If you were hoping for any breaking news at this week’s GM Meetings, I’m sure you were sorely disappointed. A small podium set up for impromptu pressers went unused all week. Blame the looming expiration of the CBA as the driver behind the hot stove silence.
Sure, we heard the obligatory “business as usual” and “we’re exploring many opportunities” quotes from the league’s executives, and a radical idea or two that had been pitched by the owners made for some interesting responses. As far as any hot stove news, however, somebody put out that pilot. With a little less than three weeks before the current agreement ends, a lockout staged by the owners continues to look more and more likely. Baseball hasn’t had a work stoppage since 1995, but it’s difficult to fathom how one will be avoided this winter given the tenuous relationship between the league and the players union.
Mets executive Sandy Alderson didn’t sound very optimistic that a lockout could be avoided.
“Our working assumption is that [talks] won’t come to a standstill,” Alderson said yesterday. “We’re obviously mindful that things may come to a halt in early December or sometime thereafter, but right now we’re building for the season and for the future. So, we don’t really intend to slow down or stop except as we must pursuant to the labor situation as it exists between now and December 2 and thereafter.
“If you’re asking whether we will be opportunistic, I’d say yes. On the other hand, we’ll see what players feel about the next three or four weeks and whether there is a mutual interest to do something before [the current agreement expires].”
Even Scott Boras expects a work stoppage, though he’s not concerned about how long it may be or how that may affect his clients.
“Talent is the steak,” Boras said Wednesday. “I really don’t care what time dinner is.”
It’s also been two years since teams and agents have been able to gather en masse, so that probably added significant trepidation to any contract or trade talks. Given the close proximity of the meetings to games being played in the Arizona Fall League, it seems many executives are more excited to make the trip from San Diego to catch Saturday’s Fall Stars Game.
Since its inception in 2006, the event has showcased some of the best minor league talents. Cody Bellinger, Pete Alonso, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and Ronald Acuña Jr. are just some of the great names who made their mark on the future stars’ game. The Cubs will have three prospects showcased Saturday, after which baseball may enter radio silence other than any leaks on current collective bargaining negotiations. Light a candle until the game reignites its hot stove.
Cubs News & Notes
- An impromptu road trip to the GM Meetings proved to be a bonding session for Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins.
- A better balance of power vs. contact hitters is on Hoyer’s agenda this winter.
- The president of baseball operations feels it’s in his best interests to be as nimble as possible while navigating the offseason.
- Hawkins hopes to find ways to better leverage the team’s resources.
- The shoulder surgery David Bote had earlier this week will keep him out of action for at least six months.
- Boras compared Kris Bryant to Sean Connery as Ian Fleming’s super-spy James Bond, as well as in other iconic characters from the movies The Untouchables and The Hunt for Red October.
- Boras also made inference to the Cubs starting the trend of teams racing to the bottom in order to secure higher draft picks.
- Per the super-agent, the Cubs, Reds, and Pirates have turned the NL Central into a two-team division.
- Apparently, the Giants weren’t very impressed with Bryant, and it doesn’t look like they’ll make an attempt to bring him back.
- Coming off his worst season as a starter, Boras said that Jake Arrieta plans to pitch in 2022.
- Caleb Kilian, Nelson Velazquez, and Andy Weber have been selected to play in Saturday’s AFL Fall Stars Game.
- Hoyer said he’s really proud of what Velazquez has accomplished this year.
- New hitting coach Greg Brown may be the right choice to fix Chicago’s broken offense.
- Ian Happ said Anthony Rizzo loved his time in New York and that the first baseman looked good in a Yankees uniform.
- Chicago ranked No 29 in getting the most value from their 2021 roster, just ahead of the Angels, the game’s only organization to finish the season net negative.
- The Cubs debuted an extended version of Mic’d Up on their YouTube channel, featuring Happ, Jason Heyward, Patrick Wisdom, and more.
Odds & Sods
From the Front Office
“I have realized very quickly just the depth of resources that the organization has, the depth of tools. So it’s just thinking about ways to bring those together, to create insights across departments, make sure that we’re not using those tools in a vacuum, but kind of leveraging them together.” – Hawkins
The league’s latest proposal to the players would swap arbitration for a FanGraphs WAR algorithm.
Most insiders believe any work stoppage will be minimal, but it could have a cascading effect on the 2.5 months remaining until pitchers and catchers report. If it takes a month or less, little tangible will be lost besides the winter meetings. If it takes 2-3 months, spring training will probably have to be pushed back. Anything longer will obviously put the start of the 2022 season in jeopardy.
Brewers GM David Stearns responded on Thursday with reports circulating that the Mets could hire a GM now and wait until Stearns is available to lure him as the president of baseball operations.
The Mets have not contacted Stearns, which would be tampering, and he told Jon Heyman that he’s “happily employed” by the Brewers. Stearns declined to tell Heyman if he has one or two years remaining on his current deal.
Adam Cromie, who left the Nationals four years ago to work for law firm Jones Day, is said to be the new favorite to land the Mets gig.
Rays president of baseball operations Erik Neander offered fans a glimpse behind Tampa Bay’s curtain, detailing how the team prepares for each season with a limited budget and the desire to always be improving.
The Twins appear set to take a radical approach to rebuild their pitching staff.
Meet Velazquez, aka Mr. November.
They Said It
- “Essentially what we’ve seen happen is in many ways the integrity of the season being eroded due to a rule change that occurred in 2012, and that was that they capped the draft, and that created an incentive for the race to the bottom. Because now we have half the major-league teams at some time during the season being non-competitive, trading off their players, making the game and the season very different than what it was intended to be — and that was having an incentive to win every game that you play.” – Boras
- “When the commissioner’s office advocated for [tanking], they failed to consider the impact that this would have on fan interest, on the aspect of major-league players in a locker room in spring training expecting to win and compete and then being told their team is now devoid of the cores of their lineup once it is determined by the team that they’re no longer competitive.” – Boras