sports podcast has some bold predictions for the Cubs this winter.

An extremely rare team photo of the 1903 Cubs is available for auction through October 28th.

The team should absolutely bring reliever Jesse Chavez back.

Despite 167 strikeouts in 2018, Ian Happ is a better hitter than you may think.

Joe Girardi may not be the most optimal choice to manage the Cubs if Joe Maddon leaves this year or next.

They Said It

  • “You look at the both rosters, there’s a lot of depth, a lot of position players on both sides, grinding at-bats, and both have the ability to work counts and get pitch counts high. So you’re going to have to go to the pen and play matchups. That’s kind of how I saw it.” – Dave Roberts
  • “Both lineups can spit on pitches, can work counts. I don’t know the last time I faced a team where the right side of the infield saw three balls in the air right out of the gate. That shows that those guys are working the inner half of the [plate].” – David Freese

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Three is a Magic Number by Schoolhouse Rocks. Red Sox with an early advantage.

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