This year’s GM Meetings would ideally be the proper place to start filling the gaping holes in the Cubs’ roster, but they beat us to the punch with the unexpected acquisition of starting pitcher Wade Miley. The Cubs nabbed Wiley, who was waived by the Reds in a money-saving move, then picked up his $10 million option and now have at least two bona fide starters in their rotation.
It’s not often you find a 6-WAR pitcher atop baseball’s scrap heap. Miley is unlikely to pitch that well in 2022, but it sure signals that Hoyer has more money at his disposal this year than he did last winter. If anything, it feels like a redemptive gesture after losing Kyle Schwarber. If Wiley pitches to his career norms, it gives Chicago a decent No. 3 starter behind Kyle Hendricks and an ace to be named later.
Wade Miley's no-hitter smile is contagious 🥺 pic.twitter.com/4e1p8iucpD
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) May 8, 2021
The move also signals that Hoyer isn’t going to let the dark cloud of an expiring CBA choke his engine.
Let’s face it, this year’s GM Meetings may be a little soulless and dull with the specter of a work stoppage hanging over the game, so we could be looking at a precursor to the big empty. Though there is traditionally less hustle and bustle at these gatherings than the Winter Meetings, this week may feel more like the last day of school before winter break. You’d rather stay home, but you can’t because pressing the flesh is just as important this year as any. Baseball will resume at some point if it does indeed go on hiatus, at which point front offices will need to cram about 75 days of work into a much shorter calendar.
We can only hope a lockout doesn’t last long enough that Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins decide to punt on ’22. The nice thing about adding Miley to the rotation is that if the Cubs are bad this year, the veteran starter will probably be moved at the deadline for a long-term asset or two. Still, nobody wants to see them phone it in with a bunch of over-30 post-hype prospects, and that’s no knock on Patrick Wisdom, Frank Schwindel, or Rafael Ortega. Hoyer was luckier than most with those three, but he can’t continue to go to that well because the law of averages will eventually toast him.
Miley is a nice start — let’s call it a “wiley” move — and he gives the front office plenty of maneuverability in the coming year. He doesn’t walk many batters, avoids home runs, regularly pitches into the 7th inning, and provides a veteran presence. His contract is relatively cheap, so the Cubs can still make a splash in free agency if they want to, or Hoyer and Hawkins could explore trading for arb-eligible pitchers like Cal Quantrill, Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt, or Joe Musgrove.
Teams may be looking to tighten their belts in case of an extended lockout or reduce financial obligations ahead of one of the better free-agent classes in recent memory, and the Cubs are well-positioned to take advantage of either scenario.
It was nice to see Hoyer pounce on Miley and we probably couldn’t ask for a better first step. They still need two starters with big arms, and though the move may feel a little like Zach Davies redux, at least it will only cost the Cubs money. It’s been a long time since the team has inferred that kind of offseason strategy.
Cubs News & Notes
- You’ll need a subscription to ESPN+ to access the full content, but Kiley McDaniel published his top 50 free agents with expected salaries yesterday afternoon. Looking at ex-Cubs, McDaniel projects Kris Bryant to get a 5/$90 million deal, and Javier Báez (1/$25 million), Nick Castellanos (3/$54), Schwarber (3/$45), and Anthony Rizzo (2/$22) all seem like pretty good bargains. In fact, that’s a flat-out steal for Bryant.
- Rizzo probably wishes he took that $70 million offer from Hoyer that was reportedly on the table.
- McDaniel speculated on NPB outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who could interest the Cubs, and mentioned he could be looking at a 4/$48 million deal in addition to his posting fee, which would be a little over $9 million based on that deal.
- Carlos Correa is projected to earn $297 million on a 9-year deal in the piece, which explains why the shortstop turned down a lowball offer by the Astros.
- Schwindel, who had the best 56-game stretch since Joe DiMaggio, is already being mentioned in trade speculation, so I guess he’s finally arrived. The first baseman is probably the best sell-high candidate in all of baseball.
- The organization has officially canceled this year’s Cubs Convention, the team’s annual fanfest that at one time was the crown jewel of the offseason. The Cubs hope to resume festivities next winter.
- Davies did not win a Gold Glove yesterday, marking the first time since 2015 that the Cubs have been shut out in the voting. The free-agent starter was the team’s only finalist this year.
- Rex Brothers has elected free agency after he was outrighted off of Chicago’s 40-man roster.
Odds & Sods
It had to be said.
"This is the time of year when all the big baseball trades are made. I'm going to try to improve our team with a few shrewd trades." — "That's a great idea, Charlie Brown… Why don't you trade yourself?" (Classic Peanuts – November 8, 1967) #MLB #Baseball #HotStove pic.twitter.com/yxeVhgqa5o
— Baseball by BSmile (@BSmile) November 8, 2021
From the Front Office
“Winter months, [and] an indoor environment where you’re talking about 10,000 people or more in closed quarters where you can’t technically social distance. It’s for safety reasons. It’s just a little more difficult to manage. Folks are now being encouraged to get booster shots, so we’re not technically out of the woods yet.” – Cubs spokesman Julian Green on the cancellation of CubsCon ’22
Verlander is scheduled to throw today in front of several scouts, and how he performs could determine whether or not he accepts Houston’s offer.
The Angels’ qualifying offer ($18.4M) to Raisel Iglesias would represent a record salary for a reliever should he accept. Being attached to a draft pick might make it tough for him to beat that on the open market.
Kevin Davidoff of the NY Times made some predictions on where this year’s free agents will eventually land. Notable projections include Correa (Tigers), Báez (Mets), Bryant (Mariners), Castellanos (Guardians), and wait for it, none of the top 40 players signing with the Cubs.
Mariners’ GM Jerry Dipoto said on his weekly radio show that the Mariners have been discussing potential trades for the past month and pointed to the annual Major League Baseball general managers meetings as the real kickoff to the offseason.
The Cardinals set a major league record when five of their players were announced as Gold Glove winners.
Maybe it is finally time to deploy those robot umpires.
The Mets have now been turned down by 12 different candidates in their search for a president of baseball operations/GM.
New York’s search for an executive has become a sheer parody.
Roberto Clemente. Respect.
Roberto Clemente steps in the box at Three Rivers Stadium in 1972 sitting on 2,999 career hits. No one in the park could have predicted this would be the great man’s final regular season at-bat. He made it count.
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) November 8, 2021
They Said It
- [Rob Manfred] keeps talking about the three-batter rule for pitchers. Stupid. And then the 10th inning rule [with a runner at second base]. Stupid. Seven-inning doubleheaders. Stupid. None of that is going to shorten the games at all until we can lower the [number] of pitches that they throw. I watch every game at home… and when the teams throw 340 to 360 pitches every night, there’s no way you can shorten the games. I sit and watch an 0-2 pitch — a perfect pitch on the black — [the umpires] never ring anybody up. It’s always a ball.” – Herzog
Monday Walk-Up Song
Big Empty by Stone Temple Pilots – Baseball teed it up for me, so I knocked it out of the park.