Jed Hoyer Speaks: Acquiring Kintzler, Deals in August, Keeping the Core Together, More

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Jed Hoyer Speaks: Acquiring Kintzler, Deals in August, Keeping the Core Together, More

Chicago Cubs

The 2018 MLB Trade Deadline has come and gone, and, in my humble opinion, the Chicago Cubs did quite well for themselves (I know, I know … I’m a Cubs shill who does nothing but praise everything the front office does (I like being good … sue me!)).

Together, the Cubs added a starting pitcher in Cole Hamels, a swing-man (who’s already thrown 8.0 scoreless innings) in Jesse Chavez, and a traditional one-inning reliever in Brandon Kintzler. Put another way, they added pitching, pitching, and more pitching and for relatively cheap. None of the moves were particularly splashy, but each has its place and a chance to stabilize an unstable staff.

Put simply, the Cubs got what they wanted to get:

Addressing all of this and more is Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer. Let’s see what he was thinking now that we’re on the other side of the deadline.

  • Like I said, the Cubs didn’t make a particularly splashy move at the deadline, but that’s at least in part because they didn’t/don’t have the prospect currency to get such a deal done. Which means that if they did want to get in on the Jacob deGroms or Chris Archers of the world, they’d have to include parts of their big league roster, and that was not something they wanted to do. According to Hoyer, the Cubs were “never close” to breaking up their core position players in any trade and added that they were very targeted in whom they went after.
  • Relatedly, Hoyer mentioned that the Cubs had their “full concentration” on pitching this deadline, not position players, which probably seems obvious, until you remember how persistent the Manny Machado rumors were early in the year.
  • But back to the point: I do tend to think that the Cubs probably could’ve been persuaded to peel away someone from the big league roster in some alternate universe, but with Kris Bryant out right now, the importance of someone like, say, Ian Happ is a little amplified. Moreover, moving someone like Happ or Albert Almora would require 1) some serious, immediate confidence in David Bote and 2) giving up some upside, even for the purposes of a future trade, in Almora/Happ/Addison Russell etc. Those guys are all coming into their own right now, and while there’s always a risk for regression, there’s also growth to come.
  • With respect to Brandon Kintzler, Hoyer suggested that the Cubs were actually very “targeted” in their pursuits this season. As we’ve discussed, the Cubs liked Kintzler when he was a free agent over the winter, and, according to Hoyer, that fondness never went away. Now they’ve got their man. It’s like a Nicholas Sparks novel.
  • As for what they like about Kintzler, specifically, Hoyer mentioned that his strike-throwing/groundball tendencies and his ability to pitch late in ball games was the big draw. We’ll get into all of this in a much deeper post later on, but suffice it to say, Kintzler doesn’t walk many guys, gets plenty of grounders, and induces a ton of weak contact. If you know anything about this front office, and how they’ve tried to balance out this bullpen over the past year and a half, you know that has their name written all over it.
  • After identifying Kintzler’s groundball tendencies as something to like, Hoyer said “now it comes down to how we play,” which stuck out to me in a potentially unintended way. One of the reasons the Cubs have been targeting so many groundball pitchers over the last few years is not just because fly balls, in this era, are bad (they are, but that’s a separate thing). Instead, it’s because the Cubs infield defense is routinely one of the best in the business. Indeed, according to FanGraphs leaderboards, the Cubs defense is 4th by Defensive Runs Saved, first in rARM, third in UZR, and 5th in DEF. The Nationals, by contrast are 23rd, 22nd, 19th, and 19th, respectively. That’s a huge difference. Let the grounders come, baby.
  • And finally, as for their moves going forward – you didn’t forget about the potential for waiver deals in August, did you? – Jed Hoyer suggests the Cubs might still be active. The rub, however, is that they’re last in the NL in claiming order, which puts them at a huge disadvantage. In all likelihood, the Brewers would block almost any move, unless the player was particularly expensive (a la Cole Hamels a couple years ago), or a very minor piece.

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami