I really gotta learn a lesson: just because a fancy cookie SOUNDS like it would be really good doesn’t mean you should immediately buy a dozen of them. Try one first. Otherwise, you’re stuck with 11 other of those cookies, trying to convince yourself that, no, actually, I really do like them! so that you’re not wasting the money …
• Among the Cubs’ arbitration-eligible players, it’s least surprising that Ian Happ – the team’s union rep, and a first-time arbitration eligible player – held firm. Without a settlement yesterday, the sides exchanged their proposed salary figures, one of which will be selected by an arbitrator next month:
Ian Happ filed for $4.1 million, while the Cubs countered at $3.25 million. Midpoint: $3.675 million.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 16, 2021
• Were he to win his case, it means the most for both his future years of earnings (because they build on prior years), and for the future earnings of other arbitration-level players. His is admittedly a tricky case, given his breakout in the shortened season, his solid overall numbers before this past season, and then also his demotion in 2019. My main hope is that the sides could create a one-off situation and come to an agreement before the hearing (or better yet, an extension!), but that’s not expected anymore in these situations. It tends to be file-and-trial, with yesterday being the cut-off for negotiations. Fortunately, the spread there is not TOO huge, so the sting of losing his case hopefully won’t hurt Happ too much, and/or the uncertain possibility of losing the case for the Cubs won’t impact their ability to plan from here. There’s still plenty of free agency left to unfold, and it’s time for the Cubs to move on it.
• To that end, the Cubs essentially now have cost certainty for 2021 internally. Save for the relatively small spread there with Happ, all other contracts are decided, and we are getting a better gauge on possible fan attendance as the weeks go by. The Cubs should probably be able to lay out a baseball budget at this point, and start targeting those buy-low free agents for the starting rotation, for second base, and for the outfield. There are so many opportunities out there, and, as we’ve discussed, even as the Cubs reboot, adding good players on the cheap still matters.
• Also, yes: having arbitration deals settled for certain players could impact trade rumors (which, then, in turn would impact what the Cubs do in free agency).
• Overall, only 13 players wound up exchanging figures yesterday, which is fairly low, and it seemed like a lot of the settlements skewed up higher than the projections. None of the spreads on the 13 unsettled cases are too large, so clearly everyone played this year fairly conservative given all the risks and uncertainty.
• Cubs pitching prospect Benjamin Rodriguez has been one of those “projectable” guys for a while now, who hadn’t quite popped up big on radars, but if you were a nerd, you were aware of him. He had all the physical traits you look for in a front-line starting pitcher, and in his late-teens, the 2016 IFA signing started to add velocity (that’s kinda how it is with 16-year-old IFA pitcher signings – they’re so high risk that you sign a bunch of projectable guys, and see who develops). Now 21, it’s possible he REALLY popped during the shutdown – is he saying he’s touching 98 mph right now on flat ground?!?!:
98 mph Benjamin unlocked🔓 pic.twitter.com/ykuGOADesD
— Benjamin Rodriguez (@brodriguez227) January 15, 2021
• In June, here’s how FanGraphs described Rodriguez when ranking him 26th in the system: “Still a very young, lanky, good-framed prospect whose velocity has slowly climbed as he’s physically matured, Rodriguez has gone from sitting 88-92 to living in the 90-94 range over the last two seasons. His breaking ball, which had promising shape early on, has added more power and become more slider-y during that time. He’s athletic enough to project on his command and changeup to the point that he has a realistic chance of fitting in a rotation eventually.”
• Big same:
Missing all the great cubbies fans a little extra today .. pic.twitter.com/cNYxOaSNlw
— Adbert Alzolay (@adbert29) January 16, 2021
• The Professor is Precise:
Today's arsenal overlay: Kyle Hendricks.
Thanks to one of my favorite IG accounts -PitchersNation-for featuring this! pic.twitter.com/qPiVJfiOC1
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) January 15, 2021
• Big promos this weekend for the NFL playoffs if you’re into it (thanks for checking these out, as they support BN in the process):
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) January 14, 2021