José Abreu did not sign with the Cubs and that’s okay, but it is somewhat frustrating even if the three-year, $58.5 million contract from the Astros seems a bit excessive. That said, and I’ll preach this until the day I die, the eye-popping amount is irrelevant in a vacuum because that was obviously Abreu’s market.
We don’t have to like it or accept it, but it is fact. Still, dropping $19.5 million per year on a 36-year-old first baseman with decreasing power is definitely not a form of intelligent spending. The upside is that Jed Hoyer believes enough in Matt Mervis to politely slide out of Abreu’s DMs. You’ll recall that the Cubs were reportedly going to pursue the ex-White Sox first sacker quickly. Anthony Rizzo derailed that train when he re-upped with the Yankees, causing Houston to pivot to option number two. Jeez, I can’t even imagine what the Astros would have paid Rizzo.
The Cubs do not need a three-year contract at first base. They need a mentor for Mervis with the flexibility to switch positions that will agree to a 1-2 year deal. Josh Bell is still an option even though he doesn’t fit that description, though Trey Mancini and Brandon Drury are the more likely candidates. They’re cheaper and won’t be marquee signings, but will allow Hoyer to address the team’s greater needs, i.e., pitching, shortstop, and outfield.
As fun as Abreu would have been, Mervis is going to be equally enjoyable. If things go right, Abreu would have become a very expensive backup option as soon as this June. And if Mervis struggles, cheaper options like Mancini, Drury, or even Cody Bellinger make a lot more sense.
I get it, we want Hoyer to be a player this winter. But allocating $20 million AAV for an aging hitter sounds a lot like extending the Jason Heyward contract an extra two years. Trust me, Cubs fans, you’d hate that deal as soon as Abreu had his first 0-for-4 game. I’d rather that money be earmarked for Ian Happ or Nico Hoerner, anyway,
Cubs News & Notes
- Outfield prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong has a busy offseason ahead. It’s going to be fun watching Mervis, Crow-Armstrong, and Brennen Davis as big leaguers.
- The Cubs could potentially lose pitcher Luis Devers in next week’s Rule 5 Draft, but there are also some intriguing players that Chicago might be inclined to select. LHP Antione Kelly of the Rangers is one such player, Catcher Drew Millas of the Nationals, and RHP Ethan Hankins of the Guardians are two others. I also love outfielder José Ramos of the Dodgers. His two most promising tools are his raw power and his strong, accurate outfield arm.
- In case you missed it, Mervis and Devers were named the organization’s Minor League Player and Pitcher of the Year.
- Insider Jon Morosi still believes the Cubs will sign Carlos Correa.
- Willson Contreras participated in the Venezuelan League Home Run Derby last night. I still believe Contreras is a near-lock for the Tigers. Ronald Acuña Jr. won the competition, by the way.
- Contreras to the Cardinals seems like an obvious need fit, but St. Louis tends to take the safest route and that might mean signing Mike Zunino instead.
- Ex-Cub third baseman Jeimer Candelario has agreed to a one-year deal to play for the Nationals.
- Candelario was non-tendered by the Tigers and might have been a good fit for the Cubs.
- Chicago’s increased appetite for high-risk, high-reward pitchers could net Andrew Heaney.
- Matt Snyder of CBS Sports believes the Cubs are among the fringy contenders that should go “all in” this winter, but also believes that Hoyer is too conservative to do so.
- Greg Maddux, Ryne Sandberg, and Lee Smith, among others, will decide whether or not steroid-era players Barry Bonds and/or Roger Clemens are inducted into the Hall of Fame. All three are part of the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee.
- Two ex-Cubs, Rafael Palmeiro and Fred McGriff are on this year’s CBE ballot. I’d love to see “Crime Dog” get the call.
Odds & Sods
Koudai Senga, please, and thank you. I’m not sure what a ghost forkball is, but I am dying to see it every five days.
Kodai Senga has been up to 102 mph, throws a ghost forkball, slider, curve & cutter. 1.89 ERA in 148 innings this year.
Senga’s agent noted Kodai would like to play in a big market on a win now team and is versed in/wants to learn more about analytics.
— Michael Mayer (@mikemayer22) November 14, 2022
Verlander met with the Dodgers on Monday.
The Rick Rosenthal Files
You’ll need a subscription to The Athletic to get all the juicy details, but here are some of the broad strokes from Rosenthal’s latest iteration of “What I’m Hearing…”
Expect Scott Boras to make a big splash at next week’s Winter Meetings because he has so many clients this year that he has to start narrowing his focus.
Interestingly, Andrew Friedman has mostly stayed away from Boras players on the open market since becoming the team’s president of baseball operations. That makes a reunion with Bellinger highly unlikely, but it also eliminates premium free agents like Correa, Bogaerts, and Carlos Rodón.
Carlos Estévez isn’t among the top names on the pitching market, but a lot of teams are after him as a high-leverage reliever who could even close games.
The Orioles are dabbling in the market for free-agent starting pitchers, and also cannot be ruled out on a trade for any starter who might be available, including Corbin Burnes.
I’ve said this about Drury previously.
Hey if the Cubs want to pivot from Abreu to Brandon Drury (and save a bunch along the way) I could be okay with it. He hits the ball in the air and hits for power. I don’t know how consistent it will be, but he can play 1st/2nd/3rd.pic.twitter.com/PVeNOSUuHw
— Greg Zumach (@IvyFutures) November 28, 2022
Tuesday Morning Six-Pack
- Bears GM Ryan Poles has a lot of work to do once the 2022-23 season ends.
- The Fed said unemployment could rise to 5% to fight inflation, but we’re not in a recession. I’m an armchair economist with a career in finance, and I think the magic number is 7.2%. Fasten your seatbelts.
- The U.S. has to beat Iran this afternoon to advance to the knockout round of the World Cup. A loss or tie sends the Americans back home.
- Metallica’s massive 2023-2024 world tour will feature support from Pantera, Mammoth WVH, Five Finger Death Punch, and Ice Nine Kills.
- Not to be outdone, Brett Michaels of Poison announced that his band would be touring with Night Ranger and Jefferson Starship. That sounds like a tremendous father-grandpa outing if you’re looking for an early Father’s Day gift idea.
- I’m not adding an oversized hat to my Christmas wishlist, are you?
They Said It
- “Certainly, [Mervis] is a big part of our future. We know he’s going to get a lot of plate appearances with us and get a lot of playing time.” – Jed Hoyer
Tuesday Walk-Up Song
I sure wish I was going to San Diego this weekend.