The Rundown: Hoyer Officially on Clock, Rumor Mill Generating Genuine Absurdity, Phils Report $145 Million Losses

Jed Hoyer will be making his first real decisions as president of baseball operations this week with Wednesday’s non-tender deadline. Though some suspect he could cut Kyle Schwarber and/or Kris Bryant loose, my guess is that it is more likely he extends one or both of the two. I suppose the possibility exists that Hoyer could trade either or both, but that probably won’t happen before Wednesday.

Though there has been a deafening noise that this week could spell freedom for a lot of good players throughout both leagues, most front offices are competitive by nature. Even as owners set strict budgets, there are alternative ways to work the books. Contract extensions and trades fall into that category.

For the Cubs, ancillary players like Albert Almora Jr. and Kyle Ryan are probably more likely to receive their walking papers than Bryant and Schwarber. The justification is simple: Were similar bench/role players available in free agency, the Cubs would probably attempt to sign them to minor league contracts.

Rumors persist that some of the higher-paid Cubs — a list that also includes Anthony Rizzo, Javier Báez, and even Yu Darvish and Craig Kimbrel — might be playing elsewhere in 2021. As likely as it is that moves are made, I don’t think the organization will want to suffer the embarrassment of simply waving goodbye to a former rookie of the year and MVP third baseman, or a left fielder who was having a decent season until slumping badly over the final 25 games. Getting nothing for players who have spent years with the organization just to save a few bucks will send an already irate fan base into quite the tizzy. Then again, we are talking about Tom Ricketts and his alleged payroll reduction directive.

Of the Cubs’ 12 arb-eligible players, I would expect Hoyer to cut Dan Winkler, José Martínez, Colin Rea, Almora, and Ryan. That would save approximately $7 million and reduce the current roster to 32 players. While that’s not much of a windfall, every dollar will be important to the organization this winter. The virtual Winter Meetings, which will begin in earnest on Sunday, should provide some sense of certitude for Hoyer and his entourage. Fans may even get a decent peek behind the curtain to see the viability of some of the current trade rumors, as well as the dollar amounts that the game’s free agents can realistically expect.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

We should all start the post-holiday work week with verve and effervescence similar to JoJo Romero. That’s probably not happening for me, however.

Monday Stove

Mike Minor has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with the Royals, representing his second stint in Kansas City.  The contract will become official when he passes a physical.

Talks between representatives for George Springer and the Blue Jays are reportedly progressing. Toronto also has its sights set on infielders Kolten Wong and DJ Lemahieu.

Hall of Fame ballots will be cast soon and a case could be made to include former Yankees great Andy Pettitte, who finished a somewhat tainted career with 256 victories, 2,448 strikeouts, and three rings.

A potential contract between the Red Sox and NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer could shake up the free agent market up.

Philadelphia’s fans would like to see the team bring back starting pitcher Cole Hamels on a one-year deal.

The Phillies reported $145 million in losses during the 2020 season. They laid off 80 employees on Black Friday because of those losses.

One intriguing player who could hit the free agent market this week is former Cubs outfielder Jorge Soler. He’ll be 29 in 2021.

Mets’ team president Sandy Alderson said his team will be more aggressive in free agency than they will in the trade market. Alderson also said he expects the middle of the market for starting pitchers to move more quickly than the top tier of that group.

Several teams are interested in free agent pitcher Dan Straily, including the Reds, Giants, and Angels.

Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper believes president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is locked in on diamond-in-the-rough pitchers like Straily.

The Red Sox are in need of starting pitching and Corey Kluber makes a lot of sense if Boston is willing to bet the two-time Cy Young Award winner can resurrect his career.

Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi has “very limited trade value” according to one evaluator. The 26-year-old batted .103 in 39 plate appearances this year.

Nationals outfielder Víctor Robles also has very little trade value, if any at all.

Jake Odorizzi might be a nice fit for the White Sox.

On Deck

Upcoming dates to keep an eye on:

  • Wednesday is the non-tender deadline. This is the deadline for teams to offer their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players a contract for 2021.
  • Winter Meetings begin Sunday. They were scheduled to be held at the Omni Dallas Hotel in Texas this year, but MLB has canceled the Winter Meetings as an in-person event and they will be held remotely instead.
  • The Rule 5 Draft will be held on December 10. With payrolls being reduced across baseball because of the pandemic, inexpensive talent will be at a premium, so we could see more Rule 5 Draft activity than usual this offseason.
  • The deadline for teams and players to submit arbitration salary numbers is January 15. MLB Trade Rumors released their salary arbitration projections in mid-October, and their model has proven to be quite accurate historically, though the 60-game season somewhat complicates things this year.
  • January 15 also represents the start of the International Free Agent signing period. The Cubs are expected to sign phenom shortstop prospect Cristian Hernandez at that time.

Extra Innings

Happy Birthday, Bo Jackson. By the way, Harold Reynolds still claims he was safe on this play.

They Said It

  • “[Running the Cubs] has always been my goal. This has always been our family’s goal. This is Chicago. This is the Cubs. And this is Wrigley Field. The grass is definitely not greener anywhere else.” – Jed Hoyer
  • “I think there’s always challenges in trying to [remain competitive while making significant changes to the roster]. And that’s why I do think you have to have your eye on both things. I think that means you have to be opportunistic when decisions come up that allow you to do both. I think at some point, you do have to look at the bigger picture. We did win the division this year. We are really talented. And so I think we can do both, but it does probably mean being a little bit opportunistic at certain times.” – Hoyer

Monday Walk Up Song

Touch of Grey by the Grateful Dead – It will be interesting to see which arb-eligible players get tendered and which do not.

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