The Rundown: Cubs Have Several Rebuild Options Available, Braves Take Commanding NLCS Lead, Astros Trash Red Sox to Tie ALCS

The fact that the Cubs are thought to be a “wild card” in this winter’s hunt to lasso a premium shortstop doesn’t give me the warm fuzzy feelings for the reasons one would think it should. The pilot to the proverbial hot stove has yet to be lit and the Cubs, under new GM Carter Hawkins, will be this year’s mystery team tied to every big-name free agent that hits the rumor mill.

That comes with a couple of decent perks, namely the fact that we will all become overly familiar with Jon Heyman this offseason. Agents like Scott Boras are bound to find favor with Chicago’s front office, too, as Hawkins and Jed Hoyer will be directly responsible for creating bidding wars on players like Carlos Correa and Max Scherzer without truly bidding at all. Who knew “intelligent spending” meant forcing other teams to pony up a little extra cash?

That’s not exactly a bad thing, and if it means guys like Wade Miley, Chris Taylor, Nick Castellanos, or Javier Báez find their way to the corners of Clark & Addison for a mid-winter press conference, the new front office tandem will have had a decently successful winter. If Hoyer and Hawkins want to go down and dirty in the next few months, they’ll find a way to pay pennies on the dollar for Yu Darvish and Wil Myers while extracting a couple of premium pitching prospects from the Padres.

Those two represent exactly what Hoyer is looking for in player acquisitions. Why not grab a few kids to boot? That’s the kind of steely-eyed savviness I’d like to see out of Hawkins.

A similar opportunity could present itself if Minnesota decides to move the third baseman Josh Donaldson before spring training. Acquiring semi-premium players on short-term contracts while padding their minor league rosters is just the kind of conduit Chicago needs while waiting on its next wave of top prospects.

When it comes down to it, the new mantra of spending intelligently could work heroically in Chicago’s favor once the new CBA is signed. Go Kierkegaard on the rest of the league if you must, because the Cubs have played pasty to the likes of the Padres, Yankees, and player agents far too often over the past decade. The paradigm shift started with the trades of Anthony Rizzo, Craig Kimbrel, and Kris Bryant, all of which should look much more favorable as time goes on. There’s no reason for the front office to take its foot off the accelerator now.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Outfield prospect Nelson Velazquez, who is better suited to a role as the team’s DH if the National League votes in favor of deployment, is off to a scorching start in the Arizona Fall League.
  • The panel of analysts at MLB Network reacted favorably to the announcement of Hawkins a the team’s 16th GM while acknowledging he has a great deal of work ahead of him (video).
  • No matter the parlance used to describe this winter’s front office excursion, if it looks and smells like a rebuild, it probably is.
  • And soon they’ll be able to sign with any team. Bryant, Báez, and Rizzo are set to enter free agency for the first time in their careers upon the conclusion of the World Series.

Odds & Sods

Pitch at risk to Carlton Fisk. The Red Sox will need a little magic if they hope to stay alive in this year’s playoffs.

From the Front Office

“You’ve seen teams that have been incredibly successful and have had really good offseasons by being really targeted in what they go after. I think there’s plenty of examples of that. I don’t think you have to necessarily allocate your dollars in one spot.” – Hoyer

Postseason News & Notes

The Braves basted the Dodgers 9-2 to take a 3-1 lead in the NLCS.

The Dodgers would prefer not to be tasked with winning three straight to get to the World Series, but they’ve been here before.

Los Angeles third baseman Justin Turner injured his hamstring in yesterday’s game and has been ruled out for the rest of the postseason.

The pearl necklace Joc Pederson has been sporting is the talk of baseball.

The Astros trashed the Red Sox 9-1 to even their series at two games apiece.

Despite pitching in relief in Game 4 of the ALCS, Red Sox starter Nathan Eovaldi is still scheduled to take the bump for Game 6.

The two-out rally has been the theme of Houston’s deep playoff run this season.

Of the 10 teams who have made this year’s playoffs, only four have used their starting pitchers more than their bullpen.

Yesterday’s MVPs

  1. Eddie Rosario – The son-to-be free agent outfielder had a 4-for-5 night with two homers and four RBI, falling a double short of hitting for the cycle.
  2. Framber Valdez – His sinker stymied the Red Sox all night as the 27-year-old starter pitched eight strong innings, giving up just three hits with five punchouts.

Thursday Stove

A trade to acquire Kimbrel from the White Sox may make a lot of sense for the Padres.

The Yankees apparently made a strong play for Báez at the trade deadline, eventually losing out to the Mets. They may still have the former Cubs shortstop in their sights this winter.

The Blue Jays may have an interest in trading for Cleveland infielder José Ramírez if the Guardians make him available.

Mets starter Carlos Carrasco had surgery this week to remove a bone fragment from his right elbow.

Some of the potential managers rumored to replace Mike Shildt don’t make a whole lot of sense for the Cardinals.

The Brewers have dismissed hitting coach Andy Haines.

Extra Innings

Baseball photography doesn’t get much better than this overhead shot of the legendary Roberto Clemente.

They Said It

  • “For us, the move at the deadline was really about pushing chips in with this team, which we thought was a really special team and had a chance to do some special things and did. But we recognize that [Bryant is] a superstar talent and it’s going to be a really competitive market for his services. I’m sure we’ll have conversations there, but he’s going to have a long line of suitors.” – Giants’ president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi

Thursday Walk-Up Song

El Capitan Zodiaco y Los Patrulleros del Espacio by Keith Ferreira with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – Sometimes you just need to tune in to some mondo radio to start your day on the right foot.

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