Lukewarm Stove: Cubs-Red Sox Ties, Springer Wants Out of Houston, Miami’s Decision on Kintzler

Will the Cubs and Red Sox ever untwine their stories? First, they were the cursed franchises who couldn’t win. Then, Theo Epstein showed up, turned things around, won the World Series (well, more than one in Boston …), and watched things get a little ugly, before setting off for the next adventure.

Fast-forward a few years, and yes, the Red Sox are technically a bit ahead of the Cubs in their narrative arc. Post-Theo, they (1) hired Ben Cherington as general manager and (2) slotted Dave Dombrowski ahead of him as president of baseball operations, before finally (3) replacing Dombrowski with Tampa Bay nerd, and low-payroll specialist, Chaim Bloom (who, you may recall, traded away players like Mookie Betts and David Price in the face of luxury tax issues to begin a rebuild).

All of which makes his latest comments about the future of the franchise interesting for reasons other than what one of the biggest teams in MLB may be planning for their immediate future.

What’s Next for the Red Sox?

Here’s what Bloom had to say about Boston’s latest moved and what’s next via the Boston Globe:

“We always want to contend. We did this year. I don’t think that will ever change,” said Bloom. “[But] sometimes, those moves can come at the cost of getting to where we want to go in the future. When that happens, we need to prioritize sustainability. We need to prioritize championship contention and that goal of doing it for multiple years.”

“It can be painful at times,” said Bloom. “It sometimes means that you have to do things that are not gratifying in the moment. It sometimes means you have to believe in your convictions and your process even in the face of a lot of criticism.”

The article continues on about how the Red Sox are happy with the Betts trade, and how they aim to acquire players who’ll peak individually when the team peaks as a whole, while focusing on the bigger picture, etc. But I do want to swing this back around to the Cubs, because despite their obvious parallels there are a few HUGE differences.

For one, the Red Sox won the pennant in 2004, 2007, 2013, and 2018, winning the World Series all four times. The Cubs won the pennant in 2016, but came up short in 2015 and 2017, and won just one World Series overall. For another difference, while there are always talented up-and-comers in MLB that could be your next Theo Esptein, so-to-speak, some of the best/most obvious targets have either recently been scooped up or already have top gigs (Andrew Friedman, Chaim Bloom, Farhan Zaidi, and the former Cubs front office mate Scott Harris). Obviously, there are plenty of others out there, but Bloom/Zaidi/Harris, in particular, were on my radar for a while. Jed Hoyer could also take over, but that’s not exactly a fresh start, either. Also, it’s not a lock that the Cubs will add an up-and-coming guy underneath Hoyer should they have him take over next year.

And lastly, while the Cubs do have a number of one-year contracts they could theoretically trade this offseason, none of them are Mookie Betts and no one wants to pay big dollars in 2021 *or* give up young affordable talent at a time like this. So … yeah. The Cubs are in much worse shape than the Red Sox, maybe?

George Springer’s Free Agency

One of the top free agent bats of the winter, George Springer, may not want to return to the Houston Astros:

Springer, 31, has been one of the best hitters in baseball since his debut in 2014, slashing .270/.361/.491 (134 wRC+) overall, with a 156 wRC+ in 2019 and a 146 wRC+ in 2020. He’s dramatically reduced his strikeout rate over the years, he hits homers, he gets on base, and so on – all as a center fielder. If the Cubs were actually willing to do the “last dance” thing in 2020, I might hope they’d find a trade partner for Kyle Schwarber, move Ian Happ to left field, and sign Springer for center. Of course, that’s not going to happen, so I’d probably stop dreaming right now. (To say nothing of the cheating scandal, though obviously Springer continued to produce after it.)

To tie these all of these topics up together, Peter Gammons reported that the Red Sox do hope to re-sign center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. this offseason, but added that if Bradley leaves, they could look to target George Springer.

And for what it’s worth, Bradley, Jr., 30, was drafted by a Epstein-led Boston team in 2011, and just posted the second best offensive season of his career for the Red Sox (119 wRC+). But as a lefty outfielder, who strikes out a lot, and whose cost would probably offset whatever was saved by moving out an outfielder to make room for him … I wouldn’t say he’s an ideal fit for this Cubs team, absent some really significant shakeups.

Rays Impact on the Relief Market

We all know teams (from every sport) love to hold up the World Series winner as some sort of model to copy, because well … they won. Whatever they did, worked. It’s not actually ever as simple as that, but there is some truth to the cliche. But one “veteran agent,” quoted anonymously by Joel Sherman at The New York Post, is worried that the Rays could be the worst type of model at the worst time.

With one of the smallest markets in baseball, the Rays routinely have one of the smallest budgets. However, they found a way to win this season without it (they may not win the World Series, but they’ve clearly come pretty darn close). And this representative is worried that their success can provide EVEN MORE cover for owners to cut costs dramatically this offseason, particularly in the bullpen, where (1) the Rays have spent SIGNIFICANTLY less than everyone else, even relative to themselves, and considering that (2) relievers make up the largest portion of the free-agent market.

But it’s not just free agents who’ll feel the freeze. Sherman anticipates a huge volume of declined options and non-tenders (again, even relative to what we already expect), noting that “the Rays’ model for constructing a high-end bullpen is going to embolden organizations that this is an area in which savings can be made without impacting quality.”

One significant canary in the coal mine could even come from Florida:

The Marlins have a $4M club option for closer (and former Cub) Brandon Kintzler with a $250K buyout. Kintzler, 36, is older and had some rough peripherals, but the Marlins also rode his 2.22 ERA to the NLDS and he did have a 2.68 ERA (3.56 FIP) over 57.0 innings for the Cubs in 2019, as well. He pretty much always beats his peripherals. If the Marlins really want him back and really think they can contend again in 2021, then the risk of losing him to free agency for just a $3.75M decision could tell us a whole lot about how teams are preparing to address their bullpens, if not lots of parts of the roster.

Japanese Reliever Drawing MLB Interest

Japanese righty reliever Hirokazu Sawamura, 32, could be coming over to the states as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, and according to MLB Trade Rumors, has already drawn interest from more than one Major League team. Which teams are not clear.

The righty has a 97 MPH fastball, a low-90s splitter, and a slider and has generally enjoyed plenty of success in the NPB:

(via Baseball-Reference)

Good or not, we just finished discussing how icy it might be out there for relievers, so my bet is any deal he does get, having not yet proven himself in MLB, is extremely low-cost. Could be a nice low-risk, high-reward target for a lot of teams.

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.

more cubs news

At Least Ian Happ Did Some Things, Baselines, Bullpens, and Other Cubs Bullets

May your Memorial Day be a restful, respectful day, surrounded by friends and family. And may the Cubs brighten the day by winning a dang game. Let's start with something positive at a time when it's getting easier by the...

What If We Try Winning Some Games? Cubs vs Brewers Series Preview

Cubs vs Brewers — On April 26, the Chicago Cubs were eight games over .500 and mostly cruising *despite* multiple significant absences/injuries to key players on the roster. One month later, they're mostly healed up, but are now just one...

Scary Moment, As Ronald Acuña Jr. Just Went Down Hard (UPDATE: Season Over)

When healthy, Ronald Acuña Jr. has been one of the brightest stars in Major League Baseball. By and large, he has been healthy, with an ACL tear in his right knee in 2021 standing as his biggest loss of time....

Enhanced Box Score: Cardinals 4, Cubs 3 – May 26, 2024

For the second straight night, the Cubs lost a one-run game in St. Louis with the tying run on third base. It is not an especially fun thing. This installment was a little different, as there were no blown leads...

Pre-Gamin’: Cubs at Cardinals (DELAY) – Lineups, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

UPDATE: The start of tonight's game has been delayed. New time TBD. *** If things turn south, tonight's game has the all the makings of a particularly depressing evening: a Sunday night game on ESPN (yuck) against the Cardinals and...

Disappointment Abounds, the Play at the Plate, Smyly, Hodge, Alcántara, and Other Cubs Bullets

I got to see a lot of friends yesterday, which felt like a very good use of the holiday weekend. Fill that bucket. Hope you have a chance to do something like that today or tomorrow. The Cubs have now...

Enhanced Box Score: Cardinals 7, Cubs 6 – May 25, 2024

After blowing the lead in the 8th, the Cubs tried to put together their own comeback in the 9th, but that Christopher Morel bouncer just didn't find the right spot. Worst fake rally ever. The Cubs were in that spot,...

Chicago Cubs Lineup: Versus Miles Mikolas

CUBS LINEUP — The first Cubs-Cardinals game of the season was banged on account of rain last night, which is a bummer, because it was Shota Imanaga night. The Cubs are using the unexpected night off to buy Imanaga some...

Could Red-Hot Blue Jays Catcher Danny Jansen Be a Cubs Trade Target?

For as clutch as Yan Gomes was at the plate last season, his offense output this year has been nothing short of brutal: .174/.183/.275 (26 wRC+). He can still call a game as well as anyone, but that's a blackhole...

Slight Rotation Shuffle, Smyly Coming, Big Night in Iowa, and Other Cubs Bullets

The Cardinals are cowards and they were afraid of Shōta Imanaga. It's the only explanation for last night's delay and then postponement. The only explanation. OK, I mean, I guess weather is also possibly an explanation, but who really believes...

Latest News

Padres vs. Marlins Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, May 27, 2024

The San Diego Padres (28-28) are set to take on the Miami Marlins (19-35) Monday at 6:40 PM ET, airing on SDPA. The Padres are listed as -183 favorites by sportsbooks, while the underdog Marlins have +154 odds for the...

Padres vs. Marlins Probable Starting Pitchers – May 27

The San Diego Padres (28-28) host the Miami Marlins (19-35) on Monday to kick off a three-game series at PETCO Park. The matchup begins at 6:40 PM ET.The Padres will call on Michael King (4-4) versus the Marlins and Trevor...

What If We Try Winning Some Games? Cubs vs Brewers Series Preview

Cubs vs Brewers — On April 26, the Chicago Cubs were eight games over .500 and mostly cruising *despite* multiple significant absences/injuries to key players on the roster. One month later, they're mostly healed up, but are now just one...

Giants vs. Phillies Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, May 27, 2024

The San Francisco Giants (27-27) and Philadelphia Phillies (38-16) meet Monday at Oracle Park, with first pitch at 5:05 PM ET on NBCS-PH. The Giants are -111 moneyline favorites for the contest, however, the Phillies are favored against the spread...

Best NBA Prop Bets Today – Monday, May 27, 2024

In a Monday NBA playoff slate that features just one contest, the Boston Celtics versus the Indiana Pacers is the only way to catch the NBA today.If you're looking for NBA prop bets for today's games, we're here to help....

Dodgers vs. Mets Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, May 27, 2024

The Los Angeles Dodgers (33-22) stumble into Monday's matchup with the New York Mets (22-30) looking to break a five-game losing streak. The contest starts at 4:10 PM ET on MLB Network with the Dodgers listed as -151 favorites to...

Reds vs. Cardinals Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, May 27, 2024

The St. Louis Cardinals (25-26) will lean on Paul Goldschmidt, following a two-homer game, to lead them in a matchup with the Cincinnati Reds (23-30) on Monday at 4:10 PM ET on BSOH. The Cardinals are +115 underdogs for the...

Guardians vs. Rockies Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, May 27, 2024

The Cleveland Guardians (36-17) will vie for their 10th straight victory when they visit the Colorado Rockies (18-34) on Monday at 4:10 PM ET on COLR. The Guardians are listed as -132 favorites by sportsbooks, while the Rockies are +113...

Brewers vs. Cubs Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, May 27, 2024

The Milwaukee Brewers (30-22) are favored on the moneyline (-121) in Monday's contest against the Chicago Cubs (27-26). First pitch is at 4:10 PM ET on MARQ. The Cubs, with +167 odds, are favored against the spread (1.5).Robert Gasser takes...

Braves vs. Nationals Prediction: Expert Picks, Odds, Stats & Best Bets – Monday, May 27, 2024

Coming off of a 1-2 series loss to the Pirates, the Atlanta Braves (30-20) are -201 favorites to pick up the win in Game 1 of a four-game series against the Washington Nationals (23-28). The series begins at Truist Park,...

more cubs news