The list of talented free agents still theoretically available to the Chicago Cubs has prevented any sense of finality to this mind-numbing offseason. I find it difficult to turn the page or come to any conclusions, not knowing how or if things will end.
For example, can we truthfully say the Cubs left the offseason without ever getting that veteran backup catcher (we believe) they wanted? I mean, we’re half-way through the first week of spring GAMES and on the doorstep of March … so by the calendar, yeah. They did. But at the same time, it could easily still happen, perhaps even with their budget restrictions.
Then again, they keep dropping off the board …
- … And it doesn’t get much cheaper than this: The Cardinals have signed veteran catcher Matt Wieters to a MINOR LEAGUE contract. Sure, Wieters isn’t a top-tier pitch framer (but he’s improved) and isn’t now what he once was offensively, but he’s still a Major League catcher, in my mind, being forced to settle for a Minor League contract at a relatively young age (32). It’s just surprising. And it’s also telling for the Cubs: if Wieters has to settle for a Minor League deal, other, lesser veteran catchers, who might better fit the Cubs needs, will simply not get more affordable than they are right now. So if they were going to get somebody … wouldn’t it already be done?
Mike Shildt confirmed that the #STLCards are bringing Matt Wieters in to compete for the backup catching job. Wieters is expected to arrive in camp later today.
— Jenifer Langosch (@LangoschMLB) February 27, 2019
- Keeping a top prospect down on the farm until the exact day they lose enough potential service time to secure their organization an additional year of team control is not cheating. In fact, if we’re being real, it’s basically encouraged by the CBA. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a certain grossness to it. The Players Association was way behind the times when they negotiated, well, probably, each of the last two CBAs, and a lack of foresight on the growing importance of young players led them to fail to address the continued issue of service time manipulation. This is obviously something that needs to change ahead of the next CBA, and, unfortunately, Kris Bryant and the Cubs’ name are going to be dragged through the headlines plenty of times before that happens.
- But you know what’s clouding the picture and making things look worse for GMs than just the truth (which is that they’re just playing by the rules provided)? When they go out there and spout nonsense about needing a couple more weeks to be a more well-rounded player:
- Guerrero might be just 19 years old, but he slashed .402/.449/.671 (203 wRC+) in his first trip to Double-A last season and then .336/.414/.564 (175 wRC+) in his first trip to Triple-A – all while being one of (if not) the youngest players in the league. I mean, no, he’s ready for another challenge. There is no developmental reason for him to stay down there, so just stop insulting our intelligence, and say “we’re just playing by the rules of our game.” Because that’s what it is.
- The Reds’ top prospect, Nick Senzel, is going through a similar thing. But according to The Athletic: “Both [Manager David] Bell and Dick Williams, the Reds’ president of baseball operations, have said repeatedly this spring that if Senzel gives the team its best shot at winning on March 28, he’ll be in Cincinnati.” We’ll see if they actually follow through on that promise, or just do what they’re definitely going to do anyway.
- I mean, do you not want to see an inside-the-park home run?
- Yesterday, the Colorado Rockies announced a massive 8-year/$260M extension for Nolan Arenado that’ll instantly make him the highest paid player in baseball (on an annual basis). At MLB.com, Will Leitch took a closer look at this deal and tried to suss out the biggest impacts throughout the league. And although Bryce Harper’s current trip through free agency and Mike Trout’s future plans all factor into the picture, it’s actually Kris Bryant’s who’s the most impacted (just today, we learned that he is open to an extension, but the Cubs haven’t approached him yet this offseason), in Leitch’s view. Read more at MLB.com.
- Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez has been slowed by his persistent shoulder injury early this Spring, to the extent that his immediate future as a starter has been put in question. But if you ask Martinez, there is no question: “I’m going to start, man,” Martinez said to STLToday. If it’s not going to be him, it seems like prospect Dakota Hudson, the Cardinals 4th ranked prospect according to MLB Pipeline, could get the job out of Spring Training.
- Hey, look at that – the Chicago Cubs have the second best odds in the NL to return to the playoffs in 2019:
MLB odds to make the National League playoffs:
— OddsShark (@OddsShark) February 27, 2019
- Also, just look at the Dodgers. That’s just … LOL. Who’s even taking that bet, now?
- Jimmy Nelson’s forearm discomfort, which paused his progress this Spring, lingers, but he doesn’t sound particularly concerned for the long-term: “It’s totally unrelated to my shoulder. That’s good,” said Nelson to MLB.com. “The shoulder’s good and strong. It’s just a freak thing.” He continued: “I know, once I get out there on the mound and get into a routine, everything will be nice. I know some people are freaking out, but this is definitely nothing to worry about.” I don’t know anything about his medicals, but if a guy misses a whole season because of a shoulder injury and then has a forearm injury the next Spring … you should probably worry a little.
- Images of Chris Coghlan come to mind:
No time? No problem pic.twitter.com/FjYb4YZ9sQ
— Baseball is Fun (@flippingbats) February 26, 2019
- And finally, we’ll have more details in a bigger post later, but you can now sign up for a seven day FREE trial for ESPN+ (it’s just $4.99/month after that, though you obviously don’t have to commit), to get access to some streaming games this Spring and season, a variety of other sports, ESPN Insider (which includes the Keith Law stuff), all the 30-for-30s, and a lot more while supporting Bleacher Nation in the process. Just click here and do a free trial. Daddy’s gotta eat.