Cubs Are Officially "Big" Spenders, Big TV Landscape Changes, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Cubs Are Officially “Big” Spenders, Big TV Landscape Changes, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The deep cold today is really annoying, having just arrived for the weekend, when I especially like to get outside and play with the kids. I still will, but it’ll be a lot more brief and poofy than I would have preferred.

•   The Red Sox landed Enrique Hernandez, lefty-killer and good-defense-all-over guy, for two years and $14 million (with some money deferred). I don’t really see signs that the bottom has fallen out of the market too much, which will leave the Cubs scrambling close to Spring Training to pick up the few guys who have to settle for minor league deals, or uber-cheap guarantees. Until they demonstrate otherwise, that’s my anticipation. Sorry. It sucks. But the Cubs just aren’t going to spend $7+ million right now on complementary roster guys like Hernandez, because I think they just don’t have it.

•   Speaking of which, the Austin Romine signing is now officially official:

•   At $1.5 million, the Cubs just DOUBLED the previous biggest signing for the entire NL Central this offseason (reliever Jonathan Holder, also signed by the Cubs, got $750,000). The Cubs are, by far, the big spenders of the NL Central this offseason. Talk about the moneybags of the division, right?! Yes, I’m laughing.

•   Big sports media news, as NBC’s national sports channel is shutting down at the end of the year. Some content will shift over to USA (like hockey), while other content will undoubtedly wind up on NBC’s streaming app, Peacock. I mention it here because the decision is in line with our thinking about what’s coming long-term for baseball teams’ broadcast rights: standalone streaming products that carry a team’s games, controlled by the team rather than MLB. In five years, I think the whole MLB-watching ecosystem is going to look vastly different. Or at least it should.

•   Sinclair – a partner in more than half the league’s RSNs, including Marquee – has already indicated that it will soon offer standalone products, which would mean the ability for fans to get (for example) a Marquee app subscription to watch Cubs games directly from the Cubs. Think Netflix, but for Marquee/Cubs. I hit on this stuff often because it’s so critical for the long-term health of the sport and the ability for fans to consume the sport HOW THEY WANT TO – the cable bundle is fading, which means the huge carriage fees that RSN’s get from cable networks (including from many subscribers who don’t actually care about every channel in their lineup) will soon fade, too. A huge hurdle to full team app-living is going to be MLB’s control of a team’s out-of-market rights, which would mean, right now, teams can sell a standalone streaming app (with the games, I mean) *only* within their designated broadcast territory. In a cable-free world, yes, I agree, that just seems crazy. So, if you can get MLB on board and you can execute things just right, teams like the Cubs – ones that have broad fan interest and own their own network – could be in the best spot long-term (it is, in my mind, why it was still potentially smart for the Cubs to start their own network even in a cord-cutting world). A whole lotta could-and-should there, but these things change incrementally, bit by bit, over many years. This NBCSN news is just the latest bit.

•   Another bit, since we’re on the topic – MASN (the RSN for the Nats and O’s) is cutting back significantly. It’s partly because of their unique shared situation, but it’s also because, frankly, RSNs just aren’t worth what they once were:

•   It’s kind of crazy that the Mets are having to apologize in advance for possibly having interest in signing Trevor Bauer, who has harassed women on Twitter, after they just had to fire their newly-hired GM for a particularly horrible incident of digital sexual harassment:

•   Ian Happ is just a really good guy:

•   Great stuff on a collaboration here from Mario for folks who are into hockey and want to broaden their horizons a bit:

•   Enjoyed this feedback:

•   People seem to be having a lot of fun with this one:

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.