I’m thoroughly enjoying the 2022 World Series but I cannot keep my mind from drifting to Hot Stove Season because the two events are on a collision course this year. If the Series goes the full seven games, free agency will kick off at the precise moment front office executives land in Las Vegas for this year’s GM Meetings. If the Cubs intend to strike hard and fast, that’d be a perfect time.
Remember the Topps baseball card sets that came with player checklists? I have my own version that reads more like a grocery list of potential Cubs acquisitions. My top three are Justin Verlander, Dansby Swanson, and Sean Manaea. I’d also like to see the Cubs trade for White Sox closer Liam Hendriks. Players like Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani are pipe dreams, and I’ve suddenly turned icy cold on Carlos Correa. I just can’t justify 10 years and $350 million, and I hope Jed Hoyer feels the same.
A couple of injuries to minor league outfielders shouldn’t cause a course correction, but I think it will. Alexander Canario is out indefinitely and Brennen Davis has a temperamental back. It’s too bad Pete Crow-Armstrong and Kevin Alcántara won’t be ready by Opening Day. Perhaps Hoyer can sign a stopgap such as Kevin Kiermaier, assuming they keep Ian Happ, of course. Michael Conforto could be available on a one-year deal in the $10-12 million range, and I’d be way okay with that acquisition.
Still, I’d rather see Hoyer make bold moves to strengthen his rotation. Placing an ace ahead of Justin Steele, Marcus Stroman, and Hayden Wesneski would give Chicago a formidable rotation. As far as I’m concerned, the Cubs are still rebuilding until I get excited about the team’s projected rotation.
Cubs News & Notes
- Happ was the only Cubs player to be nominated for a Gold Glove, and he won.
- Let’s hope Hoyer has a contract extension ready for Happ’s signature. For the record, the switch-hitting outfielder would prefer to stay with the Cubs.
- The influence of Jason Heyward is a big part of Happ’s success as an outfielder.
- In a perfect world, I see the Cubs moving Happ to center, hiring Heyward to be an outfield coach, and then signing Conforto to play left.
- Signing Kodai Senga might mean the Cubs will be in the market for more than just one power arm this winter. Senga has a little trouble locating his fastball at times.
- By the way, Senga has officially filed for international free agency.
- The progress of rehabilitating starter Kyle Hendricks could be a determining factor in Chicago’s pursuit of rotation help.
- Minor league pitcher Drew Gray is someone to keep an eye on next year. The lefty was dominant during his first taste of professional baseball, striking out nine batters against only one walk in four innings in the Arizona Complex League. Gray had Tommy John surgery at the start of the ’22 season.
- Gray was drafted in the 3rd round of the 2021 MLB draft and is originally from Swansea, IL.
- Matt Mervis will compete in Saturday’s AFL Home Run Derby.
Odds & Sods
Randy Johnson tipped his pitches his whole career. 💀 pic.twitter.com/MvBumJXc06
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) November 2, 2022
Sliding Into Home
I’m back on the cycle of bothersome liver function tests so I apologize when I miss a day or two. They take a lot out of me and I’m usually not in the best mood the day of and the day after.
Postseason News & Notes
The Phillies thumped the Astros last night and now lead the World Series 2-1.
Philadelphia hit five home runs in the contest, including a two-run blast by Bryce Harper to start the 7-0 rout. It was Harper’s sixth homer of the postseason, which is second in Phillies history to Jayson Werth. Kyle Schwarber, Rhys Hoskins, Brandon Marsh, and Alec Bohm all left the yard in Game 3 as well.
I’m not a baseball purist by any means but I hope the league doesn’t eliminate the 2-3-2 format of the World Series. I think it makes things more compelling.
Note: I usually begin the “Stove” section after the World Series ends but the lateness of this year’s event requires immediate trade and free agency coverage starting today.
The Mets are already engaging in trade talks with other clubs.
According to sources from multiple clubs, the trade market will likely not include Ohtani.
Keith Law of The Athletic named his top 50 free agents of 2022-23 and Aaron Judge is fourth, following three shortstops. Jacob deGrom is his highest-rated pitcher at No. 8 overall (subscription required).
Super Two status has been set at 2.128 years of service time for the 2023 season. That is a slight increase over last year, which landed at two years and 116 days.
Pujols was able to use an illegal bat for 13 seasons. The future Hall of Famer continued using it after the league’s specifications changed because it was “grandfathered” in.
Yadier Molina has also officially retired, and for those who think Willson Contreras to St. Louis is now fait accompli, I have a source who told me Contreras is third or fourth on their list of replacements for Molina. Sean Murphy is the Cardinals’ top target. The Redbirds already have a pair of $100 million contracts on the books with Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, so they’ll need to be creative to strengthen their team this winter.
The White Sox have a new manager and it’s not Ozzie Guillén. Pedro Grifol will be announced as Chicago’s skipper later this week, though the White Sox have not yet confirmed the hire. Don’t be surprised if Guillén gets a job in the front office.
The Woody Allen flick Radio Days offers one of the funniest baseball stories I’ve ever heard. It’s such a great movie, by the way. Mia farrow is incredible as Sally White.
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- The Bears made a splash on NFL Trade Deadline Day when they acquired wide receiver Chase Claypool from the Steelers for a second-round pick.
- Claypool gives Justin Fields the big-bodied receiver he deeply deserves, and though Chicago may have overpaid just a bit, GM Ryan Poles picked off the Packers in his pursuit of the third-year pass-catcher.
- The Space-X rocket Falcon Heavy launched for the first time in more than three years. It’s the world’s most powerful operational rocket, and definitely worthy of a Dire Straits song.
- Spotify has a podcast series called Daily Dad Jokes and I can’t quit listening.
- If you need your own theme song, or just some background music while you are working or multi-tasking, here are 10 websites that will help restore your focus.
- Tonight’s Powerball Jackpot is worth at least $1.21 billion to a single winner. Most people promise to share the winnings with friends and family. I promise to be greedy AF if I win (except for my favorite charities).
Sometimes writing for Bears Insider kicks your ass.
"I've seen better days…and the bottom drops out." pic.twitter.com/nDRC5ndS1V
— Michael Canter of Cubs Insider ✨ (@MEdwardCanter) November 1, 2022
They Said It
- “I’m sure that there are conversations they’ve had internally. Of course, I’m in a situation where you’re going into [your third year of arbitration], and then you’re looking kind of beyond just because of where you are in your contract and your time with the team. So I’m sure they’ve had the conversations internally. That’s probably what [Hoyer] was referring to. The way that it works on the player’s side is generally a lot later than a week after the season. Maybe there will be something down the road. But it’s their job to look at all possible outcomes.” – Happ
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Ahhh, the incalculable virtues of debauchery.