Jed Hoyer Speaks: Dealing with DH Uncertainty, the Fenter Pick, Outfield Needs, Nico Versatility, More

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Jed Hoyer Speaks: Dealing with DH Uncertainty, the Fenter Pick, Outfield Needs, Nico Versatility, More

Chicago Cubs

Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Jed Hoyer spoke with the media today after the Rule 5 Draft, and offered a few updates and insights.

One of the biggest questions on everyone’s minds as it relates to the Cubs constructing the offensive side of their roster: any update on the dang DH in the NL.

Nope.

“I think there’s an awareness that [things] could change, but that is how the National League is going forward,” Hoyer said of the traditional status quo, per NBC. “We’re going forward under the assumption that we don’t have [the DH in the NL].”

Since the season is currently guided by the CBA, and the CBA includes the DH in the American League, only, then it’s logical that NL clubs have to operate in a certain way, even knowing that it’s possible things could change once the league and the players start negotiating. It just makes for a really big problem when you’re considering changes to your roster.

“I think everyone in the industry wishes we had more clarity, and everyone wishes that things were different,” Hoyer continued. “But at the same time, they’re just not — and they’re not for a real reason. I don’t look at it as frustrating. It’s just life in a pandemic. I think we have to realize sometimes where we are in a priority list and realize that some things, we probably have to wait on more than usual. It’s not really frustrating. It’s just what we’re going through. I think we have less clarity and less information than usual, but I don’t think it’s completely paralyzing things.”

The good(?) news is that the Cubs weren’t necessarily looking to spend big this offseason anyway, so the pools in which they’d be swimming for DH-type additions probably won’t get waded into by most teams until much later in the offseason. Maybe there will be clarity by then anyway. And, obviously, since a lot of other teams are in the same boat, a lot of players are waiting to sign precisely for that clarity.

As for the Rule 5 Draft and the Cubs’ selection of righty Gray Fenter in the big league phase, Hoyer offered this to Cubs.com: “We really like the stuff. We kind of had consistently good reports on him throughout his Minor League career, and we liked the fact that he’s got an explosive fastball and has the ability to throw two different breaking balls with a slider and a curveball. And all the makeup stuff we got on him was really positive.”

As we’re thinking, Fenter is just a guy who flashed some great stuff and great numbers at the very low levels, and now the Cubs get a $100,000 shot to bring him to Spring Training and see what they can do. If he shows enough to make the team – presumably out of the bullpen – great. If not, you offer to return him for $50,000. And if the Orioles decline, hey, you got yourself a prospect to keep working on.

There’s an outside shot that Fenter could even compete as rotation depth, though the nature of the Rule 5 is such that you’ve got to carry him on the big league roster to keep him – much harder to expect to do that in the rotation with a guy who hasn’t pitched above A-ball. Hey, maybe the Cubs will go with a non-traditional rotation right out of the gate?

Either way, Cubs need starting depth:

The Cubs will have opportunities in-house for guys like Adbert Alzolay and Alec Mills, obviously, but even in a world where they like and trust Tyson Miller, Justin Steele, Keegan Thompson, and Cory Abbott, among others, they’ve got a wide open spot in the rotation to try to pluck an upside play out of free agency. High-risk, high-reward, low-cost type. That’s where I expect the Cubs to be looking in free agency.

On the positional side, Hoyer knows about the, uh, outfield situation:

Not that anyone wants it, but I suppose it’s worth pointing out the Cubs technically do have a third outfield option on the roster in Kris Bryant, who could start in left field. Also, if the Cubs got sufficiently desperate, they could do this:

Again, that’s far from ideal for the Cubs or for Hoerner, who needs at bats at AAA to improve his offensive game in some really fundamental ways, in my view. If the Cubs want him getting some outfield reps down there, too, then fine. He’s probably good enough defensively to play all over, and that’s certainly a valuable player to have in the years ahead. But the bat – the bat needs to come along for any of that to matter.



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.