Important service note: ‘The Last Jedi’ comes out today, and some of you will see. Others of you will see it tomorrow or over the rest of the weekend. For the health and safety of those who cannot see it until next week or later, if you could please refrain from posting spoilers in the comments until, say, next Friday? Is that a fair length of time?
- The Cubs, the MLBPA, and Tyler Chatwood agreed to a contract change to the escalator provision that gave the BBWAA problems (Sun-Times). The previous provision would have boosted the 2020 salary on his three-year, $38 million contract by $2 million if he received even a single Cy Young vote in 2018 or 2019 (or $4 million if both). I don’t yet have the details on what the new escalator provisions are, but you can presume they will be somewhat similar.
- By the way, Chatwood’s contract is STILL the largest one signed so far this offseason. It is MID-DECEMBER, and THE END OF THE WINTER MEETINGS. To say it has been a slow offseason is extremely understating things at this point. The latest rumor mill update is here.
- The Rule 5 Draft got away from me this morning because the Steve Cishek signing broke *as* the first pick was made, and – with apologies – I opted to focus my attention on Cishek first. Speaking of which, your full getting-to-know Cishek post is right here. As for the Rule 5, the Cubs did not select anyone today, but did lose relief prospect Pedro Araujo in the big league phase to the Orioles, and lost infielder Andrew Ely to the Mets, lefty Chris Nunn to the Astros, and catcher Albert Mineo to the Blue Jays in the minor league phase. Although the Cubs could get Araujo back if he doesn’t stick on the O’s big league roster for 2018, they don’t get the other three back.
- The Cubs did net $172,000 today for the four selections, so, hey, they can add that to the war chest. And thankfully, an upside guy like Trevor Clifton was not poached.
- If you missed it last night, Mike Montgomery spoke about his role next year with the Cubs, and confirmed that, although he will not demand a trade, he is very serious about wanting a chance to start.
- Speaking of Montgomery’s role, I found this very interesting:
Mike Montgomery once explained to me that his walk rate was higher as a reliever because he didn’t care once he got to two or three balls. “Just give me the next guy and we’ll get out of this inning fine.” Usually walk rates improve with move to pen.
— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) December 13, 2017
- You could see that with Montgomery, a guy who needs to be efficient early in the game as a starter if he’s going to go deep, since he lacks elite command in the first place (but has great stuff). Because of that great stuff, he probably trusts himself more to nibble and try to force batters to get themselves out on his pitches when he’s not going to be throwing more than 20 to 40 pitches. And, if you don’t allow yourself to give in to batters when you’re in a two or three-ball count by grooving one (since you’re not great at hitting the corners in the first place), then you will definitely limit your hard contact rate and increase your soft contact rate, even if it comes at the expense of more walks. I have mixed feelings on whether that’s the *right* reliever philosophy, but I can see the angle.
- In 2017, Montgomery wound up posting a 3.38 ERA and 4.07 FIP over 130.2 innings – 4.15 ERA and 3.94 FIP in 69.1 innings as a starter, 2.49 ERA and 4.22 FIP in 61.1 innings as a reliever. Of note, his hard contact rate was higher as a starter (30.7% versus 29.7%) and his soft contact rate was MUCH higher as a reliever (25.6% versus 16.6%). And, of course, his walk rate was MUCH higher as a reliever (13.4% versus 7.3%).
- Buster Olney drops the MLB-will-investigate-Ohtani-stuff news, but not quite the one you might have expected:
Sources: Major League Baseball will investigate whether club officials leaked Shohei Ohtani’s medical information for stories published earlier this week.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 14, 2017
- Injury news is not really “public” information, it’s just that teams make it public by virtue of the nature of their business. In Ohtani’s case, the elbow report didn’t really have to become public until/unless it affected his availability or the team chose to answer questions about it. So it makes sense that MLB would investigate whether another team was out the spilling the beans to hurt Ohtani and/or the Angels.
- Speaking of ‘Star Wars’ today:
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) December 14, 2017
I absolutely love stuff like this. Why you couldn't actually chop someone's hand off with a lightsaber. (Hint: they'd explode. And you would melt.) https://t.co/TOZQD0Dzbn
— Brett Taylor (@Brett_A_Taylor) December 14, 2017
- Early mock drafting over at The Ten-Yard Line, and I’m loving the idea of the Bears landing an elite wide receiver in the first round.
- Amazon’s 12 days of deals feature today is for hobbyists, and they’ve also got a deal on those mini instant cameras, which are always fun.
- Heads up to a big sale on Cubs memorabilia at our partner SportsMemorabilia.com, including, for one example, a steal on an Anthony Rizzo-signed World Series ball:
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 14, 2017