Sure would like to see the Cubs make a significant move.
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) December 4, 2018
Ed. note: Yahoo initially reported that Magic Johnson and a Dodgers contingent traveled to Las Vegas to meet with Bryce Harper, but the NBA great has since denied any meeting. When The Rundown was was first published this morning, it included information based on those initial erroneous reports.
“The only time I remember meeting Bryce Harper was on the field at Dodger Stadium two years ago when Dusty Baker introduced us,” Magic said.
Andrew Friedman might not want to push his chips in on the soon-to-be richest player in baseball, but money is no object to Magic, apparently. He wants that elusive title badly, which I can only assume is a desire to enhance a legacy that really doesn’t need it. If Harper signs with the Dodgers, it might be pretty fun to watch the frustration as the team continues their title-less run.
Most of baseball has historically leaned toward frugality, believe it or not. There’s money to spend every year, however, and each generation has at least one or two big-spending teams. The Yankees were notorious in the 1970s. With Clayton Kershaw, and presumably Harper, the Dodgers could be on the hook for $70-$75 million just for those two players. Their combined WAR last season was 4.6, which represents little value for a whole lotta coin. Friedman must be losing his mind since he doesn’t usually operate in those types of markets. Scott Boras tends to negotiate his premium players with owners anyway. It’s an interesting story to follow.
For what it’s worth, the Cubs are expected to check in on Harper while in Vegas for the Winter Meetings next week. I just don’t see a match there. The White Sox are a team to keep an eye on, though.
Free Agent Profile: Jed Lowrie
This is all you need to know about Jed Lowrie, one of the most underrated (and usually overlooked) infielders in all of baseball: 4.9 WAR, 120 OPS+, 123 wRC+, slightly above average fielder. The 34-year-old second baseman looks to cash in on a season that saw him slash .267/.353/.448 with 23 HR and 99 RBI. If I wanted to cherry-pick a meaningless stat, that means he finished with one less RBI than Harper, who is projected to earn $35 million or more per season. MLB Trade Rumors predicts a contract that should average about $10 million per year.
Only two second basemen — Jose Ramirez and Jose Altuve — have been better than Lowrie by measure of WAR over the past two seasons. The A’s would love to have him back next year, but they should expect some serious competition from contending teams after Lowrie has enjoyed two of the best years of his career. As far as the Cubs, I think they are pretty set at middle infield.
Cubs News & Notes
- Joe Maddon considers himself a free agent rather than a lame duck manager. His son had his own opinion on Twitter as well. He also posted a much more vulgar grievance over the situation on Instagram, laying out his father’s resume, saying the Cubs front office had lost all confidence in him and calling the the team’s apparent plans to let him go “bullshit.” I don’t think this marriage is going to end as amicably as I once thought it would. This is a reaction that both the Cubs and Maddon likely aren’t happy with.
I just wish Joseph felt comfortable expressing his thoughts more clearly. pic.twitter.com/EpXd8Gu8nS
— Evan Altman (@DEvanAltman) December 3, 2018
- Holy matrimony, Batman! Harper and the Cubs is a potential marriage fueled by cash and camaraderie just waiting to happen. And it’s not even a Bob Nightengale story.
- Skipping out on a generational slugger for fear of entering a new luxury tax threshold could be a huge mistake, but failing to upgrade the bullpen certainly would be.
- The Cubs’ $198 million foray into free agency last winter hangs over this year’s team like a dark cloud.
- Clubhouse leadership has been missing since David Ross retired. The Cubs could look to fill that void this offseason.
- To that end, Andrew McCutchen, Mike Moustakas, Michael Brantley, and Hunter Pence could be cheaper options for the Cubs. I’ll take a hard pass on Pence. I hate to use the term washed up, but it’s apt here.
- Would the Cubs be a better team if they traded for J.T. Realmuto? He was better than Willson Contreras in 2018, mostly due to a wretched second-half, but Realmuto wouldn’t actually be much of a defensive upgrade.
- Brandon Hyde is still a candidate to manage the Orioles. If I were Hyde I’d just stay away. The fact that the team has been this deliberate in their search likely means nobody else wants that job.
— Orioles SPORTalk (@SPORTalkOrioles) December 2, 2018
The Phillies and Mariners completed their big trade yesterday. Juan Segura goes to Philadelphia while Seattle gets J.P. Crawford and Carlos Santana. I have no idea what the Mariners are trying to accomplish this winter.
If anything, all of the crazy Mariners trades have kept the focus off of the team’s more pressing front office issues.
With Seattle going into full teardown mode, the AL West has become a two-team race between the Astros and Athletics. Meanwhile, the Angels have been among the more quiet teams so far. Mike Trout must be doing a slow burn.
The Red Sox have accepted Donald Trump’s invitation to visit the White House.
Joseph Maddon, what on earth were you thinking? Have you not seen how Ozzie Guillen has been basically exiled from baseball because Ozzie Jr. couldn’t stop himself from ripping his dad’s employers on Twitter? I get that social media is the express lane for narcissistic behavior, especially if you are related to somebody famous, but take a lesson from the idioms dictionary your father so often goes to when pressed for relevant quotes: Loose lips sink ships.
New Music Tuesday
- Pisces, Aquarius Capricorn and Jones, Ltd. by the Monkees – Few people know that more people bought Monkees records than watched the TV series. They were the most popular band of 1967, beating the Beatles, The Doors, the Stones, The Who, every single Motown artist, and everybody else. My review is here.
- Volume One by The Honeydrippers- The cool story behind this EP of retro rockers from Robert Plant – with a little help from Jimmy Page – was just a sample of what Plant and Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun had in the works. The two planned to repurpose a good chunk of Atlantic’s back catalog, including The Mess Around by Ray Charles. Plans were scrapped when Ertegun passed away and those recordings, if they exist, are said to be highly coveted.
- Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon & Garfunkel – This is a mostly Paul Simon solo project because Art Garfunkel was in Mexico filming a movie. It is also the last Simon & Garfunkel album. It’s loaded with great songs, but the best is The Only Living Boy in New York. On the chorus, the two performers did the background vocals in an echo chamber and then tracked it eight times. The result? It sounds like a choir of angels. Great stuff.
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel. Or, what did Joseph Maddon throw down yesterday. Also, it is my 19th favorite MTV video of all time. The production is sublime.