Ed. note: Still me, sorry. This one’s even shorter than usual because it’s really weird to adjust to Pacific time.
Between their losing record the last two seasons and the way they’ve jettisoned fan-favorite organizational cornerstone players with little to no extension talks, there’s been a sense that the Cubs were no longer a preferred destination for free agents. At the very least, they weren’t a team that would see coveted veteran players choosing to take a discount to play on the North Side of Chicago.
Before continuing with that thought, I want to circle back to Jason Heyward in an attempt to correct a little of the revisionist history surrounding his signing. It’s all too easy to look at the disappointing production relative to the size of his deal and say the Cubs were foolish to do it or to crow about how you knew it was a bad idea at the time. That’s bunk.
The Cubs were far from the only team interested in Heyward and they actually offered him significantly less total salary than what he could have gotten elsewhere. And since you can’t separate him from that World Series title, which is to say you can’t guarantee the Cubs would have won without him, it’s more than fair to say the entirety of his contract was paid in full on November 2, 2016.
Anyway, back to the idea that players have soured on the Cubs as a place to play. While both Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts stated on the record that the lack of competitiveness was a factor, that’s but a temporary issue. Yu Darvish actually touted the organization and city to Seiya Suzuki when the right fielder was doing his offseason speed-dating and players who’ve come over via trade rave about their new environs.
Zach McKinstry‘s opinion is based pretty heavily on getting a legitimate shot to play on an everyday basis, but Franmil Reyes is someone who’s experienced success with a winning team. His turnaround at the plate isn’t about getting a shot to play, it’s about getting the chance to be himself.
“Of course, yeah,” Reyes told reporters when asked about performing better in a new uniform. “Because my confidence went from 20% to like over 120%. The way they treat me here, the way they let me play, they let me be me — it’s special to be here.”
The hulking outfielder has at least one hit in each of his seven games with the Cubs, including four multihit games, and six of his 11 knocks have gone for extra bases. Compare that to 14 multihit games and 18 extra-base hits in 70 with the Guardians. Maybe his numbers would have jumped no matter where he went, but this doesn’t feel coincidental.
There’s something appealing about having a group of prospects coming up through the pipeline, though the most appealing aspect of any would-be contender is money. If the Cubs are indeed willing to spend this winter, they’ve got the advantage of playing at Wrigley and having access to exclusive technology, at least among their NL Central counterparts, that can help them further develop prospects and proven veterans alike.
Cubs News and Notes
- There’s a growing chorus calling for the Cubs to extend Nico Hoerner, who will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. As easy as it is for some to dismiss the notion based on the Cubs’ previous lack of effort on other extensions, Hoerner isn’t nearly in the same category as those big stars. Buying out his arb years and locking him into another 4-5 seasons beyond would help them narrow their offseason focus.
- Ian Happ is another possibility for a deal to remain in Chicago beyond last season, but his future remains nebulous because of the glut of outfielders the Cubs have coming up through the system.
- The Cubs now have the seventh-worst record in baseball, four spots better than they appeared to have been headed prior to the trade deadline, and they’re only 2.5 games worse than the Rangers for 11th. With a soft schedule down the stretch, they could easily find themselves out of the top 10.
- While that sudden competitive push might irk the folks who wanted to see them get a little something to show for their poor play, the flip side is that this could signal a need to spend in the offseason. If they can’t land a top draft pick and can’t very well aim to suck again next season, boosting the payroll is the only option.
- All that said, there is still a very small chance that the Cubs could land a top-3 pick even with an improving winning percentage.
How About That!
- The Yankees had scored just one run in 31 innings and everyone was losing their damn minds about it. Then they busted out for eight runs in a win over Tampa last night.
- Mets prospect Bretty Baty homered in his first career at-bat.
- Shohei Ohtani deserves so much better than the steaming pile of pony loaf that is the Angels. He went 4-for-5 with a homer, a triple, and four RBI in an 11-7 loss Wednesday to become the only player in AL or NL history to make at least 20 starts on the mound and hit five triples at the plate in the same season.
- Craig Kimbrel got the save as Tony Gonsolin notched his 15th W for the Dodgers.
They Said It
I learned that from Rizz, too. Those things, they work themselves out. As long as you keep going and have the confidence in yourself, at the end of the year, the back of the baseball card is what it is for a reason. You got to believe that. – Happ
Thursday Walk-Up Music
Eminem just released Curtain Call 2, a compilation of existing songs and remixes to celebrate his work from the last several years. His manager, Paul Rosenberg, is putting out a podcast to interview several integral figures in Em’s career, one of which is frequent collaborator Royce da 5’9″. The rapper told the story of meeting Marshall Mathers at a show and then forming the duo Bad Meets Evil, then hooking up with Bruno Mars for this track.