“Well, I got all this time to be waiting for what is mine.” – Counting Crows, Hangingaround
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s frenzied trade deadline, Jed Hoyer offered a quote that will now live in infamy:
“We were willing to listen if someone gave us a piece that could really help our future,” Hoyer told reporters via Zoom. “We never crossed that threshold. Willson is a really valuable player. He’s been a great Cub for six years now. We never got to that place where we felt comfortable making a deal.”
Before we get into the reasons why Hoyer didn’t trade All-Stars Willson Contreras or Ian Happ, let me ask you this: Whose (it’s not a) rebuild do you favor? The Nationals have acquired a lot of top prospects over the last two deadlines, and imagine the system they’d have if they’d traded Bryce Harper a few years ago. The Cubs didn’t have a stockpile that included Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, and Juan Soto as tradeable assets, so they have taken a much more measured approach, filling spots at different levels of their system with higher-ceiling but lower-ranked players.
The Harper situation is somewhat comparable to Contreras in that Washington forfeited its compensatory pick that year (I believe) because they signed Patrick Corbin from the Diamondbacks in free agency. It worked out well because the Nationals won the World Series in 2019 thanks in part to Corbin.
Because the league and the MLBPA couldn’t agree on an international draft this year, the qualifying offer system still exists. That raises an interesting situation.
Though I hope Hoyer does everything in his power to extend Contreras, the front office will most certainly give him a QO if the two sides do not come to an agreement. If another team signs him and the Cubs get a compensatory pick, might they go after someone like Carlos Rodón — who will likely have a QO of his own — in free agency with the comp pick as a bugger? Or maybe Hoyer will go after one of shortstops Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, or Dansby Swanson, though Correa won’t cost him any draft assets.
Does Hoyer actually need an extra draft pick after he’s packed the farm system with so many potentially great young players? Not really. I don’t want to give the president of baseball operations too much credit here, and besides, it’s a risky move if that’s his plan. It’s worth considering though, and it certainly gives the front office some extra redundancy.
Doubling down on that notion, Hoyer and GM Carter Hawkins might decide to do the same thing with Happ next summer. The thought of signing premier players because you have those extra picks sounds like the right way to conduct business. But this is the Cubs we are talking about, and Tom Ricketts still controls the purse strings.
With Happ, Hoyer stuck to his guns and refused to sell low. Give him credit for kicking that can down the road, as it were. Happ wants to be a part of the team’s future and could be, but if the team wants to trade him, they’ll have a bigger market this winter because it seems the switch-hitter has a nice forward trajectory after struggling so much earlier in his career. He and Nico Hoerner offer the versatility that the front office and manager David Ross love.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that keeping Happ and Contreras reduces the chances that the Cubs will finish in the bottom three of baseball. They should still qualify for the lottery, but the Nationals, Reds, and A’s should steamroll to 100 or more losses and the best chances to win next year’s top pick. The Cubs just need to figure out how their bullpen will sort itself out after trading four relievers this week.
Make no mistake, I’d love to see the Cubs sign both All-Stars. However, it’s obvious this morning that the front office has plenty of options from which to choose, and they refused to let other teams force their hand. I’ve been tough on Hoyer, but he may have played this perfectly for the ball club. You have to feel sorry for Contreras, though. He was really put through the rumor wringer the last two weeks.
Cubs News & Notes
- Oh yeah, the Cubs actually went back to playing baseball last night and were shut out 6-0 by Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals. That guy can’t retire soon enough, am I right?
- At the end of a highly-charged two days of trading, Chicago’s biggest deal was trading Scott Effross for Hayden Wesneski.
- The Cubs and Phillies agreed on a trade for closer David Robertson. In return, Chicago gets 6-foot-6 RHP Ben Brown.
- The Cubs and Mets couldn’t agree on a trade for Contreras, but the two teams consummated a swap for reliever Mychal Givens. Saúl González, a 6-foot-7 specimen armed with high heat, was the return.
- Here are the scouting reports for Brown and González. Brown enters Chicago’s system as MLB Pipeline’s No. 11 overall prospect, and fourth pitcher behind Caleb Kilian (No. 6 overall), Jordan Wicks (7), and Wesneski (8). You’d have to imagine Cade Horton and Jackson Ferris will find their way into the top 20 when the winter rankings come out.
- I don’t agree with Gordon Wittenmyer of NBC Sports Chicago that the Cubs did Contreras dirty this week. Trades are a part of baseball and speculation is a byproduct of digital media and the need to push the stories that garner the most clicks. I don’t recall Hoyer saying that the Cubs were definitely going to trade the three-time All-Star at any point this season. If anyone is shameful, blame those of us who perpetuate those rumors.
- That said, the executive did express remorse for the emotional toll the speculation had on Contreras.
- In the end, Contreras and Happ are happy that they weren’t moved this week. They even shared a hug once Ross broke the news to the pair.
- Both players once again expressed their desire to remain with the organization long-term.
Odds & Sods
Like I said, anything to garner clicks. I’m not helping here, either.
Here is tonight’s reKAP of the @Cubs 2022 trade deadline and the #Cubs 6-0 loss to the @Cardinals at Busch Stadium. A lousy game and a lousy way to treat Willson Contreras. #TakeThat https://t.co/bQW6lgyl5Z
— David Kaplan (@thekapman) August 3, 2022
Climbing the Ladder
“This place is always such a mess. Sometimes I think I’d like to watch it burn.” – Wallflowers, One Headlight
The Cubs were shut out in St. Louis by the despised enemy and their dastardly battery of Wainwright and Yadier Molina. Contreras had a triple but Chicago couldn’t score him. Seiya Suzuki looked overmatched. Thank you, Mr. Hoyer, for shoving Patrick Wisdom, Rafael Ortega, and Frank Schwindel down our throats for the rest of 2022.
Not for nothing, but it was kind of surprising that Wisdom, Ortega, or Drew Smyly weren’t traded. The Giants and White Sox had a puzzling day and I loved the aggressive moves by the Phillies.
- Games Played: 102
- Total Plate Appearances: 3,879
- Total Strikeouts: 901
- Strikeout Rate: 23.23%
- Team Batting Average: .244
- Runs Scored: 428
- Runs Allowed: 504
How About That!
I’m going to skip the usual formalities here to offer a moment of silence for Vin Scully and then a few quotes from the world of baseball. Scully passed away at the age of 94 yesterday. Please bow your heads with me, and Godspeed, Vinny.
- “Today, we mourn the loss of a legend in our game. Vin was an extraordinary man whose gift for broadcasting brought joy to generations of Dodger fans. In addition, his voice played a memorable role in some of the greatest moments in the history of our sport.” – Rob Manfred
- “Every great city has sounds to it. Los Angeles has had one clear sound and that’s been the voice of Vin Scully.” – Steve Garvey
- “We have lost the greatest broadcaster who ever lived as Vin Scully passed away Tuesday evening. Every game was a master’s class as he turned an inning into poetry. And as great as he was, he was just as nice. Class, elegance, and grace were all part of his humble but regal being.” – Michael Kay
- “What a great baseball broadcaster. Amazing for the game. I did get a chance to meet him; I played against the Dodgers a lot. I loved just hearing him talk. It was just so soothing. The way he would tell stories about a game and paint pictures was something else. He will definitely be missed.” – Anthony Rizzo
- “Rest In Peace Vin Scully. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Scully family and the Dodgers organization. The baseball world lost an icon, but his voice and enthusiasm will always be remembered.” – Fergie Jenkins
And a couple from Scully himself.
- “What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world.” – Scully, right before Hank Aaron broke the MLB record for home runs previously held by Babe Ruth.
- “She stands alone at the corner of Clark and Addison, this dowager queen, dressed in basic black and pearls, seventy-five years old, proud head held high and not a hair out of place, awaiting yet another date with destiny, another time for Mr. Right. She dreams as old ladies will of men gone long ago. Joe Tinker. Johnny Evers. Frank Chance. And of those of recent vintage like her man Ernie Banks. And the Lion [Leo Durocher]. And Sweet Billy Williams. And she thinks wistfully of what might have been, and the pain is still fresh and new, and her eyes fill, her lips tremble, and she shakes her head ever so slightly. And then she sighs, pulls her shawl tightly around her frail shoulders, and thinks, This time, this time it will be better.” – Scully, on Wrigley Field.
If you need a recap on all of yesterday’s trade activity, MLB.com has you covered.
Tuesday’s Three Stars
- Baseball – Whether you’re upset or happy about Chicago’s inactivity this week, you have to love the fast and furious pace of trades that happened once the Padres agreed to acquire Soto. MLB has the best trade deadline of any sport.
- Contreras – Instead of deadpanning the Cubs because he had to endure endless rumors for nearly three weeks, let’s embrace the fact that, at the end of the day, Contreras is the happiest guy on the planet right now.
- Mike Rizzo – I’m afraid to look at Washington’s top prospect list for fear that jealousy will kill me. Of the seven deadly sins, that’s mine right now.
Kirk Gibson gave me a smile through last night’s waterworks.
My 2nd favorited vin quote “in case you’re wondering….Will Clarke is due up……………………………….7th ……this inning”
Rip Vin….the best⚾️⚾️🙏
— Kirk Gibson (@23KGibby) August 3, 2022
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears practiced in pads for the first time on Tuesday, but the offense wasn’t as strong as the coaches were hoping for. It’s clear that Luke Getsy still has a lot of work ahead, as does Justin Fields. Here are your Wednesday morning Camp Notes.
- Fields was impressive on slip routes and bubble screens yesterday, with David Montgomery being his primary target. That’s a big improvement over last year. The second-year quarterback has a laundry list of correctable habits that Chicago’s coaches are hoping to fix.
- Less than 100 days after laying off 9% of its employees, Robinhood announced Tuesday that it would slash another 23% in the second round of layoffs. Just don’t say the “R” word.
- Data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York released yesterday revealed that Americans are shielding themselves from inflation by forming an alliance with an old enemy: credit card debt. Count me as part of that group, and let me tell you, I’m starting to lose a lot of sleep.
- Tiger Woods turned down between $700–800 million dollars to join the LIV Golf series, LIV CEO Greg Norman said Monday. Even as other golfers have ditched the PGA Tour for the riches offered by LIV, Tiger has said he doesn’t support the insurgent league which is bankrolled by the Saudis.
- Some good news this morning, and after this column, we all could use it: The share of Americans without health insurance fell to about 8%, a historical low, in Q1 2022.
They Said It
- “I do feel for him on the emotional toll. Saying goodbye to people, thinking you’ve played your last game with the Cubs and obviously not being traded — I think there’s a yo-yo impact on that. But it’s not based on any mixed messaging from our side. We never said that. We never found a deal that came close to the right value.” – Hoyer
- “Simply trading players to say you got prospects that you don’t believe in, or don’t find very talented, that doesn’t make anything great at all. We never found deals that exceeded the value of the players we had. When we did, I think we made some deals. I think we got really talented arms, but I do feel like in some of the other markets, the buyers were A-motivated.” – Hoyer
- “I feel like there was a lot of weight off my shoulders. Today was a long day. I was really anxious to see what was gonna happen. I’m happy. It’s over.” – Contreras
- “[Ross] said they were done. It was over. And we were able to celebrate a little bit. It was nice. Lots of hugs. I gave Rossy a hug and gave Willy a hug. Happy to be here. Everybody else was out at BP, so I had to make a couple of phone calls and tell everybody to stand down from the panic.” – Happ
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
This morning feels much sunnier than any of the last few weeks.