Stroman and Gausman as Free Agent Options, Rays Beat Astros, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Stroman and Gausman as Free Agent Options, Rays Beat Astros, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I’m re-watching ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ in advance of watching the new one that just came out (‘The Haunting of Bly Manor’), and I just can’t underscore enough how well made that show was. Take out all the scares if you want, and you watch an episode like the one in the storm at the funeral home … it’s just so freaking well done. All the one-shots in that episode are what really hooked me on the show the first time around – I didn’t even realize that’s what they were doing the first time I watched it, but I could tell something about that episode was just so captivating. I can’t speak to the new season yet, but the first season remains a big fat recommend.

•   The ALCS got underway last night, and everyone’s new favorite American League team, the Tampa Bay Rays, held on for the 2-1 win thanks to Blake Snell and that Rays bullpen.

•   Game Two is at 3pm CT today, with Lance McCullers facing Charlie Morton. After that, the NLCS gets underway, with Walker Buehler and the Dodgers facing Max Fried and the Braves at 7pm CT.

•   We know that Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish are locked into the Cubs’ rotation in 2021, and we also know that Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills have put themselves into a position to be in the rotation next year. We also know that this front office has never started a competitive season with any fewer than six starting pitchers in tow, with the back-end guys typically being of the Mills/Alzolay level (i.e., might be a good starter, might be OK as a swing guy for a bit, let’s see how things shake out in Spring Training). To be sure, the Cubs do have some upper-level starting pitching prospects you might want to see have a chance to compete for innings (Tyson Miller, Cory Abbott, Justin Steele, for example), but without a minor league season last year, it’s really hard to say that these are guys who can be ready in March/April of next year, rather than needing more competitive innings at AAA.

•   That is all to say, I’m mentally entering this offseason expecting that the Cubs are going to try to pick up at least two starting pitchers from outside the organization. Theo Epstein has conceded that some external additions will be necessary. That doesn’t mean the Cubs will be wading into the deepest part of the free agent pool, mind you, and they might have to get creative to bring on an out-of-options guy here or a non-tender there. A modest reunion with Jon Lester is also possible.

•   But one maybe-a-little-pricey external option I do expect to come up in connection with the Cubs is free agent Kevin Gausman, given the organization’s frequent past interest. The 29-year-old righty was perpetually a “whoa, super talented, but why aren’t the results there” guy for the Orioles, and then he bounced to the Braves, Reds, and Giants, before finally putting together a breakout-type season in San Francisco … albeit in the shortened 2020 season. Did that price him out of the Cubs’ range? Like, did they always see the breakout coming and they were trying to get ahead of it, and now that it’s come, he’ll be more than they’re willing to pay? Because of these questions, this MLBTR headline stood out to me:

•   It says a lot that Gausman is now showing up in conversation with Marcus Stroman as the next best starting options in free agency behind Trevor Bauer (it says a lot about Gausman, about Stroman, and about the super weak starting pitching market). Stroman, who’ll pitch next year at age 30 like Gausman, suffered a calf injury before the 2020 season started, and by the time he’d recovered, he elected to opt out of the pandemic season. None of that will help him in the market as much as a solid 2020 season would have, but he was coming off the best season of his career in 2019, when he bounced back in a big way from a down 2018. I’ve gotta believe the market for Stroman will be more robust than Gausman, but you’re taking some risks either way if you sign either guy to a “one of the top starters available” type contract. Does either guy get a qualifying offer ($18.9 million), thus making him even more expensive to sign? I can tell you with certainty that the Cubs will be out on either guy if they get one.

•   A couple things here – the Cardinals traded Arozarena, and also Schwarber of yore:

•   OK, if you say this is real and possible:

•   Projectors, tools, and clothes are among your Deals of the Day at Amazon. #ad

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.