MLB.com writer Jon Morosi jumped on 670 The Score to talk Cubs and White Sox, and although there wasn’t anything particularly earth-shattering, there were a couple outstanding items (which we’ve been assuming) re-confirmed for us, which is always helpful. For one, Morosi still believes there’s a “low likelihood” that Kris Bryant wins his grievance this offseason. And for another, he doesn’t actually think the arbitrator’s ruling delay – while annoying – has particularly impacted the Cubs offseason decision-making just yet (Oh?).
Here’s the quote: “I’m sure the Cubs have to be frustrated by the fact that there hasn’t been a resolution, but I really think that because [Josh] Donaldson is not yet signed, it has not really, manifestly changed their offseason planning – at least, as of yet.”
- While that’s somewhat heartening to hear on the surface … though I’m not sure I really believe it? For one thing, I don’t think, grievance aside, that the Cubs absolutely, positively would not have traded Bryant until now, solely because Donaldson is still out there. Similarly, I think it’s not entirely fair to assume Donaldson’s market definitely hasn’t been somewhat interrupted or impacted by Bryant’s lingering, but immobile availability. Furthermore, I think Shogo Akiyama (or some other, cheaper free agent) might well have been in the Cubs’ plans if the grievance was already decided back in, say, early December. Because, in that case, I think both the Bryant and Donaldson decisions could’ve been already resolved (in whichever order you pick) before that free agent signed.
- And then there’s this question: Do we even want that to be true? Up until now, the Cubs lack of action could at least be explained by the grievance. Their hands are tied! What do you want them to do!? We can argue whether or not that’s true and how much slack you get for a clearly self-inflicted wound, but at least it’s an explanation. However, if this is the offseason they’d be having anyway … I mean … what’s the excuse? What’s the explanation? Because in that case, the Cubs have simply been sitting on their hands at a critical time. Is that … better? Just get that grievance settled already. Yeesh.
- Moving on to the soon-to-be-available, 21-year-old left-handed Cuban pitcher who can throw 95 MPH and also deliver a .302/.350/.516 slash line in Japan. Yeah, I know … WANT:
Outfielder/pitcher Oscar Colás, one of the best prospects to emerge from Cuba in years, has defected and will seek a deal with a major league team, sources familiar with his plans tell ESPN. Colás, 21, played in Japan last year and hit .302/.350/.516. He’s a LHP up to 95, too.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 3, 2020
- But …
One scout who has seen Colás believes he’s going to stick at outfield, while another says his arm is good enough for him to play a two-way role. Either way, Colás, whose leaving Cuba was first reported by @FrancysRomero, is expected to garner significant interest across baseball.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 3, 2020
- So what’s the issue? Well, as Bryan noted:
Don’t expect Cubs to be a player.
They spent their bonus pool this cycle on a trio of names: Quintero, Made, Amaya.
And if Colas waits until July, Cubs are considered favorites to sign top amateur free agent Cristian Hernandez for the majority of their bonus pool allocation. https://t.co/CQmtmAbMx4
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) January 3, 2020
- Basically, the Cubs have already spent this period’s pool and, although they won’t be in IFA purgatory next period or anything like that, they’re already considered favorites to sign top amateur free agent Cristian Hernandez. And for those who don’t know, these sort of “favored” deals tend to be already done in all but an official capacity (that’s how it works). Since IFA bonus pools are hard-capped, it doesn’t matter how much you might otherwise want to offer Colás – once you’re out of money in your pool, that’s it. You can trade for some more funds, but it almost certainly wouldn’t be enough for the Cubs to get him after their other signings.
- Before you get bent out of shape, note this of Hernandez (the guy the Cubs are expected to sign) from Baseball America back in August: “If there’s an international draft in 2020, Hernandez would be a strong candidate to be the No. 1 overall pick. If not, the Cubs are expected to sign Hernandez, a 15-year-old who trains in the Mejia Top 10 program, for a bonus of more than $3 million.” Read a little more about the big power, plus-running, 15-year-old expected to stick at shortstop long-term, and you won’t feel so bad for missing out on Colás. I mean, good Lord, this is him hitting with wood bats at age 14:
- There goes the best reliever you rarely hear about, Will Harris, with a pretty significant deal from the Nationals:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 3, 2020
- Given Harris’ age and that large commitment, you know the Nationals are all the way in on trying to repeat in the 2020 season … now they just need a third baseman, right?
- The Cubs bullpen remains in pure flux, but the free agent market has been whittled down quite a bit. According to MLBTR, Daniel Hudson, 32, is the best remaining reliever and has gotten multiple multi-year offers, but hasn’t found one he likes just yet. Overall, Hudson had a 2.47 ERA over 73.0 IP last season, but was even better after being traded to the Nationals (1.44 ERA over 25.0 IP). Hudson throws hard (96 MPH) and is incredibly split-neutral both for his career and last season, which is more important than ever given the 3-batter minimum. I’d like the Cubs to sign him. But, well. You know.
- Among the many other still interesting (for the Cubs) guys out there in FA: Nick Castellanos, Steve Cishek, Alex Wood, Taijuan Walker, Brock Holt, Joe Panik.
- Circling back to Jon Morosi, who reports that the Indians have requested Gavin Lux in exchange for Francisco Lindor, while the Dodgers have refused to include Lux in any deal for Lindor *alone.* Before I move onto the next part of this rumor, let me just point out that if Lindor can’t get Lux, there’s no shot Bryant could, in case you were already going there mentally.
- In any case, that stalemate has turned the Dodgers attention to Mookie Betts, according to Morosi: “The Dodgers’ conversations with the Red Sox are said to be more dynamic than the Dodgers-Indians talks, because Boston appears less insistent on Lux. Also, there exists a very real possibility that a Dodgers-Red Sox deal would include multiple players heading to Los Angeles.” Well, first of all, duh. Mookie Betts on a one-year, $27M (ish) deal does not carry as much value as two cheaper years of control over Lindor. So “insisting” on Lux would be quite silly. As for the “multiple players” part, that seems to be about David Price, as the Dodgers are looking for someone to replace the starts they lost with the exits of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill, and the Red Sox are anxious to deal Price to clear salary. [Brett: Feel free to insert your own musings about a Bryant-Quintana package down in the comments, but note that nothing like that has come up in credible rumors.]
- Moreover, given earlier rumors around Indians starter Mike Clevinger, you could see how the Dodgers are trying to kill two birds with one stone. Could the Cubs package a starter with Bryant to get Lux? Maybe. But that would make things look especially bleak in 2020, even if Lux is expected to contribute sooner than later. [Brett: Oh, hey, Michael just did it. I should have read further. I just think the Dodgers flat out aren’t trading Lux in a Bryant/Quintana type deal, so it’s not really worth putting too much mental energy into it.]
- Fun to dream on a young guy coming out of nowhere as an indy ball signing and becoming a legit prospect:
Max exit velo per Hittrax – 109.3
2019 Slash: .431/.502/.785
OPS: 1.287(led all pro hitters(all levels) in BA,SLG% & OPS per baseball reference.)
Seeking Affiliated Opportunities https://t.co/KilleYD44M@FlatgroundApp @FlatgroundBats pic.twitter.com/hsvlEpTZUz
— Sherman Graves (@shermangraves35) January 3, 2020