The Cubs finally struck in free agency last night, adding a center fielder and a starting pitcher. It’s exciting news on the surface, but stopping there would mean Jed Hoyer and Carter Hawkins would fail to meet last year’s big acquisitions of Wade Miley, Marcus Stroman, Drew Smyly, and Seiya Suzuki. In fact, Miley and/or Smyly might be a nice addition to a rotation that now includes Stroman, Justin Steele, Adrian Sampson, Kyle Hendricks, and new acquisition Jameson Taillon.
Taillon signed a four-year, $68 million deal that was finalized just after 2am local time, a move that was immediately bashed as an overpay by a lot of fans. That’s the going rate for pitching this year, and Taillon signed for market price. Hoyer could still sign Koudai Senga, but I’d bet he beats the five-year, $75 million projection most initially thought would be fair value. Some teams, including the Mets, preferred Taillon to Senga.
The Cubs also landed former MVP and Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger, another move that was ripped by the Facebook contingency. Bellinger will get $12.5 million with a $5 million buyout on a mutual option, giving Chicago excellent flexibility on and off the field since Bellinger can also play first base and DH. The 27-year-old is eligible for a qualifying offer, too, or he could agree to a mid-season extension. The sky is the limit with Bellinger, however, but at the very least, Hoyer paid $17.5 million to possibly add a compensatory pick in 2024.
After 6 seasons with the Dodgers, Cody Bellinger is reportedly headed to Chicago to join the Cubs.
2017 NL Rookie of the Year
2019 NL MVP
Gold Glove Winner
Silver Slugger Winner
2020 World Series Champion 💍 pic.twitter.com/Kl66IwLkVK
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) December 7, 2022
“Obviously as you look at our lineup next year and where some of the opportunities are to add a bat or to add a defender, centerfield is certainly one of the spots,” said Hawkins. “First base is a spot that we’ve talked about as well. And we’re certainly always looking for left-handed hitting.”
It seems to me that Scott Boras wouldn’t have let Bellinger sign a deal for less than his arb projection with a sub-.500 team unless the superagent believed that more reinforcements were coming. As it stands, Chicago’s lineup offers little protection for the Gold Glove outfielder. But, combined with Suzuki and Ian Happ, Bellinger gives the Cubs elite outfield defense. Once Hoyer shores up his infield, Chicago’s North Side baseballers should be considered contenders for a Wild Card spot at the very least.
Carlos Correa and Xander Bogaerts are Boras clients, Dansby Swanson remains unsigned, and the Cubs are still in the market for a shortstop or two. The team also needs a catcher and a first baseman, which means there is a good chance we might see another acquisition or two before everybody leaves San Diego.
Cubs News & Notes
- Taillon’s contract may seem expensive but it lines up with similar contracts given to mid-tier starting pitchers.
- Greg Zumach of Ivy Futures provided an excellent Twitter breakdown of the Taillon signing.
- Bellinger’s best asset is his defense and versatility, but he could be one heck of a bargain if the Cubs can fix his mechanics.
- A hairline fracture Bellinger suffered in his left leg may be more responsible for his regression and poor mechanics than the shoulder injury he suffered in the 2020 World Series.
- Now that Hoyer has Bellinger and Taillon locked up, he might pivot to Correa.
- Jon Morosi was a guest on the Marquee Network and he believes the Cubs aren’t done yet.
- Hoyer and Hawkins are pitching Wrigley Field, the team’s fanbase, and the city of Chicago to lure free agents to the Cubs.
- The president of baseball operations said that he and his front office entourage are working on a number of deals. “I mean, certainly we have a lot of offers out there and we’ll continue to make offers. Whether things come to fruition or not, you never really quite know, but it won’t be from a lack of putting offers out there.”
- Hoyer has the keys to whichever room contains those wheelbarrows full of money, but he has yet to sign a premium free agent.
- Senga is mulling several long-term deals, but insiders say he is taking every deliberate approach to free agency.
- The Japanese star is seeking a 5-6 year deal according to agent Joel Wolfe.
- Patrick Mooney of The Athletic said the Cubs were negotiating with Taijuan Walker before he signed with the Phillies, and that the Cubs are still pursuing Senga ($).
- The Cubs reportedly have some interest in catcher Tucker Barnhart as a potential free-agent acquisition.
- Chicago’s front office could be targeting first baseman Dominic Smith next.
- The Cardinals and Astros are the rumored destinations for Willson Contreras, and I’d make Houston a slight favorite.
- Brailyn Márquez returned to the Cubs after his recent non-tender and he has something to prove.
- MLB conducted its inaugural Draft Lottery, in which the Cubs actually dropped one position to No. 13 overall. The Pirates will have the first selection in next year’s draft. The Tigers, Rangers, and Twins all moved into the top six and they’ll get the extra bonus money that comes with those slots.
- The folks over at Prospects Live immediately posted their 2023 mock draft, projecting that the Cubs will select infielder Kevin McGonigle from Monsignor Bonner. Physically, he looks a lot like Pete Crow-Armstrong.
- It’s early, but here’s McGonigle’s scouting report from Perfect Game. “He just hits and then hits some more.”
- The Red Sox and Cubs are interested in hosting the 2025 or 2027 All-Star Games.
Apropos of Nothing
The Taillon signing reminds me a lot of Chicago’s acquisition of Kevin Tapani in 1997. The contracts are pretty similar once you adjust for inflation and the current marketplace. Their statistical profiles are nearly interchangeable, too, though Taillon has a better strikeout rate. Like Tapani, the 31-year-old righty comes to Chicago with a diminishing fastball.
Odds & Sods
David Ross was live on air when he learned that the Cubs got Cody Bellinger 😭 pic.twitter.com/Xooe5fDQca
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) December 6, 2022
The Padres were the mystery team in the Judge sweepstakes and reportedly made a $400 million offer to the AL home run king. Don’t forget, Trea Turner also spurned a better offer from San Diego to sign with the Phillies.
David Price will not pitch in 2023 though he hasn’t officially retired.
MLB will conduct its Rule 5 Draft today.
Here are the hottest names available in today’s selection process.
A study claims that the league used baseballs with three different weights in 2022, with a disproportionate number of them being found at Yankee Stadium.
Rob Manfred is hopeful that the Angels will be sold by Opening Day.
This is a nice reel highlighting the best of Taillon.
Seems like Jameson Taillon is headed to the Cubs… Thanks for all the memories Jamo!! pic.twitter.com/0WMIgyKbzt
— Pinstripe Pride (@PinstripePride) December 7, 2022
Wednesday Morning Six-Pack
- Today marks the anniversary of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to the US entering World War II.
- Did you know you could make upwards of half a million per year as a lifeguard in Los Angeles?
- Gigantic fish are once again thriving in the Amazon.
- Here’s how you know when to leave Bob Dylan alone.
- December means the return of College Football Bowl season. How about we organize a road trip to The Nassau Bowl?
- The Ringer has a podcast series called “60 Songs That Define the ’90s” and it’s worth your time, I promise.
Ed. note: I agree heartily with the podcast recommendation, it’s incredible. There are actually more than 60 songs and the detail gets even more intricate in the second season, great stuff for those who truly want to know about what went into making a particular song.
They Said It
- “I would say we don’t need a pitch, but it is a heck of a pitch. I mean, Chicago is an unreal city. And we all know that, especially in the summer. An unreal fan base. The support that we have, the players feel that and they talk about that and they know that coming in — it sells itself because we’re trying to sell it each and every day. And I think the city and the fan base have done a great job making it a really attractive place for guys.” – Hawkins
- “[Bellinger] is a really good fit from a perspective of [his] great defense, great baserunning, and left-handed bat with the potential to have an uptick offensively if that works out. [His] bad habits create mistakes or make it tougher to hit and then you get into this rabbit hole of chasing the feeling that you used to have and where you’re at mechanically. There’s a lot of freedom in getting a full offseason to get healthy, recognize that and a change of scenery sometimes is a benefit for a lot of guys.” – Ross
- “You can never have enough pitching. That’s a pretty tried and true heuristic there. We would absolutely look to add as many [arms] as we can. I think we do have great internal options already that are guys that we want to continue to give innings to. But there are other guys out there that we’d be interested in bringing on board and continue to supplement that staff and definitely, we’re engaged in that market.” – Hawkins
Wednesday Walk-Up Song
Let’s play two!