Cubs GM Jed Hoyer joined Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins on 670 The Score for a nice lengthy interview at the Park at Wrigley yesterday.
You can listen to the interview in full right here, while I hit on the highlights, alongside some comments of my own, below. Enjoy.
- On whether or not the Cubs could bring back Jake Arrieta next season, Jed Hoyer says, “Of course we’re going to have those conversations,” later adding that the Cubs will certainly be involved his free agent journey. Overall, the answer was a big “we’ll see,” but the door remains open. Notably, had the Cubs acquired Justin Verlander this week, that door probably closes firmly.
- How aggressive will the Cubs be on re-signing Arrieta? That’s been a big question for over a year now, as the front office did entertain extension thoughts, but the sides never got close the length of a deal that would make sense. After a very down second half in 2016 and an uneven start to 2017, Arrieta has been fantastic in the second half, and has set himself up for a very nice payday in advance of his age 32 season. My instinct is that he’ll command more years on the open market than the Cubs will be willing to commit, but we’ll have to see how things unfold.
- Hoyer feels “good” about where Justin Wilson has been over his last four or five games (5.2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.72 FIP, 2BB, 7Ks) and thinks Thursday night’s performance was his best since joining the Cubs. He also brings up that he was “dominant” while closing for the Tigers over the past year and a half and is optimistic that he’ll be that guy with the Cubs the rest of the way. And just let me say, if Justin Wilson is himself during September and into the playoffs, the Cubs will have one of the most formidable bullpens in October (perhaps we’ll take a closer look at their bullpen soon enough).
- On the trade for Leonys Martin, Hoyer suggests that it’s always valuable to have a guy on your bench who can steal bases, pinch run, and play defense late in ball games and late in the season. And apparently, Joe Maddon has been asking the front office for just that player. When asked whether the Cubs would be interested in keeping him around for a while, though, Hoyer was a bit more cryptic.
- Hoyer does mention that the front office has liked Martin for a while now, but never really got the chance to acquire him – so they were excited to bring him into the fold. But as for the future, Hoyer says they’ll get to know Martin, who’s under contract for one more season after this one – see what he’s got left in the tank, and then make a decision. There was a time when Martin looked on his way to becoming a really valuable player, but the bat has completely disappeared to the point where it’s, eh hem, not quite startable anymore. For now, he’ll be the Cubs’ late-season ace-in-the-hole.
- In light of the recent Addison Russell setback, the Cubs did look to add a shortstop before the September 1 deadline, but Hoyer said that the market was thin, so nothing happened. Instead, they’re bringing up Mike Freeman from Triple-A – who was acquired at the beginning of August with this scenario specifically in mind. On Russell, by the way, Hoyer sounded a bit more nervous than I was hoping to hear. Maybe I was just projecting my own feelings, but, he twice mentioned how difficult of an injury plantar fasciitis is to get over and how naggingly long the rehab/waiting process can take.
- Despite all of that, Hoyer has been thrilled with the way Javy Baez has stepped up in Russell’s absence. Not only has he continued to make the highlight reel plays, as Hoyer puts it, he’s also really found a groove on the routine plays as well. On top of that, he’s happy that Baez is the team’s new energy leader, with Willson Contreras still on the DL himself. (There’s much more love for Javy from Jed in the interview, so be sure to check it out).
- Hoyer got into the Cubs’ interest/play for Justin Verlander, but Brett discussed those comments in a dedicated post yesterday. Be sure to check it out for those specifics, and the financial implications going forward.
- Hoyer reveals that the Cubs were indeed in attendance at Shohei Otani’s last start in Japan, but jokingly concedes that “we were in a very crowded scout section.” Although he says that he can’t quite comment on Otani too much, he did imply that he hopes the slugger/ace delays his travel to the states until next offseason, when the Cubs would be eligible to sign him for more than $300,000. (The latest on that front isn’t so good.)
- The Cubs were caught off guard by the Brewers animosity over the game-time change next Friday.
- Hoyer has been supremely impressed by Alex Avila and Rene Rivera since coming over to the Cubs. Given how difficult the job of a catcher is already, the idea of immediately succeeding in that role with a new team is hard to undersell. They’ve both been fantastic and, frankly, necessary in the absence of Willson Contreras.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.