Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

The Winter Meetings are over, and the Chicago Cubs made one move, trading Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu to the Rockies for third baseman Ian Stewart and pitching prospect Casey Weathers. The trade was not revealed until after the Meetings had ended, but it turns out that the deal was consummated on Tuesday (with Stewart undergoing a physical in Chicago thereafter – he’s recovering from a wrist injury). There will be much more to discuss about the deal later today, but, with fresh eyes, I see the move in a more positive light, when viewed through two lenses: (1) Stewart clearly has the most upside of anyone in the deal, and the Cubs are taking a chance on that upside, and (2) much like the DeJesus signing, the move leaves open any number of other roster possibilities, saving as much as $10 million that could be spent elsewhere. Let’s see how it shakes out come March…

  • Chicago Cubs President Theo Epstein had an interesting reaction to the news that Albert Pujols had left the Cardinals in favor of the Angels: “It’d probably be a good thing for us in terms of developing pitching. You get a young pitcher up there and he’s working on his third pitch, working on his fastball command, and you tell him to get ahead with strike one, and all of a sudden, instead of a Triple-A hitter, he’s got Albert Pujols there. He can execute a pitch, and it leaves the yard 420-feet to right-center field, it’s probably not good for his confidence.” Not the first place my head went, but I’m not surprised that Epstein is – as he always is – thinking about this from another angle.
  • As noted yesterday morning, Yu Darvish is being posted (finally), and bids are due by next Wednesday at 5pm ET. A number of GMs are already saying things like, “I don’t think we’ll be bidding,” or, “we’re not sure we’ll be bidding.” Here’s the thing: it doesn’t serve anyone’s interest – either selfish or collective – to admit that you’re bidding. Why? Because the more teams that are known to be bidding, the higher the auction is going to go. It’s a blind auction, meaning, you have to just submit the highest bid you’re comfortable with. If you knew 10 other teams were bidding, your bid is going to be much higher. That is all to say: ignore any denial over the next few days. No team is going to admit it, and also, no team is going to submit a bid until, like, 4:45pm ET on Wednesday. Why? Because until then, they’re going to be doing mad reconnaissance to try and find out what everyone else is bidding. And that includes the Cubs.

  • The Cubs took infielder Ricky Alvarez from the Angles in the AAA phase of the Rule 5 Draft yesterday. The minor league portions of the Rule 5 are not really a matter of much consequence, but the Cubs went out of their way to prove it: after drafting Alvarez, they traded him to a Mexican team for cash.
  • We’ll have more on the kid the Cubs took in the big league portion – pitcher Lendy Castillo – later today. Of Ryan Flaherty and Marwin Gonzalez, the two players the Cubs lost in the draft, GM Jed Hoyer said, “Those were two guys we spent a lot of time talking about and, candidly, we thought they were two guys who may well get taken. They’re both good players and we hope we get them back. That’s the nature of setting your roster. You have to make hard decisions.” Given that the Cubs’ 40-man roster stood at just 34 yesterday, you’ve got to believe that not protecting Flaherty, 25, was more about the Cubs not believing he had a future with the team than it did about roster maneuvering. Gonzalez is still just 22, so you can understand the Cubs risking not protecting him. Flaherty and Gonzalez both have a chance of sticking on their respective new teams (Orioles and Astros). At least the Cubs picked up $100,000 for losing the two players. Bright side, right?
  • The Theo Epstein compensation issue with Boston (as well as Hoyer-with-San-Diego) was deferred until after the Rule 5 Draft, and that happened yesterday morning. So, it’s all done, right? Nah. The two sides were simply waiting until after the Rule 5 Draft to resume discussions, and it sounds like it could be a while yet. “We’ve loosely defined a strategy of talking at some point in the near future,” Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said yesterday. “We’ll resolve it at some point I’m sure.” As was true a month ago: the longer it drags on, the better it is for the Cubs. The public pressure to “get something good” for Epstein has faded. Relatedly, I saw Epstein mention the Andy McPhail trade from the ’90s as precedent in a TV interview this week, which I was glad to hear. The Cubs sent the Twins a top 20ish organizational prospect for McPhail back then, and Epstein doesn’t believe the Cubs should have to give up more for himself now. He’s a lawyer, after all – precedent is everything.

  • Jim Hendry is ready to return to baseball, and I’m sure he’ll get an opportunity soon.
  • The Cubs Caravan will hold a luncheon before it goes caravanning, and you can go if you’ve got $150. Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod, as well as Cubs players and coaches will be in attendance (you get to eat with them! “Pass me the salt, Jed.”). Details here. The luncheon is January 11.

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