I don’t know a ton about this crazy GameStop/AMC stuff, but I do know this: I hope the Cubs got in so that they can afford some players.
• Speaking of which: Michael pretty much nailed all the components of last night’s Kolten Wong rumor as it relates to the Cubs. He’s clearly a perfect fit for all the things that they SHOULD be looking for this offseason, but if he’s going to get a one-year deal near his option price ($12.5 million), there is absolutely nothing in the Cubs’ recent behavior to suggest they can afford anything close to that. Given the state of the roster and the NL Central and the market, the Cubs would be all over these one-year types if they had any money to spend whatsoever – it would allow them to compete with the guys they have while doing no harm to the post-2021 plan, whatever that is. But since they are not doing it, we can more fairly presume they want to wait on guys to fall to them on the uber cheap … because that’s all they have to work with.
• So, for Wong, that means the Cubs probably checked in with something like, “Hey, agent, if Wong’s market absolutely tanks and he’s just looking to have a starting job for a year come late January, circle back to us.” And then his agent lets it out that the Cubs are among the teams that have checked in to try to beef up the market a bit at various stages of the negotiating process with other teams. That is all to say, I fully expect Wong to sign somewhat soon with a team that is not the Cubs, for something approaching or above $10 million on a one-year deal.
• Speaking of no money, the Pirates have done it. They have completely and totally bottomed themselves out to effectively zero real commitments after this year:
The Pirates have a total of $3 million in financial commitments beyond the 2021 season — in the form of an option buyout with Gregory Polanco. https://t.co/EBKSdpDjoZ
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 27, 2021
• Speaking of money (tis all about money, really), the Nationals do what they do, but with a fun twist:
Brad Hand, who is now a reliever, has a Silver Slugger bonus built into his contract.
Even when he was not a reliever, Hand was a .069/.069/.069 career hitter over 87 plate appearances. https://t.co/yplPOky01b
— Bleacher Nation (@BleacherNation) January 26, 2021
• Get that bonus, Brad Hand. I’ll be rooting for you. Meanwhile, the deferrals go out three years, and reduce the present value of the deal to something less than the $10 million option price Hand had previously had. So, basically, the Nats get him for less, but he and his agent get to say they beat the option price. In the same way, Jon Lester didn’t quite get $5 million from them this year, and Kyle Schwarber didn’t quite get $10 million. Just how the Nationals roll, but if it works for them and it works for the players, God bless.
• On this day in 1982, the Chicago Cubs acquired Ryne Sandberg and Larry Bowa for Ivan DeJesus, in a deal that has gone down in lore as one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history. I was curious this morning on thinking of the anniversary: was Sandberg considered a stud prospect at the time, or was his near immediate breakout with the Cubs just one of those things the Phillies couldn’t have predicted, and thus shouldn’t be blamed for? Well, this review by Phillies blog The Good Phight suggests … oof … yeah, Sandberg already should’ve been considered a stud. Moreover, De Jesus couldn’t reasonably have been projected to be an impact player at that point (Bowa’s inclusion was apparently contract-related). The deal was an absolutely terrible one from the word go.
• … clearly, the Cubs are going to celebrate the anniversary by picking up a stud today in trade. Right?
On this day in 1982, the #Cubs made a trade that had Hall of Fame written on it.
Chicago traded SS Ivan DeJesus to Philadelphia for SS Larry Bowa…
…and 2B Ryne Sandberg. pic.twitter.com/8Hpt4hkaqN
— Midway Minute (@MidwayMinute) January 27, 2021
• The latest on the ever-shifting TV-sports landscape, the rebranding of the Sinclair RSNs (formerly the FOX RSNs) is happening today:
EXCLUSIVE: @WeAreSinclair and Bally's today will unveil the new names and logos for their 19 regional sports networks.
As part of the rebrand, Sinclair will shut down part-time RSNs FS Tennessee and FS Carolinas (@Ourand_SBJ).
— Sports Business Journal (@sbjsbd) January 27, 2021
• As you can see, the Sinclair RSNs cover 13 MLB teams, and they also have a smaller partner interest in Marquee (Cubs) and YES (Yankees). What they do moves the market, and their co-branding with a casino on their networks is, yes, going to have far-reaching consequences for the blending of sports betting and broadcast content (yes, we live in that world, too). For now, this is just the announcement on the branding partnership (reportedly $85 million over 10 years), but more is coming, as we’ve discussed, including the plan for standalone streaming products.
• The ultimate wanderer pegs Chicago as the best city for kids, and best pizza (St. Louis winds up the friendliest city with – cliche alert – the best fans):
I had a great conversation with Edwin Jackson, baseball's ultimate wanderer, about his favorite cities he's lived in during his 17 year career. The best pizza, the best ice cream and, of course, I had to ask him who had the best fans in baseball. https://t.co/a2cLD1XOgl pic.twitter.com/1YcdU4TuYZ
— Matt Monagan (@MattMonagan) January 26, 2021
• Winter gear, books, light bulbs, and indoor gardening supplies (real thing!) are among the Deals of the Day at Amazon today. #ad
• Ian Happ, still just a good dude:
— Ian Happ (@ihapp_1) January 26, 2021
• I laughed for a couple reasons:
“Welcome to Chicago, Pat!” 😂 pic.twitter.com/XN7SOAJw0x
— Bleacher Nation Bulls (@BN_Bulls) January 27, 2021