Even as the Cubs’ self-imposed financial limitations have slowly and painfully (but also understandably) begun to reveal themselves this winter, I’ve been able to remain fully locked-in and interested to the goings-on around the league. And, heck, with the Cubs seemingly involved – at some level – with a couple notable free agents (Nick Castellanos and maybe the newest member of the Cincinnati Reds, Shogo Akiyama?) and trades (Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, Jose Quintana?) there has been plenty to keep our interest.
- … If I have to see one more version of this exact Tweet one more time, I’m going to pry these eyes right out of my head:
Source: #Braves unlikely to aggressively pursue a Nolan Arenado trade with the #Rockies while Josh Donaldson remains available in free agency. If Donaldson signs elsewhere, Arenado-to-Atlanta becomes more plausible. @MLBNetwork @MLB
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 29, 2019
- Braves-Donaldson-Rangers-Arenado-Bryant-Cubs-Dodgers-Grievance-Nationals-Andujar… it’s all a word salad with no meaning (or potentially a ton of meaning, just not yet). I’m weary. That’s not to say Morosi’s point isn’t correct – I’m sure it is – but my god.
- *plucks eyes out*
Rangers could be in play for a righthanded-hitting OF, including stars Nick Castellanos and Marcell Ozuna. They’ve been linked to superstar 3B Nolan Arenado and Josh Donaldson but chances there aren’t necessarily great.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 29, 2019
- Buster Olney’s sources tell him Arenado is staying put, for what it’s worth, which would be our extreme guess, as well.
- Eye-plucking stuff aside, it’s notable to learn that Texas is still in on Castellanos, because the Cubs are still technically in that hunt, themselves (and I do believe that). The problem, however, is that we’re still a grievance resolution and probably two major (and extremely difficult to pull off) trades away from ever making that happen. So for now, just file that away, I guess, and hope Marcell Ozuna is the next outfielder to go to a team that needs one. Speaking of which, Corey Dickerson just signed with the Marlins, and Shogo Akiyama possibly just signed with the Reds. Both teams were clearly interested in free agent outfielders (albeit at different financial levels) and have gotten their guys.
- MLB Trade Rumors has a really interesting and informative little project underway, identifying how teams in the National League and American League have gone about addressing their weakest positions from last season this winter. For example, the Cubs took their weakest position in 2019 (second base, 0.0 bWAR) and … non-tendered Addison Russell, while watching Ben Zobrist leave in free agency. Position solved!
- I didn’t bring this up just to diss the Cubs with an arguably cheap and unfair criticism. Indeed, they’re not alone in not addressing their biggest weaknesses from 2019. As a matter of fact a lot teams have huge holes remaining and it’s interesting to look at them given the potential for a trade-heavy month of January. In the AL, the Angels, Rangers, Tigers, and Rays still need a catcher, while the Blue Jays need a right fielder. In the National League, the Braves and Padres also need a catcher (the former also needs a 3B and the latter an OF). Without naming names, I think it’s fairly easy to see the wormhole of potential Cubs connections and fits throughout the league. November and December may have been boring from a Cubs transactional perspective, but January could be nuts – especially with the free agent alternatives falling away.
- According to Bruce Levine, the Chicago White Sox are now turning their attention to the bullpen, in hopes of completing what was a very good on-paper offseason. I don’t think every move they made was perfect, but the Sox clearly pushed their chips in on this core and it’s good to see a team try like that. It must be a fun time to be a White Sox fan.
- Speaking of the bullpen, I’d bring this guy back on a Minor League or split-league deal in a heart-beat. And frankly, it’s not even a question.
I genuinely don't know how much he actually has left in the tank, but if the 2020 Cubs will need anything next season, it'll probably be a presence like Pedro Strop in the clubhouse.
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) December 30, 2019
- The Cubs bullpen outlook is pretty bleak even if you think Craig Kimbrel is returning to form, as there’s basically only three locks at the moment (Kimbrel, Rowan Wick, and Kyle Ryan), and it’s not like any of those guys are “sure things.” Now, could a bullpen fronted by Kimbrel, Wick, Ryan, Brad Wieck, and Duane Underwood/Dillon Maples surprise with some upside? Sure! They are all very talented! Could Brandon Morrow finally be healthy enough to contribute? I suppose! Am I willing to bet on any of that enough to think that a Minor League deal for Pedro Strop is some how a bad idea? Are you out of your mind? Bring him back. The Cubs need all the help they can get and if he’s not on a guaranteed big league deal, there’s just nothing to consider.