Jed Hoyer Speaks: Free Agent Signings Clarifies Trade Market, Christmas Cut-Off, Akiyama, More

With the Winter Meetings at a wrap and the Chicago Cubs headed back home with a new pitcher in tow, team GM Jed Hoyer offered up some final thoughts before hitting the road.

You can read Hoyer’s comments here, here, here, and here, among other places. Some of his remarks and my thoughts …

  • “As the free agents go off the market,’’ Hoyer said, “it clarifies things for us and other teams. I think we have a sense at this point of which teams are interested in our players. I don’t think that a team that hasn’t checked in with us and expressed interest will suddenly come out of the woodwork. I think we have clarity who could be involved, but we don’t know which teams will be eliminated from that based on free agency.’’
  • In other words, yes, having big-time free agents sign – and having teams miss out on those free agents – clarifies the market for Cubs trade talks (although everyone right now is focused on Kris Bryant, that probably also is applicable to Willson Contreras – the catching free agent market simply moved earlier).
  • “There are going to be teams that don’t improve the team as they hoped,” Hoyer said of spending so far in free agency around the game. “There weren’t enough high-quality free agents to go around. Some of the bidding wars on some of these players would indicate there’s more than one team that’s looking to upgrade in those areas. It would be logical. But this has been a very good and deep free-agent class. That, more than anything else, is why we’ve seen this kind of activity.”
  • Hoyer suggested that he expects there will still be heavy free agent activity in the coming days, and pointed to Christmas as historically being a cut-off for a lot of free agents – i.e., they wanted to be signed by Christmas and be done with it. That rough deadline also made sense for teams, who then can turn to arbitration preparations in early January with a better sense of their payroll.
  • Of course, that usual timeline has been completely thrown on its head the last couple years, so we’ll see if we’re actually in for a very busy two weeks, or if things will push well into January and February.
  • If the meat of free agency is resolved by Christmas, though, Hoyer pointed out that historically, January was really big for trades. Maybe some wishful thinking, knowing that the Kris Bryant service time grievance won’t be resolved until right around the flip of the calendar? Couldn’t say – that’s just me wondering out loud.
  • Although Hoyer confirmed that the Cubs did meet with Shogo Akiyama, he didn’t say much beyond that: “[A] lot of teams were involved. Obviously, he’s a very good player and he’s going to have a good role on a Major League team this year. But I can’t comment beyond that.”
  • Hoyer indicated that, yeah, the Cubs are going to be looking to pick up some starting pitching depth (presumably in the lower-tier of free agency), but nothing is particularly close on that front. I’ll wring my hands about some other things, but not that. The market is so loaded with decent-upside, low-tier, cheap-but-risky free agent pitching options, that’s exactly where the Cubs should wait things out while they work on trades.
  • Some thoughts on the bullpen and the Rule 5 Draft, and on Trevor Megill, specifically:
  • written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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