The Little Boy and I did a boys’ night slumber party in the family room last night, which was a lot of fun and great for our relationship. But sleeping on the couch, whooo baby, that ain’t kind on my back. I better stay in The Wife’s good graces.
• With the Cubs picking up four new very young, high-upside prospects this week, it becomes all the more compelling to follow the minor league system in 2021. That is to say, I was already bursting at the seams to get some minor league action (1) after a lost season, and (2) given the specific investments the Cubs have made in player development. But now, I mean, nearly the entire Yu Darvish trade return is riding on the Cubs’ ability to max out some new toolsy, projectable teenage prospects. I really want to see them in action in 2021.
• To that end, not only has every presumption coming from baseball executives been that, yes, there WILL be a minor league season in 2021, Todd Johnson at Cubs Insider hears more specifics. The working plan – subject to the MLB negotiations and the pandemic, of course – would have the minor league season not kicking off until mid-May, which would allow a separation in big league and minor league Spring Training for safety purposes. The full season would be reduced in length to something like 120 to 130 games, which, hey, you’ll take it. Again, that could be adjusted if the big league season winds up getting adjusted – i.e., if big league Spring Training gets pushed back, as it might – but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes. For now, I’m just happy there’s more confirmation that the full and complete expectation is there will be minor league seasons for the Cubs’ farm system.
• Speaking of new Cubs prospects Yeison Santana, Reggie Preciado, Ismael Mena, and Owen Caissie, you can read more scouting reports here at Baseball America. It’s funny how they are truly all right there with each other in terms of prospect-dom, as you could make an argument for any of the four as the best of the group (Santana is the most advanced, Preciado has the most upside, Mena got the biggest signing bonus, and Caissie has the most power). I can’t say it enough: these are very good prospects. Happy to have them in the system. Any could become a stud. That wasn’t ever the issue – it’s just that all are so raw and so far away that there’s soooo much more risk than you’d expect from the key prospects in a Yu Darvish trade.
• Relatedly, the Cubs are at least super stacked in one area now:
And they’ll add Cristian Hernandez in a couple weeks. For all the justifiable beef of the last 24 hours, it is at least true that the Cubs are loaded in the infield at that level. https://t.co/LdtZlPi7i0
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 29, 2020
• You might have to click through to see the whole message, but new Cubs prospect Owen Caissie sure is already doing his part to become beloved (with a reminder that he just turned 18 in July):
— Owen Caissie (@owen_caissie) December 30, 2020
• As Michael noted last night, in the big trade, the Cubs covered the $3 million in salary escalation Yu Darvish got thanks to his second place Cy Young finish. As a whatever-aside-kinda-thing: the Cubs kicking in a little cash in the trade means they paid money to get slightly more in return, which is what we WANT to see, if that kind of trade is going to happen. So the cash thing – it’s a good thing, relatively speaking. We can still beef about the return all we want, but it would’ve been even less if they’d made the Padres take the whole contract. So. Oof/good?
• This gets so very complicated when you start drilling down, and it’s going to merit a lot of discourse over the coming year:
The intersection between tanking, revenue-sharing, and analytics have absolutely done significant harm to the biggest picture version of what baseball is, and what 30 fan bases can enjoy about it year to year. Not sure how you unwind it in any kind of quick way, but CBA looms. https://t.co/1eQoGCdskM
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 30, 2020
The players already got hit with a "salary cap" in the form of the enhanced luxury tax, without getting the benefit of a revenue-sharing/salary-floor system. So there's an argument that, yes, now is the time to go to an NFL/NBA-style system with a lotta carveouts to go above cap. https://t.co/UbQwI13pbf
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) December 30, 2020
• Bryan is not wrong about this, especially given how things played out for the Cubs. But the flip side is that, maybe those types of deals aren’t just blanket bad, maybe you simple need to do better at identifying the right free agents:
To me, 1 lesson of 2019-2020 Cubs is how multi-yr deals to mid-market FAs carry Opportunity Cost that can be killer. Chatwood, Descalso, Kimbrel … those limited spending last yr. I want Cubs to do things, but I also want max dry powder for winters w/ real spending flexibility.
— Cubs Prospects – Bryan Smith (@cubprospects) December 28, 2020
• muh heart:
Don’t walk in front of me
There is no guarantee I will follow
Don’t walk behind me
There is no guarantee I will lead in the right direction
Walk alongside me
Because together we are one pic.twitter.com/Cq2YDYjJLk
— ダルビッシュ有(Yu Darvish) (@faridyu) December 30, 2020
Thank you to the incredible Cubs organization, coaches, my teammates, and the FANS for such a memorable ride. I will always be grateful to have gotten my first big league opportunity wearing the Cubs uniform. https://t.co/MkBLZzpdkI
— Victor Caratini (@VictorCaratini) December 30, 2020