The Rundown: Still No Winter Meetings Moves by Epstein, Cubs to Seek Pitching in Rule 5 Draft, Boras Nearing $1 Billion in 2020 Contracts

While the Winter Meetings proved to be one of the most exciting weeks in many years for baseball fans, the Cubs spent the week just sort of hanging out. Executives of other organizations stole headline after headline in a manner that was once the MO of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Per Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, a real possibility exists that the Cubs will go into the 2020 season with most of this past season’s roster intact. Minus Nick Castellanos, Cole Hamels, Addison Russell, potentially Ben Zobrist, and a couple of relief pitchers, of course. Those aren’t minor losses for a team that won just 84 games last season, and so far none have been replaced.

It’s not even worth mentioning again that the front office is tied to its bloated payroll, because there seems to be much more to it than something as singularly simple as a lack of funds. Epstein and Hoyer reportedly wanted to make trades, and just like last winter, the right deal never presented itself. A king’s ransom is said to be expected in return for any of Chicago’s premium players, but maybe the demands of the front office are simply too high. Aiming for the best deal is honorable when it comes to the team’s core superstars, but none of the fringe players were moved either. It almost seems as if nobody really wants to trade with the Cubs and it certainly isn’t because they aren’t offering up players who could help any team.

It’s possible that they’ve laid the groundwork for potential deals down the road this winter, and comments attributed to Epstein and Hoyer indicate as much, but I’m not sure much of anything will happen if it hasn’t already. I suppose we can look forward to today’s Rule 5 Draft to see if the Cubs can do something that at least marginally helps the 2020 squad. The Cubs have the 16th selection.

If you want to hold out hope, Castellanos is still a free agent, so maybe the Cubs…nah, I’m just being delusional.

Cubs News & Notes

Thursday Stove

The Angels and third baseman Anthony Rendon agreed on a seven-year, $245 million contract yesterday.

The Rangers dropped out of the Rendon sweepstakes as his price went up, and have now turned their focus to signing Josh Donaldson.

Scott Boras has earned his clients a whopping $878 million since the season ended and he’s not finished yet. He could theoretically pass the $1 billion market in the next few weeks.

The Yankees are said to be interested in Brewers reliever Josh Hader and may have an affinity for Donaldson, too.

Former Cardinals starter Michael Wacha has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with the Mets.

The Mets have also signed former Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, also to a one-year deal.

The investigation into Houston’s alleged use of technology to steal signs has now expanded beyond the 2017 season. MLB is looking into evidence the Astros may have cheated in 2018 as well.

Rob Manfred announced that MLB is moving its minor league draft to Omaha starting this June, to coincide with the College World Series. The first round of the draft will still be broadcast by MLB TV.

Manfred also announced that the league will begin testing for opioids next season.

Extra Innings 

The verdict is in, and the balls are not “juiced.”

They Said It

  • “We’ve had conversations with lots of our guys over a five-year period and it’s always best to keep it quiet. I think in this case, Rizzo’s agent decided to talk about it and we did have some conceptual talks about what an extension would look like and I think that, candidly, we were pretty far apart in terms of length and so he decided to come out and say that.” – Jed Hoyer
  • “The third-base market is an active market. There are several teams in the market for that particular position. I think it will move fairly rapidly, not only in the free-agent market but also in the trade market.” – Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo
  • “There are times in this game it’s really obvious what the objective is, and there are five different ways to get there. You’re going to head down your favorite path, and if that doesn’t work, you’re going to your next favorite, and then your next and your next, and you know what you need to get done and you know that you’re going to accomplish it. And there are times when it’s more complicated, and there are a lot of levers and different factors that you have to weigh and changing landscapes, and it makes it more complicated. But we’re very confident.” – Theo Epstein

Thursday Walk Up Song

Same Changes by Sam Phillips. Alas, nothing new to report.

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