MLBits: "Disciplined" Non-Spending, War Chest Building, Contract Questions, and More

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MLBits: “Disciplined” Non-Spending, War Chest Building, Contract Questions, and More

Chicago Cubs

I never fully considered the difference between -20 degrees and 10 degrees, because the latter is still really freakin’ cold, but it was shockingly noticeable when I went outside this morning. And when you think about that same difference elsewhere on the temperature spectrum – say, 40 degrees to 70 degrees – it’s easier to appreciate the gap there.

And if you look ahead in the forecast this week, you’ll see an estimate of 50 degrees(!) on Monday – that’s a 70-degree temperature swing in the course of a few days. Yo.

Here’s some baseball stuff.

  • Our latest from the Lukewarm Stove has the Brewers still trying to land a starting pitcher via trade – Corey Kluber and Madison Bumgarner were both mentioned – though I suppose free agency can’t be entirely ruled out. Then again, the Brewers let their 2018 surprise, Wade Miley, walk away to the Astros for just $4.5M dollars. Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy suggested that the Brewers did show interest in returning Miley early on, but conceded that it “never got serious.” But you have to ask … why?
  • As Brett put it earlier, their rotation is fine, but would’ve looked a lot stronger with Miley back in it and it’s not like $4.5M is a king’s ransom … at all:

  • In a response to that tweet, McCalvy said that the Brewers “interest” might’ve been born mostly out of respect for a guy that helped carry them to Game 7 of the NLCS, but Brett’s rebuttal is a point well-made: “That would seem to say quite a bit about how they feel on his chances to repeat the re-emergent success of the second half of 2018.”
  • Indeed, I think Brett is right there (the second point), and I don’t actually think this is about money. We more or less know the Brewers are in on Kluber and Bumgarner, and those are guys slated to make 3-4x as much as Miley next season. Maybe they’d shave some dollars off in the trade, but they’re each likely to cost at least as much. Perhaps the Brewers simply don’t want to add another arm to the rotation unless it’s a guy like that, and perhaps they don’t believe Miley can repeat.
  • So far, I’ve talked about the weather and then narrated a Twitter exchange about a free agent starter who didn’t signed with the Cubs or even a team in their league. How’s it going?
  • Wanna see something crazy?

  • No, I’m not talking about the 39 teams that haven’t signed a free agent to a contract longer than 3 years (#math), but the use of the word “discipline” by Stark. As you can imagine, that was receive poorly by many, because what MLB teams/owners are doing is not really a matter of “discipline” when there are wins out there in free agency that can be easily acquired. I think we all know that if the only matter on the table were winning games, there wouldn’t be nearly as many free agents still available. I’m just going to assume it was a poor choice of words, though, because Stark’s a smart guy (he built that Iron Man suit, after all).
  • Joking aside, that “discipline” from teams is leading to (justifiable) headlines like this one from the Washington Post: What do you call a game in which half the participants aren’t trying to win? MLB. But I will say, you have to be a little careful about what you read out there. Because while the sentiment behind that article is fair, it includes this extremely … misleading(?) line: “And it’s not just that the Baltimore Orioles and the Cincinnati Reds haven’t signed a single major league free agent …” The Reds are about the only team in baseball trying to win this offseason; they’ve just done it with trades.
  • But, really, don’t take this stuff for granted. At The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal delivers a thoughtful but terrifying address on the state of labor tensions between players and the league. Among the most distressing? This: “Before each round of collective bargaining, the players empower their union … to withhold a portion of the annual money … for a possible strike fund. The amounts generally rise as the end of a labor agreement draws near, but the players already have taken the unusual step of authorizing the union to withhold their entire checks, reflecting their increased urgency.” That is very not good and far from the only warning sign.
  • Heck, the league and the players union are even disagreeing about disagreeing. MLB is claiming that the union has been unwilling to discuss changes to the game proposed in the middle of January and the Union is claiming they had a meeting scheduled for THIS WEEK. The storm is brewing, amigos. If something doesn’t change dramatically, there will be a strike when the next CBA is up for grabs after the 2021 season, and given that money-saving is already going on, it could be a long one. There is SO MUCH more good information in Rosenthal’s piece, I strongly suggest you read it.
  • David Schoenfield ranked the worst existing contracts on each team right now, and Jason Heyward’s remaining 5 years and $118.5M unsurprisingly makes the cut. HOWEVA, he’s not in the bottom five league-wide! That feels like a win. Chris Davis, Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Eric Hosmer, and Johnny Cueto all rank out ahead of him thanks to what they have left on their deals and what they’re likely to offer on the field in the future.
  • The Pirates have the best worst contract with five years and $52.3M committed to Gregory Polanco. But as with Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin’s appearance on the list, sometimes the contracts have obvious upside. Dexter Fowler is the Cardinals pick, by the way. Fun article. And also, yes, we see the irony in looking at “bad” contracts alongside disputes about team spending. There is a balance.
  • I has the jokes:

  • Anthony Rizzo has a Pokemon doppleganger – I hope he brings back the curls this year:

Author: Michael Cerami

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