The Rundown: Dearth of News Leads to Wild Speculation, Everyone Wants Schwarber Reunion, Mets Could Swing Blockbuster Deals
With the holidays just a week away, we are entering a period of radio silence by most big league teams. Believe it or not, executives do take time away to be with their families, and though most children are being homeschooled while the nation continues its fight against the coronavirus, this weekend marks the traditional start to winter break for most kids.
That doesn’t mean baseball activities will grind to a complete halt, but the expected dearth of player movement news should prompt an increase in preposterous trade proposals by those who are too bored to silence themselves. In my fantasy league, other managers are talking about multi-team deals that move star players like Mookie Betts and Jacob deGrom for boatloads of prospects, as if either the Dodgers or Mets are rebuilding. Alas, there is no prospect hound quite like the dynasty league fantasy baseballer.
It’s strikingly odd, but fantasy sports are such a big-money endeavor these days that you can now buy roto-insurance to protect your investment against injured players. So though the speculative trades are usually completely off base, the individuals who generate them are legitimately cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Not having the season you wanted? Get a second chance at getting your money back and take an insurance premium out on one of your fantasy baseball players!https://t.co/yYlpQGCNUy pic.twitter.com/Zm8bDGBGpW
— Rotosurance (@Rotosurance) December 10, 2020
One speculative deal I came across on our chat boards is as preposterous as it reads, and involves Willson Contreras and Yu Darvish. In the proposed deal, the Cubs would send both premium players to the Rays in a blockbuster that would basically empty Tampa’s farm system. In return, the Cubs would receive Blake Snell to offset some of Darvish’s salary, reliever Nick Anderson, and prospects Wander Franco (shortstop/second base), Shane Baz (RHP), Nick Bitsko (RHP), and Kevin Padlo (third base). Additionally, the teams would swap minor league pitchers, with Cory Abbott heading to Tampa Bay and Shane McClanahan coming to Chicago.
That trade would certainly boost Jed Hoyer’s middling farm system, but would probably signal that the Cubs are going into a full rebuild. Hoyer would likely have to flip Snell for more prospects, and once that happens, it’s Katie-bar-the-door for core players Javier Báez and Kris Bryant, and possibly Anthony Rizzo (i.e., anybody that won’t sign a team-friendly extension).
The Cubs would have to flip Snell because the trade doesn’t make the team any better in the short term, leaves a decent-sized hole at catcher, and cuts the rotation to 2-3 major league-ready starters. If anyone thinks Snell is an ace, please see his body of work that doesn’t include his 2018 Cy Young season.
Still, a whopper like the one proposed could give us all kinds of things to talk about this winter while giving the Cubs’ new president of baseball operations a lot more options than he has now. It also might be fun to dream on what the Cubs may look like in a couple of years with a stacked farm system. Before you overwhelm yourself with unbridled excitement, however, you should realize the Rays are probably never going to be willing to sell the farm for an aging starter and a backstop going into his expensive arb years just two seasons shy of free agency.
That proposal is a fun exercise and nothing more. It should not be something one would take seriously.
Cubs News & Notes
- Manager David Ross remains optimistic that Jon Lester will be returning to the Cubs.
- Because of the short season, teams like the Cubs may be more inclined to run with a six-man rotation this year, or acquire starting pitchers with minor league options who can be flexed for spot starts when needed.
- Though Kyle Schwarber is unlikely to return, he could find a path back to Chicago if an agreement is reached to adopt the universal DH for the 2021 season. As far as replacing the slugging outfielder, the Cubs could move Bryant to left field and go with David Bote at third base.
- Schwarber would love nothing more than to return to the Cubs (subscription to The Athletic required).
- It was announced yesterday that the Cubs and reliever Jonathan Holder have reached an agreement on a non-guaranteed one-year contract.
- With yesterday’s announcement regarding the Negro Leagues, the late Buck O’Neil, a former Cubs coach and scout whose signings included Hall of Famer Billy Williams and Oscar Gamble, may have increased his chances of election into baseball’s Hall of Fame.
- Catching prospect Miguel Amaya is lighting it up offensively in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
- Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo have named Greg Maddux as the Cubs’ top draft choice of all time. Maddux was selected at No. 31 overall (2nd round) in 1984.
- ESPN announced its Sunday night baseball schedule yesterday. The Cubs have two scheduled appearances on the game-of-the-week showcase, their April 18 tilt against the Braves, and a rivalry matchup against the Cardinals on May 23.
Odds & Sods
Any message that is lacking real results indicates, to me, that the league is more worried about protecting its brand than being a leader and making a difference.
'It hurts:' After vowing change, Black candidates shut out again of MLB front office jobs https://t.co/09dQqhPatm
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 17, 2020
Though the Mets expect to be more active in free agency, the team is not ruling out the potential for a blockbuster trade for a player like Nolan Arenado or Francisco Lindor this winter.
Red Sox manager Álex Cora is counting on bounceback seasons by J.D. Martinez and Andrew Benintendi to help Boston return to playoff contention.
New Mets catcher James McCann is excited to be with the Mets and anxious to work with New York’s vaunted rotation.
Nationals starter Max Scherzer thinks analytics may have prevented the Rays from winning the 2020 World Series, specifically pointing to the removal of Snell in Game 6 by Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash.
The White Sox fully expect starting pitcher Michael Kopech to be ready by Opening Day and believe he will have an outstanding season.
New ChiSox starter Lance Lynn hopes to be the leader and stopper of the team’s improving rotation.
Blues Jays shortstop Bo Bichette believes free agent second baseman DJ Lemahieu is the best hitter in baseball.
“Clark, that’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year.” — Cousin Eddie, from the movie Christmas Vacation.
Mike Trout in a Hallmark moment with baby Vincent Frank.
Baby Trout is enjoying the snow 👶❄️
(via @MikeTrout/ Instagram) pic.twitter.com/Zjv8854tT5
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) December 18, 2020
Sliding Into Home
I received some bad news from my doctor regarding this week’s tests. My liver enzymes are maddeningly rising yet again. The main culprit may have been all the acetaminophen I took during the 15 days I had COVID-19. I hope to get past this and reverse the trend. I did it once and I can do it again.
They Said It
- “We all love Kyle [Schwarber] and what he’s done for the Cubs. We’d welcome him back with open arms. But I have a feeling there’s gonna be a lot of teams picking up the phone to call his agent.” – David Ross
- “I’ve talked to Kris [Bryant] multiple times about playing the outfield, but I have not talked to him recently about playing it more next year. He knows that’s an option, and we all know how good he is out there. I think he can play any position in the outfield.” – Ross
- “If things could work out, we’d love to have [Jon Lester] back. We have to figure some things out first. That kind of goes without saying, because otherwise, something would be done by now.” – Jed Hoyer
Friday Walk Up Song
North Side Gal by J.D. McPherson – I’m not going to sugar coat it. I really miss going to Wrigley Field.