MLBits: Bauer's Character, Lester, Scherzer, Price, and DeGrom All Make Good Points, More

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MLBits: Bauer’s Character, Lester, Scherzer, Price, and DeGrom All Make Good Points, More

Chicago Cubs

We’ll likely get into some more detailed Tyler Chatwood stuff later today/this weekend, but I thought it was nice to see that he had been training with Jesse Chavez over the winter. But my smile faded as I was reminded that the Cubs didn’t re-sign Chavez this winter (and probably because of budgetary restraints).

It doesn’t hurt as much now (with Brad Brach, Tonny Barnette, and Xavier Cedeño, among others, hanging around) as it did early on, but Chavez was just so uniquely good in his 39.0 innings (1.15 ERA, 2.39 FIP, variety of roles) in Chicago last year, it’ll be tough to get over. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually think he’ll be that good over the course of the 2019 season, but when your only experience with a player is elite-elite, it’s tough to envision him as anything else. Maybe that’s a good thing to remember about Chatwood, only in reverse.

Here’s some news from around the league.

  • Trevor Bauer won his arbitration case against the Indians, but, as it is Bauer, the hearing did not come without drama:

  • Good for a player to win an arbitration hearing and all that, but I tend to doubt Bauer is offering the full context of what happened, or acknowledging that his public behavior has an impact on the organization that pays his salary. Recall, this was just a month ago:

  • Bauer isn’t blaming the Indians, by the way:

  • Right alongside rising tensions on the free agent market, we’ve seen an increase in the confidence of teams explaining that it’s just a business and a player’s only worth what their internal metrics say he’s worth. So now, ESPN is wondering if players should begin taking a similarly hard-line stance, just in their own way: “If a reliever throws on a Monday, for example, and is sore on a Tuesday – and his spin rate and performance are perhaps compromised – maybe he should simply say he can’t pitch. Or perhaps a starting pitcher worn down late in the season shouldn’t try to push through, sometimes with the help of painkillers; rather, he should just sit out until he feels better, especially in the first years of his career, when his salary is limited by the rules of the collectively bargained system.”
  • Obviously (hopefully), you can see why that would irk people – but that’s really not an unfair reaction, given the way teams have behaved lately. And if it’s really just a business, well, two can play at the game. Relatedly, Jacob DeGrom and his agent are apparently telling the Mets that any talks about a contract extension need to be resolved “one way or another” by Opening Day.
  • But does he think it’ll work?

  • Jon Lester’s not digging the free agent market breakdown: “It’s a weird time that we’re in. It’s kind of a sad time we’re in. We have two of the greatest superstars in the game, faces of baseball, that don’t have teams right now.”
  • David Price decided not to opt-out of his deal with the Red Sox, and it was an easy decision for him: “You’ve seen this free agent market? It wasn’t very hard.” I’m pro-player and he’s right about the market, but … well, come on, David. Did you really think you were EVER going to beat the 4 year/$127M you have left with the Red Sox at age 33 after a 2.7 fWAR season, which itself followed just 74.2 innings in 2017? I know you had a great postseason run, but yeah, this was not entirely about the market.
  • Max Scherzer, on the other hand, makes a really great point about how the sell-off, rebuild, build-up, compete, repeat cycle inherently creates bandwagon fans, which can do a disservice to the sport in the longterm. I never thought about it that way, but that’s a really interesting idea. He’s probably right.
  • Over at The Athletic, Jayson Stark has an excellent 2019 preview with ride-ranging topics. One of the most interesting bits includes the NL results of his “most improved” balloting. I’m a little surprised to see the Mets (24 votes) lead over the Phillies (22), though I’m sure that’ll change when Bryce Harper/Manny Machado sign. But I am not amused at the Reds (12) placing third and the Cardinals (10) placing fifth – even if I agree with both.
  • There’s actually an entire Cubs section to Stark’s piece in The Athletic, including the revelation that the Cubs got the fourth most votes in the least improved category and got zero votes in the most improved category. LOL. Ya. Okay, I’m about ready for the season to start.
  • Jake Arrieta underwent knee surgery a couple weeks ago (meniscus injury suffered during a weight training session), but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Get well, Jake.
  • And finally, Matt Harvey discusses his continued attempt at a comeback (now with the Angels) and how this offseason played out for him. I still don’t know why the Reds didn’t trade him mid-season.

Brett Taylor contributed to this post.


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Author: Michael Cerami

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