The Rundown: Cubs Kicking Tires in Free Agency But That’s About It, Chili Davis Gets New Gig, Hot Stove Rumors Galore

The Cubs aren’t going to be spending big this offseason and that’s something we as fans will just have to deal with.

I find it slightly amusing that everybody who was anti-spending six years ago is up in arms because Theo Epstein is not inclined to throw $350 million at Bryce Harper. Epstein and his entourage knew back in 2011 that slapping a $100 million coat of paint on a $50 car didn’t make much sense, and he and his team needed to rebuild an organization from bottom to top. As fans, we have become spoiled because the journey from Baltic Avenue to Boardwalk doesn’t seem that difficult in retrospect. We didn’t see the heavy lifting that went into the day-to-day that started when this front office was put into place, culminating in the 2016 World Series title.

We have forgotten what it was like to cruise the North Shore in a hooptie and we want to shop the showroom floor for the latest and greatest automobile every year. At some point you have to ask yourself, “What the heck am I paying for?” The Cubs spent close to $200 million last year and really didn’t have much to show for that side of the financial ledger. I’m not the GM but I’m positive that the solution is not to keep throwing money at a non-existent  “problem.” The Cubs won 95 games and finished tied for the best record in the National League. What we are calling a subpar season required a torrid Brewers team to win 70 percent of their games over the last six weeks of the season just to tie for the division title! 

And as Tom Loxas mentioned last night, the Cubs are kicking the tires on this year’s models, so to speak, but it certainly seems unrealistic to think Epstein is going to whip out the company checkbook anytime soon. How much money are we expecting him to spend and what guarantee does Harper, Manny Machado or any other free agent offer? Do we really believe this Cubs team is trending downward as is? I don’t.

We all like to fawn over the latest and greatest. Heck, sometimes I peruse the lots on Sundays thinking to myself (or fooling myself) that I could really use an upgrade to my ’16 Honda Civic. But she’s reliable, still looks new despite a nick two, I only need to fill her up once a month, and I have just 20 payments left until I own her outright. She’s my 95-win season. To upgrade now would represent an unnecessary expenditure.

The Cubs aren’t going to win any titles in January. The only guarantee Bryce Harper brings is some incredible buzz at Cubs Convention and a horde of baseball writers covering his every move. Not sure that’s worth a $35 million annual commitment.

Free Agent Profile: David Robertson

Just a quick note: Yesterday I indicated I would be profiling Craig Kimbrel, but I covered the free agent closer earlier this month. Sorry about that, I simply forgot to cross him off my list.

One thing we can bank on this winter is that the Cubs are going to add to their bullpen. To what extent is still unknown, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the Cubs sign one or two of Andrew Miller, Kelvin Herrera, or Adam Ottavino. Many would add David Robertson to that list, but I think I’d pass. There’s nothing wrong with Robertson, I just don’t share in any of the communal admiration.

Robertson’s splits are pretty equal across the board. Right-handed hitters hit .188 against him, while left-handed hitters batted .176. He still strikes out a lot of batters (10.7 K/9) and has been much better in medium- and high-leverage situations, which to me indicates he could be a bit soft. He allows runners to reach at a 30 percent clip when the game is not truly on the line. The Cubs have enough pitchers who excel at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Robertson has made the interesting choice to represent himself in free agency, and the team that signs him could use him in a set up role or as as a closer. I think he’ll stay in the American League, though as I say with every free agent, don’t discount the Phillies. The Mets could be players for Robertson, too.

Handicapping Roberston:

  1. Yankees
  2. Indians
  3. Phillies
  4. Mets

Cubs News & Notes

Thursday Stove

Lots of rumors today, make sure you are well-fed.

Tony Clark received a three-year extension yesterday to remain head of the MLB Players Union.

A potential trade between the Mariners and Mets centering on Robinson Cano and closer Edwin Diaz may be gaining some momentum.

Patrick Corbin has visited with the Nationals, Yankees and Phillies thus far.

Free agency is baseball’s biggest risk/reward scenario. Nothing is a guarantee, and here’s a look at the bust factors of each of the top 25 free agents. Buyer beware.

Like the Cubs, the Yankees may be willing to pass on Harper and Machado in hopes of signing Nolan Arenado next season.

SI writers predict Machado’s new team and contract.

The Phillies and Yankees are the most logical landing spots if the Giants do in fact trade Madison Bumgarner.

There’s been an interesting development across baseball this offseason. Two West Coast teams with high payrolls who stumbled down the stretch in 2018 have decided to shed salary and rebuild.

The Brewers and Rockies have more than a passing interest in Mets’ starter Noah Syndergaard.

Major League Baseball released a minute-long teaser video Wednesday previewing its official World Series documentary, The 2018 World Series: Damage Done, which chronicles how the juggernaut Red Sox rolled to a World Series title over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The A’s revealed plans for a new stadium that is absolutely amazing if they can get it done. The self-funded waterfront ballpark would open for the 2023 season if all goes according to plan.

In a recent appearance on Rob Bradford’s WEEI podcast, the Bradfo Sho, Dodgers’s starter Rich Hill revealed another strange World Series fact: He didn’t learn for sure that he would start Game 4 until hours beforehand.

At least half the teams in baseball have changed hitting coaches since the season ended.

Ever since Disney got provisional approval in June from the U.S. Department of Justice to acquire most of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets for $71.3 billion, the fate of 22 regional sports networks has been up in the air. Amazon and MLB are very much interested in buying those RSNs.

Extra Innings

With MLB in business with its first “official gaming partner,” the league is putting millions of dollars at risk if it cannot convince would-be bettors that its games are on the level. In layman’s terms, don’t expect a reversal in the Pete Rose decision regarding his lifetime ban. It’s likely Rob Manfred won’t even consider it.

Thursday Walk Up Song

Every Little Thing She Does is Magic by The Police. Long Rundown today. I gotta go see a man about a dog right about now.

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